The Observer V Noam Chomsky – Round 3

With the Observer losing money faster than a gambling addict in a casino, you would think they’d either try and up their game, or cut down on writers. It makes little sense to have 4 different people trying to write on the environment for a Sunday supplement. But with regards to Noam Chomsky the Observer are lining up legions of people who want to slag him off.

First up was Nick Cohen, giving his best broadside to Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival. Then Peter Beaumont did his best to Failed States. Two more dishonest and generally awful reviews you won’t find. The Beaumont review was particularly savaged on reception. Still, third time lucky eh? This time the article was written by Rafael Behr. Would he move on from the scarcely disguised ad hominems and disregard for Chomsky’s analysis the previous articles kept to? Would he fuck.

Behr starts off with;

Only the most zealous American patriots believe that their country’s foreign policy always lives up to its stated aims of promoting freedom and democracy around the world. The more interesting question is whether it sometimes comes close or even really tries. It is possible to attack US interventions overseas as horribly misguided and murderously bungled while recognising that they contain some kernel of authentic moral aspiration. Many US policymakers in the early part of this decade genuinely felt that liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein was a noble thing to do.

The more sceptical view is that the US perception of itself as a force for good in the world is a dangerous, irrational delusion. Further down the sceptical spectrum is the view that US political evangelism is a grotesque hypocrisy, cunningly deployed to mask imperialistic ambitions. Further still, off the scale entirely, is Noam Chomsky.

Straight away Behr accuses his opponent of being off the scale, and, we assume, deranged. It’s hardly surprising.

Yet one of the comments tells us a rather salient quote from Chomsky;

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”

Behr is doing exactly as Chomsky says. The reviewer seems to think that even if Chomsky is off the scale, this means that somehow he is wrong. But assuming there is a general scale for how radical political opinions can be, why does this change? Do the facts Chomsky cites become false all of a sudden? Does his logically analysis suddenly become illogical? Calling Chomsky as off the scale  is a cheap shot, one designed to make people who already dislike him feel smug inside whereas anyone with a critical mind thinks Behr is an idiot.

Still, maybe it’ll get better?

Hopes and Prospects is the latest barrage in a lifetime’s assault on US political vanity by the 81-year-old linguistics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chomsky took up a sideline in political writing in opposition to the Vietnam war and has kept anti-Washington cudgels at hand ever since. He has dedicated followers who see him as guru and gadfly, speaking unwanted truth to power. He is the closest thing the intellectual far left has to a rock star.

Yet more dismissals of Chomsky as a person. This plays on one of the many Chomsky clichés; that he’s some cult leader, with legions of impressionable young leftists at his comment. Yet two paragraphs in and Behr hasn’t even mentioned what’s in this new book.

In that sense, Hopes and Prospects is like one of those live albums that veteran bands release when they’ve stopped producing new singles; slightly different versions of familiar hits bashed out for an easily pleased audience. The book is a compilation of lectures and articles produced over the past few years, reworked and updated. There is no single thesis, rather a constant interweaving of favourite Chomskyan themes: the capture of the US state and subordination of democracy to a narrow commercial and financial elite; the media’s complicity; the uniquely high penalty paid by Latin America for the misfortune of being in Washington’s backyard; the function of Israel as America’s military client in the Middle East; the threat of nuclear apocalypse. Throughout, Chomsky sustains caustic disdain for the myths that western societies tell themselves to justify their savage colonisation of planet Earth.

Apparently all books must have a single thesis, one based in no way on lectures and articles. Of course should Chomsky have come up with a single thesis Behr would criticize Chomsky for coming up with a “simplistic view of the world”.

Yes Hopes and Prospects is a collection of articles and lectures. So what?

And despite Behr saying Chomsky is off the scale, he fails to tell us why Chomsky is wrong in saying what he says. Or quite how any of those views are particularly radical.

He dismisses vast tracts of history in a few splenetic paragraphs, as if no alternative interpretation is worth considering.

A classic line from Behr this is; the irony supreme. Behr accuses Chomsky of dismissing vast tracts of history, but gives no examples of this happening. So actually Behr in his review is dismissing the whole fucking book he’s supposed to be reviewing. Yet he is completely unaware of this.

Behr then gives his view on what Chomsky states;

The worst catastrophe to befall our species, Chomsky implies, was Columbus’s collision with an uncharted continent in 1492. From there, it is a short step to the genocide of indigenous American people and the formation of a mercantile dictatorship run by white Europeans, consolidated by war and terror. The US imperial model that emerged in the 20th century, Chomsky reminds us, borrowed heavily from the earlier British one. In particular, the younger cousin mimicked the older with its technique of prising foreign markets open at gunpoint, suppressing local competition until a comfortable monopoly had been secured and then proclaiming support for “free trade” on “a level playing field”.

Chomsky shares with many radical left thinkers a studied reluctance to adopt the mainstream vocabulary of “globalisation”. The word implies everyone’s inclusion in a unified economic enterprise. But for Chomsky, the only “global” element in the whole business is the one-size-fits-all policy template, dictated by the west to developing nations with a view to expropriating their resources and assets. Free markets are an illusion. Washington protects and expands its corporate interests by the relentless application of government power. Refusal to submit is punishable with diplomatic isolation, vilification and, if the strategic and economic stakes are high enough, military takeover.

His reaction to this is that it is a “cripplingly bleak philosophy.” Sorry Behr? Should all philosophies be sunshine and flowers? If something is “cripplingly bleak” does that mean it’s wrong. If you don’t like things that are “cripplingly bleak” Behr, why don’t you fuck off and watch Twilight?

No one defends western capitalism on the grounds that it is the perfect system, only that it is the best available. Likewise, the US comes out badly in comparison with an abstract ideal of beneficent global stewardship, but it comes out better in comparison with most available alternatives. Globalisation under the Chinese Communist party, anyone? Anti-American exile in Tehran? At least a dissident in the US can sustain an academic career while constantly denouncing his leaders.

Ooooh. We know capitalism is a bit bad. But something else could be worse. Ooooh. What a crock of shit this paragraph is. It also shows just out little of Chomsky’s writings he has actually read. That western capitalism has hideous elements that can be avoided doesn’t enter into Behr’s empty head. Why not have a lawful society but allow people to rape journalists who write shit reviews. Then Behr would presumably go “No one defends this society on the grounds it is the perfect system, but other societies are even worse, so my maddenly sore arsehole is a price worth paying.” Behr pussy-foots about here so pathetically that he’s coming across as pitiful. Paragraphs like this show it isn’t a case of Chomsky being off the scale, but Behr being too afraid to believe something he believes is radical. Behr probably read the part of Hopes and Prospects that he did with his eyes closed whispering “lies, all lies” when a single tear falls on the page as he knows he cannot disprove Chomsky’s arguments. Instead he blocks it out and falls on vacuous rhetoric.

Perhaps Chomsky’s analysis of all that is wrong with the west would resonate more if he modulated it with some occasional flicker of admiration for the achievements of western civilisation. His critique would also be strengthened by some recognition of the irony that he owes his considerable success to the system he despises. Does it bother him, perhaps, that he has lived the American dream?

That Chomsky has repeatedly stated he considers the US to be the greatest country on the planet doesn’t seem to affect Behr here. That Chomsky has repeatedly commented on his success doesn’t seem to affect Behr either. Instead he brings out the tired old arguments, ones which has been rebutted time after time, and hopes they’ll suffice.

Not once in the review does Behr interact with Chomsky’s work. Not once does he criticise his reasoning, his evidence, his, well, anything. Instead he brings up the tired old clichés, knowing the Observer will pay him good money for his work. It’s no fucking surprising they’re going down, and what a fucking loss.


Don’t let Iran get the bomb, only give it to decent regimes, like Apartheid South Africa

What with all the evidence Iran is likely to obtain a nuclear weapon very soon (err?) Israel is making sure the country whose leader threatened to wipe Israel off the map (if you say so) doesn’t get that far. So Israel’s far right tosspot of a Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently stated:

“The greatest danger mankind faces is a radical regime, without limits to its cruelty, obtaining nuclear capabilities”

Quite right. Nuclear weapons should be reserved only for those states with moderate aims and a superb human rights record. States like America and Israel.

So with such rhetoric condemning the potential of radical and brutal regime achieving nuclear armament, it will come as no surprise to cynics around the world that Israel tried to sell nuclear weapons to Apartheid South Africa.

Such a revelation would be an embarrassment to the state of Israel regardless of the context, but with the current climate the timing of this finding has a sweet sense of irony.

You see, Israel aren’t all too happy with a certain judge Goldstone and his report (pdf) because, horror of horrors, it attributes blame towards Israel for the “22 days of dead and destruction” in Gaza (Amnesty International). Naturally Israel and her defenders weren’t going to let this stand. After all, you have a greatly respected Jewish, pro-Israeli judge criticising the actions of Israel. The result of this has been defenders of Israel have thrown everything they possibly can at Goldstone’s methods and character, some of it valid criticism, some of it total shite.

But the most recent attack has been Goldstone’s record in Apartheid South Africa. Now his actions in South Africa at the time were unjustified, yes, and criticism is valid here, although it conveniently ignores the role he played in bringing apart a peaceful end to Apartheid. The origin of this story came from the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth with an article entitled “Judge Goldstone’s dark past”. Sasha Polakow-Suransky who came across the documents about the attempted sale of nuclear weapons in research for his forthcoming book The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s secret alliance with apartheid South Africa mentions a humorous irony of Yediot Ahronoth’s revelation:

“In October 1985, as it happens, the editor of Yediot Ahronoth’s weekend magazine, Aharon Shamir, came to South Africa to meet with a mid-level Foreign Ministry functionary. When the bureaucrat complained that South Africa was being denounced everywhere as undemocratic but could not risk giving blacks the vote, Shamir advised: “Give the blacks the vote very slowly. See how it works. Bit by bit. If you see that your bit by bit approach is not working, change it. But make the world believe you are sincere. You have to be hypocritical to survive.”

Woops. Still, at least people actually involved in these relations are criticising Goldstone because of this

“Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who denounced Goldstone as “a man of double standards,” because he “sentenced black people to death” appears to have some double standards of his own. Rivlin was no doubt fully informed of Israel’s military alliance with South Africa during the 1980s, given that he served on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the 12th Knesset from 1988-1992–a position that gave him nearly unfettered access to sensitive military documents and high-level discussions of Israel’s defense doctrine. These were the peak years of arms sales to South Africa, exceeding $1.5 billion in 1988 and approximately $800 million in 1989.”


Still, I’m sure the pro-Israel lobby will come across a new and perhaps more effective method of attacking judge Goldstone. A fiver says someone claims he walks around naked except for novelty socks.

I’m so angry I don’t know whether to hit someone or masturbate

One of my favourite topics: the Daily Mail!

I’m not going to lie, I love the Daily Mail. Despite a rabid hatred for right-wing opinion in general, there’s someone about the Daily Mail I just find… charming. While satirical channels such as Fox News accurately mock right-wing table-thumping, you can’t beat the real thing. Good old paranoid, Middle-England, bigotry.

The Mail doesn’t have a great history, I admit. That support for “Adolf The Great” and the Brown-shirts in the 1930s probably didn’t exactly improve their public image. Still, you can’t win everything. But there are certain things the Mail has been right about:

  • Foreigners have indeed stolen all of our jobs.
  • Speed cameras have killed more people than Chairman Mao
  • We live in a Communist dictatorship run by do-good liberals
  • Homosexuality has been scientifically linked to death
  • Richard Littlejohn does indeed have a little John.

However one issue the Mail hates is this damn permissive society. One where women go round in short skirts and those poor men can’t help but rape those vile temptresses. Their conservative family values don’t look highly upon sex education, infidelity or the “sexualisation” of our society. All of which makes the Mail a hilarious read, because it is second only to the Sun in amount of totty on display.

For example, in this review for “Secret Diary of a London Call Girl” the Mail looks down upon miss Piper’s activities, as well they might, the whore. But mixed in with all this moralising, is some quality wank material.

The opening picture is a good start

“In white lingerie and a pink robe, Belle is confident that she will soon remind him of what he has been missing.

Talking to camera, she says: ‘It’s so sad when they’re like that. Give me an hour with him, he’ll be a new man.’

But as the action hots up, Simon reveals he has a penchant for the farm yard – or rather pretending to be an animal.

He says: ‘Let’s do it like dirty dogs. You dirty cow. You little pig. You dirty, dirty, dirty goat.’”


Yes. Yes. Yes.

“Belle obliges him, replying: ‘I’m so dirty. I’m a goat. I’m a chicken. I’m a dirty ewe.’

In a scene which becomes increasingly humiliating, she has to fulfil the wish of her paying customer when he asks her to ‘bleat like a sheep’.”

Don’t stop. Don’t stop. You’re a dirty ewe. Yes, you’re a dirty yew

Come to bed: Belle lures her client to bed in her sexy lingerie

Ohhhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

The moment I read that article my initial reaction was something along the lines of “Damn I’ve got to see this.” They did one Hell of a job advertising the program (which, incidently, is definitely worth catching and not just for a quick knuckle shuffle)

So I don’t know what the Mail wants me to think. On the one hand they’re really not down with this kind of thing. No sir. But if that’s the case, why go in to such detail and show us the pictures? It’s like arguing against eating meat while holding a burger in front of someone’s face. Arguing against sex while tossing them off. It just doesn’t work, except to confuse me to masturbate furiously to expel my anger, which on reflection, is probably their aim. And one I salute.

The Genocidal Peace Theory

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:

The Convention defines genocide as any of a number of acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.


Sadistic fuck-nut proves me right

Ok, first of all I don’t claim to be an expert on torture. Fair enough, I’ve campaigned on and off for Amnesty International, and read a fair bit of the literature on the subject (Alfred McCoy’s A Question of Torture being a key text) leading to my article on the ticking bomb scenario, but all the same, I’m hardly the most knowledgeable sod on the subject. Still, whenever I’m feeling intellectually inadequate, some quasi fascist cunt comes on the scene and makes me feel like a genius. Enter: Bruce Anderson. One of the Independents leading conservative voices. He’ll be right at home if Liddle  becomes editor. Still, as evidence of a brown bloke being tortured  has surfaced, it’s time for the right to come out from their holes.

The article starts with a seemingly liberal opening:

“Torture is revolting. A man can retain his human dignity in front of a firing squad or on the scaffold: not in a torture chamber. Torturers set out to break their victim: to take a human being and reduce him to a whimpering wreck. In so doing, they defile themselves and their society. In Britain, torture has been illegal for more than 300 years. Shortly after torture was abjured, we stopped executing witches: all part of a move away from medieval legal mores and their replacement with the modern rule of law. Until recently, at least in the UK, torture and witch-finding appeared to be safely immured in a museum of ancient atrocities.”

Not the start I was expecting from an article titled “We not only have a right to use torture. We have a duty”. Perhaps he was getting an April Fools joke in early? After all, only an idiot would write that article, right?


To be honest, I’m quite disappointed. All torture advocates claim to find torture abhorrent, but they reluctantly allow people other than themselves to suffer it. For the greater good, of course. Sometimes they claim it “isn’t really torture”, or at least some did, until they cried like a baby after 11 seconds  of waterboarding. What I’m waiting for is a re-branding of torture. We need a fascist Gok Wan. “Just put his dick in there darling. Oh babes, that looks lovely. Tighten it up.” Probably not. Still, maybe I’m just ahead of my time?

“Yet men cannot live like angels. However repugnant we may find torture, there are worse horrors, such as the nuclear devastation of central London, killing hundreds of thousands of people and inflicting irreparable damage on mankind’s cultural heritage. We also face new and terrible dangers. In the past, the threat came from other states. If they struck at us, we knew where to strike back. Now, we can almost feel nostalgic for mutually assured destruction.”

Here we go people, first paragraph making his point and he has already fallen foul of one the fallacies I pointed out.

“The underlying moral problem is this: what is worse? Torturing one man or letting thousands die? It is a stark choice to pick the lesser of two evils, the answer obviously being torture. If you are anti-torture, therefore you are pro-mass murder. That is the subliminal message to this, and that is how they win the argument.”

Go me.

“In the Islamic world, a religious revival is taking place, analogous to the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. In that era, there was no shortage of volunteers for martyrdom. Today, failed states produce hate-filled young men, who appear to believe that Allah smiles on the suicide bomber. If you are going to destroy yourself, why not inflict maximum damage upon the enemy?”

Yes, as opposed the West where there is a serious shortage of volunteers for imperialism. Where there are no hate-filled young men, who appear to believe that God smiles on them as they blow the living shit out of Afghans.

Hang on a second…

“Admittedly, there is no evidence that the terrorists are in a position to produce dirty bombs yet, let alone fully nuclear devices. But we know one thing about technology. It spreads. Difficult processes become easier. Today’s remote possibility becomes tomorrow’s imminent danger. There have been frequent objections to the use of the term “war on terror”. None has been cogent. All of them give the impression that those who object to the phrase do not want to face the reality. It is a reality. For the foreseeable future, we will be engaged in such a war. It is unlike any other conflict we have ever faced, for there is no straightforward route to victory. Nor is there a certainty of success.”

Translation: there’s no evidence of what I’m saying, but there could be. One day. Sometime in the future. When people have forgotten about me.

Still, let’s look forward to that war on terror baby.

“In any war, there are two desiderata: appropriate strategies, and allies. In this case, the principal strategic resource is self-evident: intelligence. We have no easy way of establishing who the enemy is, where he will gather his forces or how he will strike at us. We also have to deal with the enemy within. All this requires an enormous intelligence effort.”

Yeah so let’s ignore all this contacts in the Islamic community shit police bang on about and mutilate some testicles already.

“As other countries are facing a similar threat, they will be making a similar effort. It would be insane not to pool resources and share information. We and the Americans have long-established methods of intelligence co-operation, which are now even more important than they were in the Cold War. It also makes sense to work with other threatened nations, such as Pakistan, where a brave political elite is bearing a disproportionate burden, and receiving few thanks for doing so.”

Those poor political elites, bravely ordering the torture of suspects from their cosy offices. Seriously, the human aspect of torture is often overlooked. Fine, we focus on those who are abused for years, but what about those who do the order (or order it done)? Why do we forget about their bravery? It’s not easy, y’know, ordering torture. There’s the phone bill to consider. Then the costs of water. It all adds up. I personally find it disgusting that Amnesty don’t campaign for torturer’s rights. Seriously, sort this out.

“But there is a problem. It seems likely that Pakistani interrogators use torture. Although we find torture repulsive, it does not follow that those who are tasked with governing Pakistan could safely dispense with it. Our enjoyment of Shakespeare and Elizabethan madrigals is not blighted by Walsingham’s rack-masters in the Tower of London. We lament the premature death of Robert Southwell, but despite Tyburn and the rack, we would still speak of Elizabethan civilisation. So let us be more generous to the Pakistani authorities. Their difficulties are at least as great as those faced by Francis Walsingham and Robert Cecil in the 1590s. Can we blame the Pakistanis for employing some 1590s methods?”

Eh? Pakistan are fine to use torture because we used it in the 16th century? Christ.

“When our intelligence services were invited to share the harvest reaped by the Pakistanis, there appears to have been no hesitation. Nor should there have been. We needed the information. Perhaps we should have offered the Pakistanis some advice on interrogation techniques which do not involve knife-work on suspects’ genitals. It may be that we have indeed done so, in private. But Pakistan is a sovereign state and an embattled ally; a far more attractive state and a far less dubious ally than Russia was in the Second World War. We should be grateful for the Pakistanis’ efforts on our behalf.”

Pakistan is a sovereign state therefore we can’t criticise in public? Fuck me. Is this what passes for incisive commentary these days?

I do, however, love the metaphor of reaping the harvest. That sounds so much better than “sadistic fuckery”.

And yes I’m not taking this seriously anymore, but with the complete lack of facts to work with (“there appears” “it may be” “we needed the information” Sources?) I reserve the right to abuse this shoddy article in the most childish ways possible.

“We should also be grateful to the Americans. But we should insist, again in private, that if they did torture suspects, they were wrong to do so. As they are in a stronger position than Pakistan, their interrogation doctrine should be strongly post-Walsingham. Some of the problem may have arisen from Dick Cheney, arguably the most formidable Vice-President of all time. Mr Cheney combines the neo-Conservatives’ moral certainties and the realpolitik school’s ruthlessness. This means that he shoots with both barrels. It also creates the risk of overkill.”

Mr Cheney’s “moral certanities” and “ruthlessness” make him a war criminal.

But with regards to the sweetening of America, yes, to an extent, we should ally ourselves with them. There’s little to gain from just pissing them off. But at the same time, we should not become their little bitch (again). Subservience to their policy not only endangers those citizens who are potential victims of their “overkill” but also every citizen of this country. Even the white ones they care about. Going back to the idea of Muslim extremists, ask yourself this question: is government complicity in the torture of an innocent Muslim more or less likely to radicalise the population. The answer, and subsequent action, is obvious.

“Thus far, there has been no need for either the UK or the US to consider torture, because neither of us has been confronted by a ticking bomb. As a result of the Hitchens trial run, we know that we have something which could work.”

And yet you’re defending the UK’ policy of allowing torture because “We needed the information”? Are you insane?

But, now… The moment you’ve all been waiting for. The last refugee of an idiot. The Ticking Bomb Scenario!!!

“But there would be nothing frivolous about a ticking bomb. Cobra, the Cabinet’s emergency committee, is in permanent session somewhere under Whitehall: the intelligence chiefs, grey and drawn from lack of sleep, inform the Prime Minister, ditto, that it seems almost certain that a nuclear device is primed to explode in the next few hours. There is a man in custody who probably knows where it is. They are ready to use whatever methods are necessary to extract the information…”

Damn. He’s got me beat there.

I’m going to go and cry at my humiliation.

Don’t complain about torture, it’s dangerous

Anyone here a fan of genital mutilation? I’m not. I’m the sort of person who collapses to the floor when a tennis ball hits me in the nuts, softly. It’s fairly safe I don’t particularly want to have my “penis slashed with a scalpel“. Sadly though some Pakistanis have a fondness for this, albeit on other people. Maybe they do it to themselves too, it’s their choice after all, I won’t comment. This man, however, just happened to be a British citizen (albeit a non-white one).

Binyam Mohammed: you just know he's shifty, just look at that skin colour. I mean eyes

Anyway one or two or you may have noticed that he has been in the news recently, as the appeal court have ruled that the government cannot “suppress a summary of what happened to Binyam Mohamed on the grounds of national security.” Naturally this is a disaster. Britain’s compliance in torture isn’t exactly a secret, but all the same, this just isn’t cricket.

Now, surely to any decent human being, this represents a horrific event, one that should be punished. But some people just can’t see what is wrong.

Here’s just one op-ed complaining, not that our government was privy to the torture of a British citizen, but the courts are allowing the information to come up. The swines.

It starts nicely:

Binyam Mohamed was released from Guantanamo Bay last year at the insistence of the British Government. It persuaded the American government to drop terrorist charges against him. Now our Government has been repaid for its efforts on his behalf.

Yeah Binyam, you ungrateful bastard. The British government did all it could for you. Fine, it was privy for your years of torture and abuse, but it did persuade the US to drop charges, so what do you have to complain about? (A cynic might add the fact that the US dropped the charges as they had no basis in fact. But not me)

It carries on, bemoaning a

legal judgment that undermines this country’s ability to get information on our deadly enemies.

Oh nose. That pesky torture ban, preventing us from getting information.

Then a bizarre example of Doublethink

Few of us want anyone tortured, and most of us want a system of justice that is independent of government. But we do not want a country that cannot protect itself from attack, or judges who take political decisions upon themselves. Yet this is what we are getting.

We don’t want people tortured, but it’s bad to prevent it? Gotcha.

The article continues very boringly justifying the opinion by saying not complaining about torture helps our foreign relations. Aww. Still, some mass hilarity at the end.

I feel a similar anger on behalf of “Witness B”, the MI5 officer who flew out to interview Mohamed. Why do our snug, smug judges feel that they can undermine him and his service, who take such risks on our behalf?

Aww, poor Witness B. I feel so sorry for him, being undermined like that, when he is so brave taking a “risk” in allowing a man to have his penis slashed. In fact, I’m so moved by his plight, I think we should have a collection on his behalf.

Still, nothing like some quasi-fascist views to end an article:

Yes, individual rights matter (though one notices that Mohamed himself, now living in Dorset, has no personal interest in this case, which is being run politically). But collective rights matter greatly too. There is such a thing as a national interest, and it must be defended.

Translation: Individual rights matter only for white people, darkies need to submit for the “national interest”.

The Telegraph further informed us of the plight of our torturers by complaining that MI5 officers are “going through files to determine whether they are relevant to cases involving 14 men – two of whom are convicted terrorists – who are using taxpayers’ money to pursue damages claims.”. Sod the fourteen people tortured (which is justified by the fact that two of them are guilty), our poor officers have paperwork. I always knew there was a downside to torture, excessive paperwork.

However we can laugh off the Torygraph’s opinions as the right wing guff that they are, but the head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, felt the need to join the debate.

He starts off with the same justification as the Telegraph did:

The US, in particular, has been generous in sharing intelligence with us on terrorist threats; that has saved British lives and must be protected.

How kind of them to save lives from threats no evidence for is given, and were only put in danger by our government’s subservience to US policy in the first place.

We must hope, for our safety and security, that this does not make it less ready to share intelligence with us.

Notice he is accusing us of undermining our security by wanting the truth, not MI5 for commiting the act in the first place.

Still, nothing like a lie to support your point:

We did not practise mistreatment or torture then and do not do so now, nor do we collude in torture or encourage others to torture on our behalf.

Tell that to Craig Murray.


George Orwell is Watching you

In George Orwell’s final masterpiece, 1984, Big Brother is always there. Whether in his flat or rogering his bird in the woods, Big Brother is always there. There is a similar omnipresence in today’s world. No, it isn’t Graham Norton on TV. It isn’t Americans in St Andrews. It isn’t even glory holes in public toilets. The only omnipresence in the world is mention of 1984 in political articles.

The use of the terms Orwell invented in his work is appropriate in describing the modern attack on liberty, yes. There is no question Orwell possessed superb vision in his description of a potential omnipotent fascist state. 1984 remains the critique of authoritarian power.

 However there comes a point where opposition to increased government power needs some form of originality. 1984 was published in 1949, over 60 years ago now, and yet it is still the first point every liberal makes in defence of liberty. You a bit of a libertarian? You getting a bit of a kicking in a debate? You want a way out? Use the “Orwellian” card. BAM. Debate won. It’s like the anti-Semitic card being pulled by defenders of Israeli aggression. Get out of jail free, every time baby.

But more than that, it is the staple diet of every lazy journalist looking to write an article on, well, anything really. John Pilger is very fond of this tactic. Pull a few of Orwell’s terms out, apply it to modern day politics, job done. A very quick search on liberal websites such as the Guardian pulls up this. The New Statesman pulls up this. The Independent has a really shit search function. Huffington Post this. Hysterically it was also used by the far right in America to oppose health care reform. You get the picture.

As masterful as the work is, do we really need it trotted out every time we want to make a point about liberty? It has almost moved beyond cliché that Orwell is used. 1984 is more overused than Jordan’s fanny Perhaps it’s time to move on.