Brian Cloughley has a piece up on InformationClearingHouse (it’s also up on CounterPunch) that I find disconcerting, to say the least. I don’t remember where I saw his first piece, but I have been reading him (and occasionally taking a peek at his site), for a number of years now and even had the privilege of meeting him. Like a lot of distinguished career soldier/diplomats (and British, to boot), Mr Cloughley’s deep sense of honor and tradition exercises an influence on his interpretation of events which I sometimes find, I guess, a little baffling, though understandable. Andrew Bacevich comes to mind in this context.
In this recent piece, « The Decline and Fall of Britain », he finds the « recent surge in nationalistic jingoism and xenophobia in Britain is lamentable and obnoxious ». On the surface, there’s nothing really objectionable in complaing about stuff like that. But since when have empires been anything but lamentable and obnoxious, jingoistic and xenophobic?
Below, you’ll find my comments, in bold italics, on parts of his article , but you should read the entire piece. For more of my thoughts on the Brexit, see previous posts.
December 9, 2016
It is sad to have to have to acknowledge that the country of one’s birth is in decline, but there are signs that Great Britain has fallen on the slippery slope of moral deterioration. The recent surge in nationalistic jingoism and xenophobia in Britain is lamentable and obnoxious.
Yeah, it’s sad to admit that one’s country greatness was based on the very lamentable and obnoxious habits of imperialism.
In October the British Home Office reported that the number of racist hate crimes in the country had increased by 41 per cent in the month after the June referendum about UK’s membership of the European Union, the so-called ‘Brexit’ vote. The Equality and Human Rights Commission noted that “the figures make it very clear that some people used the referendum result to justify their deplorable views and promote intolerance and hatred” and there were other expressions of regret and revulsion — but not from many of the mainstream media outlets, because several newspapers rejoiced in the rush of intolerance that they had done so much to encourage.
I don’t understand how Mr Cloughley can accept at face value any figures coming from a government with a known history of lying, nor the mainstream media who collaborate with it.
The reasons for lack of regret, alas, are that many Britons are inherently racist and most of the print media play on that appalling aspect of the British character in order to attract readers and make money. In the facile and attractive guise of patriotism the papers seize on instances of supposed non-Britishness to encourage their readers to engage in hatred and contempt of foreigners. It is unlikely that any writers of such fascist hokum are familiar with the works of one of the greatest English essayists, poets and moralists, Dr Samuel Johnson, who wrote so perceptively that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
I don’t think it’s surprising that « many Britons are inherently racist », as they grew up in an inherently racist country, given that imperialism is inherently racist.
As for the media who were stoking this alleged racism, I can only say that their scribes were only doing what they were told. It’s no wonder they’re called « presstitutes ». And as for the Samuel Johnson citation, if memory serves, he was talking about the very same politicians who wrap themselves in the flag so as to disguise their traitorous,behavior.
Britain has had a race problem for many years but of late it has become severe because of a spiteful nationalistic campaign to leave the European Union, an organization that is bureaucratically absurd but seeks to benefit Europe’s citizens by promoting free trade and freedom of movement, protecting human rights, encouraging harmonization of legal processes, increasing effectiveness of counter-terrorism cooperation, and promoting economic and social progress.
This one really blows me away. Anyone who believes that the EU is some sort of benevolent association rather than a hired hand of US hegemony (Greece, all the Middle East wars, secret trade treaties anyone?) has been listening to the lobbyists of multinationals and the political puppets in Brussels (and believing their claptrap) for way too long.
These objectives are considered abhorrent by a surprising number of Britons who believe that alliance with the other 27 nations of the European Union helps movement of undesirable people to their country and that European legal covenants, agreed by their own governments during the past forty years, are inimical to the British way of life. They claim that leaving the European Union will save vast sums of money, especially in health care, while preventing abuse of ‘British Law’ by continuing to abide by European human rights standards.
Again, another incredibly naive statement from one who should know better. Of course the rapid and unending influx of low-paid workers from the suddenly incorporated countries of Eastern Europe is going to piss off the workers who have managed to hang onto their jobs and correctly see the writing on the wall : « Keep your heads down, your mouths shut, or you’ll find yourselves on the street ». That was one of the strategies of the EU : to flood left-leaning western Europe with low cost workers so as to increase the profits, thereby the purchasing power, of the oligarchs.
It is the contention of those who wish to leave the European Union that future trading arrangements to be negotiated at an unknown date with potential but unnamed countries will be of more financial benefit than continuance of existing European Union agreements with current trading partners. (The hastily-arranged November trade-promotion visit to India by Prime Minister Theresa May — a civilised person — was sadly barren. As reported by India’s Financial Express, she returned ‘Empty-Handed.’)
The Brexiteers are totally correct. They’ve seen « civilised » people like Theresa May gut the social contract in country after country, and they’re fed up with all the political double-speak.
The seeming rise in anti-European fervour was taken into political account by former Prime Minister David Cameron who announced in February 2016 that a referendum would be held in June to ask the simple question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” It was made clear that the referendum result would not in any way oblige the country to leave the European Union, because the Parliament did not specify legal consequences of a vote either way. It was an “advisory referendum”, and the British Parliament was and is in no way bound by any law or precedent to accept the result as mandatory for the country to ‘Brexit.’
It was intended that the referendum result would be an expression of the non-binding feelings of the British people and that the elected members of Parliament would take due notice of this when debating the complex matter in due course.
These spiteful, malevolent and thus most effective tirades were straight out of 1930s Germany, and there was not a shred of criticism of the newspapers by the government.
Other garbage newspapers, such as the formerly admirable Daily Telegraph, carried headlines such as ‘The Judges Versus The People.’ The Mail removed one abusive headline from its vulgar website, but the damage had been done and the bigots of Britain had been given yet more backing to express their hatred of foreigners, which extends to the media’s relentless anti-Russia campaign, intended to portray President Putin and the Russian people in the worst possible light.
Okay Brian, we get it. Mainstream media come in all flavors, from scandal and gossip sheets to the staid, supposedly responsible, « serious » publications, all owned by a small minority whose only priority is keeping its dwindling readership. Only occasionally, the truth slips out.
One declaration of President Barack Obama that will be remembered is his wise warning that in the United States “we are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude sort of nationalism, or ethnic identity or tribalism that is built around an US and a THEM.”
If anything is to be remembered concerning the Obama administration (more correctly referred to as the Obama Regime), it will be its repressive, hypocritical character.
In Trump America it is possible that this crude nationalism might become dominant. But in Britain it seems it already rules, as those judged (no irony intended) to be ‘different’ in any way to native Anglo-Saxons are considered to be undesirable. This has been so for very many years, unfortunately, and, as recollected by one young person so affected in the 1960s, it was insulting, when looking for lodgings, to “find notices galore that said ‘No Irish, no coloureds’.”
Although repulsive racist prejudice and casual bigotry are far from new in the United Kingdom, it had been thought that in the New Millennium there might have been some advance towards tolerance and acceptance of minorities. The Race Relations Act was supposed to eradicate racism, and had some mild success, but its aims have been set back or even destroyed by the bigots of Brexit who won their dubious victory largely because they appealed to all that is most base in mankind : the idea that superiority depends on race and especially color.
The country is declining. At this rate, the fall won’t be long in coming.
All noble sentiments, Brian. But empires are built on racism and bigotry, and the new fascination with identity politics is only another distraction, another subdivision of the racist and bigoted policies that lie at the heart of so much suffering today.
Since he lives in France, I assume Mr Cloughley reads French. It would be enlightening to have his views on the book, Circus Politicus, (Deloire and Dubois, Albin Michel, 2012) considered by Emmanuel Todd to be « Instrument de compréhension incomparable de la réalité du pouvoir globalisé et des vrais cercles qui l’exercent … » (‘An incomparable tool for understanding the reality of globalised power and those who exercise it … ‘ My translation).
The book concerns the origins, internal workings, and ultimately, the undemocratic nature of the European Union, and while I doubt that it was read by many of the Brexiteers, certainly goes a long way in explaining, in less racist or eltist terms, why they voted to leave the EU.
In a nutshell, Circus Politicus demonstrates that the EU is nothing more than a US proxy in its quest for global hegemony, and the rabble, the people, are finally catching on. And to treat them as racists, xenophobes, and bigots is to play into the hands of Mr Cloughly’s « despicable and vulgar » oligarchs, whose job it is to continually distract, disinform, and divide the population so they can’t get together to overthrow the entire criminal system which created all the immigrants and refugees in the first place.
Which is why it is so important for true progressives to disregard all the divisive labels being thrown around these days and to understand that the Brexiteers and the « oxi » voters in Greece, and possibly the « no » voters in Italy, in spite of all the denigrating comments, could be considered the vanguard of the fight against an unjust system.