Reflections on the Nationalistic Narratives that help to keep an Absurd System in Place

The book was bought in Foyles today; ‘Never Forget National Humiliation’ and with the pigs pigging it in Capitalism’s temples from Beijing to Bicester Village, Vancouver to Venice, Shanghai to St Moritz, the evidence would appear to suggest that  “Wuwang guóchǐ” has long since replaced the “4 legs good, 2 legs  and bad” narrative and doesn’t “building Socialism with Chinese characteristics sound like a bad joke?

No, post Tiananmen the Marxist “facing the truth in the face” narrative just has to take a back seat and while the present mumble jumble, gobbledygook makes little sense, that little is a little more than preaching equality in the quite crazy kleptocracy. Moreover, like everything else in China, they are only doing what the West has been doing for the last three hundred years or so.

Apropos of which, there was me, after buying the book, sauntering down Whitehall. The centre of empire, an older empire, but not long gone and, somehow, still hanging around. The statues of this, that, and the next guy who reveled in privilege and led millions of Tommies to the slaughter as they plundered the globe and my mind sort of drifted to my grandfather and his hatred of Churchill on spotting his – and people like my grandpa don’t get a statue – monument at the bottom of the street, just across from Westminster Abbey.

Yes, the blighty Brits have their very own equivalent of “Wuwang guóchǐ” and it goes something like “never think about what it really was”, is and will continue to be. At least, until the shit hits the frying pan. Oh, and the shit will hit the frying pan! On across the river, down to and over Lambeth Bridge and through the jolly nice gentrified residential area with “Starbucksies”, wee Waitroses, nice apartment blocks, and up to Victoria Station.

British economic growth in a nutshell in front of your face, rentier capitalism, and they haven’t quite managed to understand it, have they? The compound growth shit, just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in Beijing, it doesn’t work Birmingham, Bangkok, Burnley, or Berllin ….. it doesn’t work anywhere! And back to ‘Never Forget National Humiliation’ …. well, you have got to think of something to distract the people and get them to participate in keeping this shit going.

Three short conversations in London

Went down to Cricklewood High Street this morning to do my laundry, threw it in, and then went the Costa Coffee, where I saw, or thought I saw, Ken Livingstone a couple of weeks ago, to wait for it to finish and there he was sitting beside me and talking to me about the pollution on Crickewood High Street and me telling, or trying to tell, him about the pollution in China.

There was a sort of lexical chain there, but not enough to establish any real coherent and cohesive conversation. Still, the conversation got a little bit interesting when Ken expressed his opinion that politicians are not brave enough to implement real change,even if that only had me talking about how, one way or another, change will be forced upon everyone as the capitalist growth model is doomed to blow up in all our faces.

By that time, of course, either a lack of interest in what I had to say, or a lack of ability to comprehend what I was talking about had the once Mayor of London drifting back to his copy of the Guardian.

Still, it was that bit about politicians lacking courage that had our references on this small planet touching and if implementing real change means that George Osborne doesn’t get to shoot off a machine gun on holiday in Vietnam and the kleptocracy in the People’s Republic of Amnesia doesn’t get to shop in Harrods and buy property here there and everywhere, then the thought would have to be that it would be difficult for them to see it in their interests to do so, even if it should be crystal clear to all and sundry that the shit is just about to hit the frying pan.

Anyway, back to the laundry and the Iraqi guy, who works there, was watching a shia cleric on television. On my mentioning that it was a shia cleric who was spouting out the hamdullahs, the Iraqi expressed some surprise at my exopheric reference which then soon led to us getting into a conversation about this, that, and the next thing and which went all the way back to the battle of Kerbala. A conversation that sort of petered out just after the Iraqi emphasised that it is not the ordinary people who are the problem, but rather it is the politicians. Yes,  Ken, even when the shit is hitting the frying pan, it is quite difficult to see politicians implementing any solutions when the evidence would appear to suggest that they are part of the problem.

Back home and, with the laundry put neatly away, it was time to make my way to Foyles where I am writing up this post. Still, there was time for another little event before getting on the number 16 bus and, on my way to the bus stop, I started talking to a colleague. A greek lady with native speaker level English who asked me where I was going and when I said, “Foyles”, she just didn’t know where, or what “Foyles” is, and when I started talking about my conversation with Ken Livingstone her response was to ask who Ken Livingstone was, or is.

Yes, it really is all about the reference and when I wonder why so few people read my blog, I really should be coming to the conclusion that very few people understand it and it might just be that we should talk to people in a language that is intelligible and by that I don’t just mean using words in a structured and conventional way, but rather using words and terms that person you are talking to can actually access. Now, where is that book by Slavoj Žižek I was looking for?

 

 

Image and Reality and the child pulled from Aleppo rubble

The reference is to a picture and an article in today’s ‘Guardian’ under the headline “Boy in the ambulance: shocking image emerges of Syrian child pulled from Aleppo rubble.”

Of course, your heart goes out to the little boy in the picture, and so it should, and it is meant to. However, how shocking is this image in the context of children being blown to pieces by ISIS, by the rebels, by Assad’s troops, by the Americans and by the Russians? Oh, and while we see the “horrific” “hole in the middle of the great big garden” results of a Palestinian Qassam rocket, how many images of “blown to pieces” Gazan children do we get to see?

Still, David Milliband and a nonentity labour campaigner David Baines get to be appalled  as does a certain Lydia Shelly, an Australian lawyer. All “appalled, appalled, appalled” and when we leave the comfort zone that the lowering of our affective filters has permitted us to enter, we are allowed to cognitively process the information that:

“On Tuesday, Russia launched airstrikes in Aleppo and two other provinces from a base in western Iran, the main regional ally of the Assad regime.”

It might be implied, or even explicitly stated, that the culprits can only be found in Damascus, Moscow, and Teheran, but then we never got to see those pictures of the dead Gaza children and if I can remember David Milliband being appalled back then, it was when the Qassam rockets had Israelis having to interrupt their dinner and scurry for shelter.

And on that note, and having introduced my very current, “image and reality” gripe, it might be time to direct you to Norman Finkelstein’s ‘Image and Reality of the Israeli-Palestine Conflict’ and who knows a little chewing of the cud could just lead to you treating articles like the one in today’s ‘Guardian’ with the contempt they deserve.

 

China, the Revolution betrayed, and the coming Catastrophe

It was a worthwhile read and Lousia Lim’s book ‘The People’s Republic of Amnesia’, which was mentioned in the blog’s previous post, has now been given the required dose of cognitive processing. The mention towards the end of the book of George Orwell’s quote on controlling the past to control the future and controlling  the present to control the past is certainly pertinent.

It is, however, a futile undertaking on their part, because the kleptocrats in the middle kingdom are, as they have always been, a part of the problem, rather than the problem itself and, while their asset striping and their putting public wealth into private pockets has allowed those who see nothing, hear nothing,  say nothing, and who have the guanxi, to live the “good” life, the very economic model they slaughtered their own citizens for at Tiananmen, and elsewhere in 1989 will come back to haunt them.

When it comes to Orwellian newspeak Deng Xiao Ping’s “socialism with Chinese characteristics” takes the biscuit and the freak that uninterrupted economic growth is has already spawned a new generation of protesters in the form of environmental activists. Moreover, this is not some nascent movement and, while air and water pollution are a long way behind corruption as the Chinese people’s major cause of concern, the disgusting heavens above China and the country’s polluted rivers are viewed as being linked to an equally disgusting kleptocracy that has bought into the capitalist dream.

As Lousia Lim points out, there is ample evidence to suggest that China turned its back on socialism and democracy in 1989 and social cohesion, which can no longer look to communist ideals, is now achieved through  jingoism and xenophobia. Nevertheless, it is a deja vu story and we really have been there before. Nevertheless, the scale of growth being unleashed in China is such that the coming catastrophe could lead to the total annihilation of mankind and that too is why the revolution ultimately betrayed and then forgotten from 1989 is also important.

 

China, Historical Deception, and letting People speak the Truth

When I was back in Munich recently, I met an old friend whose father worked at the Hungarian embassy during the Cultural Revolution. His matter-of-fact account of what he could see from his apartment window was only out of the ordinary because it came from someone who no longer has any active, or academic, interest in that period, but who could, nevertheless, relate events as if they had happened only yesterday.

His window looked out onto Tiananmen Square and he recalled how he watched trucks full of Red Guards rolling past with an occassional  hapless individual, with a sign around his or her neck, in the middle of them. Interesting information from someone who had been there and got the t-shirt, but had never read the book.Should the historians tell the story, their credibility might suffer somewhat should their narrative be substantially different. At least for as long as people like my friend are around. Of course, similarly it might be thought that it is difficult for someone to tell all and sundry that they are living in their own house, when some old lady can hold up the keys to that house, which she was forced to leave at gunpoint. The reference there is obvious, but back to the China narrative and fast speed forward to 1989.

At the moment, I am reading Louisa Lim’s ‘The People’s Republic of Amnesia’ . Her narrative is based on testimony given by people who directly experienced the events of May and June 1989 and who were affected by them. An ex-PLA soldier talks about his first deployment to Tiananmen and how they had to return to barracks because their paths to the square were blocked by students and citizens who “tried to employ reason against the use of force” (Lim:11). And then it is fast forward again, but this time to 2011 and an English colleague in China telling me why he likes living in Beijing. The Běi jīng rén” are great people  and they are very politically aware, he told me, before going on to relate a very similar narrative to the one delivered by Ms Lim. 

Of course, that was in 2011 and, as my recent stint in China informed me, in four years a lot can change and there is evidence to suggest that today the truth narrative is as unwelcome in China as it was during the Cultural Revolution and that the ability or willingness to deal critically, not only with the ten years from 1966 to 1976, but also with the preceeding and following years, has actually decreased. History is, once again, being re-written, it is being selectively and subjectively sourced, and everything is just hunky-dory in a pseudo-Marxist country which apes a growth model that is completely based on the most blatant contradictions in capitalism, and which inevitably lead to the pursuit of ridiculous geopolitical goals that are based on a mythical past.

As indicated in the second paragraph, the phenomena of re-writing history and conjuring up some mythical past in order to achieve Machiavellian political goals is not unique to China and elsewhere there also exists some very strange concocted notions to give the state its raison d’État”. Moreover, the oxymoronic “Jewish Democracy” founded on a mythical  “land without people for a people without land” might be at least as absurd as China’s Xi Jinping contending that China is a Marxist country.

Nevertheless, it is with China that this post began and it is where it will end by returning to Lousi Lim’s book which is a welcome countermeasure to the “2 + 2 = 5” version of history being pursued by Beijing today. Moreover, while it might also serve as a wake up call for those followers of myths elsewhere, it is what is happening in China that might push us all into the abyss sooner rather than later. The first step, therefore, is to provide a voice to those isolated by the truth, and Ms Lim’s book does that.

 

 

 

Might have seen Ken Livingstone in Costa Coffee this morning

In London for a few weeks and I have already been here for a few days. Could swear I saw Ken Livingstone in Costa Coffee in Cricklewood this morning. An “oldish”, very casually dressed man, who would hardly cut a dash in the more chic parts of this city, but then cutting a dash was never on Ken’s agenda.

Anyway, there he was, a copy of the Guardian under his arm, coffee bought, and off he went to a nice quiet little corner of the cafe and his, no doubt, daily cognitive engagement with the latest episode of the daily drivel.

Didn’t approach him, of course! Thought about it and, perhaps, bringing up the now months old scandal of his pummeling by the media for his supposedly “anti-semitic” remarks. Thought about it and thought about having a little tête-à-tête about Ilan Pappe, the Balfour declaration, the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine, ….. thought about it, but didn’t.

And then  I thought about Winston in the Chestnut Tree Cafe, but then, even if Ken didn’t betray anyone, this “oldish”, very casually dressed man, deserved to be left alone with his cup of coffee and his copy of the Guardian.

A final word on the Munich shootings

President Obama on Friday: “Germany’s one of our closest allies, so we are going to pledge all the support that they may need in dealing with these circumstances.”  Well, with it now being confirmed that 18-year-old gunman, Ali Sonboly, was a bit of a loner with mental health issues, it might just be that this shooting had all the traits of a whole array of rampage killings made in the US of A. So, Mr Obama, what have you been doing in the United States to prevent killings such as these being avoided?

Still, we shouldn’t be too hard on the American president. After all, most of those killings were perpetrated by loners with psychological problems. Yes, loners not too different from Ali Sonboly. However, it might just be that the young German – and one must wonder why the German media keep referring to him as “German-Iranian” – wasn’t completely negatively influenced by a wider world where mass murder is almost the order of the day.

Moreover, the perpetrators of those mass murders won’t claim psychological problems as a defence. However, when we consider the extent of their crimes, might it not just be that Tony Blair, George Bush, Hillary Clinton, Benjamin Netanyahu, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Francios Hollande, Barack Obama, and, yes, many, many, others,are all self-serving, egotistical, megalomaniac, psychopaths?