Patriots and Patriotism

An analysis of an easily-mocked ideology.

Patriotism

Patriotism

Given the analysis of patriotism in the media due to a certain infamous twitter picture, it seems relevant to me to not analyse patriotism from a class perspective, but strip away all the unnecessary meat from bone and observe patriotism on its own, at its most basic and what it fundamentally is as an ideological perspective.

A "certain infamous twitter picture"

A “certain infamous twitter picture”

I never pretend to understand patriots. This is of course, the expected outcome of observing a group of people who one doesn’t just disagree with, but is confused by.

Whilst there is a difference between patriotism and nationalism, one gets the impression that the two cross over on minor issues.

Patriotism is loving one’s own country.

Nationalism is loving one’s own country and believing that it is better than other countries.

In a sense the patriot has nationalistic tendencies. Whilst a patriot won’t cheaply steep to sinister ideas of national and racial superiority (this would be an apt situation where a patriot and a nationalist would disagree), a patriot will hold feelings of defensive superiority to certain elements of their national culture.

A patriot believes that minor customs (styles of cooking, different methods of etiquette) are of the utmost importance and are more unique – perhaps better – than other nation’s customs. In this sense, a patriot has nationalist tendencies in regards to the small nuances of day-to-day culture.

The patriot makes the trivial become vital and twists the banal and the mundane into national symbols.

The belief of unique-ness is interesting here. The notion that one’s own culture isn’t clichéd but is original – even though it is apparent that patriotism is an ideology so dominant and widespread – for it needs to be to survive – is clichéd

Patriotism is unsubtle.

It was very difficult to find a picture for this post because I wished to find a picture which wasn’t garish or outrageous to the extent that I was mocking an ideology so obvious and blunt that it is oft custom to plunge into ridicule.

However, it soon became apparent that finding a nuanced picture to represent patriotism disputes the very point of patriotism. Patriotism is an ideology outside of rationality. Patriotism is the fetishisation of land, of customs, of food and the belief that one’s own land is different and only shares rare similarities with other countries. In this sense patriotism is a very intriguing ideology.

In general, one might assume that most patriots align themselves with the political-right. The political-right view themselves through almost scientific descriptions, self-describing themselves as “practical”, “logical” and “pragmatic”. But what is logical or rational about the adoration of land to which one’s own mother so happened to break water on? This isn’t of course to suggest that those of a left-leaning disposition aren’t or cannot be patriots, but at a mere glance, they are less in number and if they are patriotic, their patriotic tendencies are more diluted.

Politics is very complicated and the ideological constructs of “Left” and “Right” do cross over. In simplistic terms, right-wing is about the individual and left-wing is about the collective. Patriotism – in a sense – aligns itself with dichotomies associated with the left. Patriotism is anti-individual and pro-collective. It isn’t about you, it’s about the nation. Patriotism is rooted in political-symbolism, perhaps more so than any other ideology. Political-symbolism in its nature is about uniformity and the belief in the collective. Whilst certain counter-cultural groups do have symbols and practices (anarchists have the A-symbol, the black flag and the black cat), one gets the sense that the symbolism of patriotism is firmly rooted with paranoia. An anarchist wouldn’t question you not holding a black flag and a capitalist wouldn’t react with disbelief if you didn’t display the Gadsden flag, but a patriot would question why one isn’t wearing a poppy on remembrance day, or why one isn’t displaying the union jack or the St. George’s cross outside one’s window or why one isn’t a monarchist.

Patriots assume that everyone should be patriotic, and that opposing beliefs don’t oppose their ideology but oppose them on a personal level. In this sense, whilst one can draw a distinction between one’s personality and one’s ideological world views, the borders between the two are blurred when it comes to patriotism.

The Iconic Anarchist "A"

The Iconic Anarchist “A”

 

The Gadsden Flag

The Gadsden Flag

St. George's Cross

St. George’s Cross

The logic of patriotism is that everyone should be a patriot, and if one isn’t then said person is performing an act of deep pernicious immorality. In this sense, there is an imperialistic side to patriotism. Thus, whilst patriotism and nationalism can be separated, they’re so close that they can disturbingly cross over into one another.

I must state again for sheer clarification, I do no pretend to understand patriots. I don’t – and cannot grasp – what mindset allows such an ideology to develop inside someone’s brain.

Thus the real question is why are people patriotic?

At its root, this is very easy to understand. All ideologies provide people with comfort. An ideology, a doctrine, a political dogma offers a neatly-spun explanation of how our complex world works, how it should work and how we – as humans – should all act to create a better world.

All ideologies are intrinsically utopian.

Thus, the patriots utopia sees no distinction between the state and the individual. The individual has to love the state and nation, and because in a patriots utopia all individuals are patriots, then society and the individual are one and the same: the views of the people and the views of the government are identical. The individual loves their country…every individual loves their country…thus, society loves itself.

Ideological comfort is deeply rooted in comradeship (especially if you’re a Marxist – more on this in later posts). There is something pleasant and calming about meeting other people who have similar world-views to you. There are no culture-clashes and instead there is a shared identity.

But at its root, patriotism is profoundly rooted in subservience. I must serve my country. I must serve my monarch. I must serve my nation. I must serve my culture. Society has to be served, saved and protected by me. I cannot disagree. My nation transcends my opinions. My nation – no matter who is elected – will always be beautiful and will always be perfect.

In this perhaps there is an explanation. Whilst there is a sense of subservience to the patriot ideology, there is a common ownership. England isn’t just a country, it’s my country. The country was born in.

Patriotism is a blend of collectivism and individualism. It is simultaneously about common-ownership and individual-ownership. It is the ultimate plain and centrist ideology. And due to this, as well as being immensely trivial, it is also immensely common, which is why its presence is ever the more disturbing.

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The Meaningless Political Cliches Drinking Game!

Recently I penned an article about how clichés used in political discourse harm the way we think and damage our methods of persuasion as certain phrases/maxims lose their impact due to overuse.

After posting the article this issue has been troubling me for some time, but not due to the ethics of how we should use language but just out of sheer irritation* at the frequency of the linguistic-seizures foaming out of politician/journalist/pundit’s mouths. Certain phrases used in talk-shows, speeches are either so overused, meaningless or incoherent that it has infected the way I think. It’s very difficult not to use a cliché because there are so many – so many that I have created a list…or rather: a drinking game.

Thus a good measure of how poisoned politics has become with clichés is to see how quickly one can get drunk via sipping alcohol accordingly to when the maxims and words listed below are used in a speech or a discussion-show (i.e. Question Time or Newsnight).

Behold, The Meaningless Political Clichés Drinking Game…

Nigel Farage holding a pint of beer

Nigel Farage holding a pint of beer

PHRASES – 1 SIP OF DRINK

  1. “Hardworking Families”
  2. “Tough Decisions”
  3. “The War on **insert cultural phenomenon to which current government is having an ideological battle against**
  4. “The something for nothing culture”
  5. “The us and them mentality”
  6. “A tough love approach to…”
  7. “We’re cracking down on…” (Crime, drugs, extremism, benefit fraudsters, tax-dodging etc)
  8. “Frontline services”
  9. “Communities” (especially “vibrant” ones)
  10. “Diversity”
  11. “Inclusivity”
  12. “Change”
  13. “Dreams”
  14. “Aspirations”
  15. “Goals”
  16. “British values” (when used with this strange – and arrogant – assumption that British people are the only people in the world who have representative democracy, trial by jury, who queue in shops, who use sarcasm, or who eat fish and chips)
  17. “Democracy” (the word itself being used as a piece of persuasive rhetoric/a political buzzword to attack the opposing side…i.e. “this isn’t democratic”, “this policy goes against democratic values”)
  18. “This is the 21st century” (Saying this condescending phrase as an attack against someone with socially-conservative/traditionalist values)
  19. “Draconian”/“Medieval”/“Ice age” (Using a word/phrase which implies/states the concept of ‘the past’ to criticise a policy – “the bedroom tax is something you’d see in medieval times”, “these draconian measures…”)
  20. “Party politics”
  21. “Political point scoring”
  22. “Benefit scroungers/spongers/thieves”
  23. “This is the worst….since….” (i.e. “This is the worst economic situation since Wall Street”, “This is the worst crime rate since 1987”…)
  24. “Raising awareness”
  25. “We’ve all seen the images” (in reference to a famine/war which is obviously not in a 1st world country because said person loves being all judgemental and assumes everyone in middle-eastern countries a cannibalistic barbarian because they’ve “never heard of democracy”)
  26. “Broken Britain”
  27. “We’re all in this together”
  28. “United we stand”
  29. “Change for the better”/”Change we can all believe in”
  30. Adding a word before the noun “Britain” to apply it with an ideological attribute: “alarm clock Britain”, “multicultural Britain”
  31. “Yes we can”
  32. “It’s the economy, stupid”
  33. “The International Community”
  34. The portmanteaus “Europhile” and “Eurosceptic”
  35. “The Westminster Bubble”
  36. “A New Politics” (in particular reference to the idea that this speech is about changing political culture, specifically ending political corruption)
  37. “Educated at Cambridge/Harrow/**insert wealthy educational establishment here**” (Randomly referencing – usually a Tory – politician’s educational history to suggest that they’re not representative of the majority of the people)
  38. “The Liberal Elite”
  39. “The Metropolitan Elite”
  40. The suffix “-gate” used to describe a political scandal (i.e. “Plebgate”, “Bigotgate”, “Cablegate”, “Watergate”…)
  41. “The mainstream media…” (Randomly mentioning the “mainstream media” to criticise political bias to divert attention from your own mistakes and thus criticise the way you/your party has been represented as opposed to the actions of you/your party)
  42. “Will you let me finish”/“I let you speak, you’ll let me speak”/“As I was saying” (Phrases used in political interviews/debates/discussions where specific panel members are “rudely interrupted” and thus have to start their point ALL OVER AGAIN)
  43. “Look…” (Starting a sentence with the word “Look” with a brief pause and a pointless hand-gesture to signal the fact that you’re going to say something which probably involves a difficult time in the future due to “tough decisions” having to be made)
  44. “At the end of the day…”
  45. “Let’s deal with some HARD facts”
  46. “The West” (Using this pointless generalised phrase when all you really mean is just “America”)
  47. “The East” (Using this pointless generalised phrase because you assume that all middle-eastern Muslim countries aren’t as civilised as us Westerners – generally said in a very patronising tone)
  48. Using the word “deeply” for extra impact (usually in reference to a scandal where a media-personality/politician has said the N-word for example… “this was a deeply offensive thing to say”, “this has deeply offended the XYZ community”)
  49. Just the word “offensive”
  50. The words “inappropriate” or “unprofessional” used when stronger words would do (usually used to describe a media-personality/politician saying something “offensive”… “his comments were deeply inappropriate considering his high-position. A total misjudgement and totally unprofessional”)
  51. “We need to get out of Europe!” (A meaningless phrase which what they really meant to say was: “We need to leave the EU”)
  52. “Boom and bust”
  53. “The squeezed middle”

RHETORICAL METHODS – 3 SIPS OF DRINK

  1. Meaningless hand gestures
  2. A specific word/phrase/sentence said 3 times for rhetorical impact
  3. Stating a statistic but using it entirely out of context, thus warping the statistic to fit your own point/argument
  4. Taking a longer than usual sip of water (provided by the BBC taxpayer) just so you can think of a point
  5. “Doing a Michael Howard” – i.e. not answering the question at all and instead resorting to saying (and indeed repeating) a meaningless sentence over and over again to divert attention from your/the party’s own mistakes/actions/decisions
  6. Comparing a politician to a previous infamous one – i.e. Margaret Thatcher, Enoch Powell
  7. Comparing a politician to a famous dictator (usually Hitler because that was the first fucking dictator that came into said person’s tiny brain)
  8. Confusing Communism and Stalinism/saying that North Korea is a “communist/socialist country” (and any other versions of the same mistake)
  9. Linking UKIP to extremist parties like Golden Dawn and Front Nationale (or just saying general crap like “Nigel Farage is doing exactly what the Nazis did”)
  10. Using “liberal” and “left” interchangeably, or just saying “liberal left”
  11. Confusing “multiculturalism” with “multiracialism” (and vice versa)
  12. Saying bizarre phrases to mock left-wingers: “guardian reading, Godless, beret-wearing, tree-hugging socialists” (etc)
  13. Saying bizarre phrases to mock right-wingers: “daily mail reading, ultra-Christian, white-supremacist, bigots” (etc)
  14. Mocking the media-image of a politician as opposed to their policies/ideology/what they stand for (i.e. laughing at Ed Miliband for looking like a very famous children’s stop-moton character, and being substantially poor at consuming a bacon-butty)
  15. Using the metaphor/image of a door, a gate or a bridge to describe issues surrounding immigration
  16. Journalists who use nasally intonation on specific words for theatrical effect (journalists include Jeremy Vine and Nick Robinson)
  17. Inserting a word in front of an ideology or party-name to imply that the party has “moved on” from its old ways…i.e. “One Nation Labour”, “New Labour”, “Compassionate Conservatism”…etc
  18. Making a politicians name into an adjective/or another word form, i.e. “Thatcherite”, “Neo-thatcherism”, “Blairite”, “Milibandism”

REALLY CRAP JOKES AND CHEAP GIMICKS – FIVE SIPS

  1. Politicians trying to be funny
  2. Journalists trying to be funny
  3. Awful play on words-gags such as turning “Blair” into “Bliar” or combining the names of the political parties to represent your view towards them “I CONDEM the conservative and the liberal democrats (maybe even phrases similar and including “Clegg-mania”)
  4. Journalists ending a report with a play on words which references the theme/topic of the video…i.e. if it’s about sport “Britain is going to have run the extra-mile/jump a few more hurdles if it really wants to stand a chance at gaining gold in terms of the quality of PE lessons”
  5. Silly over-the-top graphics employed to demonstrate a point, i.e. to show that the economy is rising, present a bar-chart increasing but the bar in the bar chart is replaced by lots of gold coins stacking onto one another

 

*The following drinking game is probably too harsh/pedantic in certain points

Politics and The Cliched Language

This article with an intentionally awfully-punned title is about The Adolf Hitler of Language: Cliches

George Orwell

George Orwell

In 1946, George Orwell wrote his most well-known essay “Politics and the English Language” in which he describes how euphemism is used to conceal dangerous policies and acts committed by politicians and how clichéd phrases used in political discourse are lowering the room-temperature of debate to a level of such palatable mildness that it becomes substantially unbearable*.

What is most concerning perhaps isn’t necessarily that discourse is simply descending into people exchanging overused propagandistic statements, but that words which used to have and maintain such power are spoken/written so often (usually when not needed) that their effect and meaning becomes diluted.

It is evident that Orwell was right in some regards (I do disagree with him on some minor points but overall I think his essay is precise in its criticisms). Indeed, Orwell’s points can be applied to today’s discourse.

Euphemism is particularly dangerous as it subtly lacerates our minds by allowing us to succumb to the harmful, by believing what wishes to implement hurt onto us to be either: non-threatening or a nonchalant “everyday”.

Wars are called “armed conflicts”, terrorists are called “insurgents”, bombs are called “Improvised Explosive Devices”, areas which have experienced intense civil-wars between violent militia groups are said to be “destabilised regions”, war-crimes, genocide and slaughter en-masse are simply ignored in phrases which gloss over the events, such as, “humanitarian intervention”, and my most favourite of all: a phrase used when families have been flung out of their homes and made refugees is “the displaced”.

Eupemisms are insulting

Euphemisms are insulting

Pundits gleefully chuck around political-clichés like rabid cheetahs throwing around the dismembered heads and intestines of their prey. “It’s an us and them mentality”. “The Westminster Bubble”. “The Political Class”. “The Liberal Elite”. “Give The People what they want”. “We’re being robbed of our liberty”. “A Political Landslide”. “A Political Earthquake”. “The Loony Left”. “We’re living in a Nanny State”. “We’ll make Britain great again”. “The gap between rich and poor is at an all-time high/low”. “Boom and bust”. “Health and Safety gone mad”. “The Mainstream Media always does this”. “Parties like UKIP are just blaming the other” (identity politics has always been a bit of “a minefield”, when it comes to clichéd phrases)…

What is perhaps more disturbed is that – as already mentioned – powerful ideological words have become semantic-voids: “Political correctness”, “Socialism”, “Liberalism”, “Fascism”, “Racism”, “Homophobia”. Even “Democracy”. These shouldn’t be clichés or political-buzzwords or pieces of rhetoric employed – if I may adamantly use the cliché – “to score cheap political-points”. I hear Obama described as a socialist. I hear David Cameron being called a fascist. I hear phrases which ejaculate paradoxes of such intensity that it is like observing Ron Jeremy gushing out orgasms of thunderous nonsense-speak: “socialists hate poor people”, “liberals don’t like free-speech”, “**insert leader here** is just like Adolf Hitler” (Why is it when people wish to compare elected leaders to totalitarian ratbags, Hitler and Stalin are always the most popular choice?), and certainly the worst phrase – a phrase which exhausts superlatives – is “multiculturalism is white genocide”.

Hitler must take it as a compliment that his name is used as a piece of rhetoric employed to win debates...

Hitler must take it as a compliment that his name is used as a piece of rhetoric employed to win debates…

Certain individuals seem to be under the guise that socialism and Stalinism are synonymous and that Liberalism isn’t about freedom of speech or a free press but actually just a synonym for what has been crudely termed “Cultural Marxism”. I must admit, I do cringe when I read articles or hear people who use “Left” and “Liberal” interchangeably.

Other peoples will then brand celebrities homophobic for using specific words (of course ignoring the context in which offensive/obscene language is used entirely). James Arthur once tweeted “fucking queer”. Does this really mean he dislikes gay people, really? He doesn’t. He’s just intensely…”insensitive”, with his language use. I’ve never been a particular fan of the word “homophobe” (and it’s derivatives). It’s a very limiting word and implicitly states that dislike for gay people is entirely due to fear – thus when you use the word against someone who doesn’t fear gays but is instead disturbed, disgusted or repulsed by them, the word seems so false that to the “homophobe” it becomes a useless word in and of itself. Thus, a vital question arises: do new words have to be formed, and indeed who should form them?

This progresses onto a more serious point. How can we discuss Homophobia or Islamophobia if the words themselves dictate entirely a whole situation? How can we understand prejudice if we only ever view it through the lens of “people fear what they don’t understand” (a cliché which is not only annoyingly overused but false in some circumstances).

Indeed, if we stretch this issue wider, how can anyone be persuaded by rhetoric and language if our sentences are toxicated with linguistic-poison? (Do forgive me for the melodramatic tone).

One of my favourite maxims is: A truth expressed badly is a lie. Language should be used to persuade and enlighten. How can we persuade and enlighten our fellow ignoramuses about poverty if we are restrained by only ever using phrases like “the gap between rich and poor”, how can we talk about an overly-protective universe, to our fellow creatures, if we only ever use phrases like “nanny state” and “health and safety gone mad”? The problem with clichés is that they are words and phrases so overused that their original intent and meaning has become severely pixelated. Thus, we have to conjure new expressions, phrases, words, and portmanteaus to express the same ideas. All debaters will know that the same ideas are recycled in debates, but how one expresses them is what matters: for the original turn of phrase makes the issue seem more relevant than it would if expressed via…a weakened mode of language.

Indeed these same points can be extrapolated onto issues regarding “armed conflicts” and the war-crimes which occur during them. People seem to be referring to civil-wars in Iraq and in Russia/Ukraine by not stating what is actually occurring and instead cloaking the issues behind opening a sentence such as: “The situation in Iraq”. What situation? There are multiple “situations” that occur in Iraq – and why is every foreign international event referred to as a “crisis” (this isn’t a middle-aged fedora-wearing IT-expert attempting to find his lost watch – we’re talking about politics infused with machete-off heads and children with bullet-wounds here). It gets more perturbed when certain pundits discuss what other nations and “foreign powers” are doing, will passively refer to the entire globe as “The International Community”. It’s hardly a “Community” – I don’t see much communal spirit, and when there is, it’s based on entirely false premises (the Olympics for example).

Henceforth, I think some rules need to be stated on how to write about politics without resorting to cliché:

This is what cliches "open themselves up to"...

This is what cliches “open themselves up to”…

1) If you’ve heard the phrase before or seen it “in print”, don’t use it.

2) Try and think of multiple similes or metaphors and use the one which seems most appropriate.

3) If you are to use a cliché, ensure to veil it in a salad of irony, you might wish to use quotation marks – I personal always put “110 percent” into doing this.

4) Refrain from being overly-sentimental, this is where most clichés seem to simper their way in.

5) If you are to use a political-insult, try and design a new phrase which expresses the same meaning. For example, rather than saying “champagne socialist”, you could use phrases like: “airport-lounge revolutionary”, “occado-communist”, “New-Statesman-subscribing Bolshevik” – or simply replace the word “champagne” with its sister-drink “Prosecco”.

6) Always question the names of political-parties. Most political-parties do not adhere to the ideology to which their title would subscribe. The Labour Party isn’t left-wing and The Conservative Party is hardly adopting the beliefs of Edmund Burke.

7) Never use euphemism. State facts. Don’t avoid events. Soldiers didn’t “pass away”, they died. If you wish to be emphatic you could use words like “massacre” or “slaughter” – but try not to over-use such words or be too emphatic with this type of tone as being so melodramatic is essentially the same as being euphemistic.

 

* George Orwell has also written another essay called “What is Fascism” where he explains succinctly and clearly why the term “Fascism” doesn’t have any semantic-worth and is simply used as a political-insult.

 

BRITAIN FIRST: Nasty, Conspiratorial, Pseudo-Intellectual, Politically Incoherent, Lee Rigby Obsessed, Propagandist Ratbag Racketeering Organisation

Hope you liked the title. A polemic against an unintentionally stupid and hilarious party.

We are The British Resistance: The Rise of Nationalism

We are The British Resistance: The Rise of Nationalism

With the politically-divisive issue of “Islamic Rape Gangs” (or just ‘Rapists’), and many other – to use the clichéd word – controversial, issues, Britain First (I italicise this because they should clearly be viewed as a brand as opposed to a political party) has managed to become the most liked political party on Facebook, receiving more likes than the three main political parties.

With the “Rotherham Scandal” at large, we are being treated to daily by Britain First to something so sensational that one is tempted to call it “the sexual equivalent of 9/11”.

Let’s start with the most important point about Britain First, their misunderstandings of politics and ideology as a whole.

1. Political Incoherency

On their website they have a principle statement for what they aptly title their “movement”, a movement more concerned with, how shall I phrase it, the bowels of political discourse. Cheap potshots aside, this statement is essentially a list of their ideological standpoints. The issue at contention here, is the fact that if one has a grasp of ideology and thoroughly reads this statement, there are numerous contradictions which seem to belittle one’s own intelligence for reading them.

Let’s go through it point by point.

1. Britain First is committed to the maintenance of British national sovereignty, independence and freedom. Our people must enjoy full self-determination, free from the interference and meddling of foreign organisations, such as the European Union, that threaten the integrity of our political institutions. National sovereignty rests with the British people and our democratically elected Parliament. Britain must be a democratic nation where the will of the people is translated into political action.

Nothing of contention here, but then it goes on to say:

2. Britain First is a movement of British Unionism. We support the continued unity of the United Kingdom whilst recognising the individual identity and culture of the peoples of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We abhor and oppose all trends that threaten the integrity of the Union. [Bold added by author]

Either I am deeply blind, or their marketing campaign (yes, I do mean that word) is at flaw here. If they really are against the breaking of the union between countries of the United Kingdom, why have I not heard a glimmer of complaint or any slight whine of pain concerning the upcoming Scottish independence referendum. Either I’m ignorant to the oh so subtle nuances of this party, or, they’re lying.

3. Britain First is committed to preserving our ancestral ethnic and cultural heritage, traditions, customs and values. We oppose the colonisation of our homeland through immigration and support the maintenance of the indigenous British people as the demographic majority within our own homeland. Britain First is committed to maintaining and strengthening Christianity as the foundation of our society and culture.

This point is full of logical fallacies and ideological disturbances. Let’s go through it step by step (patronisation fully intended). In terms of “ancestral ethnic and cultural heritage, traditions, customs and values”, unless Britain First are against the fundamental basics of human nature, it is perfectly logical to assume that cultures, heritages and traditions change, are wiped out, borrowed, appropriated and even blended and combined to form different other cultures. Moving on from this, one has to despair when one hears the phrase “indigenous British” or “indigenous *INSERT NATIONALITY HERE*. Unless if an entire nation stayed in the same spot and never moved and never allowed anyone to enter their borders, then yes, this phrase can be used. The above two points pose that overbearingly naïve, simpering and pointless question: “What does it mean to be *INSERT NATIONALITY HERE*”. This question is unanswerable, for the simple reason that a country is not an artwork, it does not mean anything. Alas, there will be some who say that it is like an artwork because it means different things to different people – this is fundamentally the point: how can you preserve a culture as if it’s the identity of the nation when it is clear that there are always other cultures occurring. Indeed, when the painful question “What does it mean to be British?” is posed I hear people say trivial phrases like “eating fish and chips by the seaside” and other banalities. This is a strange enactment to be ‘proud’ of and to assume only your peoples do. I can firmly assure you, numerous dull people go to the seaside, purloin some chips and then eat them there – how the process of consuming chips is a British “phenomenon” is beyond me. Then of course, we have traditional and iconic things like the NHS, Houses of Parliament, London Eye, the Queen, the Poet Laureate – “cultural landmarks” if you will. But these aren’t being threatened for removal, not even the NHS.

The final part concerns itself with “maintaining and strengthening Christianity as the foundation of our society and culture”. Well, this is a contradiction to point 1, where it states that Britain must be a “democratic nation”: If you truly believe in democracy not only should there be a separation between church and state but there should also be no state-imposed religion or ideology. Now of course, one may argue that at present we might have a state-imposed ideology (some have argued that this is what multiculturalism is), but this rebuttal does not excuse the contradiction in terms of Britain First‘s rather trite and silly attempt at a manifesto. Democracy is more a practicality than an ideology: it is the belief of a singular ideology being chosen and/or multiple ideologies conjoining together to create a society.

4. Britain First is committed to creating a revitalised national economy based on private-enterprise and maximum self-sufficiency within an economic policy that puts the interests of British business, industry, workers and our national requirements before those of political doctrine, international finance or meddling foreign organisations. We stand opposed to unbridled free trade and the importation of foreign labour into our homeland.

Putting “British interests” first is and of itself a political doctrine.

5.Britain First stands opposed to all alien and destructive political or religious doctrines, including Marxism, Liberalism, Fascism, National Socialism, Political Correctness, Euro Federalism and Islam. Britain First is a movement of British nationalism, patriotism and democracy.

I’ve had to put all of this in bold as every word causes a semantic or moral problem. The most interesting contradiction is when it simultaneously says it is pro-democracy and then says that it’s against “liberalism” (as well as of course believing that liberalism is an “alien and destructive religious doctrine”). Liberalism is founded on the fundamental belief in democracy: free speech, freedom of thought, freedom of the press. Read JS Mill’s On Liberty if you want any further clarification of this. It is rather amusing when people say they hate liberalism because what they’re unintentionally saying is that they’re against freedom of speech, which is a fascist concept, which yes is an ideology which it apparently opposes. I am presuming (as it is corpulently unclear) that the individual (or individuals) who wrote this have misused “liberalism” with “cultural Marxism” (i.e. feminism, LGBT rights, civil rights, et al). Well, you cannot simultaneously be against liberalism and fascism, so make up your mind. Expanding on their supposed dislike for religious indoctrination, it becomes evident in fact that taken to its own logical conclusions, a dislike of religious indoctrination means that they must ultimately, dislike themselves. They also say they’re a movement of “nationalism” and “patriotism”. Patriotism is the belief that you love your country, nationalism is the belief that you love your country and believe it to be better than others. You cannot be a nationalist and a patriot. They are two distinct things. I presume they added it in to increase the word-count.

It is also of note to point out that I analyse and use the word “fascism” very tentatively considering that it is a term devoid of meaning – I have used it here as a mere synonym of “totalitarianism”, and it is impossible to guess what Britain First believes or thinks when it hears the F-Word of political discourse. Indeed, the term is less an ideology but more a political insult – George Orwell excellently expresses this idea in this essay.

6.Britain First is committed to creating a country based on freedom of opinion, expression, and assembly, free from unnecessary regulation or interference from the State. We support the establishment of a national Bill of Rights to guarantee, in law, the aforementioned freedoms for the British people.

In the previous point, Britain First stated that it was opposed to the ideologies of: “Marxism, Liberalism, Fascism, National Socialism, Political Correctness, Euro Federalism and Islam”, yet here it says it is encouraging free speech (even though, without wishing to emphasise the point to heavily, it said in the previous point to find liberalism to be a “destructive” ideology).

Let’s theoretically ponder that Britain First was the elected party of this country. Throughout our country there are numerous organisations which hold Liberal ideas, National Socialist ideas and Euro Federalist ideas etc. Britain First opposes these ideologies but also says that they are pro free-speech. Thus, if somebody or an organisation expressed such “destructive” ideas are they allowed to (due to free-speech) or is expressing them illegal as they are “destructive” to society? They are painfully almost uncomfortably unclear on this idea. You either believe in democracy or you don’t. You cannot believe in “democracy-ish”.

 7. Britain First is determined that Britain’s armed forces should be used to defend our homeland – including our kindred sister nations around the world – and should not be deployed in foreign wars that do not serve our national interests.

Due to their unclear stance on whether they actually agree or disagree with democratic values, there is disturbingly little clarity to what they mean by “national interests”. Are these the national interests of the Britain First party or the national interests of the people – recognising of course the fact that amongst the electorate are Liberals, Fascists, Muslims, the Politically Correct, Euro-Federalists, National Socialists and numerous other people who have different ideologies?

8. Britain First is committed to a root and branch reform of our corrupt and unaccountable system of government. We demand fairer coverage in the media to candidates seeking election to public office. We demand the end of the monopoly of the old gang parties, whose dominance is maintained by a corporate media that utilises deception and censorship to filter the news according to their own agenda.

Considering the fact that Britain First is essentially a media-organisation (more on this later) which prematurely ejaculates propaganda on a daily basis, I think it unfair for them to accuse other media-institutions of pertaining to a bias.

9. Britain First is committed to the revitalisation of our farming and fishing sectors and supports policies geared at maximum agricultural self-sufficiency. We demand resolute action to protect, nurture and preserve our native environment, countryside and areas of natural beauty. Britain First will halt all further unnecessary building on green belt land and we will enact legislation aimed at protecting British wildlife.

I have no problem with this one.

10. Britain First is committed to significantly reducing crime in our country by means of rigorous law enforcement and an overhaul of our liberal judiciary. Full support will be given to our police forces who are struggling to hold back a tidal wave of crime. We must end the culture of liberal political correctness that hamstrings law enforcement efforts and creates misery for ordinary, law-abiding citizens.

Of course it is clear that they don’t really know what liberalism means (i.e. democratic values) and essentially use the term as an innuendo for a ‘nanny-state’. But if we took this at face value, an “overhaul of our liberal judiciary” would mean getting rid of habeas corpus, getting rid of trial by jury, not having your rights read to you when arrested, being arrested and not being told why. In essence, they’ve unintentionally stated that they are totalitarian. In terms of the next point, they mistake the meaning of “political correctness”. Political correctness – whether you agree or disagree with it – is about policing language. For example rather than “chairman” you’d have “chair officer” as the word “chairman” is gendered, and according to some (not all) feminists shows that the patriarchy has seeped its way into language. Law enforcement, the length of sentencing, the treatment of criminals, whether a criminal is allowed to have an X-Box in his/her prison cell has nothing to do with the manipulation of language for socio-political purposes.

2. Nasty, Conspiratorial, Pseudo-Intellectual

You only have to look at their Facebook page to note of the prominence of these three. Some time ago, I print-screened some pictures of their memes and the comments on there. Time has passed, and the style/content of the memes is still the same. In a sense, they repeat the same messages over and over again, recycling them eternally but rephrasing them to make them seem new and different.

Let’s go through three of the ones that I have saved:

Britain First Meme + Comments [1]

Britain First Meme + Comments [1] – CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE

Before I begin to polemecise this nitwit (aka ‘Damian Elzanowski’), I first have to point out that I feel perfectly comfortable of not hiding his (and future Britain First posters) names. They have contributed lengthy speeches, analysis and terse comments in a public space – thus willingly accepting when they press the ‘Enter key’ that their comments will be liked, criticised and analysed in turn. Britain First‘s Facebook page is a very public area, thus they knew that when their comments were posted, thousands perhaps millions of people would’ve read them. I am simply being an excellent PR man and giving Damian Elzanowski et al more media-coverage.

Let’s go through his nuanced comments bit by bit. But before we do this, we have to holistically look at this. He implies that muslims aren’t happy in Islamic countries (he says this at the end) and at the beginning of the comment, lists the so called Islamic countries/areas.

“They’re not happy in Gaza”. Gaza is part of Israel. Israel is a predominantly Jewish nation as well as Christian, and of course Muslim. Thus Gaza cannot be considered an “Islamic country” (yes, he implies that Gaza is a country). Israel is technically a Jewish state as it allows any Jew from across the world to enter. The reason why they’re not “happy” there is because they’re being bombed by Israel: mothers, fathers, children are dying. It’s a complex issue and unfair to stupidly and lazily sum up in a singular false sentence.

“They’re not happy in Egypt”. This is irrelevant from religion mainly. Egypt has a history of dictatorships (which would take forever to pour into and is better spent on another blog-post). This comment as well as being misinformed is quite blatantly just plain cruel. Whilst you’re right that the revolution was overtaken by the Muslim Brotherhood (and then another revolution happened), the majority of people in Tahrir square who were demonstrating were asking for secularism and democracy. Muslims don’t flee this country because they don’t like Islam as you weirdly imply in your comment, but because it has a history of barbarism by its leaders.

“They’re not happy in Libya”. Again, dictatorships.

“They’re not happy in Iran”. Iran is an Islamic theocracy – and that’s right…you’ve guessed it, very undemocratic.

“They’re not happy in Iraq”. Saddam Hussein was a cruel cruel dictator and this cannot be overstated. In 2003 the US and the UK intervened or invaded (depending on your view) the country to rid of Saddam Hussein. In the process, thousands of civilians were killed by the US and the UK. This is a war crime. They have a right to be “not happy”, believe me.

“They’re not happy in Yemen”. Ali Abdullah Saleh was a cruel dictator.

“They’re not happy in Afghanistan”. Again, intervention/invasion (however you wish to view it) has caused numerous war-crimes and thousands of civilian-deaths.

“They’re not happy in Pakistan”. A country fraught with violence and long histories of Miltiary Coups.

“They’re not happy in Syria”. Bashar al-Assad murders his own electorate with chemical weapons. This is a war crime. This has nothing to with Islam but actually to do with the fact that he’s a psychopathic dictator. It’s also worth noting that Assad despises Islamic-extremism (emphasis on extremism Britain First imbeciles reading this) – thus, Damian, you should be in love with such a state.

Why do I go through his comments so meticulously? Because his view that muslims hate Islamic countries and then come to non-Islamic countries only then to try to make an Islamic country is a falsity and is a view held by a substantial amount of people. For starters, he assumes that all muslim-immigrants hate the countries they were born in. Does he recognise that there are different muslims (i.e Shia, Sunni, Wahabi, etc)? Quite a lot of the middle-east is filled with religious conflict between Muslims, Christians and Jews. It’s not just Muslims. Most countries in the region of the middle-east are dictatorships, so his comments about muslims “not being happy” is an insult to one’s own intelligence: of course they’re not fucking happy. One wishes to ask Damian Elzanowski whether he’s even heard of the Picot-Sykes agreement or whether he’s heard of the fact that the US has a lengthy history of supporting dictatorships in this area and across the globe. A large substantial part of “muslim unhappiness” (if you wish to use such a crude term) is due to international relations and so-called “democracies” like the US propping up what are essentially countries that support war-crimes and crimes against humanity. Steeped in his comments is also the notion that all Muslims want to set up Sharia law in Western countries. This isn’t the case. The scandal and sensationalism concerning ‘Sharia Law Coming to the UK’ was created by a few rogue muslims sticking up badly-made posters.

Damian’s comments were if anything pseudo-intellectual as they misinterpret the complexity of the countries and regions he specifies, as well as being nasty and conspiratorial as it implies that all muslims wish to emigrate to the West. This isn’t the case.

The memes and comments on the Facebook page of Britain First are of a similar ranty and sensationalist style to this. Now, it is important to focus on how they simplify details, don’t give sources for high-and-mighty claims.

3. Propagandist Ratbag Racketeering Organisation – MEMES

Meme

Meme

Just a repetition of a previous point: this is so trivial it is hardly worth dissecting.

Meme 2

Meme 2

If you cannot see that this is pure sensationalism then the following words don’t concern you: the use of red, the font all resemble and imply blood or death; the fact that all the pictures of the criminals look either threatening/funny/weird; the fact that below the quaint “Welcome to Rotherham” sign is the slogan “The Islamic Paedophile Capital of Britain” – if that slogan alone doesn’t convince you into believing that this meme is unintentional satire then nothing will.

Meme 3

Meme 3

Yes this is a Britain First meme, and yes it is supposed to be taken seriously. Do I even have to begin by emphasising the fact that they’ve deliberately selected the most extreme, the most ugly and the people pulling the most stupid facial expressions to represent muslims?

How about we employ similar tactics: get pictures of Britain First members, paedophile priests and Westboro Baptist church members – then below each face put “CHRISTIAN” and then as a title state: “IT IS NOT RACIST TO CRITICISE RELIGION”. (It is also worth noting that they are correct on a trivial point here: Islam is not a race, thus it is impossible to be “racist” towards it – but I hardly think this is of any importance considering the stupidity of this meme and Britain First’s incoherency anyway).

Meme 4

Meme 4

Occasionally, they mix up their bizarre angry propaganda with memes that could be considered wise or inspirational. This mixing up of styles is what makes them particularly dangerous: they stir your anger and then they stir your hearts.

Meme 5

Meme 5

Again: for the Sikh’s they pick the most pleasant photographs and for the Muslims they pick the most extreme (as well as pick well-known extremists). To say that this is divisive is an understatement.

Meme 6

Meme 6

A bizarre meme. Assumes the people don’t want prisoners to be allowed the vote and then wishes you – the people – to prove this via sharing. This is actually a summing up of their style: they come up with an opinion, assume everyone agrees with it (that cliché “it’s what everyone’s thinking” is always false) and then ask you to share it.

It is also worth noting that in every single meme, there are no stats, evidences, quotes from academic research, quotes from thorough investigative reporting, no polls, and if there are polls, we’re never told who made the poll, the circumstances around it so we can independently judge for ourselves its reliability.

The nastiest memes are the ones that don’t mention Islam and are to do with patriotism are war memorial poppies. This is because you get moderates and people who don’t hate or dislike Islam sharing them on Facebook, showing their patriotism, without realising that they are sharing propaganda (thus increasing its popularity) of an organisation which splintered from the BNP (an political-party with a history of holocaust-denial and links to the KKK).

4. Lee Rigby Obsessed

They’re profile picture and slogan used to be “Remember Lee Rigby”. Lee Rigby’s mother disagreed with this. See who likes and comments on their pages, you’ll see that their friends will also use Lee Rigby as their profile pictures. Lee Rigby is a symbol of the struggle against the “evils of Islam”. It’s nasty really. What they’re essentially doing is exploiting the death of an individual for political purposes. At present, they are doing this with the death of James Foley who was executed by ISIS.

So there you have it. A vile organisation which can only ever be described as a: “Nasty, Conspiratorial, Pseudo-Intellectual, Politically Incoherent, Lee Rigby Obsessed, Propagandist Ratbag Racketeering Organisation”.

The Dangers of Nationalism

A dissection of nationalist ideology.

“They’re just as bad as each other” is a phrase I often hear in regards to Israel and Hamas. But does this statement have any backing behind it? Whilst, there is clear evidence to suggest that there are more Palestinian deaths than Israelis, there is strong evidence to suggest – how shall I phrase it(?) – that Israel’s larger budget equips them with better defences and weaponry: thus the ‘corpse equilibrium’ is always going to be somewhat displaced in Benjamin Netanyahu’s favour . If we assumed, just as a thought-experiment, that both sides were just as well equipped, would it be safe to say that the deaths and casualties on either side would be equal? In fact better questions would be the following:

1) In each isolated case of bomb-flinging, what motive is more trenchant in either side’s reasoning for exhausting their weaponry: sinister ethnic/nationality/religious hatred or “defence”?

2) Can any isolated incident of bomb-flinging be considered “just”?

This article won’t pinpoint a conclusive answer to such questions but will attempt to squeeze past the propaganda and lay bare the facts and analyse the ideologies and humorously disturbing hypocrisies of both sides, and allow you to answer those questions for yourself.

Before I start, I must also add that it is frustrating to see how often it is in discourse surrounding the Israel-Palestine (or rather ‘Israel-Hamas’ – more on that later) question the following events consistently rise up in conversation:

1) Somebody criticises Israel, they’re called Pro-Hamas.

2) Somebody criticises Hamas, they’re called Pro-Israel.

Thus, the aim of this article isn’t just to analyse both sides ideologically, but to see if it’s fair to observe both “sides” under the same scrupulous sceptical eye.

At a singular glance, Israel and it’s supporters are motivated by the ideology of Zionism. This is an important point to stress because it’s difficult to emphasise in words how powerful an ideological structure and worldview can affect any individual’s perception of current events. Recently, I have argued with Zionists and have been labelled anti-semetic. Of course, I take this as a compliment, how else should I take it from a man who I won’t name who is so obsessed with Israel that the only posts he ever puts forth onto his twitter feed is from Israel-TV. From this enlightening figure, I learned that antisemitism is essentially anything that is critical of the Israeli state. He said that the Jews had the right to live there, it’s their homeland. I said, what about the Palestinians? To which he replied, they don’t have the right to live there, it’s the Jewish homeland. In other words, the very presence of a Palestinian in ‘Jewish soil’ is antisemitic – because as we all know, antisemitism is the exact same as anti-Zionism (a statement which he would of course agree with). In other words, when you consider moving house, be careful where you choose to live, because the mere act of living somewhere is considered by some people to be a trenchant political-statement, the estate-agent equivalent of kristallnacht. There are two things to be said about this eluvious unnamed Zionist I mention:

1) He’s not alone in his views as many people agree with him

2) His very existence is quite simply, a waste of good Judaism

This inevitably poses the question: How does a Zionist define Zionism? An apt description might be the following:

Zionism is the belief in a Jewish homeland for the Jewish people, in Israel. Zionism is the Jewish people’s instantiation of the human right of self-determination.
No more, no less.

The inevitable issue with this comes when we consider what happens when some people enact this “human right” (it’s not a human right, more on that later). It is widely known that on the Westbank, there are Jewish settlers who are essentially throwing Palestinians out of their homes. Of course, this is a perfectly decent and noble thing to do, because this act is merely a humble person or family exorcising their ‘human right’ to take over someone else’s property and leave another family homeless. If you criticise this, you are being antisemitic, as you are criticising the Jewish people’s “self-determination”. Don’t even think about committing such wicked and prejudiced thoughts.

It’d be reasonable then, to view Zionism as an ideology with the mentality of a ‘club’ (dare I say ‘cult’). Religion and politics have always allowed humans to interact and to thus form communities due to their agreements on issues, common values and shared experiences. Zionism is of course, no exception to this:

The final safety net is the existance of Israel – a country that has since it’s foundation been a safe haven for Jews being persecuted around the world. From Ethiopia to Russia, from the expulsion of Jews from Arab states in 1948 to the extraction of the last few Jews in Iraq today… Israel has consistantly welcomed the Jews home in times of crisis.

It is of course, an actual law that any Jew in the world, is allowed to come to Israel. But don’t the Palestinian people have the right to self-determination? Specifically the endless amount of refugees of 1948? Well, if you ask a Zionist this, you might get this response:

Palestinian advocates claim that the refugees of 1948 have a right guaranteed in international law to return to Israel. In fact, there is no such law. The Fourth Geneva Convention, often cited in this context, does not stipulate a right of return for refugees. UN Resolution 194, also cited as the basis for this “right” is a resolution of the UN General Assembly. Such resolutions are not binding in international law. No nation has the obligation to admit enemy belligerents. Moreover, Resolution 194 does not insist on a Right of Return. It says that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so.” 

From this there are 2 strikingly obvious things that we can conclude. The first is that if the refugees were Jewish, they’d be accepted in with open arms. Why? Because it’s the law that all Jewish people in the world can come to Israel and settle there. Why? Because the people who make such laws are Zionists. The second point is that lurking behind Zionism is a sinister ethnic sentiment. “No nation has the obligation to admit enemy belligerents.” What we see here is the branding of thousands of refugees as behaving in a certain way. It does not say “one belligerent”, it implies that all refugees (who are all Palestinians) are “belligerent” – thus from this, it doesn’t matter what your personality is like, if you are a Palestinian you are the enemy and must not be allowed in, if you are a Jew, all the rules are flipped over. Of course, by stating this, I am committing a horrific act of antisemitism, because as we all know, allowing Palestinians to come back to where they might have been born is fundamentally hateful to Jewish people. It is also striking to observe how Israel has a self-pitying hypocritical ideology behind it. Notice how in the above two quotes, the Zionist has sympathised with Jews thrown out of Arab lands in 1948, but in the same year when Palestinians are ejected and made refugees there is no such sympathetic sentiment. From this we can safely assume that behind all of the rhetoric this is an ideology founded on sinister ethnic sentiments.

But what about the more dangerous aspects of this “side” of the conflict? Let’s move onto the casualties and deaths on the Palestinian side. We’ve all seen the images:

Indeed, there is nothing pretty about this, and it’d be a waste of time censoring oneself to truly hide the barbaric nature of this conflict.

Children have died – and I believe this very phrase sums up everything you need to know about how powerful ideologies can shape our actions.

David Cameron

David Cameron

Nationalism seems to me to be an ideology fuelled by confirmation bias. Anything positive said about it is warmly secreted into its supporters as “evidence” that Nationalism is a positive thing. Anything criticising it is simply rejected and not even considered. Thus, unsurprisingly, it was a shame that in David Cameron’s most recent visit to Israel, he gave a speech at the Knesset and a press conference with Netanyahu so simperingly self-pitying of Israel that one’s initial logical response was to gob up a substantial amount of phlegm:

Can I first of all join you in condemning, unreservedly, the rocket attacks from Gaza onto your country? These are indiscriminate attacks aimed at population centres, and that tells you everything about the despicable and wicked people carrying out these attacks. We condemn them utterly. They do, as you said, underline the importance of guaranteeing Israel’s security. And any 2-state solution has to have, at its heart, the guarantee of Israel’s safety and security and the security of your people. And let me just say again how important it is for the whole international community to say, with one voice, that Palestinian statehood can only come about through dialogue and discussion. It can never come about through violence or terror, which we will always condemn.

Of course, he never mentions the rocket attacks on Palestinians. Rocket attacks which for the most part aren’t defended due to lack of budget. It would be foolish and utopian of me to assume that David Cameron would walk into the Knesset and into a press conference and then proceed to openly criticise Israel’s genocidal tendencies. But why shouldn’t he? In fact, there is something undeniably creepy about the decline in morality in politics in certain areas. He then of course feeds the self-pitying nature of Zionism by cheaply – very cheaply – mentioning the holocaust, of course, forgetting that the Zionists are daily exorcising a Shoah of their own:

As I stood at that memorial to the 1.5 million children who were killed, it made me even more determined to make sure that in Britain, we never forget what happened. That’s why I have established the Holocaust Commission. That’s why some of the members are here with me today, to talk to people here about how we can do something very special in Britain to make sure that no generation ever forgets the lessons of the Holocaust.

Indeed, I hope people in the distant future remember the daily atrocities of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and contemplate how disturbingly cynical and pernicious it is of a British Prime Minister to openly suck up to a particular side of this nasty cruel war and how profoundly vulgar it is of David Cameron to essentially inject into Netanyahu a strange sense of ego about how his policies are right because in the past, the Jews faced mass-extinction as well. It is quite simply some form of live performance art satire when David Cameron can walk into a room denounce the holocaust and then not denounce another mass-genocide which the nation he is in is creating. Indeed, most recently, Sayeeda Warsi – who by no means has a perfect track-record – has resigned over David Cameron not condemning Israel.

I make no qualms of admitting that I am a person of the Left. Due to this, with the people I spend most of my time with, there is obviously going to be a strong culture concerned with opposing Israel. However, I always feel there’s a damaging element to this culture in the sense that there’s an atmosphere which does not state, but implies, that one must not critique Hamas. I am always hesitant of critiquing Hamas for this reason, and I think it’s a damning shame that one must actually have to physically make obvious that criticising Hamas is not synonymous with not allowing the Palestinian people to be free. It is important to state that Palestinian Freedom and Hamas are totally separate. I think it’s important to criticise both sides – especially in this article, considering how much trenchant sarcasm and bitterness I have flung onto Israel, there would be a danger that some buffoon somewhere out there would assume that I was a suicide bombing Jew-hater – indeed, as I have made clear, Zionism is a belief which believes that critiquing Israel is synonymous with antisemitism.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International

Hamas’ human rights record isn’t exactly glitzy clean. It’s be a misnomer and anti-intellectual to suggest that they were angels. Amnesty International have been documenting war crimes and human rights abuses on both sides for a significant amount of time. During the second intifada, “Palestinian armed groups killed more than 1,100 Israelis, some 750 of them civilians and including 120 children, in suicide bombings and shooting attacks in buses, restaurants, shopping malls and other areas frequented by civilians.” It must be stated clearly and firmly that the massacring of civilians is always a war-crime. Indiscriminate weaponry is also uses against Israelis, which – as you have already expected – ends up killing more civilians than it does military. Amnesty International takes a firm position on Hamas and other Palestinian Armed Groups in regards to war crimes and human rights violations:

“While Amnesty International agrees that the resolution could have said more about the violations of international humanitarian law by Hamas and Palestinian armed groups, and could have established a more precise mandate, the organization notes that nothing in the mandate of the commission of inquiry excludes the actions of Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.”

This is due to its firm line regarding the “principle of distinction” which concerns distinguishing between military and civilian – and is applied to all parties:

The principle of distinction requires that parties at all times distinguish between military targets and civilians and that they direct their attacks only at military targets. Deliberate attacks on civilians or civilian objects – such as homes, medical facilities, schools, governmental buildings – that are not being used for military purposes are prohibited and are war crimes. It is not unlawful to directly attack soldiers, those who are directly participating in hostilities, and military objectives (such as army bases, weapons and munitions caches). In case of doubt as to whether an individual or object is civilian or military, the attacker must presume civilian status.  [Bold text added by author]

Thus, there really is no excuse for either ‘side’ to be perfectly frank, and whilst we can comment on the ideologies of either side, the law should be blind: they are both committing war-crimes. Thus this notion that either side is being “restrained” is total pernicious nonsense of the most trenchant kind. There is nothing restrained about killing hundreds of civilians in one go – we’re not even talking about a singular civilian being accidentally killed, but whole clusters. They never learn and do not frankly care about the havoc they wreak for the other side.

There will be those reading this suggesting why I am not critiquing Hamas as much as I am critiquing Israel. The reason is perfectly simple: Israel is a state and Palestine isn’t. Whilst both sides commit war-crimes and do wish to slaughter each other (the amount of rockets fired by Hamas weekly at Israel goes into the thousands – but never usually hits), Israel is daily committing other offences, mainly the situation on the West Bank with the displacement of Palestinians. Truth be told, more burden rests on Israel than on Hamas as Israel should be behaving like a responsible democratic state, but instead isn’t as daily it resorts to barbarism similar to that which Hamas attempts to inflict on Israelis. The Palestinians don’t have a state and Israel do, and it would be unwise to believe that Hamas were even popular amongst the Palestinian people. Thus we should call it the Israel-Hamas conflict rather than the Israel-Palestine conflict.

A lot of the attacks on Israeli-soil are due to jihadi terrorism. A lot has been written about this already in terms of ideology, but it becomes apparent to me that it is nothing more than plain old nationalism disguised with messianic language. The belief that our god is the one true god and thus everyone else is infidels sounds almost similar to the belief that our patch of grass is better than your patch of grass.

Whilst painstakingly clear that suicide bombing has no ethical stance, I don’t think it’s nearly emphasised enough how utterly unproductive it is. Entering Israeli land and then blowing oneself up (and obviously other people) will never ever convince people that your side is correct, let alone convince the infidels to become muslims. If anything the culture of suicide bombing and sadistic jihadism has been detrimental to Islam and the Palestinian cause. Far from making people wish to embrace Islam, suicide bombing – quite obviously – makes people adamantly reject it, making assumptions that Islam is an unethical religion of violence rather than of peace. Indeed, the same criticism is true of Israel: rampantly attacking Palestinians isn’t exactly going to make Israel popular, and idiots, yes idiots, will associate this with Judaism – they will hold antisemitic opinions due to their impression that because Israel puts on an Anti-Palestinian display, then obviously, all Jews, every single Jew in the world does, has and will as well.

Indeed if there is one barbaric tragedy of this conflict, it is the way it has poisoned language and discourse. Not only are to the common idiot the notion that Muslim = Suicide Bomber & Jew = Zionist – but there’s also a creepy xenophobic subtlety which has infected that language of political moderates. When attempting to sum up the situation, notice how people don’t refer to the IDF, but instead “the Israelis”: “The Israelis want the Palestinians wiped off the map”. Indeed I am certainly guilty of this and have done it probably throughout this article. It is important to consider that a state or at least a pseudo-state like Palestine (it has a leader but no place on a map) consists of multiple ideologies and groups.

But is there a truth in the notion that “they are just as bad as each other”? I think this cliché is an intellectual misnomer. It is impossible to judge who is more morally defunct and who is more morally enlightened. It reminds me of one of those trivial exercises where people try to decipher who was worse, Hitler or Stalin, or who was better, Ghandi or Chuck Norris. The real question is to understand what links them and that is quite obviously Nationalism. But what nationalist traits do they both share in common and what even is Nationalism? George Orwell, answers this question in his great essay Notes on Nationalism where he dissects what all the nationalist-ideologies have in common. In essence, his essay is about how Nationalism infects everything, how it isn’t just political but emotional – and thus due to this is dangerous. It makes people’s views of the conflict gain convictions so blatantly ignorant that it verges on satire. Notice how in arguments Palestine is viewed as an actual state, notice how people forget the war crimes committed by Hamas, notice how people forget how undemocratic Hamas are, notice how people forget the fact that Israel has committed crimes and barbaric occupations against other Arab states aside from the pseudo-state that is Palestine, notice that people use the pseudo-argument of Hamas using human shields when the same nasty argument could be applied to Israel, notice how people say that Israel is nice and lovely as it gives warnings before it bombs homes – but never tells residences where to move and what area of land is safe, notice how someone will pursue the ‘restraint argument’ even though it is clear that using phosphorous gas (which is a chemical weapon, thus a war crime) is in’t ‘restrained’ as it is indiscriminate and attacks everyone in the vicinity that it is used in, notice how people forget to say that both sides have killed civilians and how such people forget that this is a war crime.

I think if this article serves anything, it is merely to back up that age-old cliché about this war, its horrific complexity: a complexity so innate into it that misconceptions, unintentional prejudices seep and infect everything surrounding it, everything is so over-simplified that of course the war will never stop because it’s all viewed in such a simplistic manner. And of course, simple things are simple to get rid of: just throw a bomb at them, you’ll see.

The Age of Cynicism

A theory concerning the rise of Nigel Farage’s Euro-sceptic party. Feel free to disagree…

The media seems to be bizarrely surprised that the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) have gained 24 MEPs. As expected, pundits and everyone surrounding me have offered their opinions to explain this violent surge in UKIP coming first in the UK’s European Elections: the leadership of Nick Clegg, the leadership of Ed Miliband, a protest-vote against the mould of lib/lab/con, a disliking for the ‘open door’ immigration policy, the rise in Euro-scepticism, and even the fact that Nigel Farage promises to do what most parties won’t even talk about, that’s right: legalising cannabis and bringing back the smoking room in pubs.

Nigel Farage smiling whilst looking confused...

Nigel Farage smiling whilst looking confused…

Everywhere I go, there is a strange anti-authority feeling in the air. A weird mist of pseudo-anarchist thinking, what I can only really describe as “political existentialism”: not just despair with politicians but the foundations of the system as a whole. I think what we have witnessed is much much more than people disliking Ed Miliband’s leadership style or Euro-scepticism. I think the pressures of discontent have been building up and up and up. You only have to look at history:

9/11. The Iraq War. The Afghanistan War. The “Dodgy Dossier”. David Kelly’s death. Guantanamo Bay. Abu Ghraib. The NSA/GCHQ. The worldwide economic crisis. The MPs’ expenses scandal. The phone-hacking scandal. The paedophilia cases in The Catholic Church/Catholic Schools (bitterly termed by some as “Paedogate”). New Labour’s betrayal of the Old Left. The “Broken Promises”. The increase in University Tuition Fees. The rise in popular-phrases such as “Broken Britain”. The blurring of ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ and the abandonment of Political Ideology. The dislike and backlash against the cultural-concept that is “political correctness”. WikiLeaks’ ‘Iraq/Afgan War Logs’. The ‘Collateral Murder’ video. Everywhere I go, I seem to be breathing in a strange atmosphere where everyone in power – or associated with it – is either incompetent, corrupt or a rapist.

A strange feeling of political disillusionment has been steadily rising over the years, occasionally there will be a violent peak in the steady increase due to the odd scandal or due to an event not being resolved properly or quickly enough – and the events and scandals don’t go away, but instead, remain firmly seated in the minds and hearts of the public consciousness and the political zeitgeist.

It is said that each era has a feeling (i.e. “The Roaring Twenties”, “The Rebellious Sixties”). I used to disagree with this theory, but now I believe there is something to it. What are we in now, other than a disturbing and bizarre “Age of Cynicism”? There isn’t trust: there is only contempt, criticism, fear and hatred – and if there is praise, it is simply lost. I do not wish to answer questions of whether this cynicism is fair, logical or even intelligent – but it is simply an observation.

Don't get too intoxicated on this

Don’t get too intoxicated on this

I know that this theory that I have proposed sounds broad in scope, but I do think there’s something to it. Of course, there has always been a general pessimism surrounding the reputation of politicians and bankers, I am not denying this, but have we ever seen dislike for people in positions of power so widespread and so lacerating in nature?

I am not saying that The Iraq War or 9/11 or The London Riots are directly responsible for the rise (and indeed, European Election Success) of UKIP, that would simply be ludicrous. What I am saying is that these events of the past are simply “another moment” in history which provides reasons for people to dislike the political elite, and indeed the world which they are part of. Each event adds up, of course.

I think it vital to point out that all of this hasn’t just been climaxing and climaxing, until eventually, we witness UKIP’s European Election success! No, far from it. The rising popularity of UKIP is just, in my view, merely a symptom of the age, the symptom of the events which all add up to form a generation that is perhaps united by some strange pessimism. And if there are more of these ‘scandals’ and unsettling political events to come, combined with increasingly cynical news-stories (as opposed to positive ones), then expect more symptoms of our age to come.

These symptoms produced by such a unique time to live in (UKIP’s rise being one of them) will, in my view, increase. The future symptoms/events which await us in the future could either be more bizarre, more unsettling, more fascinating or more important than the rise and success of Nigel Farage and his Euro-sceptic Party.