How the Far right rose (Again)

Nationalist, populist, protectionist and right-wing; US President Donald Trump is all these things. Across the pond, the political mainstream has grown to include these values after a string of electoral gains for right-wing parties in power.

The rapid rise and national electoral success of populist right-wing parties have led to their emergence as established political forces in more and more countries in Europe. Their support has soared across Europe.

Demonstrating the success of right-wing populism, one needs to look no further than Holland and France. Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom (PVV) is the second-largest party in the Dutch House of Representative, despite the policy of marginalising and avoiding working with the PVV by the rest of parliament for its extreme anti-Islam views. Marine Le Pen in France has scored victories in the French 2017 Presidential Election under the nationalist right-wing party, National Front. Le Pen beat 10 other candidates to reach the second run-off against Emmanuel Macron, which she eventually lost with 33.9% of the vote. This was the strongest showing for the National Front in the Presidential Election since its inception.

Donald Trump’s election as the President of the United States, therefore, is just one example of a series of electoral victories for right-wing nationalist, extremist and populist parties. His election was not just a fluke that coincided with the success of populist politics. In countries like Poland, the right-wing and populist Law and Order (PiS) are already in power, whereas in Germany, the far-right, Alternative for Germany (AfD) have secured representation in the Bundestag for the first time on an aggressively anti-immigration and anti-Islam platform, the general tenor in the campaign and rallies was not too dissimilar from Trump on illegal immigration from Mexico.

Donald Trump is no unique phenomenon, populist parties are growing in strength and in light of these recent events, many right-wing commentators now have high-profiles and huge followings across multiple social media platform.

Popular assessments documenting the rise of right-wing populism typically centre on the disenfranchisement of the working class, but the recent trends reveal that the reality is much more nuanced. While it is true that working-class people with secondary school education who live in the outskirts of cities, among rural communities (the people most affected by the impacts of globalisation and free trade), form the bulk of the demographics who voted for Donald Trump and voted for Brexit, this is by no means the only group that are attracted to the sweet allure of populism, nor even the biggest group.

Contributing to their success, the populist parties marshall their votes from a confederation of supporters who cross economic and social boundaries.

Dissatisfaction with establishment politics is growing, especially as the establishment are consistently cast in a negative light by the media. Negative press coverage of Hillary Clinton left bitter feelings for the many that supported her, possibly explaining low turnout for the Democrat Party and why so many left for other options, whether during the primaries for Bernie Sanders, or third-party candidates like Jill Stein.

In fact, the media has had a significant role in the ascent of populism in recent years. The media has at times exacerbated tensions with immigrant families and their local communities and most recently the media coverage of refugees has led to the public perception of a “crisis”, transferring sentiments of commiseration to fear. Refugees are victims of a media narrative depicting them as unskilled migrants who pose a cultural threat and a danger to the welfare system, many people just eat up this shameful dehumanisation, too many are both ignorant and totally apathetic towards the condition of refugees and migrants to think differently.

Also, political commentators can profess wide followings online. Their followers, who are deceived into thinking they hold the solutions to many of the problems they “identify” are easily influenced, and can successfully convert people from any background into believing what they say is true. Influenced by impassioned and fiery rhetoric, as well as victim blaming, populist parties can claim a wide share of the votes. To conclude, they take from every demographic: age, economic and social.

Reasons for this trend have been attributed to frustration with the political establishment and immigration, in particular, Muslim immigration. More generally, the transformation of communities and demographics shifts engendered by immigration contributes to a tense atmosphere of insecurity and intolerance for others. Support for stricter immigration reform coincides with support for something called “New Nationalism”, a nativist, anti-globalisation and modern variant of nationalism popular with authoritarian right-wing populists.

Incidentally of the Great Recession the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007/08 had left much of the world population poorer, but those who are fortunate enough to occupy the top threshold in income distribution, namely the infamous 1%, did not face the massive losses in employment and diminishing real income growth like the many people employed in manufacturing industries. In fact, three-quarters of all income growth in the United States went to the top 10%, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and since the financial crisis, half of the world’s wealth is now held by the wealthiest 1% of the global population.

This is hardly helpful news to the many hard-working people who have found themselves made redundant or even losing their homes because of the crash.

Working-class and middle-class families continue to struggle in the face of adversity as the global financial elite seem to be making money from the crisis. This explains why a significant number of voters for Donald Trump favour more taxes on the rich, and why many (including Trump himself) were receptive to Bernie Sanders.

One way the financial crisis drew people to right-wing populism was the new-found popularity for protectionism in response to the neoliberal reforms of former governments; as a result, protectionists believe they hold the solutions for the economic failures brought on by neoliberalism.

The rise of populism comes at the same time as we disavow elitism in our political institutions, but it is also other factors ranging from the European Union and the impacts of globalisation to surfacing cultural insensitivities which play a large part in their uprising.

In spite of all that the populist parties have in common (various forms of economic protectionism, concern for “mass immigration” and the subsequent concern for the preservation of culture), they do differ and err on the size of the government and the welfare state. Some positions can only be described as libertarian, others less so – but certainly nativist.

The chronicles of right-wing populism do not require financial resources, in fact, for the lack of financial capital they make up with monopolising and disseminating political information and news on the internet.

There is a large number of news media based online supporting the cause of populism across the world, the low cost of setting up online media and the ease in distributing content to reach people taps into the public consciousness the same way as grassroots-political campaigning. Even the people who are not politically active or who hold diametrically opposing views are scooped up and it doesn’t take long for the right-wing populism to force its roots into the minds of the unsuspecting and the curious.

The impact of right-wing populism will eventually be felt, until then, figures like Donald Trump and Viktor Orban may well become the staple of global politics for the foreseeable future. The right and left-wing dichotomy may not be the division which separates us in politics, increasingly, political rhetoric is compounded by arguments against or in support of globalisation, free trade and/or the free movement of people.

Each of these things bears a great deal of influence on populism, and even greater is the perception that the politicians and political institutions which have allowed these things to happen have failed. Populism is nothing if not the dismantling of the political establishment to restore the “will of the people”.

It’s hard to define populism and it’s no consolation that I haven’t offered a definition yet. Populism, when not being used pejoratively, is most aptly expressed by its adherents. Retrieved from the comment section of The Economist, a user emphatically named “bampbs” offered this account for populism: “When a relatively large group of people are aggrieved and angered by the actions of a relatively small and more powerful group, and are publicly organized to seek redress of those grievances”. however the right wing populism we face today blames migrants and foreign powers, not a ruling powerful elite. Populism remains the policy of scapegoating, nothing more.

MoD edits document to hide truth on drone strikes

The Government has been forced to delete a section of a key report on drone policy after it revealed that British drones are being used to carry out killings outside of war zones. Drones have previously been used to carry out the extra-judicial killings of British citizens in Syria, but this is the first time the Ministry of Defence has acknowledged their use outside areas of combat.

The decision to carry out the strikes on Junaid Hussain and Reyaad Khan in 2015 was controversial as the Government had been denied authority to carry out air strikes in the country by a vote in the House of Commons. It is thought to be the first time that British citizens have been killed by drones.

The MoD published its Joint Doctrine in September 2016, containing the acknowledgement that drones were being used to target people outside of war zones while noting that the growth in opposition to drone use “may also arise from the recent UK practice of targeting suspected terrorists outside of the armed conflict itself, and the meaning and application of a state’s right to self-defence.” The section was missing from the updated version of the document, with the removal spotted by Scottish Nationalist Party spokesperson Stewart McDonald.

Mark Lancaster, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, said that the original version of the document was the result of “erroneous drafting” and described the reports of MoD policy on carrying out drone strikes outside of war zones as “misleading.”

Through the use of drones in various areas of conflict, the UK is able to continue to participate in wars which the public have opposed for many years. The whole operation to shrouded in secrecy, with the Government refusing to confirm or deny that a “kill list” exists, although Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has previously said that no “terrorist, whether they come from this country or any other, should ever be allowed back into this country,” adding “We should do everything we can do to destroy and eliminate that threat.”

Australia passes law to legalise assisted death

The UK’s absence of legal euthanasia, assisted death and assisted suicide forces people to travel to other nations for the right to die, some of these countries include Switzerland and Belgium.

Belgium was one of the first countries to legalise assisted dying for terminally ill minors, given that their parents have provided consent, in many other countries the patient must be aged 18 and over.

Many people are confused when it comes to the terms Euthanasia, assisted suicide and assisted death. These terms are often not used consistently. Euthanasia is an intervention undertaken with the intention of ending a life to relieve suffering, for example, a lethal injection administered by a doctor. Assisted suicide is an act that intentionally helps another person kill themselves, for example by providing them with the means to do so, most commonly by prescribing a lethal medication.

The quest to legalise assisted dying has been denied several times by a number of countries including Australia, but just three months ago on the 29th of November 2017, lower house MPs in Victoria Australia voted in favour of the bill that will allow people who are terminally ill and in intolerable pain to end their lives The debate which consisted of 100 hours of disagreements and amendments, as well as two all-night sittings led to the decision: patients will be able to request the assistance for their death from doctors. The law will be made legal In Victoria from 2019.

Despite legalisation, like other law, there are conditions, the patient must be at least 18, and have less than six months to live, additionally patients must have lived in Victoria for at least 12 years and must also be considered sane and of sound mind.

Fiona Patten, MP, told the Guardian: “It’s very clear the vast majority of Victorians are happy the parliament has done this work.” Although joyous celebrations continue in Australia, here in Britain many citizens are disappointed with the government’s decision to not legalise assisted death.

Terminally ill Noel Conway brought a judicial review which challenges the current law on assisted dying, Mr Conway was granted the permission to appeal his earlier rejection on the 18th of January 2018. In a recent BBC video, Mr Conway says “It’s my body, I have a right to die I have a right to determine how I should die and more importantly when I should die and I want to do so when I have a degree of dignity left”. But, when MP’S last voted a few years ago they rejected a change in the Law in a free vote in the Commons, 118 MPs were in favour and 330 against plans to legalise. Noel Conway is amongst the thousands of patients campaigning for the right to control their deaths.

The most recent survey of doctors in the UK was in 2007-08. The rate of euthanasia was reported to be 0.21% of all deaths, and a similar rate has been reported in France (in 2009), even though euthanasia remains illegal in both countries. Many people are aware that although assistance in death is illegal it STILL occurs, a social worker who preferred to remain anonymous said “Britain should quickly rethink their decisions of making this illegal because too many people are suffering and doctors are being placed under immense pressures.”

An interesting comment made by Rita Joseph on the subject – she says: “The terminally ill, although they are dying, are still alive. It is their live humanity, their living membership of the human family that entitles them to human rights. We are obliged to travel in human solidarity with them, to provide them with the best attainable palliative care, in their homes or hospices or intensive care units, to be attentive to their needs, to be with them to the moment of natural death. While every person has a right to refuse burdensome medical intervention intended to prolong life, no person has a right to demand of carers a medical intervention intended to kill”

Whether or not the law will become legal in a couple years time, the question that still remains is will doctors actually want to be partly responsible for the death or suicide of another person, if not what will happen to these medical professionals. Many people have already protested the law with the statement “don’t let doctors kill they’re meant to heal.”

Catalonian independence in a mess as Puigdemont remains absent

Over past two months, since the regional elections in Catalonia, and the narrative of the push for independence has taken a turn towards the most deluded surrealism. The same surrealism so loved in the art of an illustrious Catalan, Salvador Dali, but in this case it is driving the Catalan region to the point of no return.

The recent election saw Catalonia’s three secessionist parties secure a combined 70 seats in the regional parliament, two more than the 68 required for a majority in their 135-seat assembly. It was not a clear victory; if a victory at all as the unionist Ciudadanos party, was by far the most voted for party with 1.1 million votes (25.37%) compared to its nearest rival Junts per Catalunya, who won 940,000 seats (21.65%). However all the anti-independence parties (Ciudadanos, Popular Party and Socialists) together could not make up the required 68 seats.

After the recent demonstrations in Catalonia, one may think any ruling party would plan a new route that will lead them eventually to independence. Independence as a unilateral project has already failed and it will fail again, the Spanish state has demonstrated that it is able to stop independence, the EU fails to recognise the new state. It’s citizens who are living divided and fractured are growing both tired and weary.

It does come as a shock though that Carles Puigdemont will be the only candidate to be elected as the Catalan president, the same Carles who is currently in self-exile after failing to deliver independence for his homeland. Let’s not forget that Puigdemont fled Spain because he is facing trial for the serious charges of rebellion and sedition, whilst several of his former parliamentary colleagues are still in prison. However lets not forget that these charges have landed on Puigdemont’s lap for fulfilling a democratic mandate. He hasn’t shown any signs that he will respect the law and has taking no responsibility at all for his actions which caused Catalonia lose its self-government powers. “Between a prisoner and a president, I would rather be a president, because at least now I can get things done, but in prison I wouldn’t be able to,” he said recently in an interview with Catalunya Radio.

Catalan parliamentary lawyers have issued a report stating that chamber bylaws forbid remote appointments, as the candidate needs to be physically present at debate, but Mr Puigdemont keeps building up his international image to portray a martyr scorned by the Spanish government. He seriously believes he can run a country via Facetime from Brussels.
It is extremely worrying that no one in the secessionist camp can see how much damage Mr Puigdemont will inflict on their region if he get to be its president once more. First he needs to find a way to be a premier in exile, and if he manages to do so Madrid’s immediate answer will be to prolong its control over the Catalan region indefinitely.

The pursuit for a Catalan Republic is very valid but in their eagerness they have forgotten the other half of the country, those who are content with being both, Spanish and Catalan. A new tactic is needed. New blood. A push to try at least to re shape the Spanish nation into a more federal scenario where ideally Catalans of all creeds will be happy to live in.
Political forces in Span have been discussing, for a while, how to renovate the Spanish constitution, and have made their intention to include Catalan well known.

Democracy and moral principles are being abandoned in the name of Trade Deals

A marker of a functional liberal democracy is an ability for groups to organise without state or police interference. Another is an ability to protest against the state in a peaceful way without facing reprimand. Authoritative regimes like North Korea and Iran are rightly condemned by the global community when they violently react to autonomous groups organising extra-state or counter-state movements.

On the other hand, the United Kingdom can be praised for allowing a vast array of groups to organise and protest against various perceived injustices. This, though, does not mean the United Kingdom is a liberal democratic utopia. Authoritative measures are still carried out by the British police with the approval of the government.

In September 2017, over 100 activists were arrested after they protested against the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) event in London with 46 subsequently taken to trial. The DSEI is a leading event where the defence and security sector can come together to trade and share knowledge.

It is co-organised by the Defence and Security Organisation, a government department. Each transaction that occurs at the event has to be verified and approved by the government. The government is also allowed to invite who it wants, even if it contradicts other projects. For instance, at the DSEI event, delegates from six countries which the UK government itself consider to be human rights abusers were invited. This included stakeholders from Saudi Arabia who represented a country currently engaged in a state-sponsored terrorist campaign against Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has been heavily criticised by journalists, international human rights organisations and international bodies for their role in Yemen. Robert Fisk, an award-winning Middle East correspondent for the Independent, reports that there is increasing evidence that the Saudi regime is deliberately targeting civilian infrastructures. These infrastructures would be influential in rebuilding Yemen once the war is over. Their destruction means the effects of the war will be felt long after the immediate conflict is over.

On top of this, Human Rights Watch brought out their report on the situation in January 2018, reporting that since December 2017, 55 civilians, including 33 children, alone have been killed by six coalition attacks. There has also been a deliberate attempt to block humanitarian aid into the country. These factors, along with others, constitute what the Middle East director at Human Rights Watchdog, Sarah Leah Whitson, calls “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

What Fisk and Human Rights Watch describe are war crimes committed by a Saudi coalition. By being complicit in the transaction of arms to regimes like Saudi Arabia, the UK government, too, is complicit in war crimes. If you were a shopkeeper at a store that sold axes, you would not sell an axe to a known axe-murderer just as if you were facilitating an arms trade event, you would not sell weapons to countries committing war crimes.
However, despite this elementary moral principle, the UK government still invited representatives of the Saudi regime, as well as representatives from other regimes committing atrocities around the globe. For every war crime committed whilst using a weapon bought at the DSEI event, the UK government is complicit. If we applied the same Nuremberg principles which were set up by the allied forces after the Second World War, then members of the UK government would be convicted for their involvement.
The DSEI event itself has committed crimes on a global scale by facilitating arms sales to countries committing war crimes, which is likely to impact untold numbers of civilians around the world.

Protesting against the DSEI event was a moral imperative for many, which led to thousands doing so. Their methods were peaceful with activists exercising their right to protest. As Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) report, protesters set up blockades and other creative protests to disrupt the event as much as possible. However, many activists were still arrested, many were taken to trial and convicted.

This demonstrates that even leading liberal democracies can show their authoritative side and complicity in criminal repressive wars.

The puppet master of The West: Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs. The undisputed King of Wall Street, a financial factory whose name reverberates across the globe for it’s ruthless efficiency in making money. The name itself is synonymous with the rise of financial capitalism, shifting it’s image away from the ‘moral investment bank’ in the 1980’s as the rise of proprietary trading encouraged them to delve into the secret world of risky derivatives, culminating in the Financial collapse of 2008. And yet, Government Sachs has persisted. In addition to the millions spent on lobbying Congress, executives of this financial powerhouse have long been steadfast members of the upper echelons of the White House contingency.

The trend started with Chief Executive Sidney J. Weinberg under the Presidency of Franklin D Roosevelt – appointed as Director of the War Production Board, ‘Mr Wall Street’ began the march of the Goldman diaspora into the political sphere. The bank’s presence has crossed party lines, with senior executives wielding their economic influence as advisers and Treasury Directors under both parties.

Yet Government Sachs is not limited to the US; its political influence is global. Following 15 years at the bank, Gavyn Davies served as Chair of the BBC in addition to being an informal adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whilst Malcolm Turnbull, former head of Goldman Australia, assumed the most powerful post in the country when he was elected Prime Minister in 2015. Western politics appears to have been consumed by the shady, speculative world of international finance, for whom Goldman Sachs is their emblem – and the trend that Weinberg began seems unlikely to reverse.

Yet whether this is merely a Goldman coup to influence policy or a mutually beneficial exchange between the bank and political institutions is more difficult to discern. As the 2008 Crisis proves, the fate of America, and to an extent the fate of the world economy, hinges on the fortunes of one road in Lower Manhattan: Wall Street. American Business Writer William Cohan exclaimed that “there’s no better way to calm people in the financial markets” than appointing a Goldman employee to the White House. As the political representative of finance, Goldman’s influence is a reassurance to the financial world that the interests of financial stability will always prevail, enabling a relatively smooth functioning of capital markets.

Additionally, Goldman is infamous for its ruthless selection process. The bank is seen as the holy grail for budding bankers, and as such it attracts only the brightest talent from around the world. Since such brains are demanded in political circles, the presence of Goldman employees should not be viewed with surprise; it is not Goldman’s tactic to influence policy that has driven its march to the White House, but instead the government’s desire for its staff.

Yet in addition to maintaining stability, Goldman’s presence has also enabled the maintenance of greed. The wave of financial deregulation in the 1980’s was overseen by the bank’s alumni, enabling ever greater profits at the expense of ever greater risk – culminating in a bubble and inevitable financial collapse. The Bush Administration – under whom the term ‘Government Sachs’ was first coined – presided over the early signs of Financial catastrophe without oversight of the risky derivatives that lay beneath the profit explosion, epitomising the preference of the Goldman diaspora for profit over effective policy to benefit the nation. With great power comes great responsibility, and Goldman’s abuse of it in the interests of financial profits adds weight to the faction of Democrats led by Bernie Sanders, who call for the severing of the bank’s political ties. It is not difficult to see why. The company were accused of fraud following the subprime lending scandal in 2007. They were never found guilty, like the majority of the bankers involved in the crisis. Many would look at the lack of prosecutions and note the financial contributions towards major parties and perhaps see a link.

Alas, despite the public hatred of investment banking following the 2008 collapse, the Goldman march continues. Trump’s campaign team was a star-studded lineup of Goldman heavyweights; with Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin and Steve Bannon all prominent figures in the early Trump administration. Yet in this Presidency, something is different. As opposed to rallying cries for help from the Presidents, from Roosevelt in WW2 to Bush’s dependence on Hank Paulson in managing the early crisis, Trump acts alone. On the belief of his omnipotence, Trump relies on nobody – causing potential disagreement with the economic specialists from the Goldman contingency if Trump opposes their suggested policies. The wisdom of Goldman executives is no match for Trump’s masquerading belief in his own self-importance – and as such the Goldman ranks are dwindling, with Bannon and Scaramucci already axed and Cohn seemingly next out of the White House doors.

Government Sachs has long been the norm in American politics, and it has spread its wings across much of the globe. However the relationship has its foundations in the expertise of Goldman staff and the financial wisdom they impart on the White House – advice which President Trump may never seek. Yet whilst the political rumblings in the White House continue, Government Sachs remains intact at all levels of government, and its grip seems unlikely to break any time soon.

China’s modern imperialism: foreign dominance or internal insecurity?

Imperialism has always existed in human history, since the idea of territorial expansion/migration is attested since the second millennia BC, as seen in the great colonial period in archaic Greek history and possibly beyond.

Its practice, however, has undergone big transformations in accordance to the shifts in political ideology, from early Greek colonies to the Roman Empire, the Christian crusades in the late Medieval period, the discovery of America and the subsequent European transmigration to the Third World, the modern colonial period and the establishment of European Empires, the Western and Soviet blocs during the Cold War, and now the modern day where imperialism has been argued to be obsolete since the period of decolonisation in the second half of last century which saw the break-up of numerous European Empires and the establishment of new republics in the name of political autonomy and self-determination.

Yet imperialism in the form of covert influence still exists, as it is undeniable that certain superpowers exert a huge influence on other countries economically and politically, even if they are not technically their satellite states. The modern imperialistic efforts are no longer overt territorial or militant expeditions but covert economic and political influence, and in this sense much can be gleaned from recent international politics.

Despite being a dynamic capitalist state with an exponentially growing economy that is fast becoming the world’s biggest market, China also has an authoritarian government which permits limited political freedom and very limited freedom of expression, which is a severe blotch on its international human right record. Domestically, China is renown for its crackdown on political dissenters which has seen new levels of activity in the current tenure of President Xi who has vowed to battle corruption and political dissent by taking a hard line on all those who trespass his definition of acceptable behavior in the name of national security and stability.

All this is accepted – though hardly acceptable – by most people who study China’s domestic policy, and there is probably little that one can do about it from the outside. Last year (2017), however, there were two incidents which indicated new levels of repression and aggression by China’s central government, namely its ban on politically sensitive material from foreign media such as the Cambridge University Press (CUP) and Apple. This drew a lot of criticism and controversy from the West since it indicated a certain degree of foreign aggression from China to influence and perhaps control foreign media. More controversial is the willingness from certain pre-eminent western media companies to consent to China’s censorship, which shows a degree of authority commanded by China in the West, one which has not been well-received by Western academics, officials and experts.

From China’s perspective, there are good and bad things about all this. The positive is that the West clearly seem to recognise and respect China’s wishes and are willing to consent to their undemocratic ways even in face of widespread criticism and condemnation. All this makes sense financially, since it would be foolish for the western media not to take advantage of China’s huge market, the economic benefits of which may far outweigh all negatives combined. It also indicates internal stability for China since it minimises the risk of political dissent, which, in the view of the governing officials, requires an authoritarian ban – or severe curtailment – on freedom of expression.

However, all this does not necessarily mean that China’s prestige in the world is on the rise, since there is another side to the coin which may yield an alternative interpretation. China’s insistence on censorship from foreign media seems to be an act of self-defence rather than an imperialistic attempt to extend its external sphere of influence, since it is not the case that China is trying to impose its own censorship on the rest of world and prohibit the rest of the world from bad-mouthing its current and past behaviour. Rather, it is solely interested in its own levels of domestic stability and is wary of how foreign influence might put some wrong ideas into its people that might cause internal instability. All this spells fear and self-doubt more than confidence and authority. Their censorship on foreign media, therefore, should perhaps be better analysed as a pre-emptive act of self-protection rather than an imperialistic act of aggression, and from this perspective China suddenly seems much weaker than one might initially think.

China is clearly riddled with many potential internal conflicts, as seen in its desperate attempts to censure all politically sensitive material either from within or from abroad. All this also significantly reduces any amount of respect that China seems to possess in the West, since the western media companies in question here (CUP/Apple) may be merely trying to take advantage of China’s enormous market and exploit it as much as possible, even by way of consenting to its wishes (for a while). This is not a sign of imperialistic growth from China’s part, since its influence is not spreading outwards but rather inwards in combating its own self-insecurities. The idea that China’s is becoming the world’s number one imperialist superpower can therefore be argued to be a myth.

Ever since China’s remarkable rise on the international arena in the last quarter of the 20th century, renaissance to some, taking into account China’s dynastic past some patches of which were glorious and unparalleled anywhere in the West, people have closely analysed China’s infrastructure and potential as a world superpower, and while many have been impressed by its modern development, sceptics have not been lacking who have argued that despite its huge, unlimited economic – and hence political – potential, it will never be a world leader since it is incapable of spreading its traditional ideals; Confucianism etc, to the rest of the world, as is essential for imperialist growth. The two incidents of Western consent to China’s censorship are revealing in this respect, since their superficial acts of deference to China’s iron fist rule do not necessarily indicate respect but rather corporate greed, which makes China not a figure of international authority but rather a goldmine for widespread foreign exploitation, little improvement from its late dynastic and early nationalist days at the beginning of the 20th century (Opium War etc). China will always be a key player in world economic and politics, given its size and population, but unless it changes its way and becomes a country that is cultural-politically attractive and hence a leader in world culture, it will never become a world leader, the way that Western Europe led the world in the early modern era and the US have since in the past century.

How Neo-Liberalism killed wage growth

The success of more radical politicians should not be a surprise, since the 1980s and the dawn of Neo-Liberalism the working class have suffered and inequality has widened.

Since the Thatcher era in the 80s, productivity has increased dramatically due to automation and technological advances. And whilst productivity rose, in soared the era of globalisation where workers wages have remained stagnant.

Keynes’s Golden Age vs Neo-Liberalism and the Washington Consensus:

A reason why we no longer tax the rich properly:

How capitalism has failed the majoirty: UK

^ In addition to this, 16 million working age people in the UK have less than £100 in savings, living paycheck to paycheck. Prior to 1980 the UK peoples were net savers, post 1980 you can see whats happened.

^ This chart shows that the majority of new income generated from the explosion of profits post 1980 has not been passed on to those who created those profits. It’s gone to our corporate elite, not the workforce.

How capitalism has failed the majoirty: USA

For a country that has no universal healthcare nor free education to spend that much on war does nothing more than create enemies with whom to fight. US total military spending + reserve = $1Trillion a year. For Comparison, Russia spends $60Billion. As does the UK. The banks however are making a killing off Arms in general.
What happened to executive pay post 1980: US

^ This doesn’t even cover their hard assets. This is just the excess cash they don’t know what to do with because there is virtually no return on investment to be found in the global economy and you can only buy so many shares before the returns do not match your outlay. It is now $12 Trillion and counting as of 2016 and its also a big driver behind a rising stock market above a stagnant global economy.

When wage theft took off the in the USA

UK- A mirror image

You can replicate this picture in most capitalist countries. A model exported via financial markets of the US & UK over the 1980’s and 90’s is now dominant. It is supply side economics or “neoliberal” economics as the media likes to say without a clue as to its history (nor the citizens of Chile murdered for its founding, but that’s another story).
Generally speaking, modern capitalist economics doesn’t give a damn how much money is in your pocket, you are only a consumer. Only when you can’t increase your consumption year on year by taking on more debt do the asset owning classes care (1929/2008) but only enough to pillage your country’s savings to allow them to keep lending you the wages you no longer get for what you produce for them per hour, and haven’t done since before 1980, never to change.
Indeed,it’s getting worse.

Points of interest:

66% of all shares globally are owned by 1% of the population. That 1% decide the board of directors who make decisions in their interests that effect the economics and thus lives of billions of people.

In the UK, half the working age population has less than £100 in the bank. Thats 16 million people. The next 4 million have less than £1000. These are working people, in their millions, that after working the entire year wouldn’t have enough left in the bank to pay for a new combi boiler. The USA and many other western nations are no better.

The solution:
Question: Do I think going back to the laws and tax rates of 1945 -> 1980 (a return to Keynesian economics) will help? NO. If we reverse history with laws, when we are grey and mostly gone, the new generation of the 1% will use their wealth to undo everything working people achieved, as they have done many times before. The repeat of history has to stop if this world is to survive, the instabilities of capitalism have to end if all our people are to live with dignity. And you can only do that with systemic change.

How Modern Socialism can solve these problems, and what Corbyn wants

Along with this is a law that UK Labour party will pass that states that any company selling up, merging, off shoring, or closing, its’ workers will be given the option to take control of and operate the company or the buildings and equipment that the company has here if a multinational chooses to leave, and the public bank Jeremy will create will provide the loans to do so.
The corporations will not be allowed to take the equipment and resources the UK taxpayer subsidised if they leave. The workers left behind take that over. It’s called Democracy @ work and Germany already has similar laws including that 45% of the board of directors of a company employing over 1000 people must be taken from the base work force. All combined, it’s a major reason why their manufacturing hasn’t buggered off to China.

If the UK/USA had these laws by 1980 the last 40 years would have been very different indeed. It would have made it so much more difficult for capitalism to abandon the country’s in which it grew up, and with the tools and factories left behind turned over to the workers the corporate elites would have to compete with the workers they left behind for their UK market share which they would lose once the word got out in favour of the UK workers at X factory v shoddy Chinese goods from x Global Capitalist Supranational Corporation.

We are told three lies regarding Karl Marx & Socialism by our historians, teachers, parents, media, and the defenders and beneficiaries of capitalism:

The Media Says Socialism is:
1) Central planning

2) Government ownership

3) Single party rule i.e. the USSR on wards …

He never wrote a single word on these three topics above, nor did he ever propose “an economic model to follow”. He was a critic of capitalism. For the private sector, he wanted nothing less than democracy at work in order to save capitalism from itself and save us from capitalism. He saw and documented the future from 150 years ago, and our leaders response was to discredit him through manipulations of economic fact and history taught from the youngest age in the farthest schools for eternity.

His entire and only focus was on the problems and injustices of capitalism and how to solve them, this is why our ‘Captains of Capitalism’, our education, our historians and the media have lied to us for generations. His life and writing are a danger to the slave master relationship that the asset owning classes want regardless of the country where they control the show, capitalism promised to get rid of this slave master relationship which is a hangover from feudalism with liberty, equality, and fraternity and then it failed to do so anywhere on this earth, instead creating a global version of the hunger games with a trans boarder capable elite.

In summary, Capitalism, has collapsed twice in 75 years and had 11 downturns in between for the USA, 6 for the UK, now entering the 12th/7th since the depression. We need to move far quicker than we are at reclaiming our economies for the many not the few.

Putin’s purpose in Syria

In December, President Putin made a surprise visit to the Russian military base in Syria and announced the withdrawal of Russian forces from the country. The BBC reported that Putin’s visit was to bring the word of ‘victory’ to the front line. Russian troops could now return to their families, knowing that they had defeated ISIS and defended the Assad regime. But what has Putin really achieved in Syria?

Understanding Russia’s achievements is Syria requires an understanding of the Kremlin’s motivation. Russia has supported the Assad regime since 2011, providing diplomatic support by vetoing UN resolutions. In 2015, Russia increased its support by embarking on a campaign of airstrikes against groups that the Kremlin defined as ‘terrorist’.

The timing of this extended commitment is significant to understanding why Russia has become so involved in the Syrian conflict. In September of that year, world leaders met at the 70th UN General Assembly to discuss global affairs. During the assembly, Putin and Obama met privately to discuss the crisis in Syria.
At the time, the western world strongly called for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The United State even went as far as to publicly lay the Syrian conflict at the feet of Assad’s regime: ‘Assad reacted to peaceful protest by escalating repression and killing and in turn created the environment for the current strife’.

Russia’s support for Assad, therefore, became a big bargaining chip, and one which Putin intended to use during the 70th UN General Assembly. Putin was prepared to withdraw support from the Assad Regime, in return for NATO’s support being withdrawn from the Ukrainian conflict. A conflict which interfered much closer with the Russian sphere of interest.

The meeting between Obama and Putin orchestrated to be a trade-off; Syria for Ukraine. This never happened however. Following the meeting, both leaders came out publicly blaming eachother for escalating the crisis in Syria.
Despite the Kremlin’s gamble not paying off, Russia has still been able to gain from the Syrian conflict. The conflict is testimony to the re-establishment of Russia’s global status. Putin has taken a step towards the ‘superpower’ title previously held by the Soviet Union.

Russian has demonstrated its ability to rival the US by rejuvenating its relations with Iran. Just months before the 2015 air-strikes, Iran brokered a nuclear deal with the US, limiting Russian influence in Tehran. The US has admitted to being unable to break the relationship between Russia and Iran. The Syrian conflict has been an opportunity for the two nations to work closely on military operations. Indeed the cooperation in Syria has become a symbol of the Russian-Iranian relationship.

Putin has been diplomatically victorious in maintaining his alliance with Iran, despite U.S. intervention. This alone is an example of how far Russia has come in terms of global power status. Additionally, Moscow has reshaped the frontlines of the Syrian conflict. With Russian support, Assad now holds major areas such as Palmyra, Raqqa and Aleppo. The conflict is evidence that Russia is now capable of effectively performing military operations outside of its own borders.

The effective impact of the Russian military has boosted Russia’s arms industry. Syria is a showcase for Russian military technology, and has been defined as a ‘perfect commercial for Russian arms producers’. Going forwards, Russia will be able to expand its arms deals with new parties.

Ultimately, Syria is still a nation torn by war and terror. But the actual conflict has always been secondary to Putin’s goals. What initially began as a bargaining chip has turned into one of Putin’s highest paying investments in recent years. Russia has proven its might in both diplomatic and military terms. As the BBC reported, Putin has been able to ‘force world leaders to deal with Russia’. In this sense, Russian troops can now return home knowing they have been victorious, even with the war going on in their absence.

Eritrea: The Forgotten Crisis

With civil war, abject poverty, and millions displaced under the umbrella President Afwerki’s political tyranny, Eritrea is symbolic as the crisis for which the world stood idly by. Ranked 164th in the 2016 Corruption Perception Index, Eritrean civilians must live life trapped in the sphere of the one party state, with suppression of all political opposition since Afwerki seized power in 1993. Detention without trial and forced labour camps lie in wait for political dissenters, creating a culture of fear that encourages loyalty to the ruling party, the PFDJ. Yet despite the injustice of this economic and humanitarian turmoil, Eritrea remains invisible in conventional Western media; a forgotten crisis of the 4.5 million people on the Eastern Horn of Africa, with little sign that the end is near.

The Eritrean economy has ground to a halt under the protectionist nationalism of the ruling party, evident by the 50% poverty rate that is forecast to increase as the crisis deepens. The nation has long been a bastion of the self-reliant autarchic doctrine, originating from it’s 30 year war of independence from Ethiopia, when all resources were produced in underground factories. This ideology has permeated into the Eritrean economy, contradicting Ricardian economic theory of mutual benefits from trade. The economy has been stifled by the lack of resources, contributing to the 53% rate of malnutrition in the country.

The haunt of such self-reliance persistence has a further hold on the military situation. Unlike the situation in other African warring states such as The Democratic Republic of the Congo, where UN peacekeeping troops are a common sight, cruising the forests in their armoured vehicles, such external aid is a rare occurrence in Eritrea. Their steadfast dedication to believing in their own abilities through rejection of foreign help is slowly crippling the country, prolonging the civil war that has already left 12% of its population as refugees. 5,000 Eritreans embark on the perilous journey through the desert each month to escape the oppressive regime. The risk of falling into the hands of human traffickers in conjunction with the dangerous sea crossing is evidence of the desire to escape the country; a betrayal of the independence cause that they fought so hard to achieve.

Yet the government’s lock on personal freedoms is perhaps the greatest sorrow from Eritrea’s crisis. The lack of Western media coverage is partly a result of Eritrea’s closure to foreign media outlets, creating a secretive police state where prisons are “overflowing”, in a report by American Ambassador Ronald McMullen. Months of negotiation with the central government were needed for the BBC to gain access to Eritrea for a documentary. Thus, the traditional argument of the political gravity effect may not hold; it is not Western media’s reluctance to focus on Africa and preference for the affairs of similar developed nations that is the cause of the low coverage, but the restrictions imposed by the African nation itself.

Eritrea is plummeting towards its doom as the Western world remains in oblivion. Whilst we enjoy the peace, civil liberties and economic freedom of the developed world, Eritrea languishes in poverty with barely a reference in our daily media. This is a dangerous situation for the future of Mr Afwerki’s state; reluctance to accept financial and humanitarian aid could precipitate further outflows of refugees fleeing the fighting and political constraints. Eritrea’s future hangs in the balance; yet the Western world barely knows it.