The Great “Earthquake” Swindle

If you believe this, you’ll believe anything! Notice btw that it comes from a *government* website.

It’s telling that the global warmist lobby, with their constant bombardment of fake news about floods in Thailand and drought in Africa (make your mind up, guys!) go out of their way to cover up the real stories. It turns out that those “doctors” would have you believe that “cells” within your “body” can go bad and ultimately “kill” you were lying. That’s right: “cancer” doesn’t exist. It’s a hoax that’s been played for decades, one perpetrated by the government and the mass media and believed by all those who don’t dare to question what they’re told. These are the same people who tell you that the President of the United States is married to an immigrant or that it’s (as one of these so-called “pediatricians” told me in person last week) “an act of grave irresponsibility” not to get your child vaccinated! Thank god (another fake news story that I bet you fell for!) that we have Facebook and Twitter so we don’t have to believe their bullshit any longer.

But even worse than so-called “climate” “scientists” and “cancer” “doctors” are this bunch of self-appointed experts who call themselves “seismologists”. This is a fancy name for people who want you to believe that the “earth” (which other “scientists” will tell you is as round as a baseball! – but that’s another story) can tremble and shake like a blancmange! The official story (and I can tell you, I’ve studied this in some detail) is that it’s caused by (try not to laugh) “sudden movements in the Earth’s crust”. Well I’m going to tell you a personal story, something that “happened” to “me” just this “morning”, which will show that this whole “earthquake” racket is no more than yet another official libtard hoax.

We went to our local “hospital” for a checkup with someone who calls himself a “gynecologist”. This shyster is paid thousands of euros of taxpayer’s money to tell us that as a result of a little cuddle time me and my “wife” enjoyed several months ago she is now “pregnant” and is going to have a “baby”. While we were “there” we visited another “couple” who apparently have just “given birth” (there was no actual evidence of this; there was a very small human being in the room and two beaming but exhausted new “parents” but there could be any number of explanations for that). After a few minutes of “conversation” (I noticed that the “baby” was pretending to be asleep the whole time) the “father” character drew our attention to the “fact” that the “water” in a bottle on the “bedside” was “shaking”. Sure enough, it “was”; I then “looked” at the “curtains” and they appeared to be moving – which obviously raised my suspicions! Then I “felt” with my “body” that the whole “building” (we were on the “eighth floor”, in the so-called “maternity department”) seemed (I’m being very careful with my language here!) to be “trembling”. I suddenly felt quite “scared”. Our “friend”, the new “mother”, checked on her “iphone” and said something about “the “epicentre””(it’s depressing to see how all this quakist jargon has wormed its way into the heads of ordinary sheeple) being near a place called “Rieti”, which I knew at once to be a lie, because although I’ve seen the name on a so-called map and noticed it on the front of “buses”, I’ve never actually been “there”.

We made our excuses, and “left”. I dread to think what fairy tales that baby will grow up hearing. They’ll probably tell it all the usual pseudo-scientific nonsense about “water” being “wet” and about how it gets “dark” at “night”. Personally I’m glad that I’ve seen through all that crap. As soon as “my” “child” is “born” I’m going to tell him the truth: that “hospitals” do more harm than good, that “teachers” do nothing but lie, and that so-called “parents” are the least trustworthy people he’ll ever meet. I’m also going to make sure he understands that whatever information he receives through his “eyes”, “ears”, “nose” and “fingers” is almost certainly bullshit, and that the last thing he should ever do in life – even worse than putting any faith in “experts” – is to use his “brain” to interpret the world. And you can stick your Dr Seuss, Alice in Wonderland and Roald Dahl books back where the sun don’t shine. I won’t be reading him any “bedtime stories” (in any case, if you believe that human beings “need” to “sleep”, quite frankly you’ll believe anything -and as for “breast” “milk”, don’t get me started on that junk!). Instead he’ll be staying up all night with me getting the real story from my good friends at Breitbart, Infowars and Wikileaks. I want my “child” to be brought up on a solid diet of the truth.

NB: This is a work of satire. In reality the only thing more dangerous than seismic activity is climate denial. They both serve to destroy the foundations of our existence.

It’s Not Just Me, Then: Fiction, Music, Comedy and the Cl*mate

sin-tituloWhat I’m trying to do on this site is make links between things I haven’t seen connected together elsewhere*. Hence the links themselves are usually more important than what I have to say about them. In the last couple of days I have come across three things which I think vindicate (albeit, inevitably, in an infinitely more coherent and detailed fashion, one based on research and careful thought rather than guesswork and ‘affect’) the thoughts I’ve been trying to articulate over the past few weeks. First there is this article by Carole Cadwalldr which details the ways in which right-wing trolls have been able to infiltrate the algorithms of Google and Facebook in order to create their own reality, one which is increasingly conditioning ours:

The technology that was supposed to set us free may well have helped Trump to power, or covertly helped swing votes for Brexit. It has created a vast network of propaganda that has encroached like a cancer across the entire internet. This is a technology that has enabled the likes of Cambridge Analytica to create political messages uniquely tailored to you. They understand your emotional responses and how to trigger them. They know your likes, dislikes, where you live, what you eat, what makes you laugh, what makes you cry.

Continue reading “It’s Not Just Me, Then: Fiction, Music, Comedy and the Cl*mate”

The Age of Agnotology: The Importance of Reading Newspapers in an Era of Fake News

Of all the possible places to try to sell a dogmatically Leninist newspaper in 2016, the gates of a small, private, right-wing Catholic university is probably not the best location. Leaving work earlier this week I was surprised to encounter an actual 21st Century Bolshevik selling Lotta Comunista (Communist Struggle). Che testardo! The front page featured an actual hammer and sickle and an exhortation to the workers of the world to put down their bloody phones for a minute and UNITE!. Inside there was a closely-written article on US energy policy that featured nary a mention of the changing climate, while page 6 featured a total of 448 individual statistics relating to socio-economic class and voting habits in the USA. At least its position on Sunday’s absurd and suicidal referendum was more sensible than that of the rest of the ‘left’: they recommend that their readers stay at home memorising ‘What is to be done’ rather than bothering to vote. If you’re so inclined you can read your way through the rest of it here.

A thought experiment: imagine a country in which such a publication was the only newspaper. Actually come to think of it I don’t have to try that hard because I’ve been there quite recently – in May, in Cuba, where the only two daily newspapers are the black-and-white 12-page Government propaganda sheet Granma (named after the tiny vessel that brought Fidel (RIP) and friends back to Cuba in 1956), and an 8-page supplement for03-cuba-fidel-granma young people called Juventude Rebelde (Rebel Youth), which is similar in look, style and content to the kind of publications the Worker’s Revolutionary Party used to try (and fail) to hand out for free. Both newspapers are hard to track down and (after a couple of days of cheap laughs, and once you’ve set aside a few copies as very cheap presents) genuinely not worth the effort. When in the 1990s the US not-an-embassy put up LED screens to broadcast subversive information to the city it must have had quite an impact. In Mozambique – also nominally a Communist country – the national newspapers are remarkably similar in style and content to the cheaper Portuguese tabloids. I once read a very depressing article (it wasn’t supposed to be depressing) about how popular A Bola (The Ball) is in Angola. In some countries, the main journals of record are ones which just report the achievements of government (rather like a lot of local newspapers nowadays in the UK in relation to local councils). In others, the only opposition newspapers are those owned by politically ambitious oligarchs . There are other channels of communication but the absence of a free press makes a country much culturally and socially poorer and less free.

Continue reading “The Age of Agnotology: The Importance of Reading Newspapers in an Era of Fake News”

Don’t Mention the Climate

15-115I wanted to write about the new US President’s decision to stop NASA conducting research on the earth’s climate, but word fail me, or maybe I them. Where to begin? It’s too depressing to even link to. It would require a command over language which I don’t possess. Maybe poets and other artists are better placed to develop the new forms of expression which will be able to address this new reality. Or perhaps I should get round to watching ‘Hypernormalisation’. Here are three writers who have tried to think through the topic (more or less) head-on.

Continue reading “Don’t Mention the Climate”

“All I know is what’s on the Internet”: All heil President Troll

161202Rall.jpgIn China eleven years ago I noticed something surprising about democracy and something disturbing about the world economy. They both involved discrediting and devaluing. In the case of the world economy, what I noticed in China indicated to me that the chief function of neoliberal globalisation was to reduce western wages and conditions to a Chinese level. I also noticed that the notion of democracy had lost a lot of its value, especially in comparison with the student uprising of fifteen years earlier. Since that time global events have, to paraphrase Thomas Pynchon, been proceeding in accordance with an ominous logic. Continue reading ““All I know is what’s on the Internet”: All heil President Troll”

Denial 3: Remarks on ‘Shoah’

To sit down for a full nine and a half hour showing of the Holocaust documentary ‘Shoah’ is to embark on a long-haul flight into terrible, dark skies. It may be a little glib to suggest that it would be of an ideal length to show on transcontinental journeys to and from Germany and Poland (and perhaps also Israel, of which more later), but in the face of the testimonies presented in the film, all aspects of life and all commentaries take on shades of glibness. It is oddly salutary to note that the same cinema that presented the film is also currently showing one by the noted Holocaust affirmer Mel Gibson (affirmer in the sense that those who would deny the Nazi genocide took place know full well that it did, they just thought it was a good thing).

The interviews are conducted in German, English, French, Polish, Hebrew and Italian. The consecutive translation from Polish meant that I was always trying to make sense of what could not be understood, which seems apt. Another curious thing is that a lot of the language used can be called Business German, given that people are describing, in the words of one former SS commander, ‘an efficient production line of death’. The talk is of Ware (merchandise), Verschiffungen (shipments), Verarbeite (processing) and technische Änderungen (technical changes). The purpose of the enterprise was partly to appropriate Jewish goods, a wealth accumulated over centuries during which repeated attempts were made throughout Europe to seize it; hence the Nazi’s Endlösung (final solution).

Now as I mentioned it is practically impossible to talk about the events described in the film without sounding trivial or as if one is revelling in the morbidity of it all. If Adorno famously found it impossible to conceive of how poetry could be written and art created after Auschwitz, a blog post written by me is certainly not going to add anything of meaning. The instrumental use of the Holocaust as a moral yardstick with which to draw comparisons is something explicitly rejected by, for example, the director of the film. However; it is hard to watch this scene without hearing future echoes in one’s brain of what happened in and after 1948, indeed is very much still going on, in another part of the world. I do not want to focus on this explosively contentious analogy here, nor is this the place to explore the uncanny resonances when the historian Raul Hilberg talks about what happened when the Greeks were unable to acquire enough Deutschmarks in order to exchange their stolen Jewish drachmas so they could pay for the selfsame Jews’ journey to death: they were forced to default.

One word that crops up repeatedly in Shoah is Gold. The Jews were the victims, Polish villagers tell us, not only because they were rich and lazy and their women were like sirens to the local men, but ‘because they were the richest’ and ‘they controlled the capital’. Primitive accumulation is clearly one of many reasons for the Nazi genocide.

We may be about to enter very deep waters of glibness, to coin a somewhat ungainly phrase. But still.
sjff_01_img0451We are in a period in which what is most of value in this society is being converted into money. From the Cash for Gold ads on TV to the impending attempts to sell off our future health to the highest bidder, it is a process which David Harvey has characterised as ’accumulation by dispossession’. Everything must go, we are told: islands in Greece, pensions in Spain, social welfare here in the the UK, the sentimental objects you have accumulated in your attic. There is no alternative; everything, as Mark Fisher has pointed out, must be evaluated in terms of its immediate or potential exchange value, including ourselves. News has become Business News, philosophy has become Business Philosophy, and all this business is conducted in the new global language of Business English.

About this time last year I was at a music festival and I got chatting to a young woman who had just graduated in a health-related discipline. I mentioned that this was possibly not a great time to be doing so what with the impending destruction of the NHS, but she corrected me, saying that in her field of private health consultancy things were about to boom and opportunities abounded.

Now, I think in the broadest possible sense we as humans today tend to avoid reflecting too much on the broader consequences of the things we do all day at work, especially when jobs and careers are very difficult to obtain and easy to lose. Few people would be happy to fully accept that what they do for eight hours or more in their jobs makes the world a worse place. In any case, we are not for the most part the ones pulling the switches and deciding where the particular train on which we are riding is going to go. The same is true in the film; four Nazis are interviewed and they all have excuses and explanations – inevitably they did not know, or ‘they saw’ prisoners being beaten to death, by others doing the same job, and it was terrible, terrible for me…or literally in this case, I was so very busy working I never got round to asking where the trains I was coordinating were going, nor why there so very many of them, over such a long period, and anyway it wasn’t the done thing to ask…

To return for the final time this week to Zizek, he writes in ‘Violence’:

‘Hannah Arendt was right: these figures (the Nazis) were not personifications of sublime Byronesque demonic evil: the gap between their intimate experience and the horror of their acts was immense.’
weinsteinNo-one sees themselves as a personification of evil; we all have interior rationalisations of what we do. The horror of capitalism is not only that in commodifying our time and our mental and physical energies it also forces us to sell off our ethical consciousness; it is that it does the same to those around us, and our sense of what we should do is largely based on copying what others seem to think they should do. Zizek goes on to remind us:

‘The experience that we have of our lives from within, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to account for what we are doing, is fundamentally a lie — the truth lies outside, in what we do.’

Much was written a number of years ago rightfully castigating the Sinead O’Connor line on the Hitlers and Stalins of history, that they were probably abused as children or something. But we were all abused as children. We simply cannot use it as an excuse to abuse others. And if we know that abuses are going on elsewhere in our name or for our cause, or as a result of our daily enterprises, whether for financial gain or out of some vicious inexplicable cruelty, we have an absolute moral imperative to stop them.


Denial 2: On Blinkeredness

filterbubblesI noticed a couple of years ago when living in a fairly nondescript part of East London, in the kind of Olympically lifeless area where absolutely everyone comes from everywhere else and no-one sticks around for long, that in some parts of the country, and maybe the world, it is becoming more and more difficult to find a shop where get your hands on a physical newspaper. Conversations with my international students confirm this: the regular purchase of a newspaper is increasingly a minority pursuit, an odd and probably slightly quirky habit of people over 35 or so. Younger people inevitably get their news online, if at all – the news might simply consist in what their friends are up to on Facebook or maybe a glance at Google or Yahoo headlines. Given that so much of what we perceive of the world is mediated in some way, what does this imply about our collective experience of a shared reality?

A few years ago I remarked on my Chinese students’ reluctance to engage with information which might conflict with what they had grown up and been taught to believe about their own society. Despite the opportunities presented by the internet, they continued to prefer Chinese sites and to steer well clear of alternative sources of news, ideas and information despite having the language to make sense of what was being said. At the time I tended, rather patronizingly I now see, to regard this as a symptom of ideological brainwashing by the evil Chinese Communist Party, but since then I have come to see this kind of instinctive and wilfull blinkeredness as more generalized and not remotely restricted to authoritarian societies.

Now obviously my Facebook news update page and Twitter feed are different from yours. I chose to follow or to be friends with certain people, and am of course aware that the information I receive in this way does not give me a particularly comprehensive view of what is going on in the society in which I live or around the world. However, news sites tend now to work in a similar way, or at least offer to let you have your news your way – just business and sports headlines if that’s what you’re interested in, with none of that bothersome stuff about earthquakes and floods and generally what’s been happening to people you’ve never even met.

To go back to when I was in the authoritarian society of China, it caught my attention that the results I got from Google searches tended to be quite different from the results I got outside China. This has been quite ably demonstrated elsewhere – if you type Tiananmen Square into google anywhere else in the world, you are confronted with the famous picture of the guy standing in front of the tank, whereas if you do so in China. you get some American people’s holiday snaps (and if you look for human rights in google in China, your internet connection goes down for five minutes). In China, then, we are dealing with a formal kind of censorship, acknowledged or not. Whether or not google colludes in this is not generally known. But what is clear is that, these days, something similar happens wherever we are in the world.

In the interview below Eli Pariser shows us what happens when he types Egypt into google: he gets a page of results which pertain to recent developments: the fall of the dictator and the ongoing revolution. He then shows us what happens when a less socially conscious friend did the same thing – the results he received were mostly related to holidays. Google uses a series of filters to show us what it thinks we as individuals do and do not wish to know. It does so automatically and for our own benefit – just as the authoritarian Chinese Commmunist Party does.

The kind of people I teach here in London are about as likely to type human rights into google as they are to buy a copy of the Guardian.The same is certainly true for climate change – any attempts, even in the most underhand and careful of ways, to raise the topic result in what George Marshall describes as a ‘spinach tart’ moment. Not only are they very unlikely to seek information on the impending annihilation of the human species or indeed on what we individually and collectively can do to prevent it, they are also, these days, extremly unlikely to come across any information on it, given the way that they, and we, increasingly experience the world through a tighter and tighter set of filters, for our own benefit and convenience.

However, for all that we may be inclined to hope that we can hide from the four horsemen in our own private and sealed utopias online, it transpires that this is not the case. According to a recent government report, it is predicted that climate change will play havoc with our internet connections: ‘higher temperatures can reduce the range of wireless communications, rainstorms can impact the reliability of the signal, and drier summers and wetter winters may cause greater subsidence, damaging masts and underground cables’. Maybe our best option would be to challenge climate change to a game of (offline) chess.

by Rich

Denial 1: On denialism

mmezqI mentioned to a friend that I had foolhardishly bought a ticket for a full showing of the nine and a half hour long Holocaust documentary Shoah. He responded that it would be effective aversion therapy for a Holocaust denier. Now personally I have never thought of myself as a Holocaust denier, but I guess there must be a reason why I have decided not just to subject myself to presumably the most upsetting and depressing celuloid experience of my life but also to pay a much delayed visit to Auschwitz this summer. Maybe, deep down, without knowing it, I am a Holocaust denier. Or maybe my interest is more casually macabre, like this guy (or on another level WG Sebald may have something to do with it). Perhaps we all are Holocaust deniers, in that most of the time, we go about our daily lives not reflecting upon the import not only of that most base of human achievements, but all the horrors that we know full well are going on around us, some of which we know at some level that we are deeply implicated in (and the means we increasingly use to try to escape from this reality allow us to also avoid our ethical responsibilities: a friend’s facebook profile reads, ‘Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine…’…hmm, no need to worry about the ethical consequences of what we do all day at work then). Perhaps, as someone wise once speculated, we simply choose to be blind.

As Zizek pointed out, some traumas are too, well, traumatic to be integrated into the human psyche. There is no rational or appropriate response to knowledge of the Holocaust. It simply defies our categories of knowledge and belief, shatters the coordinates of our reality. In a very similar way, there would be no appropriate response to the coming horrors of climate chaos, and no visible means by which we can alert ourselves, those we love and those who do not exist yet in order to somehow prevent it from happening. So we all, at some level, deny it is happening.

Speaking of the holocaust, the French philosopher Raymond Aron articulated very well how ideology works today: ’“I knew, but I didn’t believe it, and because I didn’t believe it, I didn’t know.” Sven Lindquist said something similar: “You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions.” George Marshall of the Climate Outreach Information Network makes a similar point with reference to Climate Change: we need to stop calmly telling people about what is happening and concentrate on showing them how scared and angry we are. Actually, he didn’t say scared, I did. Here is a video in which he explains what he means; you can find much more of this sort of thing here: