Tuesday, 11 November 2014

WW1 - Started because of Oil - Ended because of Communism. Freedom doesn't even get a walk on part

On this day in 1918 - a group of generals and politicians were sitting around a table getting ready to sign a cease fire. They weren't especially concerned by the millions of working class German, French and British soldiers who had been pointlessly slaughtered over the last four years. If they were, they would have ended the war a lot earlier.

But they were concerned about the number of Russian dead. Or more accurately, the changes that the number of Russian dead had brought about had made them feel a little class conscious. They weren't signing for peace, they were signing against Communism. All of a sudden, German Princes, French Generals and British Aristocrats had a lot in common, and a lot to lose.

At first, the Germans had seen the collapse of the Russian Empire as an advantage for them. The Russians had dropped out of the war, Germany was no longer surrounded. True it had lost control of the Iraqi oil fields (which it would have needed to be able to challenge the British Empire) but with the Russians out of the war, it could probably have beaten the British and French in the field and then reinforced the collapsing Ottoman Empire and re-secured its oil supplies with the 'Berlin-Baghdad' railway that had led to the war starting in the first place.

Ya'see, in the early 1900's Germany and Britain were in alliance negotiations (yes, you read that right) but they fell out because Germany wanted too many warships, and Britain had a policy that it would have twice as many warships as all the other powers in the world put together, so that it could defend its empire and continue to control world trade as it had done for the previous 100 years. So when the Germans started producing a new generation of modern, super long range, oil powered war ships, the alliance negotiations were cancelled as both Britain and Germany looked to the newly discovered oil supplies in the middle east.

The German dream was to bring oil to Germany via land, building a railway all the way through the Balkans and Turkey to Iraq, thus avoiding the British Fleet. This little fact helps us to understand why the war started in Serbia - which was on the rout of the rail road, and makes a tad more geopolitical sense than an Austrian Duke being shot (the official reason).

So when the war first started, Britain committed its main force to invading Iraq and only sent a serious force to Europe once it became clear that the french were ballsing it up. But the Russians dropping out gave the Germans a chance to crush the British and French armies in Europe and take back the Iraqi oil fields. With control of Europe and the middle east, Germany would have been able to build and fuel as many ships as it liked and the British Empire would have been stuffed.

So why the famous 'armistice' of 11/11/11? Well the Germans overlooked something. The British naval blockade had taken its toll (increasing the German need to build warships) and the German working class was either starving, fighting, pissed off or all of the above. So the communist revolution in Russia was not quite the advantage the German elite thought it was. By mid 1918, socialist uprisings had begun all over Europe including Germany itself. The very centre of the capitalist world was rotting from the inside out as workers realised that they were slaughtering each other to defend the pies of one fat bastard from another fat bastard. So when the prospect of working class power became a real potential, it was amazing how fast these 'enemy' elites sat down and hammered out a deal.

Almost immediately after the ceasefire was signed, German troops left the front line to crush the socialist republic of Bavaria, Italian troops crushed the uprising in Northern Italy, and US, British and French troops redeployed to Russia to try to halt the revolution at its source, but they failed because they didn't send enough troops (for fear that their troops might get funny ideas if the Russians started chucking English language copies of the communist manifesto at them over the tops of the trenches.) So only Russia turned communist, creating the USSR.

Oil, power politics, elitism, empire, class - starving people getting fed up of slaughtering each other and fat bastards doing dirty deals to secure their own power. Its nice when history makes some kind of logical sense. Or you can believe that a million British soldiers died for 'freedom' and that the Germans surrendered even though there was not one foreign soldier on German soil because they were in a peace-nik kinda mood.

What the media leads us to believe may poison our minds and shape our opinions of current wars, but is cannot change the historical facts.

Oh, and yes, Iraq. In WW1 Britain conquered Iraq for the first time (starting 100 years of oil wars in defence of anglo-saxon naval power), gave Jerusalem to the British people as a 'christmas present' - which im sure didn't turn messy at all - and betrayed post war Germany so badly that they felt they turned to Hitler and US weapons manufacturers redress the balance. But those are all different stories :-D

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Middle East Wars, Oil and the US. The Last Days of Rome?

This article is a very general summary of the wars in the Middle East and Arab resistance to the West over the last 50 years - in all its different forms. The piece started off as a response to a friend asking my opinion of a Robert Fisk interview (link below) with someone who argues that the various countries of the Middle East have been deliberately destroyed. I Agree that this has been the case, but disagree as to why this has been US policy. This is a very controversial idea - but it is the key idea that motives the 'Last Days of Rome Blog'. Lastly, the whole article is obviously a hugely simplified summary as it would take a 100,000 page house brick of a book (as well as a huge research team) to 'prove' this theory. To be honest, people can take it or leave it, but it is the understanding that i have developed over 10 years of amateur study of the region and its place in modern world history and politics.


Its very credible. Robert Fisk is one of the best journalists in the world and he has lived in the middle east - documenting each conflict - for over 30 years. Because his home is Lebanon, his extensive list of contacts means that he is one of the few people who has had enough trust to get access to Syrian generals and politicians over the last few years. He doesn't want to take the regimes side, rather he wants to let them tell their side of the story because no-one is doing that. (And because the Syrian government is so suspicious of western journalists - probably rightly so - its not letting anyone tell its side of the story except for the official government propaganda office.

So the journalism is very credible. But how credible are the ideas of the woman he's talking to? Well for that you have to see where she's coming from. She is a member of an almost extinct (or at least, dis empowered) Pan-Arab nationalist movement that grew up in the 50's and 60's. It was mostly defined by opposition to Israel and by a desire to united the Arab world into one state. Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Libya were the major players. All of them established secular semi-socialist dictatorships to push these two goals - oppose Israel and unite the Arabs. This movement was gradually weakened through the 70's and 80's as the West skillfully exploited the conflicts between these different countries and singled them out in different ways.

Their failure to be effective opponents of US imperialism in the middle east (and to liberate Palestine) meant that they weakened a lot in the 80's and 90's and have been all but wiped out in the last 15years. Syria was the last secular, Arabist regime standing after Iraq and Libya were destroyed and Egypt was bought off in the 80's. So over the last 30 years as this movement has grown weaker Islamic resistance has grown stronger. In the early phase this was Iranian Shia Islamism (inspired by the over-throwing of the pro-US dictatorship in Iran) and more recently Sunni Islamism (funded by Iran's rival, Saudi Arabia. The contradiction in this is that Sunni militancy and terrorism see's itself as fighting against the West, but because it is funded and supported by the pro-western Saudis, mostly ends up fighting the wests enemies (the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the Syrian regime, the Iraqi regime, the Iranian regime, the Libyan regime.

So what we have now across the middle east is the two forms of Islamism going for each others throats. The traditionally anti-western Shai islamism led by Iran and the supposedly anti-western Sunni islamism whose foot soldiers believe they are fighting the West but mostly end up doing the Wests dirty work for it.

I personally don't feel all this is about protecting Israel. The fact that the US has been supporting both sides of this in different ways (Threatening Syria one year then fighting its enemies the next - calling Iran evil one year, then working with them to fight Isis the next) only go to persuade me more that the US is trying to destabilise and collapse Middle Eastern society altogether, an idea that few people (such as the woman in the interview) support because of its hugely scary consequences.

The US knows that it cannot control the middle east outright any more, and yet it needs to do so because most of the oil that the international economy runs off comes from that area. So if it doesn't control that area, it loses its control of the world economy as well.

But this presents a third option. Make it so that no-one can control the region. Destroy the fabric of the economy and society so badly that it will take generations to repair. Whilst this is unfolding, there is plenty of opportunity to pirate out lots of oil, but ultimately, it will mean that no-one controls the oil. In fact, Oil production needs a certain amount of stability as it is a complicated process, so there will soon not be much oil production to control.

This sounds like madness, because surely the US needs the regions oil as much as its Chinese, Russian, Indonesian and Indian rivals do? Not anymore it doesn't. The mad rush towards fracking, Canadian Tar sands and deep sea drilling in the gulf of Mexico - all horrible ways of getting oil - mean that the North American continent is very nearly oil self sufficient again. That is a very scary thought. US oil production has been declining since the 1970's, but in just this last few years it has started booming again.

This in effect means that the US has military control of the life blood that all of its rivals need to survive, but that it does not need this live blood itself. So when it feels its power waning because its rivals are all getting stronger, and it is no longer rich enough or powerful enough to fully hold down the middle eastern supplies, the coldly logical thing to do is a 'scorched earth' policy of destroying the area completely. (But also doing it slowly enough that it doesn't kick off a third world war).

If Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia eventually go for each others throats (instead of fighting proxy wars in Iraq and Syria) this will certainly have the effect of completely destroying the middle east - which is exactly the direction things seem to be going in.

I first became convinced of this idea ten years ago after the US invaded Iraq and was obviously destroying all the countries institutions - making the country uncontrollable to them and anyone else. But the flaw at the time was that the US needed the regions oil as much as anyone else did. Now however, 10 years into this destabilisation strategy, they are virtually independent in oil terms. Why do you think the other powers like China put up with so much bullshit from the US? The US has them by the balls. The Russians have enough oil and gas for themselves - with quite a bit to export - but they don't have nearly enough to share around all of the Asian powers, and without control of the seas they would have no way of delivering it against the US's wishes when push came to shove and trade sanctions would be applied.

We don't just use oil for heat and transport - everyone in the world literally eats oil these days as it requires 10 calories of Oil fuel to make 1 calorie of human food or human 'fuel'. All of these huge third world countries - who own the US's debt and theoretically have the power to bankrupt the US tomorrow if they wanted - would only survive a matter of weeks politically if the oil was cut off, and the famines would kick in violently within a year even if the political elites of these countries managed to survive the instability caused by power cuts and transport shutdowns of the early oil-less days.

All of this has the sound of the conspiracy theory about it because it is so far from the mainstream narrative that we are told through the media that it is unimaginable. But it does not require any vast conspiracy or grand plans. A small handful of neo-conservative politicians in the US, UK and Israel have managed to bring about this instability - whilst they have also encouraged corporations to explore the alternative oil sources like fracking, tar sands etc, most people on the left agree on that. Academics like chomsky have documented the fact thats these wars have been caused by a small group of neo-cons clearly and distinctly. And destroying a region is 10 times easier that trying to conquer it and hold it. To me, the idea promoted by most mainstream lefties - that the US is trying to conquer the middle east to hold it - is more conspiratorial because it would require much more planning, deceit and cooperation to build a direct old style colonial empire like that.

It is only very rarely in history that an imperial power finds itself in control of one small region that everyone in the world is dependent upon for their survival. Destroying the resources that your enemy needs in order to survive is really, really common, but this situation is quite unique. The vast majority of the third worlds population lives on a vast life support machine (created by modern agriculture's dependence on oil) that gets 60-70% of its power from the middle east. If the flow of power is shut off, the machine shuts down, the food stops being produced, people starve and governments fall.

Whenever i spell this argument out to people - they react negatively because it is so unthinkably horrible. But it makes a lot of cold sense, its explains the events in the middle east over the last ten years better than either the mainstream or the left wing narratives and it is only as genocidal as what the Nazi regime was about, or what the British Empire did to the native Americans and Aborigine's, or what the Spanish did to the South Americans. As soon as you drop this idea that we live in a period of history that is some how 'nicer' or 'more civilised' than all of the periods that have come before it, the logic of the argument becomes pretty clear. Our elite is desperate.

Its the Last days of Rome. The Anglo-Saxon dominance of the world economy - that has lasted for hundreds of years - is waning. And once that has gone they won't be able to afford the guns to stay in military control either. They are being out competed on the economy, the Western created industrial revolution is threatening to choke the planet and drown all of us and the third world population is booming out of control. The West is slipping. The established power elites in the west can see it slipping and they are not going to be first empire in history to NOT put up a fight on the way down if there is any hope they can save their own miserable arses. When seen in this light, this strategy is no more insanely genocidal than those used by other collapsing empires that have clung to power.

Cheers Cai for the inspiration to spill all this out in one place :-D

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Why you can't have Capitalist Democracy - Noam Chomsky

"Capitalist democracy would self destruct, and thats why it hasn't been instituted."

"If you persue the division of labour people will repeat the same actions over and over... they will be de-skilled. This is the goal of management - de-skill the workforce. It will turn people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as can possibly be."

"Take a look at the history, its pretty facsinating... there were other countries poised for industrial revolution, like Egypt and India - in fact India was the commercial and industrial centre of the world, more so than England. It could have taken off, but they [India and Egypt] were not free to reject these economics. They were ruled by British force."

Full video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mxp_wgFWQo

"Being Kidnapped, Tortured and Released in Syria"

This is an amazing, page turning read. But it lacks context. Iraq and Syria used to be politically secular countries where Sunni and Shia intermarried and Western visitors were welcomed with with excessive amounts of coffee. The very real apocalypse described in this article is the result of over 700,000 Iraqi and 150,000 Syrian deaths caused by the Wests sanctions, invasions and bombings of the region. Without the context, this amazing artilce is worse than worthless as it enables the reader to think of the people of the region as savages - discounting the fact that this is what happens when societies collapse, and that this collapse was of our making.

The ideas that the fighters in this story believe in have nothing to do with Islam in any recongisable form - especially in a region where non-islamic christians and other minorities have survived for over a thousand years, side by side. These are the ideas and attitudes of any group of people for whom there is no hope and no future. Where all stability is gone and violence is all that is left.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

The danger of Witch-hunts illustrated by a silly example - Vaping!

Lets start provocatively in order to prove the point. Leave the bloody 'vapers' alone now guys, we're not going to hurt you or your kids. Put away the holy water - calm down long enough to let the logic centres of the brain kick in. Now, that statement will have pissed some people off - and rightly so. So if it annoyed you, please read on.

If you hadn't guessed, Im a new convert. Started 'vaping' a few weeks ago to reduce my 30-40 rollie habit (with no filters) Today however, i was having real trouble breathing properly as one of those regular chest infections that hits heavy smokers every 6 months or so stopped by to say hi! Or is that 'Die'?

So instead im going to use this little gizmo to get me off the fags altogether. But already, im getting a lot of negative feedback for doing it in public places. This stems from how the war on tobbacco was fought, not why it was fought, and this is a really important difference. Peoples reactions to vaping are triggered by the fact that it 'looks' so much like smoking, so it makes them feel anxious (or is that 'righteous'?) :-)

Seriously though. Smoking ain't good. The vast cocktail of of thousands of chemicals does ya' some serious harm. When you fill a room with the stuff, its also been proven to harm the people around you too. Not to mention the evils of the tobacco industry and their recent drives to get more 3rd worlders smoking to compensate for the loss of sales in the West. If people want to smoke, im totally cool with their personal decision, but even most smokers like me admit its a bit fucked up.

Yet smoking was banned by playing to hysteria - the key ingredient in a witch hunt. Many people have lost someone to smoking, so understandably, the emotions run high. And this was the key to the anti-smoking campaigns success, they based their campaigns on the scientific logic against smoking, but then fuelled the communication of this logic with the pain and emotion that smoking has caused, The result is dangerously close to an fear charged witch-hunt (with the odd fascist on the side who just loves to disapprove of people anyway.)

It all gotten a bit hysterical. If the result of this particular witch hunt is that many people's lives are saved, it might be worth it - 'might' because i distrust all emotionally charged witch hunts. But now we are seeing the negative side effects - people getting all righteous with Vapers. Admittedly, more study is needed, as with nearly everything in modern consumer society, but there is already enough evidence to prove that it is nowhere near as harmful as smoking - and probably totally harmless in terms of 'passive vaping'.

If the millions of hard core nicotine addicts (like me) out there are free to enjoy our vapes without sigma and hysteria, we will probably remain nicotine addicts for life, But nicotine alone (without the vast array of other shit in fags - including Arsenic!) is about as bad as caffeine. Its a very mild stimulant which will slightly raise the blood pressure and heart rate in regular users, just like caffeine (which i personally feel affects me more, and has more side effects than vaping nicotine.)

Yet the smoking boogyman still stalks the halls. The hysterical energy unlocked by the anti-smoking campaigns has resulted in people looking down on those who have gone to great pains to adapt their habit from a generally harmful to a generally harmless form. Calls for bans have already gained momentum and a lot won't allow their friends to do it in their houses. But this simply is not logical.  As mammals we are essentially reactionary creatures. Visual cues warn us of danger, our blood pressure rises, adrenaline is released and we start to feel angry and agitated. This biological pattern allows us to learn from past mistakes to protect our selves. We get wound up and react - fight or flight.

This is exactly the same process that happens in racist lynch mobs and any other form of witch hunt. Primal instincts are mobilised to get an emotional reaction. When a non-smoker looks at a smoker angrily, they are probably projecting the pain of the loss of a loved one - or the ancient instinct to protect their child - through the prism of the facts they have learned how harmful smoking is.

But if you feel that same reaction because someone is vaping, get a hold of yourself, calm the fuck down and realise that logic is no longer on your side. Worse than that, by ostracising someone who is actively taking measures to reduce the harmful effects of smoking on themselves and others to almost zero, you are encouraging the little demons in their heads that want to get them smoking again.

I can already hear the cries of 'more research is needed' and 'we don't know that 100%' but very few things are that certain. If your still letting yourself get all wound up about it because a voice in your head says 'ah, but there is a slight chance' then you need to realise that this voice is hysteria masquerading as logic. Your home or your work place is full of technology and poisons that pose a very real statistical risk of killing your child or colleague through accidents and such like - a small risk mostly, but a real one. Not to mention the quite high dangers or driving a car and the high level of damage done to the lungs of people who breath in car fumes ('passive car-ing'?)  The basic logic is that it is a whole lot better and the initial studies agree. So put the puritanical riding crop down please and be kind to people who are moving from smoking to vaping, because they are doing it for themselves and you. 

Western Origins of Isis - John Pilger Nails It

I don't have anything to add to this awesome article. Which was quite a shock to my ego. Rich in historical context - and with a deep understanding of how traumatised nations behave - John Pilger is a master journalist and this article puts Isis not only in the context of Iraq's history, but it also makes vaild comparrisions with the histories of other countries that have been destroyed by the US and turned to radicalism. 

This is why i write my little blog of rants in the first place. The separation of History and Journalism into two separate disciplines makes about as much sense as separating Ecology from Biology. If this were to happen, Ecological surveys of unmapped areas of the jungle would read like this; "theres these winged creatures with pointy faces flying through the air everywhere, and there's these green things growing out of the ground. Given that the winged things fly above the green things we think these 'birds' are actually scared of landing on these 'trees', our guess is that they would probably be eaten by them"

Yet these childishly detached observations - the product of an Ecologist who knows nothing of Zoology, Biology or Natural History - fit perfectly with the ramblings of every BBC journo who is catapulted into a conflict in the Middle East without any knowledge of the history of the region. More than that, they require a broader understanding of many different areas of history so as to be able to make informed comparisons and spot vaild patterns. This point is made pretty well be the fact that nearly every regime in the world that is more brutal or authoritarian than ours is automatically compared to Nazi Germany because that's the only bloody thing these people learnt about history before they left high school. Next time the West is lining someone up for attack, just count how many people make the Hilter comparrison.

There are no exact laws of history and politics, but there are many firm patterns that can point a commentator in the right direction, as is true with many of the non 'pure' sciences like Ecology. Just because something cannot be precisely measured in numbers does not mean that studying it is irrelevant, yet modern Journo's run around the world reporting back everything they 'see with their eyes' whilst totally failing to add context. "Aaaahhh, they're all shooting at each other! Probably religion or something. Maybe their dictator is like Hitler! Yes, that's it. And these people are clearly the goodies because, although they are burning that man alive, he supports the dictator and dictators are the baddies. Right, got it. Roll the camera."

Journalism without context is worse than no journalism at all because it creates the impression of a totally unpredictable world where evil regimes and Hilter-monsters just rise out of nowhere - like some supernatural force that must be suppressed by the righteous. It scares the crap out of people, gets them waving flags and patting their sons on the back on their way to go off and be slaughtered in some pointless war.

Anyway, non of this applies to old school Journalist John Pilger. Here is his article which answers everything you need to know about the rise of Isis.