Sunday, February 28, 2010

Janet Woollacott (1982: 108-110) offers a useful critique of Policing the Crisis, a key work by Stuart Hall et al.(1978). The work reflects an analysis of the signifying practices of the mass media from the perspective of Marxist culturalist theory inflected through Gramsci's theory of hegemony, and 'an Althusserian conception of the media as an ideological state apparatus largely concerned with the reproduction of dominant ideologies', claiming relative autonomy for the mass media (Woollacott 1982: 110). For Hall et al. the mass media do tend to reproduce interpretations which serve the interests of the ruling class, but they are also 'a field of ideological struggle'. The media signification system is seen as relatively autonomous. 'The news' performs a crucial role in defining events, although this is seen as secondary to the primary definers: accredited sources in government and other institutions. The media also serve 'to reinforce a consensual viewpoint by using public idioms and by claiming to voice public opinion' (Woollacott 1982: 109).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

If John Terry was Italian, far from stepping down as the national team captain, he'd be running for president of the country.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I would add the bookshops to Orwell's list (by implication he is already referring to the strange unaccountable court of judgement which decides if a book gets a good or bad review or - worst of all - no review at all). Even if it is well-reviewed, a book's success and influence depend greatly on how and where bookshops display it in the crucial weeks when it is in the public eye. The difference in the influence of the book that's piled in heaps on the table at the entrance, and the book which you have to ask for, or which is concealed on a back shelf in a basement, is colossal. Yet nobody ever classifies this often completely unfair treatment as censorship or bias. It is odd how so few people are conscious of being manipulated by bookshops, whereas I think most people are aware of the way in which supermarkets try to manipulate them. And so the huge responsibility of deciding whose book gets prominent display goes unexamined. Often it's a matter of money. But I think most bookshop staffs are left-wing, in that boring default way which afflicts most graduates, and they let their prejudices govern their display.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Since 9/11, the scale of the threat that we face has increased significantly – this means that there can be no guarantees. The figure of 2,000 terrorist targets that the Head of MI5 referred to publicly in his speech is not scaremongering. It is a frightening figure that some have suggested cannot be right. We would suggest that there are a great deal more people out there who pose a threat to the UK, beyond those known to MI5.

2,000 potential threats

Adult Muslim population of the UK is 1,2million.

1.2million/2000 = 600

So 1/600 Muslims in the UK is a terorist. (at the very least)

On a given Friday afternoon in White Chapel there are statistically at least 5potential terrorists roaming the streets.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Many problems remain: a region of dictators that has no experience with democracy; a lack of infrastructure, resources and training for an independent press; government control and oversight; a lack of competition; an obsession with "consensus" issues, such as Palestinian rights, at the expense of local news; and repressive laws, censorship and self-censorship.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

‘This country is hurtling towards massive debt and ever higher taxes under Gordon Brown. It is hurtling towards a position in the world that is dramatically more minor than the position that Mrs Thatcher presided over and Tony Blair was happy to exploit.

‘Britain will be diminished, its voice silenced, its credibility shredded.

‘It will be too late to come back in five years’ time.’

I don't see that this is necessarily so, nor do I see any reason why, if it is so, a Cameron government would prevent it. The main damage done by New Labour was done in its early years, the mass immigration, the hand-over of powers to Brussels, the smashing up of the House of Lords, the politicisation of the civil service, the rundown of the armed forces, the huge increases in public sector employment, the theft of pension funds, the sexual revolution, the law banning new grammar schools, the assault on the top universities and the independent schools, the Iraq and Afghan Wars, the surrender to terrorist gangsterism in Ireland, the break-up of the United Kingdom, and the general assault on civil liberties - the things the Tories failed to oppose, let alone halt, and in many cases accepted. Just because most political journalists aren't interested in these things, and don't understand their importance, the rest of us don't need to buy their dim-witted, outdated version of events.

Monday, February 15, 2010

States must never make civilians the object of attack and consequently never use weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets. . . States do not have unlimited freedom of choice of means in the weapons they use.


The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (if not the Pentagon) on September 11, 2001 pose the legal dilemma of how to respond proportionally when the initial attack was itself unreasonable, excessive, and against civilians. Nonetheless, the suggested policy of holding entire nations accountable for the acts of a few would not appear to be lawful since collective punishment would, by definition, entail the unnecessary suffering of innocent populations.

B. Welling Hall
Professor of Politics and International Studies
Earlham College
International law issues could arise if and when the United States or any of its allies takes countermeasures against a country suspected of harboring the persons responsible for the terrorist acts of September 11. The issues would be particularly acute if the countermeasures are in the form of armed action. Armed reprisals are highly questionable under the United Nations Charter (a treaty to which the United States is a party) because of its strong emphasis on peaceful resolution of disputes. Nevertheless, article 51 of the U.N. Charter recognizes "the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security." Thus, if the coordinated use of force to hijack and use large airliners loaded with fuel to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon can be classified as an armed attack against the United States, and if it is necessary to take countermeasures involving the use of armed force in order to prevent further attacks, the United States arguably could use force under article 51 until such time as the Security Council can act to maintain international peace and security.

The North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) parties, by invoking article 5 of that Treaty, have expressed their understanding that an armed attack against the United States occurred. Article 5 requires the NATO parties to assist the attacked country in the exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense under article 51 of the UN Charter, but it does not specify the action to be taken. It does say that the action could involve the use of armed force.

If the party responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon is not the government of the country from which the terrorists operate, a question could arise whether use of armed force that causes injury to that country is lawful. The UN Charter was not drafted with such situations in mind. An argument can be made, however, that the principle of article 51 could extend to such a case if the government is knowingly harboring the

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Press TV and the other propaganda organs of the Iranian and jihadi causes will not be balancing tales of Mohamed's torture with glowing descriptions of how kind Britain was to allow the Ethiopian to live here, even though he had lost his claim to be a refugee. If you want to be an accountant, you must take Evans's concern seriously, and put the effect that decisions in human rights cases have on boosting the enemy's morale in wartime into a profit-and-loss register.
Although I am sure that Britain is a happier country than Saudi Arabia and that a sensible person would rather live in France than Cuba, the case for basing societies on liberties is not a utilitarian one. Listen to the current debate on rights, however, and you will find that virtually everyone involved pretends that we can enjoy them without paying a price; that a cost-benefit analysis will always show gain without pain.


Fiat justitia ruat caelum – "let justice come though the heavens fall" – but many will tolerate justice only if it leaves the heavens undisturbed. According to the Mohamed judgment, a man's right to obtain evidence that he has been tortured depends on whether the judges think that it may harm the intelligence services. If the Court of Appeal has got it wrong, and it seems to have got it very wrong, then the policy could change.
As for the even more ludicrous Macpherson Report of 1999, its airy accusation of ‘institutional racism’ against the police was all that was left when it could find no actual evidence of any racially biased conduct.

No doubt the police bungled the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. They bungle a lot of investigations. But was this because of racial bias? If so, how come they successfully prosecuted three other racially motivated homicides in the same part of London in the same period?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

As always (and as was famously said by the excellent American journalist Michael Kinsley) the surprise is not about what's illegal. The surprise is about what is legal. That is to say, that things most people would regard as wrong, greedy and despicable are officially permitted, and still remain so despite months of scandal.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The revolutionary force of Dadaism lay in the fact that it put the authenticity of art to the test.
The Dadaists made still-lifes out of tickets, spools, cigarette butts that were integrated into painted elements. Then
they showed it to the public: see, the picture-frame explodes time, the tiniest real fragment of everyday life says more
than painting. Just as the bloody fingerprint of a murderer on the page of a book says more than the text. Many
aspects of this revolutionary attitude have made their way into photomontage. You only need to think of the work of
John Heartfield, whose technique made book jackets into a political instrument. But now follow the path of
photography further. What do you see? It becomes more and more subtle, more and more modern, and the result is
that it can no longer photograph a run-down apartment house or a pile of manure without transfiguring it. Not to
speak of the fact that it would be impossible to say anything about a dam or a cable factory except this: the world is
beautiful. The World is Beautiful—that is the title of a famous book of photographs by Renger-Patsch, in which we see
the photography of the ‘new objectivity’ at its height. It has even succeeded in making misery itself an object of
pleasure, by treating it stylishly and with technical perfection. For the ‘new objectivity’, it is the economic function of
photography to bring to the masses elements which they could not previously enjoy—spring, movie stars, foreign
countries—by reworking them according to the current fashion; it is the political function of photography to renew
the world as it actually is from within, in other words, according to the current fashion.
In our literature,’ a leftist author writes, ‘oppositions which mutually enriched each other in earlier, happier times,
have become insoluble antinomies. Thus science and belles lettres, criticism and production, culture and politics have
fallen away from each other, without maintaining any relationship or order. The showplace of this literary confusion
is the newspaper. Its content is “material” which refuses any form of organization other than that imposed by the
reader’s impatience. This impatience is not only that of the politician who expects a piece of news, or of a speculator
who awaits a tip: behind them hovers the impatience of whoever feels himself excluded, whoever thinks he has a
right to express his own interests himself. For a long time, the fact that nothing binds the reader to his paper as much
as this avid impatience for fresh nourishment every day, has been used by editors, who are always starting new
columns open to his questions, opinions, protestations. So the indiscriminate assimilation of facts goes hand in hand
with the similar indiscriminate assimilation of readers, who see themselves instantly raised to the level of co-workers.
But this phenomenon hides a dialectical moment: the fall of literature in the bourgeois press reveals the formula for
its resuscitation in the Soviet Russian press, because the realm of literature gains in width what it loses in depth. In
the Soviet press, the difference between author and public, maintained artificially by the bourgeois press, is
beginning to disappear. The reader is indeed always ready to become a writer, that is to say, someone who describes
or even who prescribes. As an expert—even if not a professional, but only a job-occupant—he gains entrance to
authorship. Labour itself speaks out for writing it out in words constitutes part of the knowledge necessary to
becoming an author. Literary competence is no longer based on specialized training in academic schools, but on
technical and commercial training in trade schools and thus becomes common property. In a word, it is the
literarization of the relationships of life which overcomes otherwise insoluble antinomies and it is the showplace of
the unrestrained degradation of the word—that is, the newspaper—which prepares its salvation.’ [4]
Alistair Campbell is actually right that the media aren't interested in the getting to the 'truth' but simply setting their own agenda.

They seem to be reacting belatedly to a tide of critical public opinion when it is far too late to have any impact on anything.

Back in 2003 as US tanks first rolled into Baghdad:
In a jaw-dropping display, the BBC's political editor, Andrew Marr, described how Blair's critics "aren't going to thank him - because they're only human - for being right when they've been wrong". He continued: "It would be entirely ungracious, even for his critics, not to acknowledge that tonight he stands as a larger man and a stronger Prime Minister as a result."

"Marr is poor on foreign affairs as such, and he really has no clue about the Middle East or about how wrong all this could well go for Blair and Britain, not to mention Iraq and the Arabs, in the coming months, on many levels."
Manuel Zelaya: “Those who want to put me on trial are my adversaries. They are not judges. Those who have not wanted to start a legal process, lift one finger against murderers, criminals, those who torture Hondurans and who continue torturing them and myself, who was attacked at a diplomatic venue, they can’t judge anybody.”
The bourgeois writer of popular stories does not acknowledge this alternative. So you show him that even
without admitting it, he works in the interests of a particular class. An advanced type of writer acknowledges this
alternative. His decision is determined on the basis of the class struggle when he places himself on the side of the
proletariat. But then his autonomy is done for. He directs his energies toward what is useful for the proletariat in the
class struggle. We say that he espouses a tendency

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Harriet Harperson - equality tsar

Where are all these gay people queuing up to join the catholic church? Surely this equality bill will be about as consequential to the church as the BNP changing their membership constitution.
Killing somebody or procuring their death is a very serious matter and to say that it doesn't require the full protection of the law - I'm afraid we're going to become a brutalised society.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Latte-sipping liberals – it's time to grind some beansAs tea party patriots drag the GOP to extremes, the left has replaced its revolutionary zeal with decaffeinated compromise.
Richard Madeley as chief apologist for Blair has invited us to consider where we would be now, in 2010, if we hadn't committed to invading Iraq. Well for a start a million people would probably still be here who otherwise had their lives snuffed out.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Because the inhabitants, as producers and as consumers, are drawn into the centre in search of work and pleasure, all the living units crystallise into well-organised complexes. The striking unity of microcosm and macrocosm presents men with a model of their culture: the false identity of the general and the particular.