Forty years ago Michael Foot was enjoying, if that’s the word, his brief tenure as leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. The Argentinian leader, General Leopoldo Galtieri, had ordered the occupation of the Falkland or, if you prefer, Malvina Islands – prompting the Labour leader to stand up in The House and demand that a prime minister yet to earn the Iron Lady moniker tell The British People what she intended to Do About It.
History shows that Mrs Thatcher would call him, big time, on his John Bull posturing but mine’s a different point. Mr Foot came, like most Labour leaders of his era, from the left of the party and was a lifelong pacifist to boot. Which had my old firm – the Trotskyist sect, Workers Power – pointing out in its fortnightly paper that while pacifists reliably oppose war in general, with honourable and courageous exceptions they have form as long as my arm on backing whatever specific war their own countries happen to be prosecuting.
(If you doubt this, acquaint yourself with how the leaders of the Second International moved, from lofty statements of refusal to let their national sections be “dragged into an imperialist war for profits”, to cheerleading – in the space of a fortnight – for their respective governments as the war drums upped their tempo in the summer of 1914.)
In the opening paragraph of her post today, Caitlin Johnstone makes the very same point:
Everyone’s anti-war until the war propaganda starts. Nobody thinks of themselves as a warmonger, but then the spin machine gets going and before you know it they’re spouting the slogans they’ve been programmed to spout and waving the flags they’ve been programmed to wave and consenting to whatever the imperial war machine wants in that moment.
How depressingly true.
And yet there does exist a realisation, small but growing, that at this moment in time, with the world standing on a rapidly steepening slope (see yesterday’s post) down to a sheer drop into thermonuclear Armageddon, we are being lied to on a monumental scale. Lied to on the causes of war in Ukraine … lied to on who the criminals are … lied to on how events on the ground are unfolding.
How do I know? Because even my tiny site has seen a threefold increase in visits since February is how. And because my inbox is crammed with alerts – so many I’m drowning in the backlog of Stuff To Read/Hear/View – from readers who, in the Kingdom of the Blind and Deaf, still have their wits about them and are paying the price for that in sleepless nights.
I draw from that a modicum of perverse but real comfort. Keep those alerts coming, friends.
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