My February reads

29 Feb

Reshaping global food production in the image of corporate imperialism … a brief and bloody history of capitalism in its lead nation … the pillorying of the world’s most famous whistle-blower … Welcome to my reads of the month.


Toxic Agriculture and the Gates Foundation (2900 words)

This piece from Colin Todhunter draws together two themes I’ve from time to time alluded to in my own writings, without ever addressing head on. One is the weaponising of charity, as seen in the stances of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Médecins Sans Frontières and most infamously the White Helmets in the West’s dirty war on Syria.1

But here the context is not the taking out of a disobedient Arab leader to open up, among a raft of other motives, his country’s economy to Wall Street. Nor is it that blend of virtue-signalling2 largesse with major league tax evasion as practised by the Bonos of this world. Rather, and this is the second theme, the context is that particular tentacle of imperialism some call agri-capital, others the stuff of sci-fi nightmare.

I’m often saying that most people, even those who don’t much like capitalism, fail to grasp the full extent of the existential threat posed by its non negotiable need to subordinate every other factor to the imperatives of profit. If this was purely a matter of human greed it would be bad enough but the reality is far worse. The subordination I speak of stems not from the wickedness of the human heart but the remorseless logic of capital accumulation itself. Bear this in mind as you read Colin Todhunter on the unfolding of that logic in an arena seldom reported but of the utmost criticality.

Here’s the executive summary:

In 2016, the Gates Foundation was accused of dangerously and unaccountably distorting the direction of international development. The charges were laid out in a report by Global Justice Now: Gated Development – Is the Gates Foundation always a force for good? According to the report, the foundation’s strategy is based on deepening the role of multinational companies in the Global South …

The Gates Foundation has rapidly become the most influential actor in the world of global health and agricultural policies, but there’s no oversight or accountability in how that influence is managed.

… this concentration of power and influence is even more problematic when you consider that the philanthropic vision of the Gates Foundation seems to be largely based on the values of ‘corporate America’:

The foundation is relentlessly promoting big business-based initiatives such as industrial agriculture, private health care and education. But these are all potentially exacerbating the problems of poverty and lack of access to basic resources that the foundation is supposed to be alleviating.


History of Capitalism in the United States: Exposing the Myth of America (3190 words)

Did I mention the fact I don’t like capitalism? I’m guessing you’re not thrilled with it either, else you wouldn’t still be with me. You’ll like it even less by the time you’ve digested the excoriating prose – that rollercoasting love affair with the word only those master chronologers of the bold, the battered heart of Chevrolet (think Ken Kesey, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe) can carry off without sounding overblown – in this piece from Dandelion Salad.

It starts as it means to go on …

Nightmare and insanity are akin: mysterious and involuntary states that skew and distort objective reality. One wakens from nightmare; from insanity there is no awakening …

For two hundred years Americans have been indoctrinated with a mythology created, imposed and sustained by a manipulating cabal: the financial elite that built its absolute control on the muscle and blood, good will, ignorance and credulity, of its citizenry.

America began with the invasion of a populated continent and the genocide of its native people. Once solidly established, it grafted enslavement of another race onto that base.

With those two pillars of state firmly in place it declared itself an independent nation in a document that nobly proclaimed the equality of all mankind. In that act of monumental hypocrisy America’s myth had its beginning …

… and proceeds by way of the Cold War …

With WWII, the world was reconfigured. American Capitalism emerged supreme from the horror that had virtually wrecked its capitalist partners. The Soviet Union, though, having absorbed by far the greatest devastation from Nazi Germany, had astonishingly risen above its ruin to become the leading challenger to America as a world power.

This challenge was not competitive, it was systemic: Soviet Communism was a direct threat to American hegemony in that it categorically refuted the philosophical basis of Predatory Capitalism. Grounded in Marx and Lenin, it attacked Capitalism’s inherent evils, monstrous inequities and flagrant injustices that, exacerbated by speculation, exploitation and fraud, would destroy it. And it promoted world revolution to that end.

This face-off of giants in the Cold War necessitated further refinement of the American myth. Now, instead of simply intervening in situations where despotism or tyranny required America to forcefully implant our just and ethical democracy, America had to become the shield and bulwark of the sacred capitalist system in which “free enterprise” was magically and increasingly identified with democracy and equally to be defended …

… to our current predicament of a world:

… that has suffered unrelieved exploitation by the violence of our imperialist mania. It is the many wrecked and pillaged economies financially looted by our imposed predatory capitalist austerity regimes. It is the teeming hundreds of millions of starved, deprived and dying children sacrificed to Wall Street commodities gaming. It is the multitudes of humble, innocent, ignorant people, barely surviving in absolutist and dictatorial regimes propped up in their barbaric cruelty by our military while our banks siphon off the profits left after arming their brutal police and armies and bribing their ruling Kings, Sheikhs or Generals. It is the millions of dead and maimed in the raped populations of simple tribal people whom our indiscriminately murderous juggernaut has left in its bloody wake in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It is the appalling legacy of hate and repulsion, disdain and fear, that America has earned with its appalling hegemonist villainy in every corner of the world.


REVEALED: Chief magistrate in Assange case received financial benefits from secretive partner organisations of UK Foreign Office ( 2226 words)

This is another pece that starts as it means to go on:

Lady Emma Arbuthnot was appointed Chief Magistrate in Westminster on the advice of a Conservative government minister with whom she had attended a secretive meeting organised by one of these Foreign Office partner organisations two years before. 

Liz Truss, then Justice Secretary, “advised” the Queen to appoint Lady Arbuthnot in October 2016. Two years before, Truss — who is now Trade Secretary — and Lady Arbuthnot both attended an off-the-record two-day meeting in Bilbao, Spain. 

The expenses were covered by an organisation called Tertulias, chaired by Lady Arbuthnot’s husband — Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom, a former Conservative defence minister with extensive links to the British military and intelligence community exposed by WikiLeaks.

After four days of kangaroo court proceedings at Belmarsh, Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser has put on hold Julian Assange’s extradition hearing. Little is known of this camera-shy member of the judiciary but a good deal is known about her boss, Lady Arbuthnot.

For those who still have a shred of faith in Britain’s much vaunted separation of powers – with executive and judicial arms of the state allegedly (and in cases not critical to our ruling class, actually) independent of one another – Lady Arbuthnot’s CV makes interesting reading.

And for those who don’t? Chances are you still don’t know the half of it.

* * *

  1. A good startpoint for investigating the role of these charities in the Syrian conflict is this Tim Hayward post of 2017. While its primary focus is Amnesty International it also touches on the roles of Médecins Sans Frontières and White Helmets. For its part Human Rights Watch wittingly or otherwise gave de facto legitimation for the 2018 US Tomahawk missile strikes on Damascus and Homs following its reports of Assad’s use of chemical weapons at Douma. Evidence for the alleged war crimes has since been proved worse than non existent, though with a few exceptions (Robert Fisk in the Independent, Peter Hitchens in the Mail) you’d never know this from corporate media. They have have maintained yet another collective and deafening silence on yet another unravelling of the mendaciously empire-serving narratives through which our loathing of insufficiently compliant third world leaders is manufactured.
  2. This if off-piste but, speaking of the virtue-signalling privileged, if you haven’t yet seen Ricky Gervais landing punch after merciless punch on its Hollywood Section at the Golden Globes this year, here’s a ten minute slice of the highlights. Don’t miss the fifteen second dismissal of Apple, with CEO Tim Cook all duck suit and dickie bow on the verge of tears. You’ll find it at 06:32.

6 Replies to “My February reads

  1. Didn’t Bill Gates make his millions by stealing the ideas of others and copyrighting them under his own name – in the process privatising something that the ones he stole from wanted to keep public? Every time I see Gates he looks like a little kid who has to be led around by keepers. (As a side issue, I’ve noticed how that American sit-com “Big Bang Theory” used Gates along with Elon Musk to generate that comfy feeling of a nice big friendly corporate America.)

    At the risk of sounding prejudiced, I have noted how American has always seemed to me to be the culture of the snake oil salesman in which ruthless relentless self-advertisement is the ruling morality. And since believing your own bullshit makes you a better salesman, the lie automatically becomes “the truth”. Indeed truth itself is defined by what generates the biggest profit for you.

    And Liz Truss is another who seems to me to be in the Bill Gates mould i.e. she doesn’t seem to be quite “all there”. Perhaps we are developing a culture in which a kind of childlike autism is becoming increasingly necessary.

    • Didn’t Bill Gates make his millions by stealing the ideas of others and copyrighting them under his own name?

      He did. And I’ve seen gushing tribute paid to his ‘genius’, citing the way he sold to IBM an operating system, DOS, that was not his to sell. One sign of capital’s corruption – I could yet again get biblical here, citing Mark:8:36 – is the eulogies it pours out to all the wrong people.

      Which fact again puts me in mind of Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes, linked from footnote 2 …

      • I’ve never been a fan of Ricky Gervais but that speech was terrific. It must say something that he got away with that. Though even then a lot of it was censored and I had to consult a transcript. I can’t believe he was censored for referring to Judi Dench’s “ass”. And there’s something he says after “kill me” and also after the Weinstein reference which I still don’t know. On a related issue, I recently watched a DVD of that old Beeb drama “To Serve Them All My Days” only to find that my favourite line in it was missing. But then I see that this series along with so many others was shown in a version edited for the US and it seems to be this watered down version that is now on disc. (The quote I referred to contained the morally reprehensible and corrupting word “copulation” so you can see why the Yanks exorcised it!)

  2. I see you have posted this article on Off-G and predictably Dungroanin has responded with his usual self-assumed air of superiority and defense of capitalism via the old rosy picture of the “little producer” etc. I’m afraid I found his provocations to be so stupid that I have responded. I shall no doubt regret it.

    • I can spout my fair share of bollocks George, but trust me on this small point. The Dungroanings of this world, like the Flaxgirls but without the good manners, are the intellectual equivalents of midges. Not to be engaged singly, not even if we had a thousand lifetimes.

  3. Once again I must apologise for veering a bit off topic, but I noticed that Off-G has a new article, “Why the Coming Economic Collapse Will NOT be Caused by Corona Virus” by one Matthew Ehret. It seemed a good article until it mentioned “the Rothschild Inter-Alpha Group” and then provided a link to a Lyndon Larouche site.

    A bit more googling on Ehret led me to this:

    And here I read that the “American System was the effect of rigorous studies of Platonic texts such as the Republic”(!) But it seems that such a noble enterprise was corrupted by “Britain’s deep state structures within America itself”.

    I further find that Marx was one of two “liars and fools directly under the pay and control of the leading priests of the British Empire” – the other being (and here’s a bit of an original spin) Adam Smith.
    It then goes on to effect a familiar manoeuvre: by saying that these economists were materialists who focussed on that tedious flesh and blood and environmental/ political issues instead of guiding our eyes to the heavens etc.

    Dungroanin loves the article. There’s a surprise.

    You really have to sift carefully on Off-G.

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