Why no stars on Gaza? (and other reads)

30 May

Why Celebrities Aren’t Speaking Up About Gaza

Caitlin Johnstone, 711 words

Fame and fortune come from elevation by film studio, record label and TV oligarchs – people with a vested interest in the status quo on which their wealth is premised. Those threatening the status quo are not so elevated, while those who do get rich and famous either understand this or are too shallow and vapid to care.

Susan Sarandon .. Roger Waters .. Lowkey .. Brian Eno .. the late Vivenne Westwood .. What do they share, other than celebrity status? All have spoken out loudly and repeatedly on the man hunt on Julian Assange for telling the truth about US empire crimes against humanity. And all have spoken out loudly and repeatedly on the systematic oppression of Palestine to further not just Israel’s interests but those of that same empire.

Why so few? Today’s post from Caitlin addresses that question convincingly. Celebrities, paid vast sums for ego-gratifying work, either know where their bread gets buttered, or are too dim – Bono, that virtue-signalling, tax-avoiding backer of worthy causes not threatening to power springs to mind – to even ask.

To Caitlin’s general remarks I’d add one more specific. Stars who do take an uncompromising stance on Israel’s crimes put themselves in the cross-hairs of one of the world’s two most powerful lobbies. (The other being America’s military industrial complex.) The Zionist lobby’s ability to wreck careers has been forced partially from the shadows and into light of day by such as the defenestration of Jeremy Corbyn and, since October 7, the dumping of hallowed tenets of academic freedom by Ivy League Universities faced with losing corporate funders.

This same lobby can as easily snap its tentacle tips to have studios and record labels ditch any celebrity brave enough to draw its wrath. All the more credit then to the refusal to put career before conscience of Eno, Lowkey, Sarandon, Waters and Westwood – and Macklemore.


Putin Expects NATO, And Possibly Poland In Particular, To Escalate The Proxy War In Ukraine

Andrew Korybko, 973 words

What to conclude from the strutting, the breathtaking failures of reason and ‘post-truth’ disdain for facts on display in our Macrons and Camerons, our Blinkens, Bidens and Baerbocks – other than that these are men and women of profound mediocrity; smug fools with a wholly unmerited sense of entitlement? Men and women, their flaws and conceits in full view for all with eyes to see, who nevertheless presume to shepherd us through the most dangerous moment in human history. Arrived at by their reckless stupidity.

Ukraine: will our leaders’ folly kill us all?

Weak opinions strongly held? In my experience few of those who detest Vladimir Putin study the man. (To be fair, that’s not easy given rising levels of online censorship in our increasingly threadbare Western ‘democracies’ but I hope you at least saw the Tucker Carlson interview.) Rather, their hatred of him and what they think he represents is more commonly based on what they ‘learn’ through media whose systemic corruption leaves them incapable of being truthful or objective on so firm an obstacle to US empire. I’ve said these things before.

I’ve also said before that we are being led into WW3 by mediocrities and chancers representing not our interests but those of a waning – and by that fact triply dangerous – nuclear armed empire whose carnage across the middle east and beyond, and backing of the same in Gaza, show that it holds global supremacy in high regard, and human life in contempt.

I’ll post shortly a recent address by the Russian President, in the context of a West alarmed and humiliated in Ukraine, and now playing ‘nuclear chicken’. Don’t expect the Kremlin to blink.

The transcript runs to 8,000 words. Korybko’s piece is somewhat shorter. It’ll do for now.


South Africa: hanging on

Michael Roberts, 1461 words plus graphs and tables

The Guardian, May 29 2024

Yesterday South Africans went to the polls with the ANC, in uninterrupted office since 1994, facing the prospect not of being ousted but of having for the first time to share power. The above linked Guardian piece links in turn to an “explainer” supplying narrowly political and psephological context but shedding little light on an economic mire, exacerbated by soaring crime on the streets and corruption on high, into which the country has sunk since the end of apartheid.

(For specific insight into how the stage was set for this, I recommend the chapter given over to South Africa in Naomi Klein’s impeccably documented, grippingly written Shock Doctrine. For a wider context less well understood when Klein was writing, and in any case calling for levels of macro-political-economic awareness she has not to my knowledge claimed, I recommend the work of debt specialist – and much besides – Michael Hudson.)

Michael Roberts, a British economist of decidedly Marxist stripe, intrigues me. He seldom writes about Ukraine or Palestine, or of China rising and the frightening tensions racked up by Washington’s response. But what he does do, and well, is use economic data to support more general assessments of the state of global capitalism. In that respect he has something of the Piketty about him.

Pushed for time? Give the Guardian ‘explainer’ a swerve and read this instead.

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One Reply to “Why no stars on Gaza? (and other reads)”

  1. What to conclude from the strutting, the breathtaking failures of reason and ‘post-truth’ disdain for facts on display in our Macrons and Camerons, our Blinkens, Bidens and Baerbocks – other than that these are men and women of profound mediocrity; smug fools with a wholly unmerited sense of entitlement? Men and women, their flaws and conceits in full view for all with eyes to see, who nevertheless presume to shepherd us through the most dangerous moment in human history. Arrived at by their reckless stupidity.

    Step forward Gaius Balter (admittedly, not one of my favourite commentators) with an interesting and imaginative take on this phenomena:


    Balter opens with a short analogy in the form of a plot description for a science fiction story/novel in which a group of aliens from an alternative reality in which……

    “concepts and ideas are as real as physical objects. Physical objects can also physically change if a new definition is applied to them. A rock can turn into gold if it is redefined as gold. Machines can run without energy and products appear in stores without needing to be produced. A war can be won by determination alone. People can be made to like you by wishing alone. People can also physically change if definitions are changed. A dumb person can be redefined as smart, an incompetent person can be redefined as competent, an ugly person can be redefined as beautiful, and a man can turn into a woman and a woman into a man through gender redefinition. It is a paradise of possibilities.”……

    …….attempt to switch Planet Earth to their own alternative reality.

    Switching back to the present real world situation from this analogy Balter goes for the throat:

    “all this is the result of carefully designed policies which have created this situation over the last decades. These policies were meant to create a new reality, another dimension, where everything would be designed to be a part of a utopian control system for the population, like in the sci-fi novel. A system like this, where both economic and social realities have been abandoned, will not survive any clash with reality. An unsustainable civilization operating without logic or reason cannot coexist with any sovereign rational civilization with real economical foundations on the same planet. Still, it was believed that this would work because the EU (and the West as a whole) would never have to experience this clash.

    The western plan was to move the entire planet into the EU/US parallel dimension. In that dimension reality as we know it would be irrelevant and the planners would be able to do anything they want. There would be no outside competition and no place for the population to run. This was the reason Russia and China had to be conquered. The exit of the West into the other dimension simply couldn’t work with them around. Either everybody shifts dimensions, or nobody does.”

    …..and goes on to note:

    “The options for the western populations are grim at the moment. It’s either a dystopian exit from reality in all perpetuity or a total collapse with horrific social and economic consequences. Of the two options, the latter one is better for most people. There is a third option through; an outright sovereign rebellion – particularly within the EU. The only chance an EU country now has of avoiding these eventualities, even to a limited degree, is to forcefully exit the EU no matter the consequences. The same applies to western vassal states elsewhere, such as Japan and South Korea. An exit from the western system will be extremely painful and difficult, but it will be better than exiting reality altogether…

    ….Based on this (somewhat speculative) analysis, a global war is unavoidable. It will be a full-spectrum war the West will fight – not for the existence of western civilization – but for its subjugation and destruction. It is perhaps the first war in history where a civilization fights a war so it can safely commit suicide. We are actually there.”

    All in all a fascinating read. The only problem with Balter’s suggestion/conclusion to the piece is that the majority – including those who are finding the relenting unreality enveloping them and squeezing them ever tighter – have no possibility of escaping the dystopia the Collective West has become.

    Besides which, someone has to stay behind and clean up the mess when the inevitable collapse occurs.

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