P Tagg's Anti-Disinformation Marquees

Previous marquee texts 1999-2001
(scrolling texts featured previously on P Tagg's homepage)

1. The Liverpool Dockers

[Nov-Dec., 1999] PHIL TAGG'S ANTI-DISINFORMATION FACTS (batch 1)...             FACT 1: In September 1995, Mersey Docks & Harbour Company Director Trevor Furlong took an £87,000 (38%) pay rise before the company sent the complete work force on the dole. Furlong's earnings were £316,000 a year in addition to a £293,000 share option.      FACT 2: Also in September 1995, a House of Commons Employment Committee document stated that the dockers, before being sacked, had handled the highest tonnages ever recorded in the Port of Liverpool.           FACT 3: Actions of international solidarity in support of the sacked Liverpool dockers were numerous and effective, causing international capital serious losses and disruption.         FACT 4: The Liverpool dockers' struggle for justice was the longest labour dispute in the UK since World War II   ...   source for facts 1-4 is John Pilger's Hidden Agendas, p. 341 (Vintage Books, London 1998)   ...         FACT 5: The Liverpool dockers' struggle received no official media attention whatsoever in the UK.        FACT 6: Greed is never a virtue and concealing important truths is as dishonest as outright lying          ...         'If you don't stand up for something, you'll fall for anything' (Gill Scott Heron's grandmother).

2. Millennium Nonsense

[Christmas 1999 - New Year 2000] PHIL TAGG'S ANTI-DISINFORMATION SESSION No.2b ...   In the sixth century A.D. the date of Christ's birth was calculated to be 25 December 753 'AB URBE CONDITA'. i.e. 753 years after the foundation of Rome.      Europeans did not know of the numeral zero (0) until Fibonacci (L. Pisano, c.1170-1240) introduced it via translations of the ninth-century Arab mathematician al-Khwarizmi.     So there was never a 'year zero' in our system: Christ was born on 25 December -1 (1 B.C.) and the year after was 1 A.D.           Anyhow, it doesn't really matter except that we were supposed to be celebrating something.       What?          The triumph of capitalism or Der Triumph des Willens?      If capitalism is supposed to have triumphed, how come most people in most parts of the world are worse off than they were before the Berlin wall came down?      How come it was easier for me to find a job in my twenties than it is for my daughter and her peers to do so after capitalism has had another thirty years to prove how good it is?      If 'free' competition is such a great thing about capitalism, how come capitalits surpress competition from other socio-economic systems?      And what about that famous  'something for nothing' that advertisers are always on about?      What  IS  really  F R E E ?    Well, lots of young people take on jobs for free just to get work experience while millions of others work for next to nothing. At the same time, more and more of us give up more and more time and energy without recompense, experiencing increasingly serious levels of stress and then having to fork out for our own health care when the system has taken its toll.    The Triumph of Capitalism (see painting by Breughel the elder) seems more like the Triumph of Death.         (This Anti-Disinformation banner changes sporadically).

3. UK Class and Mortality

"In Scotland relative deprivation increased between the 1981 and 1991 censuses and was mirrored by a worsening of relative death rates"... "Changes in relative mortality were explained by differences in the decline of death rates according to the affluence of an area; among men the decline in deprived areas was only about half that in deprived areas and among women it was only about a third."
[Philip McLoone and F A Boddy 'Deprivation and mortality in Scotland, 1981 and 1991' in British Medical Journal 309 (1994): 1465-1470.]

"Higher death rates in deprived areas are not related to the area itself. Deprived individuals have a higher risk of death, wherever they live. Some areas have higher death rates, because more deprived individuals live there."
[Andrew Sloggett and Heather Joshi 'Higher mortality in deprived areas: community or personal disadvantage?' In British Medical Journal 309 (1994): 1470-1474].

In England in the 1980s, unemployed males aged 16-70 had 1.24 times the death risk of employed males from the top three socio-economic groups... In England in the 1980s unemployed females aged 16-70 had 1.48 times the death risk of employed females from the top three socio-economic groups... In England in the 1980s males (16-70) living in rented housing without car access had 1.54 times the death rate of males living in privately-owned housing with car access. For females the extra risk was similar: 156... In the 1980's males (16-70) in the North of England had 1.17 times the death risk of males in the South. For females inthe North the factor was 1.12... In the 1980s, living in the North of England reduced male life expectancy after 25 by 1.8 years... In the 1980s, living in the North of England reduced female life expectancy after 25 by 1.3 years... In the 1980's being unemployed reduced male life expectancy after 25 by 2.4 years (compared to employed males)...        In the 1980's being unemployed reduced female life expectancy after 25 by 4.3 years (compared to employed females).
[British Medical Journal 309 (1994): 1470-1474.]

5. Child Labour and Deaths

[March - April 2000] TAGG'S ANTI-DISINFORMATION BATCH [5]...    [i] Barbie and Sindy dolls are made by rural girls in China working between 12 and 16 hours a day for less than the legal minimum of US$40/month.   Many already suffer from chronic industrial diseases caused by the effects of plastics, paints and glues used without proper ventilation (TUC Labour Report, Dec. 1996, cited by John Pilger in 'Hidden Agendas', Vintage Books, London, 1998, pp. 60-61).       [ii] According to a 1997 House of Commons investigation into infant mortality, children from poor families in the UK are almost 5 times as likely to die before the age of five as children from rich families (1.85% v. 0.45%).  Basically, 2000 children die every year in the UK because they are poor (Pilger, p.80).        [iii] Roughly speaking, the poor constitute one third of British society, the rich less than one third and here we are floundering about somewhere in the middle ground.  Nourished with mass-mediated hallucinations of designer-label lifestyle in an imaginary turbo-executive 4x4 fast lane, we live in constant fear of sliding down into the bottom third, of being unemployed, unemployable, stripped of identity as well as of our basic human rights, despised, dispossessed, branded as failures.       Students often seem to fear that they will fail to attain competetive grades, that they will not have the upper hand over their peers when it comes to getting a job. Just like our comrades in the sectors of health and social welfare, anybody involved in more than the mere management of education and research, whether student or teacher, is constantly 'accountable', being assessed, evaluated, quantified, checked out, spied on, treated like objects in a mindless monetarist bean-counting exercise.    The high cardinals of the new religion of marketing and management, apparently accountable to no-one, often issue bulls about 'downsizing', 'outsourcing' and 'budget restructuring': it all means that students and teachers lose out while senior management give themselves another pay rise. They chant monotonous litanies about 'centres of excellence', 'cutting edges' and a whole host of other buzzwords whose existence as meaningful concepts defies any kind of empirical justification.       All this metaphysical management mumbo-jumbo and the bureaucratic parade-ground exercises that go with its underlying ideology are of course part of the same mind-numbingly oppressive system as the outright injustice exemplified in Fisher-Price's outsourcing to Thailand or China, or in finance capitalism's experimentation on human beings belonging to the Chilean and British working classes.

6. Egoistic England

[April - May 2000] Welcome to egoistic England!   In the 1980s, living in the North of England reduced male life expectancy after 25 by 1.8 years, female life expectancy after 25 by 1.3 years.   Being unemployed in England reduced male life expectancy after 25 by 2.4 years, female life expectancy after 25 by 4.3 years.  Source: British Medical Journal 309 (1994): 1470-1474.        Meanwhile, in the 'real' world of news, we learn that David Beckham has a new tatoo    Source: Entire front page of The Sun 'newspaper', 8 April 2000.       A lot of us live here in the North of England and many are unemployed.       If the communist bogey is no longer there, who is responsible?         You can either do like Thatcher, Blair or Blunkett and blame the people, especially disadvantaged groups like single mothers  --- nothing like kicking the weak and downtrodden to score cheap power points ---          or ...        you can fight back and attack capitalism, its sicko ideology, its rituals of greed, its moronic management mumbo-jumbo, etc., etc.                  Talking of management, the Vice Chancellor of what I'd better call 'a nearby university' recently had his salary increased to the equivalent of $200,000 (US) a year while the same university's cleaners still earn under $6 an hour.           So much for the 'Great' in Greedy Great Britain...

7. UK crime and punishment 2000

[May-July 2000] A lot of UK politicans like to say they're 'tough on crime'. Frankly, I don't get it. What's so tough about protecting Pinochet or letting in a rapist bully like Tyson? OK, but what about the rabid right's hunger for harsher jail sentences? That's tough, isn't it? Not if you remember 5 simple facts: [1] There are more people in jail in the UK than in any other EU country...  [2] The UK keeps a higher proportion of its population in prison than any EU nation except Portugal... [3] The UK has more people serving life sentences than any other EU country... [4] Basic social security payments in relation to the cost of living are among the lowest in the EU  ---  child poverty is worse in the UK than in Turkey [The Observer, 11 June 2000]. [5] Differences between rich and poor are larger in the UK than in any nation of comparable average income... That is, of course, unless you count the USA which, by linking an even larger gap between rich and poor with 'freedom' and 'opportunity', keeps even larger proportions of its population in jail, has an even higher crime rate, even harsher punishments, including - in some states -   D E A T H ... Inequality and injustice have always been - and always will be -  positively correlatable with crime rates (see marquee 6). Putting even more people in jail for even longer and harsher sentences is like trying to scrape measles rash off your child's face when the little mite's skin is already badly irritated and inflamed from too much scratching in the first place. Being tough in the real sense means attacking the ROOT CAUSE of the problem. Scratching at surface symptoms only makes matters worse. So: 'tough' = thinking all muddled, woolly and wishy-washy? About as tough as the weak and weedy limpness of Reagan's or Thatcher's iron-clad pea brains. Give me Soldier Svejk any day.  Yes! 2 + 2 = 4  --  now more than ever before. The ideologues of corporate capitalism can insist that 2 + 2 = 5, or -1, or 22, or whatever. I just hope that most people still know how to count and how to look after their children when they have the measles. A doctor who prescribes scratching as a cure for measles is one criminal we can certainly do without.

8. UK gutter press, paedophile hysteria and the holy family

ANTI-DISINFORMATION BATCH 8 --- Child murder and child abuse are loathsome phenomena exploited by the UK gutter press. 4 forgotten facts in the ongoing paedophile hysteria are: [1] Of 80 children murdered every year in the UK, 73 die at the hand of their own parents or of close relatives. [2] In 1999, 57% of those reported for sexual abuse of children in the UK were family members, 33% were well known by the victim, while complete strangers accounted for less than 1% of all reported incidents. [3] Over 40,000 children run away from home each year because of violence, abuse or unbearable family tension. Between 100,000 and 200,000 of under-eighteens experience homelessness each year, and life on the streets increases the risk of being drawn into drugs and prostitution. [4] 103 child pedestrians were killed on UK roads last year and 6,000 were injured, over 1,000 of them seriously. What to do about this modern massacre of the innocents? Here are some suggestions (in reverse order). [4] If, as statistics show, 85% of children hit by a car travelling at 60 kph (40 mph) die and only 5% of children hit by a car travelling at 30 kph (20 mph) die, then we could lower speed limits in residential areas. Our government rejected such proposals, so more children will die. [3] The government could also give proper support to young refugees suffering from violence and abuse at home. But no. 'If they can’t stand it at home, let them have it on the street' seems to be the government message. [2 and 1] Since the vast majority of UK child murder and abuse occurs within the family, perhaps we should insist that families be charged with the same responsibilities as other social institutions when it comes to questions of public morals and accountability. But we don't insist. Instead, we make the family morally impregnable, allowing legal rape, sexual abuse, bullying, beating, emotional blackmail and 101 other types of violence to go unmonitored inside its officially hallowed confines of privacy. Anyhow, even if families and traffic seem to be very common sites of child death in the UK, the gutter press have launched a witch hunt on a tiny minority of those responsible for the death and abuse of UK children. The total loathing and disgust of the entire population is projected on to one or two seriously disturbed paedophile strangers, as if they were the only real threat to our children, as if we were expected to ignore the forces which oppress ALL weaker members of society on a much more regular and systematic daily basis. It is of course the same hounds of journalistic hell who want to both lynch paedophiles and keep the speed limits high....! (Statistics quoted in Socialist Worker, 19/8/2000, p.3)

9. IMF Structural Adjustment Programmes (more IMF!)

4 Facts

(1) The debt burden of IMF and World Bank loans kills 19,000 children every day.

(2) The poor countries of sub-Saharan Africa owe more than 4.5 billion (US) in debt, 3 times more than they earn annually through export.

(3) In Ethiopia debt repayments are 4 times greater than spending on health.

(4) In Tanzania, where 40% of people die before they reach 35, debt repayments are 6 times more than health spending.

Poor countries wanting an IMF or World Bank loan must sign up to a
P R O G R A M M E.

Failure to comply means no loan.

4 examples of IMF Structural Adjustment

(1) Thanks to IMF measures, Peruvians woke up one morning in 1991 to find that the price of petrol had gone up by 3,000% and bread by 1,100%.

(2) IMF programmes cause deforestation in indebted nations because goverments there have to generate fast cash to pay off loan interests by deforesting large areas. In 1998, thousands of deaths during Hurricane Mitch were directly due to mud slides in deforested areas.

(3) IMF Structural Adjustment Programmes cause a rise in infant mortality (click the «No IMF+ icon for more).

(4) In 1997, IMF Structural Adjustment in Indonesia led to 40 million extra people falling below the poverty line.

None of this pain is necessary.

Of 76 nations implementing IMF Structural Adjustment Programmes, only four (5%) had actually improved their economic performance — and guess how that is assessed!

The IMF has in other words as miserable a record of failure as the sick system of international capitalism it represents.

10. Corporate Britain under Blair

10 examples. For Tony's personal commitment to capitalism, click here.

1. Ewen Cameron, president of the Country Landowners' Association and enemy of government proposals for the people's right to roam, was put in charge of the government agency responsible for implementing the right to roam.

2. Sir Peter Davis, CEO of Reed International where he sent 900 employees from work to welfare, was appointed head of the government task force responsible for finding ways of getting people from welfare to work.

3. John Bowman, director of Commercial Union (insurance) and accused by the UK Treasury for mis-selling 7,900 pensions, was appointed to the board of the government's Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority.

4. Paul Leinster, director of SmithKline Beecham, polluter of waters in Sussex and Gloucestershire, executive in BP and its subsidiary AgrEvo (indicted by the government for failing environmental regulations), was appointed head of the UK Environment Agency's Protection Directorate.

5. Dinah Nichols, director of Anglian Water, which was prosecuted six times for pollution incidents, was appointed director of environmental protection at the UK government's Department of the Environment.

6. Lord Marshall, ex-chairman of British Airways and avid opponent of aviation fuel tax, was put in charge of the UK government's energy tax review which investigated the case for new fuel taxes on corporations.

7. Lord Sainsbury, chairman of supermarket chain J Sainsbury, was made minister in the Department of Trade and Industry.

8. Ian McAllister, chairman and managing director of Ford (UK), was appointed chairman of the government's Cleaner Vehicles Task Force.

9. Robert Osborne, head of special products at Tarmac, one of the major builders of 'Private Finance Initiative' hospitals, was appointed chief executive of the UK Department of Health's Private Finance Unit. He then returned to Tarmac to run its Private Finance division.


Information from George Monbiot's Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain (Macmillan £12.99), reprinted in The Socialist Worker, 23 September 2000.

If this is corporate Britain under Blair, just imagine it (if you can!) under someone even worse...

11. Floods, global warming, protest and Business Week

(November 2000)

Floods in the UK have forced thousands to leave their homes. Repair costs will be high and insurance sharks unwilling to cover the real costs.

A recent report by the official body representing the world's top 2500 climatologists states that global warming is the main reason behind the increasing frequencly of extreme weather conditions affecting our planet. Fossil fuel power stations and road transport are identified as the chief causes of global warming.

Indeed, fossil fuel companies have just registered phenomenal increases in profits compared to the same period last year. Exxon Mobil profits went up by 94% to £3 billion, Chevron by 135% to £1.2 billion, Shell by 88% to £2.4 billion, and BP by 77% to £2.5 billion.

Signatory nations at the Kyoto summit last year agreed to a 5% cut in greenhouse gas emissions. But the world's biggest polluter, the USA, refused to meet this target, even though most scientists call for a 60% reduction! As George Bush (Sr) said, "When you realise your country is ordained by God, there's nothing you can't do" (or refuse to do). Or, as the Nazis put it, "Gott mit uns".

If you still think there's no point trying to stop this global mayhem please at least listen to the editors of the influential corporate journal Business Week who describe the protesters at Seattle and Prague in the following terms. "They have helped kick-start a profound rethinking about globalisation among governments, mainstream economists, and corporations"... "The plain truth is that market liberalisation by itself does not lift all boats".

If you want to go a bit further than that, try visiting some of the sites listed under "Political". Protest, resistance and creating alternatives DO make a difference. Even Business Week sort of half thinks so!

12. UK Taxes or Robin Hood in Reverse and Wall Street

Season's Greetings.
December 2000:
UK Taxes or Robin Hood in Reverse.
"Loved by the bad, feared by the good."

Over the last 20 years, thanks mainly to a shift from direct to indirect taxation, the amount of income tax paid by the richest 20% in the UK has fallen from 37% to 35%. Over the same period, the proportion paid by the UK's poorest 20% rose from 31% to 38%. Raising the top rate of income tax for those on more than £110,000 (160,000$ US) to a mere 50% would bring in an extra £3 billion (= $4½ million million) a year. Raising UK taxes to the average EU level would bring in an extra £40 billion. Most UK citizens favour tax rises in return for more public spending on health, education and transport. Over 80% want a tax rise to cover more public spending on health. Only 16% favour tax cuts. No prizes for guessing who those Scrooges are.

Meanwhile Wall Street bankers will get £10 billion in Christmas bonuses this year, an amount 30% up on last year and equivalent to the GNP of Cuba. 4,000 top US executives will each get a £1 million bonus. 100 of them will take home £9 million each.

(Sources: A recent Fabian Society study; Socialist Worker, 2 December 2000).

13. Welcome to the Bush and brands

As governor of Texas, George W Bush sent 150 people to their deaths in six years. That's more than one fifth of all executions carried out in the USA since the death penalty came back in 1976.

George W Bush approved the deaths of 38 people in 2000 alone, the highest annual total since records began in 1930. The last victim had a mental age of six.

George W Bush boasts that he spends as little as four minutes deciding who is to die.

As governor of Texas, George W Bush ran a prison system boasting more inmates (147,000) than France, Germany and Italy combined. The total population of France, Germany and Italy is 59+83+58 million (=200,000,000), that of Texas under 20 million.

George W Bush was governor of the state boasting the highest rates of child poverty and malnutrition in the USA. He used the Texas budget surplus to give a $1.7 billion tax break to the rich.

George W Bush presided over the most heavily polluted state in the USA.

As US president, George W Bush wields power outside the USA.

I'm scared.

As world citizens we should all elect the US president if the USA and its corporations are so keen to rule us.

(Source: Socialist Worker, 16 December 2000).

14. The Something-for-Nothing Syndrome

RealInfo #14 (February 2001)

According to many adverts, buying and paying don't exist.     No, you 'WIN' or get something for 'FREE', or you 'SAVE' loads, or 'GET' 13½% 'EXTRA' for 'ONLY' £99.99 with 25% 'OFF' or at a huge 'REDUCTION'.    Or else you receive a 'SPECIAL OFFER' special enough to be sent to thousands of others. You supposedly 'WIN' and others are supposedly excluded.

But even compulsive gamblers know it is they who pay and lose. The casino, the lottery company and the one-arm bandit owners are the ones to win.     There can be no something-for-nothing" unless you're an infant or a complete dreamer.     So why does this mendacious propaganda exist?

[1] Advertisers think it's easier to get us to part with our money if they tell us we're doing the opposite.    [2] Some of us are fool enough to believe them.    [3] The real rulers of global capitalism — major shareholders in large corporations — derive their wealth from dividends, not by producing that wealth themselves but merely by keeping track of money which is the result of other people's hard work.

If capitalism's hot shots derive their power on this 'something-for-nothing' basis, it is not surprising that they want us all to share their beliefs. The continual propaganda of advertising brainwashes the rest of us to believe that it is normal adult behaviour to expect something for nothing, even when it is so obviously unethical and so patently false.

Fewer and fewer people are prepared to accept this nonsense. Check Naomi Klein's book No Logo (2000) for example; or www.adbusters.com; or most of the sites listed under 'Political' (above).

15. Death by Drug Company

RealInfo #15 (Feb - March 2001)

On 5 March lawyers for the world's biggest pharmaceutical will try to stop South Africans getting cheaper AIDS drugs.

The WTO, egged on by Western governments which receive backing from companies like Merek, Pfizer, Glaxo Wellcome, SmithKline Beecham and Eli Lilly, plans to protect patent rules that will bring about 200-300% price increases for drugs to treat such major killers as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and tuberculosis.

Last year only 0.2% of drugs companies' health related research went was spent on these illnesses which account for 18% of all global disease. And just 10% of capitalist drugs research was directed towards illnesses that hit 90% of the world's population.

Millions more of our planet's poorest will be condemned to an early and painful death.

The US government has threatened trade sanctions against over 30 countries, including India, Thailand, Argentina and Brazil for daring to find and use cures which 'first world' drug firms seem to think they have a right to control. Oxfam says expensive medicine already leads to the needless deaths of 11 million people, half of them children, every single year.

The fact that drug companies spend twice as much on marketing as they do on research and development shows how much their bosses and shareholders care about human life. The profits and payouts are mind-boggling. For example, US drug corporations spent $235 million lobbying the US Congress between 1997 and 1999. In 1999 alone they donated $14 million to the Republican and Democratic parties. How many lives was that worth?

Meanwhile, back in the UK, GlaxoSmithKline boss Sir Richard Sykes, got a $3.65 million bonus from share sales in addition to his $1.77 million salary in 1999. How many lives do he and his shareholders think he's worth?

No good can come from a system which allows anyone to exhibit or encourage such utter disregard for human life. Yet New 'Labour' have appointed Richard Sykes to its 'Advisory Group on Competetiveness'. And just in case you're thinking it won't affect you, please remember that there are many Health Authorities in the UK who already can't afford the medicine that you might well need ...

Enough is enough of this sick system called capitalism. I'll be voting for the Socialist Alliance in the next election. I hope you'll do the same.

Sources: Socialist Worker, 17 Feb 2001; John Le Carré The Constant Gardener.

16. The REAL Global Village

RealInfo #16 (March - April 2001)

Imagine the world's population shrunk proportionately down to 100 individuals living in the same village. You would find that:

  • 1 of us owns a computer
  • 1 of us is about to die
  • 1 of us is about to be born
  • 57 of us are Asians
  • 21 of us are Europeans
  • 14 of us are from the Americas (3 from the USA)
  • 8 of us are Africans
  • 48 of us are men, 52 women
  • 30 of us are white, 70 are not
  • 89 of us are heterosexual, 11 are homosexual
  • 6 of us own at least 10% each of the village's total property and wealth (60%)
  • 94 of us own 0.4% or less each of the villages's total property and wealth (40%)
  • 70 of us are illiterate
  • 50 of us are undernourished

17. Aducation = Indoctrination

RealInfo #17 (April 2001)

I laughed in disbelief when staff and students at the Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Australia) were issued with swipe cards sporting the Coca Cola®™ logo. That was back in 1997. I'm not laughing now.

Not long ago, Coca Cola®™ had to pay $192.5 million (US) to settle allegations of routine discrimination against its black employees. Shortly after that, the corporation paid the Library of Congress to run a publicity stunt marking the 'donation' of Coca Cola's®™ TV ads to the US national archives. That the racist bigot image can turn into that of cultural benefactor with the help of one of the USA's most prestigious cultural institutions is no laughing matter.

Humanitarian image boosting costs money and Coca Cola®™ is not alone. Philip Morris (the Marlboro®™ cigarette mob) gave $60 million (US) to charity in 1999 but spent another $108 million advertising that generosity to the world. It gets worse...

In 1998 Coca Cola®™ ran a campaign to get US schools to devise promotional strategies. The winning school would receive a measly US$500 (<£170). One Georgia school organised an official 'Coke Day' in the hopes of winning the 'jackpot'. Senior pupil Mike Cameron did not think it was a good idea. He came to school wearing a T-shirt with a Pepsi logo and was suspended for that sacrilege.

In October 2000 the principal of an Ohio school sent two teenagers to the County Juvenile Detention Centre. Their crime? "Truancy", said the principal. In fact the two kids, aged 13 and 14, had walked out in protest against compulsory viewing of Channel One, a TV programme which subjects pupils to be bombarded by advertising. 12,000 US schools have installed this 'free' aducation service marketed by Apple®™ corporation.

Nor is such idiocy confined to the "Land of the Free". We have it right here on our doorstep...

When my own students log on to University computers they are now exposed to advertising over which they have no control. They have been sold without consent by University management as target group for the mobile phone companies and suchlike. What's worse, many students, all of them old enough to vote in a parliamentary election, seem to view being involuntarily procured as consumerist prostitutes by managerial pimps as acceptable behaviour.

These Orwellian events are not isolated cases. Adbusters magazine and Naomi Campbell's No Logo (2000, pp. 86-105) are full of warning examples. Creativity and originality are essential to the ability to tackle new problems facing the human race and the planet we live on. Creativity and originality can only exist if a critical spirit is encouraged and if research is kept independent of corporate interference. Knowledge can have no "trade secrets": it is for everyone. And anyone working in education who does not agree should seek employment elsewhere.

18. Martin Niemöller: 'No-one to speak'

(May 2001)

First they came for the communists and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.

Next they came for the catholics and I did not speak out - because I was not a catholic.

Then they came for me and there was no-one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoeller (holocaust victim and humanist)

19. Beautiful Britain (27 July 2001)

I just got home from Scandinavia to find:

[1] No-one here knows that 100,000 Jesuit nuns support the anti-capitalist movement.

[2] Jacques Chirac (conservative) said that anti-capitalist demonstrators should be taken seriously while Tony Blair ("New Labour") said we'd no right to complain because he'd had to get up at 5 a.m. to be at the G8 meeting that day.

[3] It costs more and takes 2½ times longer to travel one way by rail from Stansted Airport to Liverpool (250 km) than to fly from Stansted to Västerås (Sweden) and back (2×1200 km)..

[4] Managers in the UK are paid much more and UK workers much less than in any other industrialised nation.

[5] University teachers in the UK (including me) are subjected to more audits, assessments, evaluations, reviews and other quantification exercises than in any other industrialised nation. £250 million of taxpayers' money is squandered annually by central government on just keeping the bureaucratic machinery going — that's before you count the time and money we teachers are forced to waste on that Kafkaesque nonsense when we could be teaching or researching.

The pound is high and the UK is considered rich, I suppose, because the quality of life for the majority of British citizens is so low.

If you think capitalism makes sense, you and I must be living on different planets.

20. New York, 11 September 2001

(Reflections from Liverpool, 13 Sept. 2001)

My friend Bob was one of those running up Broadway, trying to escape from the cloud of dust and debris, trying to find his wife and young family. They are thankfully all OK, unlike the thousands of mostly innocent people whose planes crashed to a violent death, or who were blasted to pieces at their office desks, or who ended their lives in pain under tons of metal and concrete.

I am horrified by the events and feel deep sympathy with everyone who lost a friend or loved one on 11 September. Do I feel this way because I have friends in New York who might have been killed? Or because they speak my mother tongue there?

No! Whenever and wherever they occur, violence and injustice provoke in me as much revulsion at the perpetrators as I am filled with sympathy for the victims.

The difference this time is that the thousands of victims were innocent airline passengers, office workers and heroic firefighters in the USA.

In other parts of the world mayhem and destruction is, or has been, a part of people's daily lives: for Vietnamese families under napalm and B52 carpet bombing; for Palestinians on the West Bank; for Chileans tortured under Pinochet; for Iraqi families unable to feed or heal their children; for workers and peasants in Latin America and Africa suffering under the edicts of the IMF, etc.

Whoever commits these crimes against humanity — armed forces, the IMF, the WTO, agents of transnational corporations, or fanatic terrorists — merits our utter condemnation. Whoever suffers at the hands of violence and injustice demands our complete solidarity.

If we don't want attacks on innocent people on our own turf, we will need to ensure that our governments and corporations no longer commit acts of oppression in our name. Why? Because if that oppression is felt to be as harsh and degrading as it demonstrably is for so many of this planet's citizens, it will engender the kind of desperate fanaticism that resulted in terror of Tuesday's magnitude.

Surely those who perished on Tuesday would not wish any of us meet the end they were forced to endure. Surely they would want to root out and destroy the causes of their own suffering and death.

If their memory is to be respected — and in our own self-interest — we will need to establish a much fairer world order, one in which the causes of such terror are as inexcusable as the terror itself.

That's why even this scrolling text has to end as usual...

The richest 3 people in the world have a personal wealth greater than the poorest 48 countries.

If you think that's right

21. Voices of sanity and humanity from the USA (22 September 2001)

Worker at the World Trade Centre:
«Neither I nor my co-workers are vengeful. Rather, we are afraid of what the bullies in the White House will do next. We do not want other people, in Afghanistan, Palestine or elsewhere, to suffer what we did. Some of us wish the US and its allies would consider WHY others would hate us this much. And really think about it.»

Rev. David Prothero, whose daughter Sarah was on one of the planes that crashed:
«We can only hope that some good comes out of it, but that does not include doubling or trebling the suffering.»

Noam Chomsky, US writer and humanist:
«We have a choice: we may try to understand, or refuse to do so, contributing to the likelihood that much worse lies ahead.»

Howard Zinn, US historian:
«We should take our example not from our military and political leaders shouting 'retaliate' and 'war' but from the doctors and nurses and medical students and firemen and policemen who have been saving lives in the midst of mayhem, whose first thoughts are not violence but healing.»

Michael Moore, US film director and screenwriter:
«Will we ever get to the point that we realise we will be more secure when the rest of the world isn't living in poverty so we can have nice running shoes? In just 8 months Bush gets the whole world back to hating us again. He withdraws from the Kyoto agreement, walks out of the Durban conference on racism, insists on restarting the arms race — you name it, and Baby Bush has blown it all. Let's mourn, let's grieve, and when it's appropriate let's examine our contribution to the unsafe world we live in.»

Letter sent by parents of son killed on 11 September:
«Dear President Bush: Our son is one of the victims of Tuesday's attack on the World Trade Center. We read about your response in the last few days and about the resolutions from both Houses, giving you undefined power to respond to the terror attacks. Your response to this attack does not make us feel better about our son's death. It makes us feel worse. It makes us feel that our government is using our son's memory as a justification to cause suffering for other sons and parents in other lands. It is not the first time that a person in your position has been given unlimited power and came to regret it. This is not the time for empty gestures to make us feel better. It is not the time to act like bullies. We urge you to think about how our government can develop peaceful, rational solutions to terrorism, solutions that do not sink us to the inhuman level of terrorists.
Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez»

Millions of people think along the same lines as the US citizens just quoted. Over the last 10 days I haven't met one single person who agrees with Bush or Blair.

Blair doesn't even seem to care that an overwhelming majority of UK citizens are opposed to his privatisation of public services and to the handing over of public assets to fat cats who have added insult to last Tuesday's unspeakable injury by playing 'the market' as it plunges us all into yet more misery.

So Blair and his cronies, in all their self-righteous arrogance, are unlikely to bother about a majority of us opposing his and W's war unless we make our voices heard much more strongly.

If the UK government and the Bush hawks wage a war, it will NOT be in MY name! I suppose that makes me, along with Congresswoman Barbara Lee, all the others just quoted and millions of others in the UK and USA, a 'terrorist' in the eyes of the current US president. What hypocrisy! Bush and his hawk cronies all have a proven track record of what comes across to me and millions of other human beings as terrorism...

22. Are YOU a TERRORIST too? (15 October 2001)

'As a taxi driver I meet a very broad cross-section of the British public. Since September 11 I have spoken to hundreds of passengers, and fewer than a dozen have expressed support for the bombing of Afghanistan. Based on my extensive research, I do not believe that Tony Blair has the mandate of the British people to take this country to war. So much for democracy'. (Letter from Jeff Slade to The Guardian, 13/10/01)

'Since 11 September I have yet to speak to one single person who supports Bush & Blair's version of the 'war on terrorism'. (Philip Tagg, responsible for this website)

Well, I suppose Jeff & I, along with everyone we've spoken to, are all 'terrorists' according to Bush Jnr.

Another oddity: Jeff, his passengers, me and everyone I meet are apparently all in the minority according to the opinion polls.

Where are all those Brits who think bombing one of the world's poorest countries is going to do anyone any good? So much for opinion polls too.

And who has worked harder than anyone else to make matters worse in our part of the world since 11 September? Who exacerbates our economic problems by withdrawing their capital gains from investement in companies which employ us?

It's the tiny minority of the richest and most powerful members of society. Their concern for the common good is apparently non-existent. Their 'Holy Market' is presented in the media as if it were an inexorable metaphysical force independent of human will and morals, as if greed transcended everything and everybody.

Are we really expected to put any faith in a system whose financial rulers run like rats from a sinking ship? What is it with shareholders anyhow? Do they live on the same planet as us?

Just recently the British government finally had to put this nation's rail network back under public administration after four years of total mismanagement under private ownership. Now shareholders want the money back which they invested in that privatised chaos.

I don't understand. Not only is it ethically dubious to try and make money out of what ought to be a public service; it is also well-known that the stock market is a gamble. Surely you would be thrown out of the casino if you demanded money back from the croupier just because the ball didn't end up on your number? Lucky for Railtrack shareholders that they weren't playing Russian roulette, I suppose.

... And it is this system our governments say they're defending when they bomb Afghanistan? What is this mess called capitalism?

Yes, Jeff, and everyone else who believes that neither greed nor bombing Afghanistan is good, this is the mess we're expected to think of as 'democracy'!

Time for some real democracy. Time for socialism!

23. Now most of us are ‘terrorists’! (26 October 2001)

It’s official. Two weeks ago, even the opinion polls discovered that a small majority of the UK population opposed the bombing of Afghanistan.

Yesterday on Channel 4, 49% of a carefully selected 250-strong cross-section of the British public declared that they unequivocally considered the bombing of Afghanistan to be unethical. They also thought it was a bad strategy for bringing to justice those responsible for the atrocities in New York on 11th September. The remaining 51% of the studio audience were either doubtful or agreed with the actions of the US and UK governments.

This means that around 25% of UK citizens think that George II and Tony Blair are right, 25% are doubtful, and that half of us think they are definitely wrong. For George II, then I suppose, half the British population is terrorist. We have to pressurise our governments to show some respect for democracy and for the intelligence of ordinary people, in short to show some sense.

Only a political and diplomatic settlement will solve the problems faced by both ourselves and by our brothers and sisters in the world outside NATO. Any such settlement has to involve a new and just world order.

The UK and USA must stop propping up oppressive regimes in other parts of the world and we must learn that we cannot expect the rest of the world to live in poverty just so we can wear trendy trainers and waste fossil fuels. If we go on as before, bullying the rest of the world and wasting its resources, human or otherwise, we will provoke more actions of the type our governments say they want to stamp out.

To me 2+2=4: those who provoke more terrorism by terrorising mainly innocent people seem to me to be more terrorist than those of us who propagate the removal of terrorism’s root causes. After all, a doctor who tries to cure measles by scraping at the rash would be struck off! But those of us who seem to understand that the problems we face have deeper causes than their currently most irritating symptom are called terrorists. The real causes are inequality and injustice.

24. Acts of Terror (20 November 2001)

'Terror is the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to attain political or religious ideological goals through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear'. (US Army manual).

2001, Afghanistan: US air raids. Death toll unknown.

2001, USA: Over 3,000 civilians killed as a result of hijacked planes being deliberately crashed into Word Trade Center.

2001, Iraq: Half a million children and as many other civilians dead as result of bombing and sanctions since 1990.

1989-90, Panama: US invasion. Thousands of civilians killed.

1986, Libya: US bomb Tripoli, killing or wounding thousands of civilians.

1983, Grenada: USA invade tiny island whose inhabitants elect a government the US administration does not like.

1983-9, Honduras: USA train and build bases for death squads. Thousands of civilians killed.

1982-4, Lebanon: US forces help expel PLO from Beirut, shell the city and back fascist Phalange. Thousands of Palestinian refugees massacred.

1981-90, Nicaragua: CIA illegally finance and direct Contras against popular Sandinista government. Thousands of civilians killed. USA condemned by World Court for international terrorism but take no notice, escalating aggression and ordering terrorists to attack 'soft targets' (i.e. undefended civilian buildings).

1981-92, El Salvador: US troops and air power used to help death squads. 75,000 people killed.

1976-92, Angola: USA and Apartheid South Africa back barbarous UNITA rebels against democratically elected left-wing government. Hundreds of thousands of civilians killed or maimed.

1973, Chile: USA back fascist coup against democratically elected left-wing government. Thousands of civilians tortured, killed or 'disappeared'.

1973: USA threatens nuclear support of Israel's war on Arab neighbours.

1969-75, Cambodia: US carpet bombing leads to death of millions.

1965, Indonesia: 1 million die in US-assisted army coup.

1960-75, Vietnam: 2 million Vietnamese die in horrendous US war of aggression. USA never pay internationally agreed restitution.

'History looks very different depending on whether you are holding the lash or being whipped by it'
(Noam Chomsky, US scholar and humanist)

25. Terror in 2002 too? (26 December 2001)

Professor Marc Herold at the University of New Hampshire’s School of Business and Economics writes:

“When the sun set on 6 Decmber at least 3,767 Afghans had died in US bombing attacks.”

“Afghanistan has been subjected to a barbarous air bombardment which has killed an average of 62 civilians per day since Sunday 7 October.”

The US military has dropped thousands of BLU-97 cluster bombs (made by Aerojet and Honeywell) which scatter 202 bright yellow bomblets over the ground. UN mine clearing officials in Afghanistan estimate that up to 30% of the bomblets have yet to explode.

Perhaps they’ll attract children like the young lad who picked up a shiny metallic object to show to his brother and sister.

“When the boy hit his new-found toy with a rock, it exploded, blowing his hand off, ripping his brother’s leg apart, and tearing a hole in his sister’s abdomen”. (Report from Reuters)

War on terrorism? War by terrorism, more like...

If you don’t believe any of this, check out Prof. Herold’s report (link).

It will be a Happy New Year when we start ridding the world of such destruction and stupidity, and when we stop believing bullshit from Bush, Blair and the likes of CNN.

Or are you worried about what new furniture to buy? After all, we are supposed to be consuming, not thinking, aren’t we? If we express anger at all the cruelty and suffering being inflicted on innocent civilians in our name, then we’ll probably be called ‘terrorists’ by those who commit acts of terror.

That can only mean one thing: they’re the terrorists, we aren’t, and nor are the 3,000 who died in New York on 11 September any more than the 3,767 Afghan civilians who have been killed in the ‘War on Terrorism’.

“History looks very different depending on whether you are holding the lash or being whipped by it.”
(Noam Chomsky, US scholar and humanist)

Marquee #25,
26 Dec. 2001