Flavia Tudoreanu

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Flavia Tudoreanu 

Flavia Tudoreanu – Co-organiser of Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

I’m one of these bad Romanian immigrants you hear about from UKIP or tabloid newspapers. Keep your distance as I might be bad mouthing Trident and those backing nuclear weapons, brag about my wee daughter or even bore you to death with my crafty projects.
I’ve been working with CND for the past 5 years and have been involved in all the aspects of our campaign. From fundraising, membership and accounts to street stalls, large scale demonstrations, lobbying, work with schools or exciting international disarmament meetings including the recent meeting at the United Nations in New York which adopted the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
In my role I’ve had the opportunity to work with a dedicated team of  peace campaigners who keep inspiring me every day and even had the privilege to be part of the fabulous International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize.
You can find out more about the Scottish CND on their Facebook page.

A Tale of Two Revolutions: Russia and Iran

Reading Time: 5 minutes
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Chuck Hamilton 

After Tom Perez’s “Night of the Long Knives” purge of progressives and entrenchment of centrists at the Democratic National Committee, no self-respecting leftist can hold anything for the Democratic Party but contempt. A thoroughly corrupt organization cannot be reformed, period. Capitalism cannot be reformed. Neoliberal bodies such as the EU or the UK of GB and NI, and the US of A for that matter, cannot be reformed. The U.S. Democratic Party cannot be reformed. With the direction of the Democratic Party now locked in with a jammed autopilot headed for the same neoliberal destination to which it was been turned since the late 1970s, it’s time for any true leftist remaining in the party under delusions of changing its nature to say “No!”, or rather, “No more!” to the Scorpion and to abandon ship. In the second decade of the 21st century, a vote for a Democrat is a vote for Trump just as much as a vote for a Republican. Resistance is not futile, but hoping for change from an establishment whose foundation is the status quo is.

Speaking of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, which has been a topic of much discussion this year, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that in the 20th century there was just not one major workers’ revolution on the planet but two. The revolutions in China, Cuba, Viet Nam, Nicaragua, etc., were anti-colonial more than proletarian and tainted by the fact they followed the post-Revolution Comintern doctrine, which is why I don’t include them. The other revolution I’m talking about is the Iranian Revolution, the one which eventually overthrew the Shah and actually began in the summer of 1977.

In June 1977, after a long train of abuses and usurpations inflicted by the imperial government returned to power by the mullahs in 1953, the police were sent into South Tehran to clear the slums for Pahlavi-style gentrification. Thousands fought back and continued to do so throughout the summer. On 27 August that summer, the Shah’s police finally gave up and left. During this time, other forces began to stir. Mosaddegh’s National Front woke up, the Bazaar Association of small businesses reorganized, and the Writers Guild began to call for radical change.

Later in the fall, the student movement for democracy was born and the Khomeinist mullahs organized into the Combatant Clergy Association. On this latter, it’s important to recognize that in Iran at the time, there were two strains of Islamism, the Black Islamism of Khomeini which was fundmentalist, reactionary, and clericalist, and the red Islamism of Ali Shariati, which was more of a Muslim form of Christian Liberation Theology and progressive, popularist, and democratic. One was for the benefit of the few, the other was for the benefit of the many.

By December 1977, the National Front and the Freedom Movement, an organization which represented a point between its secular partner and the Red Islamists, announced the the Iranian Committee for the Defense of Freedom and Human Rights, brainchild of Red Islamist Ayatollah Abolfazl Zanjani and Fatollah Banisadr, brother of the later president Abolhassan Banisadr.

Though students, bazaaris, and clergy led and participated in many of the demonstrations that began in January 1978, it was the repeated massive local and national strikes by workers throughout the country which brought down the government. Though such actions began in 1977, they did not begin in earnest until a year later in the fall of 1978. Strikes shut down the country, particularly after oil industry workers joined the struggle and began to issue political as well as industrial demands. Strikes of workers were invariably supported by sympathy strikes by bazaaris and students. The economy of the country all but froze solid. Workers took over factories and plants and refineries and ran them through shoras, which translated into Russian is soviets. Community governance and order was maintained through komitehs, or committees, mostly controlled by workers, peasants, or other people’s groups, at least at first.

By the end of 1978, the Khomeinists had adopted much of the rhetoric of its Red Islamist counterparts following the tenets of Ali Shariati, which is when they began to talk about raising the fortunes of the Mostazafin, the Dispossessed.

The Iranian Revolution ended with the Ten Days of February, just as the Russian Revolution ended with Ten Days in October.

Almost immediately after the victory on 11 February, Khomeini, whose full name and title at the time was Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Mostafavi Moussavi Khomeini, organized forces to usurp control of the people, the workers, the bazaaris, the peasants, and the poor and place it in the hands of his own close acolytes.

On 12 February, he announced to formation of the Central Revolutionary Komiteh to take control of all the local komitehs.

On 24 February, he established the Central Revolutionary Court, which began executions on 5 March.

On 26 February, he repealed the progressive Family Protection Acts which provided legal protection for the rights of women in marriage.

On 7 March, Khomeini dismissed all female judges and imposed compulsory hijab on women entering government buildings, though was forced to back down temporarily on the latter by the enormous turnout in opposition the next day, International Women’s Day.

At the end of March, the population voted in a referendum in which the two options were the constitution drafted ostensibly by the Provisional Revolutionary Government but actual following explicit dictates of the Council of Islamic Revolution, or a return to constitutional monarchy under the Shah. The additional feature of the ballot not being secret ensured a 98% approval, and the Islamic Republic of Iran was proclaimed on April Fools Day.

On May Day that year, the march of 1.5 million workers through the streets of Tehran, plus countless others across the nation, signalled the beginning of a general strike against the changes being made against the will of the people. Six days later, Khomeini established the Army of the Guardians of the Revolution, or Revolutionary Guards (known in Farsi as Sepahi), to put down the general strike, rid the komitehs of secular elements, and destroy the proletarian shoras and replace them with Islamist versions. Even these latter were eventually crushed when they began to follow their own interests rather than that of the central cabal.

A year later, Khomeini went after the universities, closing them down for the Iranian Cultural Revolution carried out by the Basij-e Mostazafin, or Basiji, under the auspices of the Cultural Revolution Headquarters led by Ali Khamenei and its subordinate Islamic Holy Councils of Reconstruction. The Sepahi and the Basiji did not originate as instruments of national defense against US-instigated Iraqi aggression but as instruments of oppression.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 bears striking resemblance on many points to the Russian Revolution of 1917: both usurped revolutions from broad-based coalitions of disparate forces led by workers; both had significant 10-day periods, “Ten Days that Shook the World” vs. “Ten Days that Changed Iran”; both imposed constitutions on their respective countries without any debate; both turned on and slaughtered allies that had helped them come to power; both faced invasion and war almost immediately after coming to power; both used those wars as an excuse to eliminate dissidents in mass numbers; both carried out mass purges and executions a decade after their assumption of power; both became one party states – the Communist Party in the USSR and the Party of God in the IRI; and both were led by bitter, vindictive, unscrupulous long-term exiles who lied about their intentions, gave lip service to the goals of the true left, and pursued absolute power in the name of ideology and the establishment of a totalitarian state.

Tune in next time for a short critique of ideological Leninism and brief details of what a truly Cooperative Commonwealth would look like.

“What’s the joke?” Politics: Beyond Satire

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Add your name to our letter of solidarity with Catalonia here

 

Available FREE on iTunes and Podbean

On this episode of Ungagged, introduced by Neil Scott, Chuck Hamilton will be talking us through two revolutions, Russia and Iran, George Collins will be talking about the changing nature of American political humour, Damanvir Kuar will be giving us an update on the hunger striking Baput Surat Singh Khalsa.

Debra Torrance will be talking about the responses to the #MeToo trends, and why the current climate is not at all funny,  Derek Stewart Macpherson will be talking Citizenship Games, or how a former hot shot lawyer PM got his arse handed to him in the High Court, and Liz Castro will be joining us from her rooftop in Barcelona for an update from Catalonia.

Flavia Tudoreanu will be talking  about the CND, Cllr Graham Campbell will be talking about why the break up of the British State is necessary, and Thomas Morris will be giving us the case for #ThisGuyCan; why our boys deserve a range of male role models to break down toxic expectations boys and young men face.

We will hear from both Teresa Durran and Victoria Pearson on why sexual assault is not a laughing matter. Luckily, with all that doom and gloom, we also have Red Raiph with some things to look forward to!

With music from Steve McAuliffe feat. The Mighty Ur, Thee Faction, Mullen, The Merry Janes, Candidates, Petrol Girls, Argonaut, Kes’ Conscience, Attila the Stockbroker, The Wakes, Guttfull, Babel Fish Project, and Mower.

With sound editing by Neil Anderson.

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Ungagged is a not for profit co-operative, and we rely on the generosity of our listeners. If you’d like to donate us the cost of a newspaper or a cup of coffee, you can do so through PayPal here.

 

The Merry Jaynz

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This guitar-centric rock band arose from many successive weeks of Friday night jams at the “Stone Manor”, former home of Susan and Tom Smith. It was suggested that the group could go out and blow minds as they were: a 3-piece band. Susan’s dependable rock-steady bass proved to be the ideal platform for Tom’s guitar style – described variously as “go-for-the-throat”, “incendiary” and, of course, “too loud”.

Susan and Myron are old-school East Tennesseans, while Tom arrived in Knoxville via Johnson City TN, via Asheville, NC; via Los Angeles, CA; via Cincinnati, OH; via Memphis, TN; via Las Vegas, NV; via Brooklyn, NY. He thus far has neutralized all relocation threats. The Merry Jaynz currently reside in South Knoxville, Tennessee.

What does one hear when The Merry Jaynz is all up in it? A deep, pulsing bass line – as predictable as the tides – which earns and keeps its place in the pit of your stomach, setting up a hypnotic vibe with the drumbeat. Variation and organic song evolution are what keeps the energy at a remarkable high.

Rather than the soloist improvising during a solo on top of a tried-and-true arrangement, one can find the whole band improvising a way-out take on one of their original numbers or taking a cover tune to unexpected places it has never been. Tom uses what could be called a guitar vocabulary to hit a musical space that matches what is going on in the rhythm section. What sounds like a reggae drum beat over a bluegrass bass line might just elicit a surf punk guitar treatment…this time. Next time? Country licks or rock-a-billy bustle. The band plays to the space they are in.

The Merry Jaynz is setting their sights on a larger sphere of influence, more media channels and more exposure to folks who like their rock Jammy, Organic, Face-Melty and Ever-Changing.

Find out more on their website

Candidates

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Formed in MK in the summer of 2017, Indie/Rock ‘n’ Roll bringers Candidates are standing up to deliver ‘punch the air, uplifting’ songs, in a time when there is so much noise – but not enough being said!

The band was created when singer/songwriter Steve Wells (formerly of The Vision, FalloW & Colony) posted a speculative message on the conveyor belt of voyeurism that is Facebook, looking for a lead guitarist and bass player to join him and fellow Newport Pagnell musician Neil Kenton in forming a new project. BLUE CABS’ Jimi Cook (guitar) and Paul Pugh (Bass) responded with interest and a new chapter for everyone had begun.

With a mutual appreciation for hard hitting beats, rumbling bass, soaring guitars and meaningful lyrics sung with passion and a relatable vulnerability, these self-taught individuals quickly became a band with purpose, combining influences including Oasis, The Verve, The Stone Roses, The Stranglers, Starsailor, The Cribs and Skunk Anansie amongst others to mix in to one big creative melting pot.

You can find out more on their Facebook page or follow them on twitter.

Thomas Morris

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Thomas Morris

Thomas Morris is probably not who he should be; he is a mix of genres and styles.

He is an only child to Middle-Class parents, yet spent his early childhood on the terraced streets of Liverpool. Privately-educated yet never graduated, as even at that age he saw a University education and the lifetime of middle-management that would ensue as ‘boring’; his only learning from Uni was how to juggle with three balls.

Now living in the mining heartland of Nottinghamshire, he has spend 20 years working in a privatised utility industry. For 20 of those years he’s had a firm belief it should be re-nationalised.

An archetypal INTP; easily distracted, prefers solitude, and is almost impossible to be relied upon for anything, yet with the benefit of a real ale pub without WiFi he is capable of writing lengthy streams of consciousness, both fact and fiction.

He is an avid traveller, having been to over 70 countries, some of which do not exist. He therefore tends to view borders between countries as an interesting historical fiction. He is particularly fond of Belgium; a country that does exist but he’s not sure how.

A humanist, Green, socially-liberal, economically-socialist, generally apolitical, kink-aware asexual (but hates the flag), his most ardent political belief is that ‘None of the Above’ should be an option on election forms. And the legalisation of cannabis, obviously.

One of his favourite words is ‘mythered’.

 

You can follow Thomas on twitter. The numbers in his handle have a meaning.

Graham Campbell

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Graham Campbell 

Graham was elected SNP Glasgow City Councillor for Springburn/Robroyston Ward on May 4th 2017. Previous an SSP/Solidarity and RISE member he joined the SNP after the 2016 Brexit vote. He is currently a National Council member and came 8th in the recent SNP delegate elections for the party’s NEC. He is National Campaigns Director for SNP Socialists and Treasurer of SNP Trade Union Group. With a community development background as a tenant and refugee rights activist in Sighthill, North Glasgow, Graham worked as a community development consultant and charitable fundraiser – most recently in the office of Anne McLaughlin the MP for Glasgow North East 2015-2017.

An ex-railworker, Pan-African socialist and trade unionist he was proud to be elected becoming the first ever African Caribbean councillor in Glasgow.

He is a strong advocate for the rights of Looked After Children having himself been a young carer coping with his mother’s schizophrenia. Graham was taken into local authority care from 1981-1986 in London.

His other passions are solving the housing crisis, poverty and race equality – particularly for the African Scottish communities as a founder of the first African Caribbean Centre in Glasgow which ran from 2009-2016. He is the Project Leader of twinning organisation Flag Up Scotland Jamaica promoting good relations between Scottish and Jamaican cultures and institutions

He also a musician and dub poet and Director of African Caribbean Cultures Glasgow.

You can find out more about him on Facebook.

 

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Pic by Mark Ynys-Mon 

 

Life in the Empire Part 2: Bringing the Media Giant Down

Reading Time: 11 minutes
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George Collins 

In the first installment of this series, I lamented the nonexistence of a strong anti-war movement in the United States despite the need for one being greater than ever. The amount of destruction abroad that continues to murder civilians and foster resentment towards American imperialism rises with each new presidential administration, yet much of the American electorate remains silent. What little noise does surface comes from fledgling organizations formed within the past year such as 2016 Green Party Vice Presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka’s Black Alliance for Peace. The larger efforts historically stem from the libertarian wing of the populace than anywhere else, giving libertarians a step above progressives in being progressive.

 

But if there is anything I despise more as a political writer and broadcaster than a systematic problem going unaddressed, it is the swarm of people all too eager to point out these problems and spout all the answers while providing none of the solutions. I will not be one of them. In this piece, I’d like to reflect on the roots of past anti-war efforts and explore how the same driving forces behind them could be revived or replicated for today’s American left.

 

Two primary examples come to mind when considering mass resistance to American imperialism in modern history: the Vietnam War and the Second Gulf War AKA the Iraq War. These two periods of anti-war protest differed in multiple ways, and those differences shaped how the American people interacted with their government in challenging United States imperialism. Some of these differences were more influential than others in determining how those interactions took place, but the media world serves as the connection between all of them. Analyzing how media outlets large and small handled war propaganda, and the citizens’ collective response to such presentations, offers crucial insight into how the anti-war resistance rose in response to each armed conflict.

 

Of the two wars listed above, the Vietnam War carries the more infamous legacy among the majority of Americans. The resistance to the invasion of Vietnam has been well-documented in the decades since the war’s conclusion, and many events associated with that resistance stand out as some of the most famous moments in American history. The Mahayana Buddhist monk setting himself on fire in protest of the treatment of Buddhists by the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese government; champion boxer Muhammad Ali being stripped of his heavyweight title after refusing to enlist because “no Viet Cong ever called me nigger”; the eruption of college campus protests organized by such student groups as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); the violence at the 1968 Democratic Convention in which journalist Dan Rather’s skull was almost cracked open by security personnel. These events and more are as familiar to Americans as the flag raising at Iwo Jima or Washington crossing the Delaware.

 

How did those events come to be so significant? Through a media machine that served as an unauthorized fourth branch of government enlisted by the citizenry to keep the other three branches in check. Like most progressive movements, the initial waves of protests against the war stayed relegated to smaller gatherings facilitated by organizations like SDS. The availability of information contradicting the government’s claims of success and the willingness of large media figures to spread such information enabled that fervor to grow into a movement of national strength and scale. Information and images contrasting with official government accounts began leaking like a broken nose, and the average American’s trust in their beloved government began to falter on a national scale for the first time in modern American history. It culminated with the famous 1968 CBS broadcast when Walter Cronkite, hailed as “the most trusted man in America” at the height of his career, reported on national television that the generals he met with in Vietnam were no longer confident in a victory. The sentiment that the entire war effort was fruitless graduated from the independent media circuits to mainstream television in that crucial moment. The resulting shockwave through the nation was so fierce that the federal government’s counterpunches were powerless to stop it. It destroyed President Lyndon Johnson’s standing among the American people and he abdicated the presidency in 1968 on the certainty that the voters would rather elect a jar of mustard.

 

Understanding the power of the media to shatter the federal government’s wall of propaganda and reverse public sentiment in less than five years involves examining the various entities’ experience with the concept of mass media itself. Television as a widespread staple of American homes on the national level had barely reached its tenth birthday in the middle of the 1960s. Prior television availability consisted of regional stations that had nowhere near a national broadcast reach, and the 6,000 or so homes that owned a tube watched programs based on the preceding network radio format. This meant less emphasis on spectacle and more on simple information delivery. News anchors were shoved on screen to sound like Steven Wright afflicted with crippling depression before departing in favor of audio-based programming reminiscent of the prime radio programs of the 1940s. Investment in television as a major medium of communication by media giants like NBC and CBS in the early 1950s grew the Tube faster than staph on an unwashed wrestling mat, and half of all U.S. homes owned televisions by 1955.

 

New inventions that reach the scale and influence of television in such a short amount of time are difficult for governments to control. Predecessors to the Johnson Administration had been given the time and experience necessary to control radio narratives detailing World War II and the Korean War. Independent radio circuits existed at those times, but their meager reach could not even wrinkle the skeleton of the national radio behemoth tethered to the U.S. government’s lifeline. Television offered a communication medium independent of government influence in most respects, and the unprecedented rapidity of its growth did not allow sufficient time to implement the same controls placed on the radio industry. Thus, by the time the Vietnam War was in full power mode and dissenting information began to be released, a Johnson Administration inexperienced with this new medium stood no chance of stopping the momentum. It lacked the time and resources necessary to consolidate the young and ambitious television networks in such a way that it could shape the narrative before Americans’ eyes the way it had done with radio in the decades prior.

 

This principle helps explain why conquering the propaganda around 9/11 and the resulting invasion of Iraq many years later would be more of a challenge for the next generation of anti-war progressives. Thirty years passed between the end of the Vietnam War and the second Gulf invasion. This provided the time and proficiency necessary for the federal government to establish the media control it lacked in the Vietnam years. Several pieces of legislation consolidated media outlets into a smaller group of owners and removed regulations on ownership in any given political unit. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 stands as the most blatant example. The law destroyed any barriers to merging that existed, allowing larger companies to buy out smaller competition faster than a Conor McGregor knockout. Prior to the Telecom Act, merging between media conglomerates could only take place under specific circumstances, and companies could only own one media outlet per municipality even if a merge took place. Newspapers, radio, magazines, and television all began to fall under a shrinking roster of owners as the competition the bill (allegedly) sought to create evaporated overnight.

 

The Vietnam War machine had little experience controlling widespread media dissemination, and they needed to navigate a climate without the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that consolidated power among media conglomerates down to a handful of entities. The Iraq War machine, by contrast, juiced itself to the gills on deregulation of information spread and was much better-equipped to handle the attacks from the fourth branch. The reliable watch dog of the establishment had been through a thirty-year training camp to become that same establishment’s armored attack dog.

 

But even that wasn’t enough. Even in the face of this new and improved propaganda machine, Americans still brought the giant down and recognized the invasion of Iraq as the colossal failure it was. It only took two years for the Iraq War to become a contentious election issue that no politician wanted any attachment to. George W. Bush’s legacy became tainted in the same way Lyndon Johnson’s had in the 1960s. How did Goliath fall a second time, even with the years of preparation and power consolidation?

 

Turns out Goliath wasn’t the only beast pounding horse meat and whey protein all those years.

 

Think back to Walter Cronkite being named America’s most trusted man at the peak of his career in the Vietnam years. Who on American television qualifies for such a title today? On a more fundamental level, who qualifies to even be compared to somebody like Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow in 21st century American media, or late-20th century American media for that matter? This is somebody accepted as a reliable source by an overwhelming majority of news consumers regardless of political affiliation and who carries a flawless record of fact-checking.

 

Can’t think of one? Neither can I, nor can most of us in the world of professional journalism.

 

Thirty years is a long time for groundbreaking domestic events to take place, and many such events in that wide period of American history eroded confidence in the government to a level below Satan’s wine cellar. Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal serves as the most potent example as Americans learned their government was capable of committing profound deceit to tamper with the election process, something as sacred to the principles of the U.S. as ammosexuality and apple pie. Many Americans may have suspected this prior to the events of the 1972 election, but few were ready to admit it even to themselves. Trust in the government shattered and has never recovered in the decades since.

 

Paralleling the government’s fall from grace was rising skepticism among Americans concerning the news media, the same media that instigated the outrage over Vietnam. Consolidation of media outlets and the companies owning them blurred the messages across networks together. The rise of figures like Roger Ailes fanned the flames of political extremism by promoting antagonistic rhetoric around the clock on a level never before seen in the country. This new breed of programming sought not just to convince you your side was correct, but that all dissenting voices were inherently evil and must be destroyed. The aforementioned consolidation of media outlets thanks to Clinton’s Telecommunications Act of 1996 threw ownership of 90% of all types of American media outlets to a total of six companies, and more possible mergers such as one proposed between CBS and CNN threaten to reduce this number further every year.

 

These changes did not escape the notice of American news consumers. Us Americans may not always identify the right issues to expend our energy combating, but we can still identify a turd in a chocolate box if given enough cues. By the dawn of the 21st century, most of the country chose to avoid large media networks out of cynical skepticism that what they were watching was pure advertising. The rise of the Internet as the next generation of information delivery also contributed to this phenomenon as people began to abandon desires for objectivity in favor of what financial journalist Matt Taibbi termed “information shopping” or the deliberate seeking out of narratives to confirm one’s own viewpoints above all else. This mass skepticism of the media’s truth-telling capabilities caused the Iraq War media machine to crumble after only being active for two or three years. The government spent thirty years building a mechanized world champion kickboxer only to discover the opponent across the ring brought an EMP grenade.

 

People began noticing the widespread contradictions in the government’s narrative on the reasons behind the invasion of Iraq and the progress being made in the campaign. One minute our intelligence agencies had identified the terrorist cell harboring Osama Bin Laden, next minute they didn’t know where he was. One day we had taken Baghdad, next day we were still fighting to secure the city. Dick Cheney’s former ties to oil giant Haliburton became known but were never reported by mainstream news networks. The mythical Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that dominated pre-invasion coverage never surfaced despite the government’s continued insistence that they existed. The 9/11 hijackers were confirmed to originate from Saudi Arabia, yet few reporters or journalists on any major network used this information to ask why we had invaded the wrong country. Those few that did were booted out the door without a second thought.

 

By 2003, the weight of these conflicting stories crushed the government’s credibility in legitimizing the Iraq invasion, and the media machine they relied on to distract from these inconsistencies had lost its influence over the American public long before any 9/11 truther could scream about jet fuel and steel beams. Two years was all it took for Americans to shake off the double vision caused by one of the greatest tragedies in the country’s history.

 

The original question I set out to answer here concerned what is missing from the American left today to replicate these successful anti-war efforts. Why has it taken so long to pressure our government into pulling out of Afghanistan after almost two decades of occupation? Why are so many on the left supporting the war in Syria despite multiple United Nations investigations concluding that no chemical weapons have ever been used by the Assad regime? Why are supposedly “progressive” Democrats in Congress calling for armed conflict with Russia and Iran with no electoral consequences from their voter bases? Why is being pro-war still an acceptable position not met with genuine questions about that candidate’s sanity?

 

In examining the above history of the respective Vietnam and Iraq War protests, a common trait among the resistance emerges: skepticism. The Vietnam era taught Americans how to question the government through the rebellion of the fourth branch: an active and independent media circuit concerned first and foremost with bringing the truth to every home. The Iraq War propaganda campaign morphed this circuit into a monstrosity spewing misinformation around the clock, but it was brought down by organic skepticism of both the government and the media fostered by decades of scandal and media consolidation. For better or worse, Americans became conditioned to question everything, even if what they were questioning did not need to be questioned.

 

The American left has lost its ability to be skeptical. Instead of calling for investigations of chemical attacks in Syria, media figures associated with mainstream leftist politics applaud the Trump administration’s reckless abandonment in handling sensitive armed conflicts. Instead of calling on media outlets to scrutinize government narratives and ensure the truth is being told, viewers offer no reaction when anchors and reporters thoughtlessly regurgitate the statements of intelligence agencies and military spokesmen. Publications once heralded for their unshakable journalistic integrity like the Washington Post and New York Times continue to insist Russian agencies hacked the French presidential election even though French President Emmanuel Macron himself claimed no such interference occurred months ago. An increasing number of states are coming forward with evidence their voting systems were not hacked despite the government’s cries of hysteria. Basic levels of quality investigative journalism would have prevented these instances misreporting, but the skepticism and calls for accountability needed to punish these outlets for their blatant dishonesty is nowhere to be found.

 

This lack of pressure from the left wing could have originated from President Trump’s open wars with the media and intelligence agencies alike. His avid usage of terms like “fake news” and “the deep state” inadvertently forged an unholy alliance between these inherently conservative institutions and the American left who would rather be shot in the head than be seen in alignment with Trump on a single issue. Trump’s assault on the media may be immoral and dangerous in the context of maintaining a free and fair press, but his antagonism does not render these institutions trustworthy nor should the left regard them as worthy allies. The CIA and FBI are not our friends and never have been. These agencies harbor a long and racist history of stamping out dissent through means up to and including blatant murder. CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, The Washington Post, and other corporate media outlets are not reliable sources of information given their connection to big money interests, and choosing to ignore those conflicts of interest to appear cleansed of anything Trump-related is a grave miscalculation.

 

We on the American left must rehabilitate our ability to be skeptical and recognize that even a broken clock is right twice a day. Trump is despicable in almost every possible way, but his charges against corporate media and the evil deeds of American intelligence agencies at home and abroad carry varying levels of truth to them. Restoring our ability to recognize this distinction and translate it into informed action would reignite the anti-war left, and the refined presence of the Internet and mass media sharing could amplify the effectiveness of such efforts to a level even the Iraq War resistance could not have achieved. My suggestion is to seek out the independent media outlets that continue to tell the truth on a matter of principle. Empowerment of these sources and wider sharing of the truths they provide are what can turn smaller anti-war organizations like Ajamu Baraka’s Black Alliance for Peace into the megaforces needed to make being pro-war an unacceptable position among elected officials and media figures alike.

 

Students for a Democratic Society is now the oldest and largest student organization in the country and it had its roots in anti-war activism. Through the power of media and critical thinking on the part of the electorate, we can create another generation of such groups and leaders. We at Ungagged are up to the task. Come join us and be a part of revolutionary history.

Sahej Rahal

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Sahej Rahal’s installations, films and performances are part of a constructed mythology that he creates drawing upon sources ranging from local legends to science fiction. By bringing these into dialogue with each other, Rahal creates scenarios where indeterminate beings emerge into the everyday as if from the cracks in our civilization.

Rahal’s participation in institutional and major solo & group exhibitions internationally have included Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, 2017; PRIMARY Nottingham 2017; the Liverpool Biennial, 2016; Setouchi Triennial, 2016; Jewish Museum, New York, 2015; Kochi Muziris Biennale, 2014; Vancouver Biennale, 2014; MACRO Museum, Rome, 2014.

His work has been exhibited at Galleria Continua, Les Moulins, France, 2014 and Art Stage Singapore, 2014. He has had two major solo exhibitions at Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai.

He is a recipient of the INLAKS emerging artist award 2012; the IFA Critical Arts Practice grant 2014; and has been awarded the Forbes India Art Award, 2014, for best debut show for his solo exhibition ‘Forerunner’ at Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai.

Sahej lives and works in Mumbai.

Empire of Skulls

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Available FREE on iTunes and Podbean

The Ungagged Team talk America, Catalonia, The Tory Party Conference and Scottish Labour Leadership…

 

With George Collins, Liz Castro, John Andrew Hird, Ruth Hopkins, Debra Torrance, Paul Sheridan, Chuck Hamilton, Victoria Pearson, Steve McAuliffe, Red Raiph, Em Dehaney, Simone Charlesworth and Derek Stewart Macpherson, along with artist Sahej Rahal.

Featuring music from ArgonautBlackheart Orchestra, Frank Waln and Tanaya Winder, The Eastern SwellVictoria Långstrump, The Wakes, Thee Faction, Dolls, Madame So, Gerry Mulvenna, Roy Møller and Babel Fish project.

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With thanks to Neil Anderson for his editing skills, and Neil Scott for pulling the whole thing together.

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