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Us, Them and Ahmadinejad

Ahmadinejad’s speech at the UNIntroduction

There is a general predictability in the overall incident of Ahmadinejad’s speech at the UN, a kind of mechanicalness, like a clock repeating the hours of the day. It’s not just in the kind of things he might say or that rabbit’s friends and relations might walk out in protest, or that there may be “technical problems” of translation when he speaks, or that the media might misrepresent what he said or fail to report his speech altogether.

There is another, secondary layer of predictability in the ways that different sections of the general, global community will receive and interpret it, a spectrum from those who will hear nothing at all about it, to those who will hear only the misrepresentation of it and to those who will hear the speech directly translated. In each category any new information will be slotted into an established worldview.

Us

Forgive me dear reader, if I seem presumptuous in saying so but I am one of a category of people whom I have loosely called “us”. We receive our “truth” from Internet and other sources that bypass the mainstream media (MSM). If we read the MSM at all we read between the lines and deplore the dishonesty and deceit therein.
We are outraged that the world has poured vast resources into two illegal wars at cost of a nation and millions of lives either ended or ruined and we are at the very least sceptical about the official explanation of the event that provides the alleged reason and justification for them. We want things to change.

Another, more disturbing layer of the predictability I referred to in my introduction is the way that the “truth” network that belongs to “us” will buzz angrily , but I think ineffectually, or some days to come at the outrageous treatment of Ahmadinejad by the US, their sycophants and the obsequiously compliant MSM.

Them

I have a friend whom I think epitomises “them”. For him, his achievements are defined in terms of the trappings of capitalist approval and indeed, he has been successful; before he retires he will probably be CEO of one of those American companies that has bought Australian utilities using petrol dollars extorted from the Middle East and at fire-sale prices because the government was forced to sell and there were no other buyers. I believe he receives all of his “truth” from the television news because he doesn’t have the time to read newspapers but nevertheless needs to “have his finger on the pulse” of current affairs for times of informal peer conversation. The last time he read a book was “The Day of the Tryffods” in 1967. He was as much shocked by “the terrible events of September 11” as he was at my glee that “someone finally gave them a big smack” and he is convinced that the wars were both legal and necessary, whatever the cost, to stop terrorism. If he has ever heard the name Ahmadinejad in a favourable light then he has probably read one of my emails. If the world changes in any way that he can imagine he will accommodate it, provided that his pension fund is not affected.

Predictably, he will be oblivious to the angry buzz that will pervade the “truth” network that belongs to “us” and in a week’s time will have a negative opinion of Ahmadinejad if he has any opinion at all.

Ahmadinejad

Forgive me again dear reader, if I seem presumptuous in attributing the following summary of my own views as generally conforming to those of “us”.

This man asks the pertinent questions and he asks them in exactly the right forum. His questions highlight the key, relevant issues such as:

  • the tolerance for persecution of Palestinians and Israeli disregard for International Law, based essentially on holocaust propaganda and for strategic designs of US imperialism
  • the hypocrisy of nuclear disarmament rhetoric by nations that possess, have used, proliferate and constantly threaten to use nuclear weapons
  • the imbalance of power and hegemony inherent in the UN, which should be the democratic epicentre of international law and justice
  • the gross imbalance of wealth, development and resource flows between nations and the blatant injustice associated with it

His regime is denigrated as if it were on a par with one of the US-installed South American dictators such as Pinochet, but if the death of a young woman demonstrator (vigorously publicised in the west and illogically attributed to the regime) is taken as evidence of an oppressive regime then in the UK, for example, we should take note of the shooting of John Menezes and the death of David Tomlinson (both irrefutably acts of the regime). In the US of course, the silencing of leadership of dissent is far more advanced, sophisticated and inconspicuous (Martin Luthur King, Malcolm X, George Jackson, JFK etc.).  And why should he not follow the example of the west in treating with indifference the protests of millions in the streets- if indeed that is the case.

Similarly, if the number of political prisoners is an indication then one should look at the 2M mostly poor and black prisoners in the US, Guantanamo Bay, and the case of the Cuban Five, or the 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, some of them for no other reason than that they are elected Hammas MPs. The measure of our own regimes is obvious in the types of "democracies" we have cloned into Afghanistan and Iraq and the prisons full of shoe-throwers. But Ahmadinejad’s regime is, as a matter of indisputable fact, “democratic” and if there are questions about the legitimacy of Iranian elections there are far more questions and indeed obvious dishonesties in those of the US.

If he were a holocaust denier there is a substantial case to support him (when it becomes illegal to question the accepted wisdom you can be certain there is good reason to question the accepted wisdom). However, when you actually hear him speak for himself, rather than through the filter of the MSM, you can easily find that he distinctly and explicitly acknowledges the holocaust - as a European event for which the Palestinians should not be paying the price. When he argues the case that exaggeration and misrepresentation of the holocaust is being used as a blind to cover the disgraceful outrages of Israel and persecution of Palestinians then he is far from alone or anti-Semitic. Indeed, there are a good many Jews who align quite well with his opinions.

For all this, he is a politician, but if he is a wise one he will acquire a nuclear weapon and do it fast and if the people of Iran have doubts as to whether he should have their full and unequivocal support at the present time, they need only look to their neighbours in Iraq for confirmation.

Following the Script

There is yet more predictability in the slow progress of events in relation to Ahmadinejad, his regime and his country like some American television programme that always follows the same general, stupid, scripted formula and has the same outcome but varies in the details, something like the following:

  • Obama or his successor will continue in the same, slimy rhetoric of “we have offered him every chance to accept the open hand of the international community but he has at every turn presented the closed fist of defiance”
  • Ahmadinejad will continue to ask pertinent questions in international forums pointing to the key, relevant issues as if, like “us” he hopes to reach and influence “them”, who will in turn, persuade their government, or the people who own western capitalism to change
  • The international MSM will continue to ignore or misrepresent him, steadily building a “Saddam Hussein” image of a tyrant who consistently presents the “fist of defiance” to the “international community”.
  • When “conditions are right” (these being known only to the scheming psychopaths who advise the people who own western capitalism and in which global public opinion is only a collection of known knowns and a few known unknowns) a UN Security Council resolution will be sought to endorse action against another rogue state harbouring terrorism and posing a [nucular] threat.
  • With or without the endorsement and with or without the support of a coalition of sycophantic puppet governments the US will wage an attack on Iran that will be to “Shock and Awe” as “Shock and Awe” was to desert storm.

Just as people who watch American television programmes hoping or fearing that something different will happen (perhaps the Jurassic Park dinosaur will actually eat the heroes or the bad guys will actually shoot all the cops and get away) we watch and hope that something different will happen. Perhaps the western economy will be unable to sustain another war (though we know that western capitalism thrives on war). Perhaps the UN will find some balls and intervene. Perhaps Obama will remember about “change”. Perhaps the weight of public opposition will be just too much. Perhaps Iran will suddenly announce “we’ve got a bomb!” and all the drama will suddenly subside. But somehow we generally understand that whatever the details, things are going very purposefully in a particular direction according to script.

What is more to the point is that, in the present scheme of things regarding the relative relations of “us” and “them” (i.e. our relative numbers, the rate at which our reach of communication is expanding and the rate of conversion of “them” to “us”) is that it is very unlikely that a large number of “them” is going to stand up and tell all these government psychopaths that enough is enough or force the ICC to prosecute them..

Reality and Logic

In my humble opinion reality suggests that for all the excellent use of the Internet (innovations like MWC News and Information Clearing House) and alternative media such as Democracy NOW! and The Real News the efforts of “us” are presently no match for the global daily reach that corporate capitalist compliant media has to “them”. Logic suggests that if the methods we use aren’t working and we want to succeed then we need new methods.

A core problem is that most of our communication is written word. People don’t read anymore! They flop into their armchairs at the end of the day, highly susceptible to subliminal suggestion and wanting to relax while they are informed and entertained. They absorb whatever the MSM dishes up to them.

The real challenge for “us” and for “Left and Progressive” organizations is to deliver audiovisual information in an organised and entertaining way that gets the message across and to do it on a scale to overcome the MSM monopoly on the hearts and minds of “them”.

Proposing Solutions

I have long considered ways to go about this. YouTube offers a good example. I owe my awareness of Ahmadinejad’s actual words at the UN to YouTube and to a friend who sent me the link (that’s the current “truth” network that belongs to “us”). In my website at www.warcrimes.org.uk I made use of YouTube by incorporating links to videos that presented relevant information and by building the links into my own organisational structure for the message that I wanted to present. However, YouTube is unreliable; videos can be taken down or even refused before they are presented. As a standalone system in itself it’s chaotic and there is no systematic organization or quality standard. In the long term it seems likely that YouTube will be politicised and become a censor. But the key limitation of YouTube is that the user must actively seek out and select videos to watch (diamonds among the rubble) or, as in my case, be sent links to them by their network. Even if YouTube provided a highly organised, high quality body of audiovisual information online, it would be no match for the television nightly news, armed and firing and pointed at the armchair.

There is, I believe, a solution but it requires a cooperative effort from a diverse range and a large number of committed people. I have done some research and presented proposals to “Left” organizations in the hope of obtaining relevant contacts and participation – to no avail. It’s impossible for one person to do alone, it needs collaboration and so I present it here. Please communicate it to anyone you believe may be interested.

The basic idea is to produce DVDs in large numbers and distribute them free or at small charge to commuters travelling home in the evenings. Initially the hope would be that recipients might decide to have a look at the DVD “before the news comes on” and become so engrossed that they forget to switch over. The content would need to be RELEVANT, INFORMATIVE and ENTERTAINING. The DVDs would also need to be distinctively and attractively “branded” so that interested converts can easily seek them out and find more. They would also need to be supplied in new volumes (fresh material) on a regular basis and using the same interesting and accessible format.

DVD copying services can produce and package copies at cost of around £1000 per 5000 discs and the price per disc may come down with quantity. Funding for these costs could be obtained from subscription, donation and contributions from organizations interested in participating to include their own material.

So here is where the collaborative effort comes in. This would need the following:

  • People established in producing video documentary material who can provide their own material (past and present) as well as mentor emerging enthusiasts
  • People skilled in audiovisual media production who can collate and organise material into a consistent, accessible format on the discs
  • People who can manage production and distribution

I’ve seen a lot of high quality AV material such as “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” (about the attempted Venezuelan coup), “Loose Change” (about the 9-11 conspiracy), “Seeds of Deconstruction” (about the London Bombings), “The Century of Self” (about the manipulative power of the media), the “Zeitgeist” movie (which demolishes religion) and a number of excellent documentaries by John Pilger, all of which deserve to be widely viewed – but are not. However, obtaining copies is often difficult, copying to circulate to friends and acquaintances is probably breach of copyright and in any case is cumbersome, inefficient and costly. All of the currently available means of getting this material viewed widely are owned by the people who don’t want it viewed widely. We need to change that.

This material also suffers from a number of limitations:

  • In isolation, each of them is remote from the daily lives of ordinary people and doesn’t present a coherent worldview
  • Their collective range covers only a limited window of the broader Left/Progressive worldview to which they belong
  • There is no current means to integrate and supplement all of these disparate themes into a coherent, accessible understanding that conveys connection with the real lives of ordinary people
  • They are seen only as occasional, disconnected exceptions rather than as a consistent, ongoing flow of information
  • They are not easily accessible
  • They provide no means or incitement to get up and respond.

Providing a means to overcome all of these limitations by delivering a convenient, daily DVD that delivers this material supplemented with smaller AV segments that present, interpret and connect current news to the worldview context to which all this larger material belongs is the kind of leap forward that Left/Progressive movements need right now to break the monopoly of the MSM and the unbearable predictability that it offers.

It has the potential to help “them” appreciate Ahmadinejad in the way he is seen and understood by “us”.


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