WW1 Centenary: We have Learnt Nothing

The mini-industry growing up around this sickening centenary is now in full flow. It’s all there, the centenary books, the school trips to the battle fields, the Imperial War Museum exhibitions, and right on cue, the replay of the England-Germany 1914 Christmas truce football match. And guess who has been drafted in to head up the England team – no surprises, it’s the recently retired David Beckham. All this would not be quite so stomach-churning if we had genuinely learnt anything from that grotesque imperial slaughter in which an entire generation of young German, Russian, English and French men saw their foolish dreams buried knee deep in imperialist mud and blood. No, it seems we have learnt nothing as a new generation of largely unemployed working class men from England and America charge off around the globe naively doing the dirty work for Uncle Sam and his faithful neo-colonial British lap dog. And so ideologically numbed are these young men and their families that they actually imagine that they are ‘heroes’. They are not. They are little more than mindless mercenaries doing the bidding for US imperialism. 

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Alex Ferguson: From Govan to Global Brand

It’s hard for the hand not to tremble when typing out the statistics – thirteen titles in twenty seven years. A staggering forty-nine trophies in a blisteringly successful career. Simply staying in the job for that period in a sport so unforgivingly turbulent is glory enough. But to ratchet up the silverware year after year at national and international level while never losing sight of the need to build and rebuild puts Ferguson in a rarefied world of his own. From hard living, street fighting Govan to managing a highly successful global brand, while still retaining something of his working class, socialist credentials, despite the racehorses and real estate, is achievement indeed. Alex Ferguson surely deserves all the superlatives that have been heading his way this week and yet there are things that need to be said. Admittedly, it feels almost gratuitously blasphemous to raise negatives at a moment like this, but equally, to remain silent could itself be considered a betrayal of the Ferguson way.

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New Statesman: What Makes Us Human

Ah yes, now that is a question; what makes us human and what indeed separates from the wild beasts in the jungle? The New Statesman has taken a breather from its usual preoccupations and has asked itself, its readers and a few well known personalities to consider that very question and congratulations to it for doing so. The front cover caught my attention so, without hesitation I got myself a copy. It turns out it is to be an on-going series, starting with Jonathan Sacks – Chief Rabbi and general purveyor of sickly-sweet home spun morality. Well, you have to start somewhere I suppose, and to be fair to the old Sacks, Judaism has been around for a fair old time so I guess he has as much right to go first as anyone.

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The Madness of George Monbiot

George Monbiot is a fine and courageous journalist. One of the finest in the land. He has been at the cutting edge of progressive thought both domestically and internationally for many years. He has been prepared to take on vested interests and to challenge the conservative status quo. On environmental and social justice issues he has few equals. Yet, if we are to go by his latest offering in The Guardian 2/4/13, we can detect a certain madness creeping into his once acute mind. It’s the same madness that regularly blights the thoughts of Ed Milliband, Ed Balls and Will Hutton. A madness that allows commentators and politicians to sincerely believe there is a national solution to Britain’s economic problems.

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Adbusters UK March/April 2013

Another cracking edition of this relentlessly anti-capitalist journal. The articles present a sparklingly refreshing anarchic narrative, supplemented as usual with powerfully unnerving graphics that get to the very heart of our quite insane world. A world where growth invariably means the never-ending purchase of capitalism’s alienating gadgets and potions all designed, so the advertising corporations strive to convince us, to make us live more prosperous, happier and longer lives. Deep down we know that it is all an elaborate, gigantic scam but the advertising is so all pervasive, that capitalism’s absurd construct becomes the accepted ‘normal’. The Adbusters team dares to imagine a different normal and that, in this world of suffocating capitalist conformity, is a wonderfully subversive thing to do.  

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