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Archive for June 2009

On The Rise Of Far-Right Parties In Europe

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Recently I have been a panelist on TV talk-show “Forum”, presented by Andrew Gilligan on PressTV. I have been invited as London Media Officer for Silvio Berlusconi’s party, “The People of Freedom”.

One of the other panelists was Mary Honeyball MEP (Lab). The below is my reply to her blog “The Lure of the Bright Lights“:

One of the points made during the programme is that the far-rightists take advantage of the divisions among mainstream political parties. I am afraid you are perpetuating those divisions. I can assure you that Silvio Berlusconi’s party, “The People of Freedom” (”Popolo della Liberta’”) is on your “same side regarding the far right”.

In fact, there is no Party in the Italian governing coalition that could be described as belonging to the “far right” by any stretch of the imagination.

We, just like the European People’s Party as a whole, have the fight against all forms of fascism of old and new as one of our foundation stones. And let me be proud of the fact that throughout all recent elections all Italian far-rightists have been losing voters to the point of effectively disappearing from the political spectrum.

Why are things looking different in the UK? This is not something one can answer in a blog’s comment area. Because it takes time to analyse, then to understand what is peculiar about British politics and society. Such a strong and long-standing Parliamentary Democracy as yours, truly the envy of the world, still manages to inspire the rise of absolutely nasty and repugnant parties like the BNP. Why?

Likewise, Europe is a big place, and there is no chance to fight back at the ugly racist and neo-nazi ideas being banded around without having a good look at the peculiarities of each country’s political system and society.

I therefore urge you and everybody else interested in European politics to make the effort to understand the particular circumstances that regard each country. I know it is a huge effort, there’s now 27 of them.

But the last thing we should be doing is mindlessly sticking labels around. By making sweeping statements, sometimes based on what is summarily reported in the media by distracted journalists perhaps with a particular précis to follow, the risk is to create artificial divisions among what is an overwhelmingly anti-fascist electorate, effectively presenting tens of millions with the choice between feeling disenfranchised, and voting for the racists.

ps personally, I do not think there is anything to discuss with the BNP’s representatives. I am sure you will agree that it is impossible to change the mind of a Holocaust denialist on any subject. If I were a British politician, what I would be more interested into would be to share a platform with BNP voters. It is them, the ones we should all be working to welcome back to our world.

Written by omnologos

2009/Jun/29 at 22:46:32

Italy Explained: Berlusconi, The Northern League And A Working Class That Votes Centre-right

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The extraordinarily lucid analysis below is my translation of an article published by “Notizie Radicali”, the online newletter of the Italian Radicals, a political party currently associated to the centre-left Democratic Party.

The original publication date was 4 May 2009. Little has changed since then, despite all the Berlusconi sex scandals. The results of local and European elections in June 2009 have seen a further erosion on the centre-left of the Italian political spectrum.

Probably, the best thing the Democratic Party could do at the moment would be to dissolve itself and give somebody, anybody the chance to start anew.

(the text between square brackets is all mine)

When the Working Class Votes Centre-Right
by Valter Vecellio

The People of Freedom (PDL) at more than 50 percent. The Democratic Party (PD) at around 26 percent. The data from the Ipsos-“Sole 24 Ore” opinion poll is not news in itself, rather a further confirmation of what was already common knowledge.

Among professionals and the self-employed the coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi reaches a “People’s Republic”‘s majority, around the 70 per cent. But the actual “bleeding wound” for the PD concerns that section of the electorate traditionally linked to left, the workers. Among them, consensus for the governing coalition of Northern League (Lega Nord) and PDL exceeds 43 per cent. The PD appears stuck at much more modest 22.4 percent.

The Democratic Party certainly is paying for the competition with Antonio di Pietro’s Italy of Values (IdV). The IdV has been widening its base by leveraging on demagoguery and low-level “qualunquismo” [the mindset of being unable to tell one established party from another].

PD is also paying for competition from its left, from parties such as Communist Refoundation, the Italian Communists [several of them], the Greens, the Socialists. Although those will be unable to cross the 4 percent threshold for being represented at the European Parliament, they will all be eroding valuable points of consensus and percentage from the PD.

Nevertheless, the fact that Berlusconi has managed to wrestle consensus from the centre-left is beyond dispute. A trend in this direction was already clear after the general elections of April 2008. In fact, surprising and inconvenient truths can be found in a very useful report, “Winners and losers in the elections of 2008” published by “Itanes” (Italian Election Studies), a research group started in the early 90s by the Cattaneo Institute in Bologna and guided by a “student” of Giovanni Sartori, Professor Giacomo Sani.

Those are surprising and inconvenient truths, of course, for the losers, not for the winners. According to the report, the PD has paid a combined effect: on the one hand the phenomenon scholars call “selective abstention”, affecting PD voters much more than PDL ones. On the other hand, there has been a real-and-present migration of support.

To put it simply: for every three PD voters of the past, one decided not to vote in the general elections of 2008, and one voted for the opposing coalition.

The centre-left as a whole“, we read, “suffers from the flows of mobilization and demobilization a loss of around 4 per cent of the electorate .. . whilst the PD sees the disappearance of the votes of around 10 percent of those who had chosen the Olive Tree coalition in 2006, in favour of parties of the centre-right.”

The end result is that nowadays, the traditional centre-left electoral base has more overall confidence in the governing by Berlusconi than in the opposition by the PD. But we can go beyond that, by reading a well-researched book “Padanian Breed” by Adalberto Signore and Alessandro Trocino.

It is a book that chronicles twenty-five years of Umberto Bossi’s Lega Nord, and it is not lacking in surprises: despite some “folksy” and “noisy” [i.e. bordering on the loony] public statements by Lega Nord leaders, the authors tell of a a political party made up of activists running local public Offices to the voters’ appreciation, regardless of the social group to which the voters belong.

In Lombardy or Piedmont, it is nowadays no longer considered odd to find members of the communist-leaning workers’ trade union CGIL also belonging to Lega Nord and/or having no qualms to vote for centre-right candidates.

At present, what is new is that how the above phenomenon has become consolidated and disseminated. An entire section of the Italian society doesn’t vote to the left any longer, tired of in-fighting, demagoguery, and inconclusive statements of intent. It is a situation exposed to little or no avail by those in the PD nearer to the electorate, for example the Mayors of Turin Sergio Chiamparino, and of Venice Massimo Cacciari.

Like the mythical Cassandra, nobody listens to them speaking the truth: instead Veltroni, assisted by a strategist of no strategy called Goffredo Bettini, collected a string of ever bitterer defeats, before resigning. Now we have Dario Franceschini seeking to unite the pieces of a vase broken in a thousand pieces. The outcome of all those efforts is reflected in the results of the Ipsos-“Sole 24 Ore” survey: bitter results, for the PD, but also a confirmation of a situation whose cause is to be found in the PD itself.

As things stand, the PD can only wait for its final decay. Its leaders have done their utmost to reach that goal, and now they are reaping what they have sown.

Written by omnologos

2009/Jun/28 at 11:20:14

Enough With Anti-Iran Propaganda!

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In the UK, and in Italy, and I am sure in the USA as well for what I can read on the International Herald Tribune, we are being bombarded by anti-Iran propaganda. There is no attempt at explaining, let alone understanding the complexities of the present situation, and one side is depicted as “good”, the other as “bad”.

Italian daily “Corriere della Sera”‘s home page a couple of days ago was literally drooling at the rumors of a “lake of blood” in front of the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament. Why? Because that would finally seal the concept of a violent, evil regime. Trouble is, there is an unfortunate number of dead but it has nothing to do with what you would expect from a violent crackdown by armed thugs and police firing live round on the crowd.

President Ahmadinejad’s fight against corruption is never mentioned, just as only few will have noticed that the opposition’s eminence grise is Ayatollah Rafsanjani, former President himself and whose sons appears to have “magically” become the richest people in Iran during that tenure.

What is requested by the opposition is never explained either. What has apparatchik Mousavi got to do with people asking to be freed from the long hands of the Moral Police, is left to the reader’s imagination. Supreme Leader Khamenei is belittled for having himself allied with Ahmadinejad and the Veterans of the Revolution.

What do we read instead in Western newspapers, but absurdist analyses showing very little respect for Muslimhood, let alone the Islamic Republic of Iran? (I’ll put a link about that soon…)

In this atmosphere it is clear that too many powerful, and truly evil forces, in Iran, in the USA, in the UK, in the Arab world and in Israel have a heavy interest in keeping Iran as a trouble spot and impeding a geostrategically completely natural alliance with the United States itself.

There isn’t much a person, or even a group of people can do. But denouncing the propaganda is one possibility.

Written by omnologos

2009/Jun/26 at 08:05:38

Posted in America, Iran

Tagged with , , , ,

Not All Civilians Are Born Equal

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Reuters: “Obama condemns Iran crackdown on protests” Tue Jun 23, 2009 12:45pm EDT

“we deplore violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place,” [Obama] said

BBC: “‘Dozens dead’ in US drone strike” Page last updated at 12:22 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 13:22 UK

There have been more than 35 US strikes since last August – killing over 340 people – and most have landed in the North and South Waziristan tribal regions

Written by omnologos

2009/Jun/24 at 21:35:15

Posted in Iran, War

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The United States Of Larger-Than-Life Media Savviness

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The Greatest

The Greatest

The Great Communicator

The Great Communicator

The Greatest Communicator

The Greatest Communicator

The...Oops!

Oops!

Written by omnologos

2009/Jun/17 at 06:59:39

Text Of Complaint To The BBC About Prepackaged Militant AGW “News”

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(AGW: Anthropogenic global warming)

The following is the text of the complaint I have submitted via the BBC Complaints website. For a history of the BBC Australian Climate demonstrations imbroglio, follow this link:

Phil Mercer’s article about the Australian “National Climate Emergency Rallies” is much less likely to be about informing people than an advocacy piece for the fight against anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Thereby it contravenes the BBC’s stated values of being “independent, impartial and honest”.

It is not independent or impartial because Mr Mercer has published his article before being able to check its truthfulness in full, making a guess on the number of marchers based on what the organizers expected.

It is not honest because it is presented as “news” when it has clearly been pre-packaged long before anything had actually happened, with information that could not have been confirmed at the time (please note that as of now Reuters still talks of hundreds not thousands of marchers).

There is nothing in Mr Mercer’s article that could not have been written beforehand. I understand it could be standard journalistic practice, however I do not understand why the BBC would have had to rush forward without fact-checking. Given the absence of any picture of marchers in Mr Mercer’s article, one is left wondering if he has actually seen any National Climate Emergency Rally at all.

As a further note against the BBC’s impartiality on the topic of AGW in this particular circumstance, only the BBC and a few local media outlets have shown any interest in the “National Climate Emergency Rallies”. And all newsmedia including those from Australia have spoken about the marches several hours after Mr Mercer. Please note that I am not claiming the BBC reported manufactured news. That would have been fraud.

Instead, I am asking on what basis did the BBC found it necessary to rush this kind of news first, and without having had the time to check the contents of the article. That is not fraud. That is bias. And as a TV licence fee payer I have the right to question why my money would have to be spent in AGW advocacy, in direct contrast with the BBC’s own values.

If AGW is so important to you why don’t you rewrite your values accordingly?

Written by omnologos

2009/Jun/15 at 21:57:14

Iran’s Elections: Looking Through The Fogs Of Propaganda

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Has President Ahmadinejad truly and fairly been re-elected? Will the violence in Tehran continue in the next days?

Unfortunately, there is no way to know. In-between the average Western-based person and Truth there are the Iranian Electoral Commission, the Iranian Interior Ministry, the Iranian Government, Iranian newsmedia and Propaganda, Western newsmedia and Propaganda, and Western Governments.

Chances are, whatever we read and see, including live TV and apparently evident pictures, will be manipulated to the extreme.

Let’s try to list instead whatever we can be sure about. First of all: there is too much of Iranian democracy at stake for the election to end up been seen in Iran itself as a “charade”. After a TV debate and photographs of the Supreme Leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei coming out of a mosque after having casted his vote like any other citizen, nobody can expect anything but a victory recognized by the vast majority of Iran to be enough for the Iranian society itself.

Cynically, one could say that either you have a democracy, or you do not. Any “hardliner” really in the business of blatantly manipulating the election, would have made a mockery of Ahmadinejad’s campaign and Khamenei’s voting effort.

If they have some kind of dictatorship in mind they better go for it, or face the consequences. For Khamenei, and even more for Ahmadinejad, it’s like facing the choice between getting rid of democracy as such, or look like buffoons

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In fact, if things stand as they appear at this very moment, with a contested re-election for President Ahmadinejad, clashes in the streets, and arrests of members of the opposition, the long-term loser will be Ahmadinejad himself, no longer able to interact with the outside world as a legitimate leader of Iran. A new attempt at a Columbia University debate would be met with derision if not much worse.

Another obvious point concerns foreign interference. So far the barrage of news from Iran have been answered with anodyne comments from the Obama Administration and that is the way it should be.

Like in the Ukraine, if a sizable number of Iranians truly believe the elections have been stolen, it can only be up to them to claim their Nation back. For example if Ahmadinejad’s rival Mir Hossein Mousavi finds himself unprepared in the fact of the current situation, well, it’s better if he stays away from any position of power.

It’s just impossible from anybody to understand all the details from the outside.

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Nobody has died so far. That can only be a good thing.

Written by omnologos

2009/Jun/13 at 22:45:38

Posted in Democracy, Iran, Politics

Tagged with , ,