Sunday, February 18, 2018

On the neoliberal press

The Guardian has become quite scarily neoliberal. It's nothing much more than a mouthpiece for Israeli-US policy in the Middle East. Which wouldn't be such a bad thing if US policy wasn't so disastrous in that area.

Here's one example from the article I've linked to:

"Its former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, permanently upped the ante in 2005 when he allegedly called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”. His exact words are disputed, but the sentiment behind them has not been convincingly repudiatedby Tehran. Many Israelis remain convinced that Iran poses an existential threat."

This just isn't true but it's illustrative of how propaganda works. Ahmadinejad actually wasn't rabble rousing so much as waxing philosophical. He said that when contemplating Israel, one should remember that every nation is transient. In times to come, Israel would have disappeared, removed from the map like the Roman Empire. This is rather different from "calling for" its extirpation. Yes, of course, he delighted in Israel's eventual destruction, but he wasn't suggesting anyone do it. And of course Ahmedinajad didn't "up the ante". The US-Israeli security establishment and its mouthpieces in the press did so, by misrepresenting him. Not that Ahmedinajad did not have plenty of antisemitic things to say when he wanted to whip up a crowd. He did.

Ahmedinajad's words are not "disputed". They were actually very clearly and accurately reported (I believe they were actually recorded, which is how they became broadcast in the US). There's no dispute at all at what he said. Of course, he did say it in Farsi, which means there are issues of interpretation. And it's not true that Iran has not "convincingly repudiated" his words. They are faced with a problem. They cannot "repudiate" what he actually said because it's simply a philosophical musing of no real great import. And they cannot "repudiate" what Tisdall says he said because he didn't say it.

They have in fact tried both. They have made it clear that the whole "wipe Israel off the map" bullshit is a mistranslation. And they've said that they don't call for it in any case. Of course they'd like Israel not to be there. They'd like it gone. Just as Americans quite often call for regime change in Iran. But they do not call for anyone to make it so.

However, the point is, Tisdall can repeat this as fact. It is entrenched in the discourse about Iran. Many Israelis -- and many Westerners -- do believe Iran poses an existential threat to Israel. Close analysis of what Iran actually does in the Middle East will show that it doesn't really pose any threat of any kind to Israel. But most people don't have the time or capability for "close analysis". They can only give things passing notice and rely on "thought leaders" to tell them what the story is. Sadly, those "thought leaders" are all too often hacks such as Tisdall.

Well, what does it matter what some guy on the Guardian says? The problem here is that individual voices may not seem loud but they reinforce each other. Each voice echoes the others and builds a consensus. So the truth is now that Ahmedinajad might just as well have called for the destruction of Israel, because not only can Tisdall repeat that as though it were true but policy is built on that "truth". And worst of all, US leaders, either dilettante neoliberals such as Obama or lazy corpulent far right hacks such as Trump, begin from the consensus. In the case of Obama, I imagine he did know perfectly well what the truth was, but it's not the job of a neoliberal to challenge a consensus that supports his goals. This is something liberals might reflect on when they think about "progressive" leaders: someone who reflects back to you things you say is not necessarily challenging the status quo, particularly if what you say is no longer, or has never been, controversial.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Two sides

There are two sides to every story.

I am used to giving mine, only mine. And it's not even a story because I never really feel like expressing anything but pieces of it and not those few that are pretty either. And what is my story anyway? Nothing special.

I remember S wanted us to have a joint blog. Because that was the story we had together. Just a lot of words. But she thought it was romantic, innately beautiful and we should share that. I couldn't understand why she would want to make something private public.

But what a silly thing to think. Since that is what a blog like mine is. It wasn't always. It wasn't always the late-night phone call from someone you kind of worry about but not really.

I think the thing was, if I tell you what I feel, well, that's up to me. I know you can judge me for it. I wouldn't write it if I didn't accept that.

But if you tell me what you feel, it's not up to me to share that.

And that does sometimes seem unkind because anyone else's "side" is never any more than what I think about what I think they feel. It's never as rich to me, or to you, as what I feel. It's always filtered through my beliefs, my ideas.

And I do know that anyone who does see it filters it back through their own beliefs, their own ideas, and makes of it what fits in their picture. They'll never match. Even we ourselves filter our own selves back to ourselves, using the mesh of our view of ourselves to make our own expression of ourselves fit our own pictures.

And whatever S felt about the possibilities of this medium, it's just the empty noise of a note in a bottle, a message on your voicemail not a conversation. It does not mean anything. Sometimes, someone will have expressed anger to me that I only reflected one facet of a thing, or was wrong, or expressed only one aspect when there were more.

And I said, well, I write it for myself. It's like a sacred dance to expiate demons. You don't praise your god when you're killing the devil.

***

So when I think about her, I don't, as it happens, spend much of that thought on what's bad about her. I've had to try to make sense of things because chaos is so uncomfortable. I did leave Australia. It was humbling. I had failed everyone who matters to me in my life. Including her. She had enough unhappiness in her life, regardless who caused it. I didn't want to add to that.

Because I loved her. She is so engaging, funny, clever. When I think about her, I think about the things that created that love because they didn't vanish. There's no litany of complaints and fights. I expect most people have had relationships that broke down in rancour. That's relatively easy to cope with. You grow sour and the more anger you and they express, the more reason you have for that sourness. It's so much harder when it's not something you can understand.

I think about her dancing, laughing, joking. I think about the bobble of her head. I think about a world that is too private to say anything about, after all, and perhaps that is the problem. You cannot talk about love because so much of it is only yours. And even I have limits.

***

And I do think about what justice there is, because that is who I am. I think about what is wrong with me and what I can do about it. Sometimes I wish I could say, I have thought about what you didn't like, Ally, and this is what I've done. (And I don't write about it here because as far as I know, she doesn't want anything to do with me and that extends to reading this. But that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. What you say about something isn't necessarily all you think about it. When I cry because talking to Miggins hurts, part of why it hurts is that I failed her, that I am no good for her, that I want to fix that, that I am ashamed of it, that I do love her, that I love her mum, that I feel such great sadness that I lost the chance to build something for her with her mum, that I'm not very bright when it comes to fixing things and don't really know how I can get back to Brisbane so I can be part of her life, and then I think what good can I be in her life in her anyway and that is all like a merry-go-round -- and this is only five minutes, I spend much more time thinking about the future, what I can do, my plans and so on -- I don't write any of that here because if you care, I already tell you about it elsewhere.)

***

I'm not sure when it was, but a couple of months before Miggins was born seems about right, we went to Cleveland Point. I remember a sunny day but of course I would, it's so often sunny in Brisbane. We had chips out near the point. It seems like the end of the world, almost.

We talked in the sunshine. We did not have a harsh word, just chatted.

That's what I remember.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Today, every day, never

Great day. Started with a chat with my youngest daughter, who was trapped in her high chair, crying pitifully because she was forced to stay in one place and "talk" to a tiny man in a telephone. Still, it's an improvement on last time, when she waved goodbye to begin with and then cried inconsolably when I didn't actually go away. Facebook wished me a happy Valentine's, which made me want to deactivate my account and Plentyoffish showed me fresh matches, who will ignore me.

 And I sit here on a rainy winter's day because I was crippled with debt and ill health and had to beg my little sister for somewhere to live because my soulmate decided to pretend I was a bad person because I lost my job and couldn't support her dream but the government could so long as she didn't have any inconvenient husbands kicking around. And now I can't go back and fix at least those parts of my life open to being fixed because I spend half my wages -- barely more than the minimum -- on servicing the debts she helped run up and paying what I can to help support my children. Who don't want anything to do with me.

 So here's my self-pitying contribution to the day's commerce, which pretty much no one will read and absolutely no one will care. Why should they? Even I fucking hate me and they say love begins with yourself. Still, I have at least done what I can to begin to crawl back up the slippery slope again. I am well (ish) and I am at least paying the debts back and didn't renege. And I haven't quite given in yet. So there's that.