2017 11 – Newsnotes

Notes On The News

by Gwydion M Williams

‘Behind every Great Man there’s a Great Ape – Harvey Weinstein

The Weinstein scandal may have begun as the Establishment throwing one of its own to the wolves.  But now many more are emboldened to speak out.

As we long suspected, it’s not unusual:

“Sir Tom Jones has said the abuse and harassment alleged to have taken place in Hollywood is also widespread in the music industry.

“The singer was discussing the allegations surrounding Harvey Weinstein…

“‘Things have always happened in the music industry as well,’ he said.

“Asked… whether it was something he’d experienced, Sir Tom replied: ‘Yes.  At the beginning, yes.

“‘There were a few things like that.  But you avoid it.  You just walk out… But what’s tried on women is tried on men as well.’”[A]

Behind every Great Man there’s a Great Ape.  Where apes and monkeys live as groups, the top male claims all of the females.  Males are much bigger than females, mostly to help them fight other males.  Only where the two sexes form pairs are they much the same size.

Humans are the grand exception.  We live in huge social gatherings, whereas pair-bonded apes live well away from others of their species.  The Top Male has extra women, but most women are pair-bonded and the Top Male mostly respects this.  (Though women until recently had little choice about who they were pair-bonded to.)

Cinema, theatre, music and fashion are exceptions.  Many people seek entry: sex is one way in.  This helps sexual bullying and rape become acceptable.  Women can’t easily prove that they hadn’t originally consented.

One problem is the void after Christian Morality was deservedly undermined.  1960s radicalism talked loosely of freedom, freedom without limits.  Then when some of the mature Baby Boomers were taken into existing power structures, it was convenient to cast fog and darkness on awkward exceptions to ‘Everybody Free’.

The Sexual Revolution unexpectedly extended its boundaries to include Gay Marriage.  Someone who’d suggested in 1965 that the Irish Republic would within 50 years vote 2-to-1 to legalise it would have been treated as insane.  But there was a fierce rejection of Under-Age Sex.  Milder but definite rejection of polygamy, bestiality and incest.

I’m not saying that the things forbidden should be allowed.  I’m saying that humans always operate within areas of freedom.  Young people in the tricky process of metamorphosing from children to adults definitely do need protection and care: a lot more than they are currently getting.  The rest is about what sort of society we want to live in.

The trick used by the now-powerful elite of Baby Boomers was to think ‘anything I don’t like, isn’t freedom’.  This lets you still defy boundaries that the society recognises but that you wish to overthrow.  That was the norm for gays and lesbians, socially confined even when not criminalised.  (Lesbianism was never illegal in Britain, but lesbians had to stay obscure until the 1960s.)

Heterosexual sex before marriage and outside of marriage was a wider, deeper and more significant change: one that challenged much more of the social order.

Not acknowledging the shifting limits on Freedom was convenient for the now-powerful elite of Baby Boomers who had been taken into the Establishment.  It made it easy to deregulate business and finance: Feed-the-Rich economics.  It helped disempower the majority, hiding from them their power to define and redefine what was or was not Freedom.

That sex must always be consensual ought to be the most solid and unalterable principle.  But if the rule you are using is ‘anything I don’t like, isn’t freedom’, it becomes much easier to cheat.  To bully and to rape.  To say ‘I should be able to do it my way’.  Which is why some clear thinking is needed.

 

‘Pulp Fiction’ Good, ‘Pulp Facts’ Bad

My first question when the scandal broke was ‘who the hell is Harvey Weinstein?’  Most of us know the stars and sometimes the directors.  Producers are needed to raise vast amounts of money that may well be lost completely in an unpredictable business.  They don’t have huge public profiles, which must contribute to nasty attitudes.  They have power over people who are much more famous than they are.  So who is this man that everyone now hates?

“Harvey Weinstein CBE is an American film producer and former film studio executive.  He and his brother Bob Weinstein co-founded Miramax, which produced several popular independent films including Pulp Fiction, Clerks, The Crying Game, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape.”[B]

“[Pulp Fiction] features an ironic combination of humor and strong violence.  Its script was reportedly turned down by Columbia TriStar as ‘too demented’.  Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein was instantly enthralled with it, however, and the film became the first that Miramax fully financed.”[C]

I found Pulp Fiction gifted but repellent.  Treating vicious gangsterism as if it were normality.  Adding demented quotes from the Bible.  A mainstream US cultural fantasy in the New Right era, with its debased version of Classical Liberalism.  The world is a lawless snake-pit of competing individualists.  You just play and you don’t make the rules.

I’ve not seen the other three films.  Clerks and Sex, Lies, and Videotape sound just as bad.  The Crying Game features a transsexual mistaken for a woman, making it standard aggression to normalise the latest trends in liberalism.

Pulp Fiction does not glorify or excuse rape – that has long been unacceptable.  That famous 1943 film The Outlaw had a romanticised Billy the Kid rape Jane Russell’s character: she accepts this and falls in love with him.[D]  Once common in films, but after a lot of protests it was pushed out of the mainstream.  Driven underground, like overt White Racism.

Some people try to excuse Weinstein’s behaviour as ‘sex addiction’?  Almost all of us would say he could have as much sex as he was offered or could buy.  But not bully or use force to get sex from some particular person he fancied.

‘Sex addiction’ excuses the misbehaviour of the powerful.  We do not recognise Car-stealing Syndrome or Pickpocketing Syndrome.  The left-liberal sometimes find excuses, but it has been justly ridiculed by saying the next step would be ‘my brain made me do it’.

It has also been said the US system of elected District Attorneys helped protect Weinstein and similar rich offenders.[E]  But similar things happen when the Establishment control it all: they protect their own.

Myself, I feel sympathy for needy people who do victimless crimes, mostly stealing food.  But most crime is not victimless.  Most criminals are not needy or poor.  And it is no way to run a society.

 

Trump, a White Racist Like His Daddy Was

White racism and the acceptability of raping ‘loose women’ are among the things driven underground in Britain and the USA.  Covertly believed by some right-wingers.  Cynically exploited by others.

Both British Tories and US Republicans tap into racist feelings while avoiding being overtly racist.  Allowing non-white immigration while denouncing it.  What they really believe is anyone’s guess.

(Try imagining what you’d do if you had the cynical intention of getting racist votes without alienating too many non-racist voters.  Then try finding a difference between this and actual centre-right politics.  Any suggestions?)

Labour MP Frank Field tells us that Harold Wilson thought politics was about being able to ride two horses at once.  ‘If you can’t do that you shouldn’t be in the political circus.’[F]  Labour has ‘boxed clever’ on Brexit, but has always been the party of clear anti-racism.  Likewise Democrats in the USA abandoned their traditional Southern Racist voters and the Republicans from Nixon onward gave them a home.  Riding two horses quite nicely before Donald Trump took a hand.

Trump is a one-horse thinker, as subtle as a bulldozer.  He probably privately cherishes the fading values of White Racism, once the core of US identity.  Hence his reaction to black players showing reservations about the Nation Anthem in games of American Football.[G]  A horribly insensitive phone-call to the widow of an African-American soldier killed in one of the USA’s ‘special operations’, saying “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.[H]  And a lack of concern for Puerto Rico, still suffering from hurricanes boosted by the Global Warming that Trump denies.

051 USA polarisedIt is not just a lack of positive aid: Puerto Rico is hampered by a long-standing legal oddity: “Getting goods from the US mainland to Puerto Rico is much more expensive than sending them to Texas or even to other Caribbean islands as a result of a century-old man-made disaster that’s been crippling the island’s economy for a long time.

“Meet the Jones Act, an obscure 1920 regulation that requires that goods shipped from one American port to another be transported on a ship that is American-built, American-owned, and crewed by US citizens or permanent residents.

“For most Americans, this isn’t a big deal — it enriches a small number of American shipowners while introducing some weird distortions into the overall pattern of economic activity in the United States.

“For the residents of the island of Puerto Rico, though, the Jones Act is huge.  Basic shipments of goods from the island to the US mainland, and vice versa, must be conducted via expensive protected ships rather than exposing them to global competition.  That makes everything Puerto Ricans buy unnecessarily expensive relative to goods purchased on either the US mainland or other Caribbean islands, and drives up the cost of living on the island overall.”[I]

“While President Trump announced Sept. 28 that he was suspending the Jones Act for Puerto Rico for 10 days as an emergency measure, that period ended Sunday and now the Jones Act is back in force for the island.”[J]

‘Free Trade’ has never been a real belief among politicians with the power to do something about it.  Politicians would face hostile feedback from the rich if they were more honest.  But the neglect of Puerto Rico is bizarre.  Legally part of the USA, but not treated as such.

There is a logic to it.  Trump fights an end-game for principles he won’t openly voice.  And it’s not hopeless: he has almost as many people enthusiastic for him as bitterly against him.

Donald’s father Fred was a business genius.  He made the fortune that Donald inherited and may have diminished.  Also an open White Racist and activist: “On Memorial Day in 1927, the Ku Klux Klan marched in Queens to protest that ‘Native-born Protestant Americans’ were being ‘assaulted by Roman Catholic police of New York City’.  Fred Trump was one of seven men who were arrested that day ‘on a charge of refusing to disperse from a parade when ordered to do so.’”[K]

The empty liberalism of people like the Clintons has trashed the traditional US sense of community that was also all-white and male dominated.  It tends towards ‘Asocialism’.

It has been justly said, ‘If everyone is my brother then no one is my brother’.

Which makes no allowance for women: Comrades does that.  Socialism can harmonise where both covert white racism and asocial liberalism have failed.

 

Private Finance – a Lousy Legacy

“A Labour government will end the private finance initiative (PFI) ‘scandal,’ bringing all contracts and workers back into the public sector, John McDonnell announced yesterday.

“The shadow chancellor tore into deals that would see nearly £200 billion of taxpayers’ money siphoned to private companies over the coming decades…

“PFI was introduced by Tory prime minister John Major in 1992 as a way of using private cash to fund public infrastructure projects.

“Use of the schemes accelerated under former Labour PMs Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as they used PFI to fund improvements and new buildings in schools and the NHS, keeping the debt off the national books.

“But the deals proved costly and inefficient and Britain’s total PFI debt is now £300bn for projects worth just £55bn, meaning almost £250bn of profits has gone straight into the pockets of privateers.

“It would have been far cheaper to raise the money needed by issuing bonds, on which Britain has for years had to pay extremely low interest rates.

“Mr McDonnell told conference that an eye-watering £831 million in profit has been taken from the NHS in the last six years.

“A Labour government would develop alternative public-sector models for funding infrastructure, with the aim of saving taxpayers’ money and improving services and working conditions.

“Mr McDonnell told delegates that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear that never again would taxpayers money be used to subsidise shareholders’ profits, “often based in offshore tax havens.”

“He called on the government to take immediate steps to ensure companies based in tax havens can’t own shares in PFI companies and hide their profits from HMRC.”[L]

 

India – Illiberal Democracy

“US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the US wants to deepen co-operation with India in the face of growing Chinese influence in Asia.

“He described India as a ‘partner’ in a ‘strategic relationship’, adding the US would ‘never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society’.

“He said Beijing sometimes acted outside international conventions, citing the South China Sea dispute as an example.”[M]

China has an excellent claim to those islands, and refused to let an international agency barge into the issue without real authority.

China has settled all of its other border issues, except with Japan and India.  It would probably accept the current lines of control as final.  India will not drop its claim to the Aksai Chin, uninhabitable desert useful only for a Chinese road.  Claims it as part of Kashmir, repeatedly refused the right of self-determination.

To most people’s embarrassment, a leading member of India’s ruling party has called for the demolition of the Taj Mahal.  Built by India’s Muslim Moghul dynasty, whom he calls traitors.[N]

Indian economic policy disappoints the beleaguered New Right.  The BBC tells India that any apparent success is a fluke.  That they should immediately switch to policies that alienated Russia in the 1990s and now are visibly failing in the West:

“Is Mr Modi beginning to lose his mojo?  Three years ago, when he won his landslide, he promised reforms and jobs.  But under his leadership – and at a time when the world economy appears to be taking off – India is looking like a sorry outlier, battling an economic slowdown and a jobs crisis.

“Banks are struggling with mountains of bad loans, which in turn has choked credit and hurt domestic investment.”[O]

 

Snippets

UNESCO Punished

“United States withdraws from UN cultural agency Unesco”.[P]  That was a recent Irish Times headline

British media were surprisingly quite about the matter.  Which has a history:

“After withdrawing from UNESCO in 1984, the United States rejoined in 2002…

“On 12 October 2017, the United States notified UNESCO that it will again withdraw from the organization on 31 December 2018 and will seek to establish a permanent observer mission beginning in 2019.  The Department of State cited ‘mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.’”[Q]

Also Trump is a vulgarian who hates the idea of Public Service.  Very common in the USA.

***

China Deciding

Amazingly enough, most Chinese are not eager to embrace all aspects of current Western culture.  They took in plenty in the 1980s.  But in the Nineteen-Nineties and Twenty-Zeros, they saw the West display a mix of greed, malice and incompetence in its efforts to impose its values globally.  A system that was anyway coming apart, with drastic economic failure from 2008.

Chinese Communism follows the normal Leninist pattern of a Party Congress every five years, to make the big decisions.  This time it confirmed President Xi’s power and his scorn for Western wishes.  Officially recognised his ‘Thoughts’.  Failed to designate a probable successor in the way Xi himself was designated in 2007.[R]

What else?  I will say more next month.  I might post sooner on my blog, https://gwydionmw.quora.com/[This has actually been delayed.  I found I had a lot more to say.  A long article in Problems is likely to appear June-July 2018.]

***

California Burning

“Much of California is naturally hot, dry, and prone to fires for parts of the year.  But the state’s population is growing, leading to a significant overlap between the areas of high fire risk and areas with a growing population density…

“There are some unique weather conditions that are driving the exceptionally swift California fires, like strong winds and high temperatures. But long-term trends linked to global warming also exacerbated this year’s fire season, not just in California but in other states too.”[S]

And in Portugal.  Red skies seen in parts of Britain with Hurricane Ophelia comes in part from Portuguese wildfires.  They too are more frequent as the world warms.052 Californian fires to 2017

***

Secession – Criminal Unless It Wins a War

The United Nations Charter mentions both Secession and Territorial Integrity as rights.  Does not say what should happen if they clash.  But many members have minorities that might want to secede.  Territorial Integrity has always come first.

Early members include the British Empire and other noted Imperialists.  France was a Permanent Member of the Security Council, and helped by the USA to get back control of Indochina.  Likewise the Dutch in Indonesia.

Anti-Imperialists created a United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  Helped free non-white colonies from European empires.  And behaved inconsistently, demanding that Argentina get the Falkland Islands, a purely British settlement on land with no original inhabitants.  Awarded half of Papua New Guinea to the entirely alien peoples of Indonesia.  The other half was treated with untypical tolerance by Australia and is now a sovereign state.  It includes Bougainville, which would more naturally belong with the Solomon Islands.  Accidental colonial boundaries are mostly respected, to keep peace.

Both the Iraqi Kurds and the Catalans claimed a right to self-determination.  Sadly, international law does not recognise or uphold it.  Catalans are unlikely to start a war.  Kurds do not seem strong enough or united enough to win one.

***

Websites

Previous Newsnotes can be found at the Labour Affairs website, https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/past-issues/.  And at my own website, https://longrevolution.wordpress.com/newsnotes-historic/.  Blog at https://gwydionmw.quora.com/.

 

References

[A]              http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-41672902

[B]              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Weinstein

[C]              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulp_Fiction

[D]              http://www.2020-movie-reviews.com/reviews-year/1943-movie-reviews/outlaw-1943-movie-review/, http://www.apocalypselaterfilm.com/2013/02/the-outlaw-1943.html.  This was not mentioned in the film’s Wiki entry until I added it.

[E]              https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/10/16454182/cyrus-vance-harvey-weinstein-ivanka-donald-trump-junior-prosecute-donations-write-in

[F]           http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/sketch-frank-field-rides-in-to-the-referendum-horse-circus-a7002261.html

[G]              https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/9/27/16308792/football-america-religion-nfl-protests-powerful

[H]              http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41673380

[I]               https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/27/16373484/jones-act-puerto-rico

[J]               http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/10/11/repeal-jones-act-to-speed-puerto-rico-recovery.html

[K]              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Trump#Controversies

[L]              https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-6492-McDonnell-Labour-will-end-scandalous-PFI#.Wem7v4iDMjA

[M]             http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-41675796

[N]              http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/why-only-taj-mahal-demolish-rashtrapati-bhavan-qutub-minar-also-azam-khan/story-cGrmv0uu3DvEaFh5cQfpHM.html

[O]              http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-41563751

[P]              https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/us/united-states-withdraws-from-un-cultural-agency-unesco-1.3253877

[Q]              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNESCO#US_withdrawals

[R]              http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-41743804

[S]              https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/10/12/16458242/risk-wildfires-worse-climate-change-california-san-francisco-los-angeles

Advertisements