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Robert Fisk: right wing conspiracy or useful idiot?
The 21st century began with one of the few step changes in human history; one of the few times in human history where isolated events over the course of a few hours drastically altered societal behaviour. The event itself is so well known, that, just by writing 9/11, you'll know what I'm talking about (even if it is in that back-to-front way Americans write dates). Six and a bit years ago, America had elected a president who not only had no experience in foreign affairs, but had no interest or understanding of the concept of a world outside the USA. Obviously, the events of almost 5 and a half years ago changed all that. At the start of 2001, you could have written your own ticket on W finding Afghanistan and Iraq on a map, let alone effecting regime change in both within 2 years. During the last 6 years, people have witnessed terrorist attacks in some really popular tourist spots; wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon; nuclear development or threats in Pakistan, India, North Korea and Iran; lots of threats from organisations such as al-Qaeda, and a gradual erosion of civil liberties in those countries that still had any.
All of which is a long way of saying "people don't feel safe at the moment".
This is a problem, of course, because there is one, and only one, reason for subservience to the state, and that is security. People want strong leadership to protect them so that they can live their own lives safely and happily without having to think too much. Despite this, the average voter isn't stupid. Maybe uninterested, simplistic and with a strong short-term focus, but not stupid. They can generally recognise bullshit.
My prediction for the next 10-30 years is a very strong rise of the Right. At the moment, the media and some aspects of politics are heavily over represented by a smug Left and Centre-Left liberal self-appointed intelligentsia. That claims that the world's problems can be solved by negotiation between equals. That claims a moral equivalence between a non-state terrorist group overseeing the deaths of thousands and a Government that accidentally kills a handful of civillians. That derides men such as John Howard and George W Bush for every utterance, intelligent or not, peaceful or not or honest or not, while urging peace and negotiation with demopaths and dictators and taking their every concession (in English - they never happen in the demopath's native language) as a sign of goodwill.
Most people have enough commonsense to realie that a group that are prepared to launch planes into heavily populated building as an opening salvo are propbably not prepared to give up through negotiation something you are prepared to lose. Consequently, anyone urging something like negotiation with al-Qaeda is unlikely to be seen as someone who has the strength and will to defend your long term interests. As such, a Right wing offering nice simplistic answers is always going to be able to draw votes. It is not about racism, it is not even really about those parties or politicians- the BNPs and Griffins, Hansons or Le Pens. It is about people seeing a failure by the mainstream and the Left to answer their concerns. The Leftist liberal egocentrism which says, "All people are fundamentally good and fundamentally want to live in our free, affluent society if only they had the chance," just doesn't wash. Even if it is true for the "normal" members of society, it is unlikely to be true for their leadership who have shown no desire to move in the directions of freedom or democracy. Besides, appeasement and capitulation just doesn't feel right as path to security for most people.
So when people are given a choice between the liberal ideas of a Leftist media which don't feel sensible and the simplistic ideas of a far Right which seem to bring security, people will go towards the latter - particularly when the latter is treated with a knee-jerk condemnation by the former rather than a carefully crafted treatment and rebuttal. Apart from more breasts, this is why the Right-wing press sells far more newspapers than the left. The answers they give, while simplistic, don't "feel" moronically stupid.
Given that a liberal media aren't supplying the answers people will accept, what are they doing? Well, in my first conspiracy piece for the year, I will claim that they are secretly infiltrated by members of a shadowy far-Right group, who, by writing column after column of self-parodying liberal pose, make the entire political position seem a joke when it comes to security and international relations. So today's question for discussion: are people like Robert Fisk Right wing infiltrators surreptitiously turning the Left into pure satire and leading people to the Right, or are they just useful idiots to the Right, people whose attempts at spreading liberalism are nothing more than a Koala Park?
My favourite procrastinations
The Head Heeb - Jonathan provides a balanced view on various Israeli and (former) colonial states in less developed regions of the world.
The Bladder - a sports satire site. Well worth a look.