This week's Syria peace talks have been the catalyst, not so much for a battle of wits and ideology in Montreux, but as a war of global headlines for the hearts and minds of listeners and viewers around the world.
This psychological skirmish was polarized between Monday's UN/MIT revelations that last summer's chemical weapons attack in Ghouta came from a rebel held area... and Qatar-funded London solicitors, Carter-Ruck, saying Assad's soldiers tortured 11,000 rebel prisoners. A 31-page report was commissioned by Carter-Ruck solicitors in London on behalf of the Qatari government.
It's becoming increasingly evident that it is in America and Europe's newsrooms, as much as on the ground in Syria, that this war is being fought. Also here in Britain this week, we've seen jubilant government announcements about the economy 'turning the corner' with the UK's IMF growth forecast up to 2.4 percent, the highest in the developed world, and unemployment falling 167,000 to 7.1 percent, the second biggest drop on record.
The trouble is, as with Syria, the messages could not be more contrary.
Opposition Labour party leader, Ed Miliband, asserted in the House of Commons on Wednesday that despite being the seventh richest country in the world, Britain now has 13 million people, that's nearly one quarter of the population, living in poverty. The explosion in the use of mainly church-run food banks, three times greater this Christmas than last, testifies to a dramatic escalation in the cost of living which doesn't seem to register with the IMF. Work is slavery when it doesn't pay enough to live on.
Even the most basic evidence that Osborne's policies have led to this positive IMF growth forecast is missing though. Where is the evidence that these growth figures are attributable to Osborne's roughly twenty billion pounds of spending cuts so far? The 2010 Labour government left the country's economy growing, so arguably the IMF forecast would have been even higher without them.
Meanwhile, in Davos, a higher-altitude Switzerland scene-of-the-crime altogether, 26 billion dollar money launderers, HSBC, are at the bar with the world's feudal hedge fund and manufacturing aristocracy bribing our politicians. The kings of bankster finance, who trotted out heartfelt words earlier about 'closing the wealth divide' at the timetabled session, are dividing up the resources of the planet in the interval.
Miliband's figures, from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, are echoed by Oxfam too, who point out on this Davos week that the richest 85 individuals in the world now have more wealth than the poorest fifty percent of the world’s population—3.5 billion people! Davos' new global financial aristocracy professes 80 billionaires and hundreds of millionaires in attendance. The annual Bilderberg Conference, far more secretive, boasts an even greater concentration of ill-gotten wealth and power.
As the super-wealthy, who already have more mansions and yachts than they know what to do with, buy up the financial, political and media opposition an air of psychotic sadism appears to be 'in vogue'. Proud Tory Chancellor of the world's seventh richest nation, George Osborne, is celebrating his 2.4 percent, but outside, on the mean streets of his economic miracle, thirteen million Britons can't afford toilet paper. "Post-war Social Security is being dismantled", we're told. "It's simple. If you don't work you won't eat."
So what are viewers and listeners supposed to make of these contradictions? Without fact checking, IMF or government pronouncements cause the kind of confusion and disenchantment that has seen soaring levels of voter apathy. Britain's morale is sinking to new lows as we watch the Lib/Con Coalition's sadistic Bedroom Tax evicting the disabled, mentally ill and poorest in society, only to find that after all that pain the private housing victims are obliged to move to, costs the taxpayer more.
Take a trip back sixty years to the Nazi labor camps of the 1940s and you'll see the same brutish principle operating: 'Arbeit Macht Frei' ('Work Makes You Free') hangs over the entrance to the concentration camp. Who cares if there is not enough work to go round, it's survival of the fittest. What if you're ill? What if your pay is not enough to live on?
Deserter, prisoner, then Nazi penal regiment soldier, Sven Hassel, far from glorifying World War Two, articulated its absurdity and futility. He explained how this sadistic principle operated at Lengries prison camp in his 1957 book 'Legion Of The Damned'. After executing five of Hassel's fellow prisoners, SS Sturmbahnfuhrer Schendrich ordered the rest to shout a humiliating refrain: "...Tomorrow, Sunday we will go without our food. For when we do not work, we do not deserve our food."
We fail to recognize the hallmarks of this merciless mindset at our peril: In all the millions of column inches about the leaks of NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, nobody seems to have noticed his central point. Why has he put life and liberty on the line to tell us about warrantless data trawls and criminal hacking by the state?
A centralized database of the population, in their case using expensive, state-of-the-art IBM 'Hollerith' punch card machines, was what the Gestapo used to profile, identify and arrest Jews and other 'untermensch' throughout occupied Europe. Though US Jewish writer, Edwin Black, penned a comprehensive account of the use of a government database for internment and genocide in 2001, 'IBM And The Holocaust'. Nobody dares make this cautionary correlation with Snowden's NSA & GCHQ leaks.
Jonathan Freedland pointed out in the latest edition of BBC Radio 4's 'The Long View' that Britain's seventeenth century 'Poor Laws' subsidized wages so the destitute could buy bread. Their 21st Century equivalent is government 'housing benefit', without which almost a third of Britons, most of whom are in work, would be evicted from their homes. This is the vicious face of Britain today; our democratic government motivates its people not by offering them a decent living wage, but by threatening to evict an 'underclass' of twenty million.
While that warning sound may be heard, others are not. On December 18, 2013, former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote a devastating article for the New York Times. In 'Stumbling Toward the Next Crash' he points out the 'disastrous pre-crisis credit boom' is happening all over again. Despite this being a clear warning from Britain's last Prime Minister, Brown's remarks were not considered weighty enough to be reported by a single London media outlet. Another public relations 'victory' for the financial elite.
The straightforward way to relieve poverty-stricken Britain is to break the City of London arm lock on political parties and the public purse. To close off tax havens then cream it off from the rich, both individual and corporate. But Tory Prime Minister David Cameron's father Ian was one of the chief architects of the 1980s Thatcherite tax avoidance bonanza, so that won't happen on his watch.
A new politics will have to consider a kind of Biblical Jubilee where, as in Old Testament times, the nation's primary resource, land, was redistributed so every family had a fair share. Shocking though it may sound to the left this would lead to a 'small state', usually a clarion-call of the right. As in the Republic of Ireland: a large number of owner-occupiers, particularly breaking up the big countryside estates, means less homelessness, low or no rent, more home grown food, less dependency on state handouts and, wonder of wonders, less tax.
Whatever the truth behind those contradictions about the state of the economy and the search for solutions, the mainstream media refuse to stress test the spin doctors' assertions. Decisions are made by editors and journalists scared of 'talking down' the economy, afraid of 'denting market confidence'. Instead they inject poisonous lies into the nation's nervous system, endorsing the 'wishful thinking' of the markets, a toxin that will almost certainly prove fatal leaving us wide open to Gordon Brown's coming crash.
In the case of the Syria peace talks, the necessity to get to the truth is equally profound and the failure to do so equally frightening. Some economists even wonder if the economic and military crises are two sides to the same coin. That the outbreak of war could be used as a convenient cover for an economic crash far worse than 1929. With our present weak, indebted governments, both the banksters and the military industrial technocrats would make a killing.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.