Comment, Comics and the Contrary.
Lies, eh? How the Orwell-quoting ‘decent-left’ love them. Have they misunderstood the point of Orwell, his place in our intellectual heritage? When we say that something is ‘Orwellian’, we are not commending it for truthfulness. But, all the while people are killed and tortured at the command of men who have no interest in democracy (as anything other than a veneer of justification rather than a radical empowerment of the populace), the ‘decent left’ appropriate Orwell’s name to legitimate their position as cheerleaders for muscular capitalism. And not just in Iraq, but also in South America and, even, here at home.
So it makes you laugh, with tears in your eyes, when, on the same day that the Independent publishes a letter from the American ambassador to Britain stating, categorically, that the US does not use white phosphorus as a weapon, the US military are forced to admit that it does. This, after a determined process of vigorously rejecting any claims that they have done so. Now, no doubt, the PRopaganda tack will switch to arguing that there is nothing wrong in using white phosphorus as a weapon. But that no longer matters, at least, even if the US successfully defends its use of white phosphorus there is another non-trivial matter. This being that, once again, the cabal of security, military and industrial interests involved in prosecuting and profiting from the ‘War on Terror’ (now that is Orwellian) have lied. Lies damage democracy, they poison it. Yet lies, the most anti-democratic of crimes, seem to carry no consequences, at least for the teller. Regardless of the justice of any of these actions; the war, the carve up of Iraq’s (or Britain’s) national wealth, detention, torture, the use of white phosphorus, the operation of a shoot-to-kill policy; every democrat should be horrified at the interplay of secrets, misinformation and lies that have been used to justify these actions and absolve those responsible, and, under the cover of defending democracy, poison its very lifeblood – an informed decision-making polis.
Perhaps the ‘decent left’ can take on one aspect of Orwell’s intellectual programme, rather than simply wrap themselves, and hide themselves, in the cloak offered by an emotive name. Mind you, this will not stop the ‘decent left’; war for peace my boys, capitalism for equality. Hurrah!