Squashing people…

This is a personal post by the editor of The New Observer.

I’ve just signed up for a ‘permanent’ job – something that millions of people in the country do multiple times in their life. I’ve been avoiding it for a while, but the freelance career is fizzling out. I know, from experience, what it is like to be poor – threatening letters from the local authority and utility companies, a complete lack of sympathy or even mercy – complete hell. These days I wouldn’t even consider benefits: it is clear that there is a deliberate campaign to humiliate and abuse people who claim benefits. This, despite the fact that all people who claim benefits are doing is recouping some of the insurance payments they’ve paid into a mutual social fund. Ha. Ha. Ha. So; to forestall that I’ve taken a permanent job. – The system works; by making being poor such hell I’ve been forced to supply my labour on any terms.

Today I’ve signed the contract of employment. Looking at it it looks very generic. In fact so generic I suspect it was downloaded as template for a few pounds from some web site. It contains, as I fully expected, clauses that no rational and self-respecting person would sign. For example the clause about how my ‘performance’ will be ‘monitored and appraised’. Or, the clause about how the firm has the right to ask me to work extra hours with no overtime pay if the business requires it. Or, the clause that if I do outside work it is entirely at the discretion of the employer to decide if it interferes with their business and if they decide so they can tell me to stop doing it.

The contract was signed electronically using a tacky online signing system produced by an American company. Obama liked to boast about how America leads the world in exports. It may export a lot (the US is the world’s second largest exporter)  – but the quality is terrible: the truth is that the US leads the world in exporting crass entertainment and tacky or low-quality IT products, harmful pharmaceuticals and arms. Here again I had to agree to their terms – which contain all sorts of clauses that no sensible person would agree to, such as indemnifying them against any liabilities.

Rational and self-respecting people do not accept things which harm them. It is a pattern linked with abuse to accept being harmed. People who have been abused often have a pattern of not being able to say No – to being further harmed. But to get this job I have to break this fundamental principle of sanity and good health. My ‘self-esteem’ takes a hit.

And then there is this discourse about the ‘mental health crisis’. If it is institutionalised that people are treated like s* then it is hardly surprising that there is an epidemic of ‘mental health’ problems. Of course; the discourse never gets anywhere near the real causes. For millions of people in this country every day, every week, every month, they have to accept things (actions done to them or actions which they have to do in order to keep their heads above water) which are demeaning, insulting and destructive of their self-respect.

The official discourse including 99% of that in the liberal press is stage managed to avoid any of the real questions.


Propaganda by stealth

Propaganda doesn’t have to be full-on. It can be quite subtle. Here’s an example from the Guardian – that amplifier for the State Department:

It appears in a story about a British IT Security consultant being arrested by the FBI on charges related to creating hacking tools:

It [the WannaCry malware] moved particularly quickly through corporate networks thanks to its reuse of security exploit, called EternalBlue, first discovered by the NSA before being stolen and leaked by an allegedly Russian-linked hacking group called The Shadow Brokers.

A reader who was not all that tech-savvy reading the above might think that ‘EternalBlue’ was something which just exists in reality and which was (as the text says) ‘discovered’ by NSA (National Security Agency – US Intelligence). In fact: EternalBlue was one of numerous pieces of malware developed by the NSA in order to conduct espionage campaigns against third-party targets. (These targets included commercial companies as well as governments). EternalBlue was indeed ‘stolen’ (in as much as one set of criminals can steal from another) and then made publicly available.

A subtle difference? Not really: discovering an exploit is one matter. Producing a piece of malware which uses the exploit to intrude into systems is something else altogether. The NSA did the latter; not the former, as the Guardian would have you believe.

It was this malware which was obtained and then made publicly available by the ShadowBrokers. Edward Snowden, and others, believed that Russia was behind the ShadowBrokers. (The idea was that Russia, by showing that it has access to US intelligence hacking tools, was demonstrating that it could prove that the US was behind hacking attempts on third-parties). At any event – which is worse: building a tool to break into buildings or stealing that tool?

The Guardian is trying to spin this as Russia as the bad guy and the NSA as the good guys. But it’s propaganda. A little lie – swap ‘created by’ for ‘discovered by’ – and they hope that you won’t notice…