Sanctions; are they even sane?

The US is leading the way with a new round of sanctions against Russian defence, finance and energy companies. This follows on from their oligarch targeting round of sanctions.

The situation is brimming with ironies.

For example; the US has mocked Russia for its oligarchs who are all “close to Putin’s inner circle”. The State Department produced a YouTube video

Living in occupied territory

Anyone with even a scrap of humanity left in their bones can or should be able to see that we live (in the UK) under an occupation.

The economy and thereby society is dominated by the kind of hierarchical manipulative “right-wing” businesses identified by Illich. These businesses present a “civilised” front but their activities are all about domination, surveillance, and killing.

This is no exaggeration. The editor of this web site works as a contract/freelance web developer. Time after time I am offered a contract which on (even the slightest) investigation appears to be linked to either surveillance, the arms trade or some other practice of manipulating other human beings for profit. It seems virtually impossible to offer these skills in a way which would be meeting peoples’ needs. I am not even objecting to working for someone else’s profit. I am just looking at the end product; what we are actually doing. It seems that not many others are doing this.

Recent examples:

i. I was offered a contract/interview with a local business who makes traffic control systems for local authorities. That sounds innocuous enough. I looked at their web site and discovered that one of their products is a device which covertly scans cars to identify blue-tooth devices and uses their MAC addresses for traffic control. This is legal because the Data Protection Act gives a blanket authority to government departments to gather data in the public interest. It doesn’t mean though that it isn’t sneaky and invasive. It is the attitude to other people I find objectionable. If you don’t respect people’s privacy and boundaries it follows that you don’t respect them. It is a good example of the manipulative top-down approach characterised by Illich. It is also a good example of how loosely worded legislation can be used to legitimise practices which on the surface at least no reader of the original legislation would have anticipated. The legislation looks like it is protecting freedoms but is then used as the basic for having a “legally defensible position” for all sorts of manipulative practices.

ii. I was offered a contract/interview with a local engineering firm. That sounded promising. I discovered that they make video surveillance equipment. This is used both by foreign militaries and UK local authorities. Note how UK local authorities are using military grade surveillance equipment on their own populations.

iii. A high paying contract with a financial services organisation. In my dreams I am imagining a building society. An organisation which helps to meet a real human need; housing. But no. It was for Barclays. Barclays are a major investor in the US arms business. If you help Barclays you are helping Lockheed Martin – one of the main armers

They haven’t invaded France have they?

President Obama grandstands “We will never accept the Russian annexation of Crimea”.

They are in a flap. But what has Russia actually done? Have they invaded France or Belgium – forcing the locals to sanction the “invasion” at the “point of a Kalashnikov” (David Cameron)?

No. What happened is that an EU/US project to bring Ukraine into their sphere of influence got a bit out of hand and messy. In the end the elected government wouldn’t sign the trade deal so the US/EU supported violent street protests to force through a government who would.

Normalising war

One of the most sickening aspects of the invasion of US capital into the UK is the way that war is being normalised.

Some people are not aware, for example, that the 2011 Census in the UK was run by Lockheed Martin. They won the contract from the Office of National Statistics. Despite multiple requests under the UK’s Freedom of Information Act the Office of National Statistics (illegally) refused to tell this web site whether they had even considered the ethical implications of using an arms manufacturer to run a compulsory civil census. The EU directive on government contracting arrangements specifically permits national governments to cite morality or public policy as a reason not to award a contract to a particular supplier. So they certainly could have had this discussion and should have done.

Another example of this blending of business and war which is so characteristic of the American way; a US new media design agency based in the US has offices in England. Amongst their industry sectors they list healthcare, local government and Defence. The page on defence talks cheerily about how their systems help with battlefield simulation. If you work for them on say local government your IT work may well be transferred to their ‘defence’ clients. This blending of war business with civil business is the norm when US capital invades. We all know that US (and capitalist business generally) is “aggressive” in that it continually seeks to expand and find new markets so as to increase the returns on investment. It does not take a genius to see that when war is treated just the same as any other business it will be subject to the same drivers. For US capitalism war is not something which we do when all else fails. It is good business.

Recently the editor of this web site (and author of this post) was explaining to a recruitment consultant why he didn’t want to work for a company which sold video solutions for military surveillance. It is about war. She struggled to understand. ‘Why is that a problem’ she asked? In the end we agreed that war was “not my cup of tea”.

It seems that everyone in any kind of position of power in the UK (from the head of the Office of National Statistics to a recruitment consultant) has just rolled over backwards and accepted this. Why is that? Why is Britain a nation of spineless suckers with no values?

Freedom means rape

Rape is a normal part of business practices these days.

Here are a couple of examples. (I’ll add to this post as more occur to me).

i) I was called today by a company collecting the details of my business. The caller asked “Justin Wyllie”. To which I obviously replied “Yes”. Then the caller went on and said my address – to which I am supposed to automatically go “Yes”. Now; before they’ve spoken to me and without my consent they have obtained what they were after; confirmation of my details for their business directory. I need not exist for this operation to take place. It is rape. The caller identified themselves as being from a leading and well-known business directory.

ii) I made an enquiry with a company who provides advertising for businesses. I spoke and emailed them using the address on their web site. It turns out though that they will neither answer your query nor send you a price list in response to your enquiry. The people I spoke to explained that they are “Customer Service” and cannot answer such enquires. All they can do is take your phone number and someone from advertising will call you. Some days later I got such a call. This person was not able to give me a direct line to call her back on. She just “obtained permission” to call me again. The interaction proceeds entirely at their convenience. You are manipulated according to a well-organised routine which is entirely one-way. This one admittedly isn’t quite rape. It is more akin to sexual molestation.

This kind of data rape is normal and accepted these days. It shares with rape a complete disregard for the subject of the operation. The subject needs to be present but beyond that there is no human interaction. The protagonist just satisfies their needs/lust. And that’s it.

Both of these belong to the kind of behaviour which Ivan Illich categorised as “right-wing”. They are hierarchical, top-down and manipulative. These contrast with convivial, social, open behaviours which Illich categorised as “left-wing”. For example, had the advertising company been “left-wing” in Illich’s sense they would have immediately offered me a price list. They would have left the decision whether or not to contact them in my hands. If I did they would have answered my questions and again provided me with an opportunity to leave or stay in the sales process as I chose; not try to manipulate me into their system.

All these kind of manipulative, heartless, business practices are part of the “freedom” which the US and UK are exporting all over the world. The “freedom” which they use to claim the moral high ground.

Double-standards and phantom tanks

Anders “Fogh of war” Rasmussen, the NATO Secretary General, has commented on “reports” about “Russian tanks” crossing into Ukraine, saying that this would be a “serious escalation” if “confirmed”.

So far only a Ukrainian media outlet and the Daily Mail (who may have got the story from that Ukrainian outlet) are running this story.

Here we go with double-standards all over again. While