Friday, 15 February 2019

Con Politics & its 6 core tricks

Nothing is safe from manipulators who want to trick others into submitting to their own self-serving agendas. This happens with the subversion of religion into cults, patriotic pride into nationalistic rage, disaffection into extremism, and the market into a source of quackery and pyramid schemes. Politics is no different. While it can help develop cooperative communities and serve the common good, it can also be seized by the unscrupulous for their own ends.

Con politics relies on similar techniques used in other forms of exploitative deception – targeting those susceptible to misdirection, and convincing them to give their wholehearted support to what is in fact bad for them. Con politicians deploy six core tricks, and the more widely exposed these are, the better chance we have in putting a stop to their insidious activities:

[1] Lie Shamelessly
Above all, they lie without compunction. When their lies are exposed, they dismiss reports as ‘fake news’. When their inconsistencies are pointed out, they ignore it as though it’s utterly irrelevant. And when they are found to have totally fabricated claims, they say other people lie too, neglecting to acknowledge that they tell more serious lies, far more frequently, and cause incomparable harm. They will attack anyone in the media, judiciary, or research community as untrustworthy for any findings they dislike, but praise as definitive any half-baked announcement that supports their position.

[2] Promote False Values
They will hijack terms and attach false values to them. Their ‘God’ is a vengeful one obsessed with battling homosexuality and women rights (though always forgiving towards Con sinners when they are exposed). Their ‘patriotism’ is all about dominating other countries and being aggressive towards foreigners. Their ‘traditional families’ have no place for ‘unconventional’ sexuality, but plenty of room for sexist abuse and domestic violence. And their celebrated ‘free market’ promises to make everyone lots of money when in reality most are exploited to enrich the few.

[3] Target Scapegoats
They are ever ready to deflect people’s frustration towards convenient scapegoats. Prejudice and hatred are fanned to stir their followers into blaming: anything foreign – immigrants, refugees, international institutions; any religion, custom, or belief that can be attacked as ‘alien’; anyone who cannot obtain enough pay so they have to claim benefits to support themselves and their families; people with disabilities who will without evidence be accused of faking it or just criticised for not trying hard enough to ‘sort themselves out’; and workers and unions daring to question business decisions.

[4] Amass Power
They will take every opportunity to concentrate more power in themselves so others’ fate may become ever more at their mercy. They will spin tales of how it is right and necessary that they have more money, resources, and influence because they uniquely deserve it. They will decry any attempt to introduce fair play as interfering with their success, and no law should be passed, let alone enforced, to stop them extracting from others to build their personal empire, because it is the will of ‘god’ or the outcome of the ‘market’, that they are left alone to be great and powerful.

[5] Increase Insecurity
They spread insecurity to achieve two goals. First, those who are most likely to fall for their con are those who fearfully crave for ‘strong’ leaders when danger is sounded everywhere. So talking up threats from designated, if imaginary, enemies is a common ploy. Secondly, putting people into real insecurity weakens resistance against Con politicians – by cutting public protection against ill health, homelessness, poverty, lack of due process, climate change damages, etc. As more people feel vulnerable and isolated, they become less likely to organise themselves into figuring who their real enemy is.

[6] Demonise People Who Care
They are all too aware that their Con agenda will fall apart if they are unmasked. Given the unmasking will come from people who care about others, a key trick is to demonise these people, and turn them into objects of anger and derision. Pump out negative propaganda at every turn about ‘socialists’, ‘liberals’, ‘feminists’, ‘environmentalists’, ‘multiculturalism’, ‘internationalism’, ‘political correctness’ – presenting these labels as connected to something inherently harmful. And anyone who speaks up against the Con is then simply dismissed by having one or more of these labels pinned to them.

Spot the Con politicians by the tricks they resort to. Help our fellow citizens see these charlatans for what they are, and use our vote to keep them from winning public office. Nothing is more important or urgent. Too many of them are already subverting government to advance their personal ambitions at the expense of everyone else.

Friday, 1 February 2019

The War & Refugees Tax Programme

The people who oppose helping refugees are often supportive of waging wars in foreign lands. Some of them simply don’t connect their jingoistic enthusiasm with it being a major cause of the rise in refugee numbers, which they see as an unacceptable drain on their country’s resources. If they want to have fewer refugees seeking to escape dire conflicts around the world, they should focus on cutting the fuelling of armed conflicts. But how can this be done when there is an unholy alliance between profiteers whose fortune depends on selling arms and rebuilding bombed out areas, and demagogues who celebrate destruction abroad and xenophobia at home against the refugees generated by such wanton destruction?

One way forward is to link attempts to make financial gains or political capital out of fuelling foreign conflicts with compensatory arrangements to help people who suffer as a result of such attempts. This can be developed through a three-part War & Refugees Tax Programme.

First, companies that sell weapons, surveillance equipment, instruments of torture, etc make money from enabling governments and other groups to intimidate, injure and kill people. The fear, instability, and violence thus produced are key factors that drive people away from their homes to find refuge abroad. A compensatory tax on every item sold by such companies would generate a fund that can be used to help refugees find safe passage and settle away from war zones. To the extent the tax reduces such sales from any given country, that country can more rightly demand others that remain the main arms exporters to take greater responsibility for helping refugees. Where sales continue as before or even increase, the tax would raise funds to deal with the impact of those sales on wars and refugees.

Secondly, the country’s defence budget must be spent on genuinely defensive activities protecting it from real threats of attack. Any expenditure on military action to destabilise hostile regimes abroad or support geopolitical manoeuvres that are not directly necessary for the safety of our own citizens should henceforth be met from a specific tax levy for ‘Non-Defensive Military Activities’. Such a tax will cover actions from bombing raids against targets that pose no real threat to the lives of one’s own citizens, to training and supplying foreign armies to help them achieve ‘helpful’ goals. It will also be expected to cover the costs of injury and displacement caused by such activities, including support for civilians who are turned into refugees.

Thirdly, corporations that support military action – especially those whose top executives lobby and/or donate to politicians – in return for a higher chance to secure lucrative government contracts for security and reconstruction work in targeted countries, are to be additionally taxed to raise sufficient funds to help develop suitable health and housing facilities for people who have been badly affected by the military action in question. Such funds will then be used to minimise the need for people to move abroad to find sanctuary.

The outlined War & Refugees Tax Programme will help to deal with the challenges posed by growing numbers of refugees, and most importantly, the causes behind the growing numbers. Some will no doubt argue that even if one country adopts it, others may not, and the problem will persist. Actually, any country adopting it will be financially more able to deal with the problem. Moreover, it will be in a stronger position to promote transnational cooperation to bring in a worldwide programme. Right-wing nationalists will of course denounce it as an unacceptable interference with their right to mistreat foreign people, but their fervent opposition is a sure sign there is a vital and urgent need for precisely such a programme.