Sunday, 2 February 2014

Floods, humanitarian aid & the far-right fringe

One of the essential aspects of publicising my work on this blog is the production of Infographics (or "memes" if you like). If it weren't for my infographics, the AAV Facebook page and Twitter accounts would never have become so popular, and you almost certainly wouldn't even be reading this.

Occasionally I come across a political infographic that really makes my skin crawl. You know exactly the kind of thing I mean, containing revolting extreme-right lies (like utterly ludicrous claims that illegal immigrants get benefits from the state for example), which have been shared by thousands of gullible and cognitively illiterate fools who don't seem to care that they are mindlessly spreading transparently fascist propaganda that would have their forefathers (that fought, suffered and died in order to defeat Naziism) turning in their graves.

One particularly offensive source of extremely-right wing memes is the English Democrats Facebook page. For those of you who are not familiar with this tiny extreme-right faction, they are yet another attempt to rebrand an overtly fascist agenda as some kind of acceptable "democratic" party for middle England. Now that "Tommy Robinson" of the EDL has been locked up for mortgage fraud and BNP front man Nick Griffin has been declared financially bankrupt (he was already morally bankrupt), the English Democrats are the "last man standing" on the extreme right-fringe.

One such infographic was posted on my Facebook wall and seems to have been motivated by the English Democrats, who are determined to use the fact that the UK has sent £600 million in humanitarian aid to the victims of the conflict in Syria, in order to publicise their own disgusting agenda.

They have been trying to contrast the absolutely hopeless government response to the January 2014 floods with the money spent on humanitarian aid to the victims of the Syrian conflict. This contrast is hopelessly wrong-headed. I'll outline a few of the main flaws in their argument.

The first and most obvious point is that £600 million (or £0.0006 trillion) is actually a tiny amount in the grand scheme of things. The bailouts to save the banks from the consequences of their own reckless gambling cost a Conservatively estimated £1.5 trillion (which is 2,500x the amount going to help the innocent victims of the conflict in Syria). Then the reckless speculator class has had the benefit of £375 billion in Quantitative Easing too (another 625x). Perhaps you're happy that the bankers and speculators that are guilty of wrecking the UK economy got over £3,000 for every quid that's gone to helping Syrian war victims, but I'm not.

Perhaps the extreme-right are happy to overlook the unprecedented cost of the bankster bailouts because the beneficiaries were mainly British? Who knows? Whatever the reason they overlook these vast payments to the guilty in order to shout about 0.03% of the amount going to help the victims of a terrible conflict elsewhere, they're clearly shouting their mouths off about the wrong issue.

The next obvious thing to point out is that the scale of flooding in the UK has been severely exacerbated by the austerity measures imposed by the Tory government, using the bankers' financial crisis as an excuse for it. Not only have the Tories ceaselessly spread the lie that welfre spending caused the crisis when they know damn well that it was the bankers that crashed the economy, they are also responsible for an economically illiterate drive to slash spending on flood defence schemes too.

The Tories lied about the causes of the crisis to obscure the culpability of the banksters (that fund the Tory party) in order to justify slashing spending on flood defence schemes. If this isn't enough to piss you off, then perhaps you might be angered by the story of SSE Engineers being diverted away from the effort to help victims of the floods and storms in order to turn David Cameron's electricity back on because he didn't know how to reset the trip switch in his fuse box!

It is absolutely clear that anger about the floods should be aimed at the reckless speculator class that wrecked the UK economy (and then received vast bailouts in compensation for the crisis they caused) and at the Tories, for having slashed spending on flood defence schemes despite the fact that every £1 spent on flood defences is worth £8 in avoided economic damage in the future.

The fact that the right-wing extremists would contrast the suffering of British people due to the recent floods with the much greater amount of suffering in Syria in order to assert that the British are somehow more deserving of support, just shows how little they actually care about human suffering.

If they can't tolerate the giving of a bit of charity to the victims of an unimaginably bad humanitarian disaster, that is a clear illustration of their own appalling lack of humanity, nothing else. Pretending that they give a damn about the victims of the floods just makes it worse. They don't really give a damn, if it was happening anywhere else in the world they would be squealing for the government not to help in the slightest, but because it's happening here they pretend to care. It is also easy to imagine how they would behave if they were in charge, they'd be demanding ethnicity and political loyalty tests be carried out before anyone is helped, and they'd simply leave non-whites and left-wing people to drown.

As appalling as their lack of human decency is, there are some rays of hope. For every follower the English Democrats have got on Facebook, I've got 3, and for every one interaction with their content (like, share, comment) I get 28 on mine.

They are a well funded political party that have a team of people to post a constant stream of cognitive dissonance inducing bile on their Facebook page (and their network of fake grassroots pages too). I'm just one bloke, working at it part-time (who perhaps averages four posts per day), yet my stuff is vastly more popular than theirs.

This somewhat restores my faith in the Great British public. We may have been lied to and misled by politicians and the corporate media in order to stop us rising up against the crony capitalist ideology of neoliberalism that has been the orthodoxy ever since Thatcher introduced it in 1979, but we can still easily see through the hateful lies of the far-right fringe, and there is clearly still a massive appetite for social justice amongst the British public.

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