Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Once again the Tories are hiding their own culpability behind vapid 'culture war' nonsense


Boris Johnson's Tory government have opened up a new front in their nauseating culture war, by trying to blame the term "white privilege" for catastrophic failings in the educations system, that leave working class kids (white and non-white alike) at huge disadvantages in comparison to kids from wealthier backgrounds.

I'm going to give a non-exhaustive list of other factors that are infinitely more damaging to the prospects of working class kids than this term, but first I'll briefly explain what "white privilege" actually means.

The term certainly doesn't mean that all white people are wealthy and privileged, only a fool or someone who is trying to fool you would try to argue that.

It means that in a still-racist society there are advantages to being white.

White people are obviously less likely to suffer institutional racism like being harassed by the police or denied painkillers when seriously ill; we're less likely to have our CVs immediately thrown in the bin for having non-white sounding names; and we don't have to face disgusting examples of inter-personal racism like the majority of non-white people have experienced in their lifetimes.

This obviously doesn't mean that life is a bed of roses for all white people, because there are all kinds of other forms of discrimination such as classism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of anti-queer bigotry, ageism, persecution of the disabled, persecution of the neurodiverse ...

Only those with malicious intentions would even try to portray recognising that whiteness is an advantage in a racist society as some kind of attack on poor white people, which brings us to the Tory government, and their woeful efforts to hide their own catastrophic failings behind yet more culture war bollocks.

So here are eleven things that are infinitely more damaging to the prospects of working class kids than the existence of the term "white privilege".

1. Education cuts

Ever since the Lib-Dems enabled them back into power in 2010, the Tories have been inflicting brutal cuts on England's education budget, with the worst cuts of all concentrated in the poorest areas of the country. This means that working class kids have borne the brunt of this deliberate Tory strategy of under-funding the education system, and trashing the nation's future economic potential.

How dare they pretend to give a damn about the prospects of working class kids, when their own longstanding policy is to systematically underfund the schools these working class kids attend?

2. Tuition fees

When the Tories and Lib-Dems colluded to triple university tuition fees, and bring in rip-off new repayment terms (inflation +3%) they ensured that kids from poor and ordinary backgrounds would need to drive themselves tens of thousands of pounds into debt just to get their degrees, and that the vast majority of post-2012 graduates (83%) would never be able to pay these debts off despite making entire working lifetimes of repayments.

Is it even possible to think of a better way of putting working class kids off academic attainment, than telling them they'll have to suffer an entire lifetime of unpayable debt if they aspire to go to university?

3. Youth service cuts

Anyone who claims to give the slightest damn about kids in deprived working class communities should be championing youth services aimed at honing kids' talents, giving them social skills, and keeping them away from crime and drugs.

The Tory government has been relentlessly slashing youth services budgets to the bone (70% cut in less than a decade).

4. Sure Start

If you want to give kids the best possible opportunities in life, it's crucial to begin the positive impact as soon as possible, which is why, despite their many other faults, the 1997-2010 Labour government did a great job in setting up Sure Start.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that Sure Start is extremely beneficial to kids' prospects, the Tories have slashed it to pieces since 2010, resulting in 500+ closures, and once again, the worst cuts have been reserved for the most disadvantaged areas.

5. Free School meals

Anyone who claims to care about the prospects of working class kids wouldn't hesitate for a second over providing free school meals during a global pandemic, because there's mountains of evidence that well-fed kids concentrate better and get better grades, while starving hungry and malnourished kids often fail to live up to their academic potential.

But we've all seen how the Tory government repeatedly voted against providing free school meals during the coronavirus pandemic, and had to be shamed into action by the footballer Marcus Rashford, on more than one occasion.

6. Social security cuts

Since 2010 the Tory government has implemented round after round of savage social security cuts. It hardly takes a genius to understand that policies like slashing working tax credits and cutting entitlement to child tax credits and child benefit would end up having profoundly negative consequences for children in the poorest families.

But there's just something in the Tory mentality that gives them a perverse sense of pleasure at the idea of punishing the poor for their poverty, and ensuring that their kids grow up even poorer too.

7. Adult education cuts

Since 2010 the Tories have relentlessly attacked adult education spending, even though any sane government would be investing in adult education in order to ensure that the economy has a skilled and flexible workforce, and so that workers have the means and ability to retrain should they lose their jobs.

The Tories clearly don't want a modern, flexible, highly-skilled workforce, they want to minimise retraining opportunities, and ensure working class people who lose their jobs end up languishing in exploitative low-pay gig economy jobs, working for capitalist mega-corporations, because their retraining options are so severely limited.

And to make things even worse, despite all of his cheery rhetoric about investment and upskilling, Johnson's government is pressing ahead with yet another round of cuts to adult education spending.

8. Wage repression

After the Tories came to power in 2010 they imposed the longest sustained period of wage repression since records began

There's basically no better strategy to erode the prospects of working class kids, than to spend the best part of a decade systematically eroding the real value of their parents' wages, and ensuring that when these kids do eventually enter the workforce, they'll be earning less in real terms than those who were entering the workforce a decade previously!

9. School privatisation

Since 2010 the Tories have been overseeing an extraordinary programme of school privatisation in England, to such an extent that 75% of English secondary schools are now controlled by private profiteering pseudo-charities called "Academy Chains" (many of them owned and operated by major Tory party donors).

These profiteers aren't allowed to leech profits out of the education system in shareholder dividends because of their so-called charitable status, but there are loads of other ways of soaking cash out of our kids' education budgets into private pockets, not least vastly inflated six figure salaries for profiteering academy chain directors and their cronies, and endless tides of massive untendered supply contracts handed out to their friends and family.

If you think that the existence of the term "white privilege" has more to do with working class academic under-achievement than this widespread looting of education budgets by Tory party donors and assorted other spivs and profiteers, there's something seriously wrong with the way you're looking at the world.

10. Soaring child poverty

Several of the aforementioned issues, like social security cuts and Tory wage repression have combined to drive half a million more kids into poverty over the last five years, with a shocking 75% of all the kids in poverty, now living in a household where at least one adult works.

It's utterly obscene for the Tories to pretend that they give a damn about working class kids, when their own policies have resulted in hundreds of thousands more kids growing up in dire poverty, and literally millions of kids learning the very early life lesson that 'work doesn't pay', because they see their parents struggling in destitution, despite having jobs.

11. Classism

Britain has one of the most rigid and persistent class hierarchies in the world. The wealthy privately-educated 7% minority are vastly over-represented in politics, corporate media, the judiciary, corporate boardrooms, and the top-paying public service jobs.

Two of our last three Prime Ministers went to the exact same elitist private school, which charges vastly more than the average annual salary in yearly fees.

People still use ludicrous anachronistic terms like lord, baroness, and sir in all seriousness, and we've still got unelected hereditary peers in the House of Lords for pity's sake.

The evidence shows that people from working class backgrounds, with regional accents, are routinely paid thousands of pounds per year less than the posh, for doing exactly the same work.

And the current Prime Minister is a hateful elitist, who used incredibly derogatory language to attack working class children as "ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive, and illegitimate" in a disgusting tirade in which he also derided working class men as "drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless, and hopeless".

Is it any wonder at all that society is geared to fail working class kids, when we insist on picking sneering elitists like Johnson to run the show?

Conclusion

If you look at their actual track record in government, it's obvious that the Tories have been conducting class warfare against the working class. 

They've slashed education budgets, handed control of schools to a bunch of sleazy profiteers, gutted youth services, ruined sure start, smashed the adult education system to pieces, and imposed rip-off unpayable student debts.

Beyond their outright vandalism of the social ladder, to make it so much harder for working class kids to escape poverty, they've also been actively making the poverty worse with their twin agenda of wage repression and social security cuts.

And these Tory vermin think that they can just hide this dreadful and downright malicious track record behind a smokescreen of vapid and divisive culture war bollocks about the term "white privilege".

The reason they think they can get away with pushing this absolute gibberish is that they're confident that the majority of the lower orders (as they see us) have been leaving the education system with such under-developed critical thinking skills, that we won't even notice that we're being duped into blaming "woke teachers" or whatever, rather than the powerful elitists who actually run the country, and are obviously to blame.


 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. Access to my online writing will always remain free. If you see some value in what I do, please consider supporting my work with a small donation/subscription.



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Thursday, 1 April 2021

Why it's time to accept that Britain has no institutional racism at all


Yesterday a report commissioned by the Tory government found that there is no institutional racism in the UK, and I couldn't agree more.

I've been alive for decades now, and I've never experienced any racist discrimination by the state, and we all know that anecdotal evidence is the absolute best evidence there is don't we?

A lot of people would try to argue that of course I haven't experienced any state-orchestrated racism, because I'm a British-born white man, but I can clap back at them like an absolute beast by saying that if they're judging me by my skin colour, then that makes them the racists doesn't it?

Some people try to use facts and statistics to win the argument that Britain is still riven with institutional racism, but they've obviously forgotten Michael Gove's dictum that "the people of this country have had enough of experts" haven't they?

Why listen to all the academics and experts who are saying that the report is tendential bullshit that's been produced by people who were determined to conclude that systemic racism doesn't exist before they even began working on it, when our personal feelings on any subject are obviously far more important than anything like proof, or evidence, or observable reality?

Some people have tried to argue that any country that still celebrates the lives of slave-traders with statues still has some kind of racism problem, but I say isn't it time we gave slave-traders a break?

Yes they bought and sold black people like property, kidnapped them, 
threw them into the Atlantic Ocean if they got sick on the slave ships, killed them and raped them, abused them and chopped off their limbs,  stole their children, banned them from speaking their own languages, erased their real identities, and branded them with hot irons.

But if you think of people as if they're property, then the slave-traders should have been allowed to do whatever they wanted with their own property shouldn't they?

And given the Tory maxim of "property above people" isn't it actually a compliment to the slaves that they were considered property, rather than just lowly people?

And of course I'm not alone in thinking it's time for a positive reappraisal of slavery, because this wonderful government report into systemic racism also argues that it's time to take a more positive view of slavery too, and that it wasn't all just about "profit and suffering".

How can Britain be a systematically racist country when the government is so open-minded that it's prepared to speak up for the positive side of slavery, and bring in 10 year jail sentences for anyone who throws eggs at a slave-trader statue?

Others have tried to argue that it's obvious that the police are systematically racist, and pointed to the disparity between the brutal and savage policing of Black Lives Matter protests last summer and the kid-gloves approach to the policing of lockdown-sceptic anti-vaxxer parades.

Once again there's a misunderstanding going on here. 

The Black Lives Matter people were rudely provoking the police by asking them to stop discriminating against, violently abusing, and killing people of colour. 

Of course the police fought back against these impertinent demands, because who on earth wouldn't take umbrage at people telling them how to do their jobs?

And just look at the violent smashing up of the Clapham Women's Vigil. The police are just as happy violently repressing women as they are people of colour, so that means that if they're institutionally racist, then they must be institutionally misogynistic too.

Then there's the fact that dozens of Tory MPs have been openly promoting the antisemitic conspiracy theory of "Cultural Marxism", which says that an evil cabal of Jews, gays, blacks, academics, artists, and other undesirables are eroding the foundations of traditional western culture.

Yes "Cultural Marxism" is a crude reworking of the Nazi conspiracy theory of "cultural bolshevism" which was used to promote and justify the Holocaust, but just because something had its origins in Nazi Germany and the mass-slaughter of millions of Jews, does that really mean it's racist for government ministers to keep promoting it all these years later?

Others have argued that Boris Johnson paying homage to a newly erected statue to the openly fascist Tory MP Nancy Astor during the 2019 General Election was outrageously racist, given her statements that Adolf Hitler was a "welcome solution" to the "world problem of Jews" and her insistence that black people should be thankful for slavery.

But we've already written these things off as non-issues haven't we?

Just because she was a fascist doesn't make her a racist, and the government report into institutional racism said that it's time for a positive reappraisal of slavery, so, if you think about it properly, she wasn't being a racist, she was being a visionary.

And if the Nancy Astor statue scandal wasn't even reported by the wonderfully "impartial" BBC, then it can't have been a scandal at all, can it?

Then there's all the claims that Britain must be institutionally racist if it's allowed Boris Johnson to become Prime Minister after all the racist bile he's spewed over the years?

But when he wrote that book accusing Jews of being a secretive cabal that control governments, world finance, and the media, he was just having jolly japes. 

And when he wrote the line "he was a coon, and he was stupid, and he was stupid because he was a coon" he obviously wasn't being racist, he was just repeatedly using a racist slur, and having a laugh at the expense of black people, wasn't he?

Then there's the Windrush Scandal these people keep banging on about, yawn!

Yes, OK, the British government did a tiny oopsie by bringing in "Hostile Environment" laws that were designed to discriminate against black Brits by denying them housing, and employment, and banking services, and social security, and even live-saving medical care.

Yes, the British government used this legislation to deport hundreds of black British citizens, and many of them actually died in exile overseas.

Yes, the courts subsequently found that the Tory government's "Hostile Environment" was unlawfully racist.

Yes, the government has utterly failed to live up to its promises to compensate the victims of their racist legislation.

And yes, only 18 of Britain's 650 MPs bothered to vote against Theresa May's unlawfully racist "Hostile Environment" when it went through parliament in 2014.

But just because the overwhelming majority of British MPs either supported or failed to oppose legislation that was used to systematically persecute black British citizens, does that really make Britain a country with an institutional racism problem?

Of course not. 

Let April the 1st 2021 be the day that everyone in Britain accepts that the British government is absolutely perfect. Whiter than white, actually.


 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. Access to my online writing will always remain free. If you see some value in what I do, please consider supporting my work with a small donation/subscription.



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Saturday, 13 March 2021

Understanding violence


In the aftermath of the horrific Sarah Everard murder, violence has been one of the big topics of discussion on social media.

Loads of people have contributed with harrowing stories of their own, by expressing sympathy, by asking what they can do to help, and with useful advice and information.

However many others have interjected with appalling rubbish like victim-blaming, "not all men" mind-farts, blatant whataboutery tactics, divisiveness, and treating the discussion on violence like some kind of vapid point-scoring competition.

Of course a lot of the appalling rubbish is deliberate bad faith stuff, aimed at derailing the debate, and preventing any kind of consensus, however I strongly believe that a lot of the bad takes come about because people simply aren't thinking about the subject in any kind of logical or systematic way.

I've already done a post on Facebook trying to explain the illogical identity-defensive thinking processes that are responsible for so many men somehow concluding that releasing noxious "not all men" mind-farts into other people's important discussions is a good thing for them to be doing.

In this article I'm going to lay out the way I understand violence, how I categorise different types of violence, and how the different types of violence can so often overlap and interrelate. 

This isn't any kind of official way of thinking about things, it's just how I try to understand thinks myself, which I hope you find interesting or useful.

There are three main subgroups within the overall category of violence: self-harm, interpersonal violence, and systemic/institutional violence.

The Sarah Everard murder illustrates how different types of violence can overlap, because it's clearly an example of male-on-female violence, which is a sub-subcategory of interpersonal violence, but the fact the alleged murderer is an off duty police officer, and the low importance the legal system seems to give to preventing male violence against women are both aspects of systemic violence.

In the same week as the Sarah Everard disappearance, Meghan Markle spoke out about her mental health issues and having had suicidal thoughts, which is relevant to the self-harm category of violence.

Piers Morgan's sustained campaign of bullying and harassment against her (apparently motivated by his intense bitterness over an incident when he got her drunk, but she got away from him) is more interpersonal violence.

The way corporate media hasn't just allowed him to get away with it for years, but actively provided him huge platforms to do it on, is another example of systemic violence.

One of the main focuses of my work over the years has been opposition to systemic violence. Opposing state brutality, military conflict, economic warfare, rentierism, capitalist criminality and exploitation, etc, but I've covered self-harm and interpersonal violence too when I've written about subjects like online bullying, bigotry, extreme-right propaganda tactics, and my own personal mental health issues.

The main focus of conversations about violence this week has understandably been on male-on-female violence, with huge numbers of women publicly detailing the harrowing experiences men have put them through.

In my view it's entirely appropriate for men to join the conversation to offer sympathy, to ask what they can do to help, and also to widen the discussion of the broader category of male-violence by giving personal examples of how male violence has also negatively impacted their own lives, through male violence against children, and male violence against other men.

In my view it doesn't matter whether you're male or female, if you've never had a single first hand experience of male violence, you've led an unusually fortunate life, because almost all of the rest of us have suffered profoundly traumatic experiences at the hands of men. It's just that a lot of us don't like to talk about it all the time, or even ever.

It's absolutely vital that people listen to all victims of violence when they speak out, but there are different approaches that will determine whether you're adding to the debate or derailing it when you try to raise your own experiences of violence.

If the main focus of the discussion is male-on-female violence, and a man brings up his own personal experience of male violence to add to the narrative that male violence is a serious problem that requires action, that's a good and commendable approach.

If a man takes a "what about me, everyone look at me!" approach, he's clearly talking over other people's important conversations, and he's going to get shouted down for being an insensitive attention-seeking narcissist.

And if a man attempts to turn the debate into some kind of petty point scoring competition by cherry-picking statistics to diminish the importance of male-on-female violence (eg. men are more likely to be attacked on the street than women), it's difficult to conclude that they're not just being deliberately divisive.

Women can be divisive too. There's absolutely no need whatever to trivialise female-on-male violence in order to correctly assert that male-on-female violence is a huge problem.

Yes, of course we all know that women are statistically more likely to be on the receiving end, but what's the purpose of saying something like "nobody is talking about how there's almost no female to male violence" other than to turn the debate into some kind of petty and divisive point-scoring exercise between men and women?

Why belittle millions of other people's suffering and try to drive a wedge between men and women, instead of building consensus that male violence is a really serious problem, and that yes, all violence is wrong?

Domestic violence against males is hugely under-reported because we live in a toxic macho society in which the social expectation is that men are the strong ones, not the weak ones who are beaten and psychologically abused by their partners. So how must it feel to a man in that awful position to see people minimising and trivialising traumatic experiences they've actually lived through, just because they're treating the debate on violence as some kind of divisive point-scoring exercise between men and women?

Men don't talk about being victims of violence because they're afraid of being judged as weak and unmanly, just like they're far less inclined to admit to their mental health problems, which manifests as absolutely appalling suicide rates, especially amongst younger men, where it's actually the number one cause of death. Issues like refusing to ask for help and suicide are part of the self-harm component of violence.

Under-reporting of violence by men against women is also a massive issue, but for a very different reason, and that's the way the system repeatedly fails women who try to report their abusers.

Why go through the trauma of reliving and recounting abusive experiences, and sacrifice so much time and effort seeking justice, if the system is set up to let the abuser get away with it most of the time anyway?

Once again we're back to the way the different kinds of violence overlap and interrelate. The system is so utterly dysfunctional because of the low priority the political establishment and legal system (which are both still  heavily male-dominated) put on combating male violence against women.

If the system wasn't so utterly dysfunctional, the problem of male-on-female violence wouldn't be nearly as bad.

In conclusion I'd like to add a few pointers on how to engage constructively in discussions about violence.

1. Listen to all victims of violence and be supportive
2. Don't talk over other people's suffering
3. It's not a competition because nobody can ever "win" the discussion on violence
4. Ask how you can help instead of being argumentative or using divisive language

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. Access to my online writing will always remain free. If you see some value in what I do, please consider supporting my work with a small donation/subscription.



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Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Andrew Neil's anti-woke "cancel culture" hypocrisy

The right-wing dinosaur Andrew Neil, who infamously spread deadly AIDS misinformation into the 1990s and let his mate Boris Johnson get away with absolutely trashing any pretence at BBC impartiality by dodging the partisan grilling he administered to every other party leader in the 2019 election, has completely given the game away about how the right-wing corporate media operates.

He's busy launching a new news channel called GB News, which will operate as another propaganda vehicle for hard-right billionaires; a kind of Fox News for Britain intent on pushing as many right-wing figures and propaganda talking points into the national political discourse as possible.

Neil has repeatedly described how this new channel is going to be "anti-woke", and many people have pointed out to him that since "woke" is defined as:

1. Well informed

2. Alert to injustice in society, especially racism

The logical conclusion is that his new propaganda venture on behalf of Rupert Murdoch is going to ensure that their audience are not well informed, and not alert to injustice and racism.

Neil's comeback to this argument is absolutely telling. He has openly declared on Twitter that "the original definition of woke is out of date" and that it now means a form of cancel culture that seeks to "close down ideas and people with which it disagrees".

The interesting thing about this claimed fundamental change in the fundamental meaning of "woke" comes when we think about who has orchestrated this complete redefinition of the term.

Anyone who cares about the meaning and origins of words will know that the term "woke" originates from the African-American vernacular English to "stay woke", which means staying awake to issues like injustice and systemic racism.

The mainstream media, especially in Britain, have deliberately changed this meaning to turn it into a pejorative term they use to sneer at any left-wing or socially progressive cause, not just anti-racism, feminism, but LGBT rights, environmental campaigns, and basically anything concerned with combating injustice.

So we've got black people in the United States developing a specific term to describe the important aspect of their lives that is to do with maintaining awareness of injustice, racism, and systemic persecution ... and then we've got wealthy, white, right-wing polemicists like Andrew Neil declaring that the original black meaning of the term is defunct and incorrect, and that it now refers to a form of "cancel culture" which seeks to silence and erase people and ideas with which it disagrees.

Once we consider the origins of the term, the hypocrisy of Andrew Neil cancelling the original meaning and replacing it with a pejorative redefinition becomes absolutely obvious.

By deliberately redefining the term to mean something else, and declaring the original meaning cancelled, Andrew Neil and his ilk are guilty of exactly the kind of fanatical "cancel culture" extremism they accuse others of.

They're seeking to cancel the proper meaning and silence the black voices who use the term in its original and intended way, in order to overwrite it with a new and deeply pejorative definition.

If anyone is engaging in "cancel culture" it's Andrew Neil, who is so obsessed with opposing those who seek to keep people informed about injustice and racism, that he's deliberately redefining their vocabulary to make it an insulting caricature of its proper and original meaning.

How much more "cancel culture" can you get than cancelling the meaning of words to replace them with your own insulting redefinition?

This blunder from Neil goes further than mere hypocrisy though, it gives the game away about the Orwellian language-redefining tactics that right-wing propagandists have been using for decades.

Take the way terms like "socialism" and "capitalism" are used across the corporate media.

The actual meaning of "socialism" is a specific kind of economic organisation in which public infrastructure and services are publicly owned. The more communal ownership there is in a society, the more socialist it is.

But if you read the Murdoch propaganda rags, or any of the other corporate media, "socialism" is given an absurd caricature meaning, like 'spending other people's money', or 'handouts to the idle'.

It doesn't help their cause to apply the proper meaning of socialism, because the vast majority of people tend to agree that things like health, education, emergency services, water, energy, and transport should indeed be run as not-for-profit public services, so they invent their own pejorative meaning to make it look silly and ridiculous instead.

The same happens in reverse. They know perfectly well that "capitalism" refers to a specific form of economic organisation in which private interests control the infrastructure and services in order to extract as many unearned profits for themselves as possible.

But they continually refer to "capitalism" as if it's a mere synonym for "trade", or "doing business" as if private profiteering is the only conceivable form of economic organisation. 

It's conducive to their interests that people don't consider the inherently exploitative nature of capitalist profit extraction, and instead see capitalism as the only conceivable form of doing trade.

If capitalism is defined in this ridiculously broad way, it makes anyone opposing it seem like a deranged lunatic who wants humanity to descend to bartering for rabbit skins in caves, and that's exactly how the right-wing corporate media propagandists want it.

They continually and deliberately redefine words and phrases with new meanings that are more conducive to their own capitalist interests.

When there's an economic alternative to their favoured system, they redefine it to make it seem ludicrous.

When their favoured economic system comes under critique they give it such a generous new meaning that it would seem that only a maniac would oppose it.

And when black people create a new term to describe the ongoing process of staying alert to racism and injustice, they seek to erase it completely, and overwrite it with a pejorative new description.

So when Andrew Neil posts a Tweet chastising someone for using the original and intended meaning of "woke", and insists that his Orwellian caricature of the meaning is now the only accepted meaning, he's not just being an absolute hypocrite by engaging in the very "cancel culture" tactics he decries, he's completely giving the game away about the insidious right-wing corporate media tactic of continually redefining the fundamental meaning of language in order to make it more conducive to the radically right-wing capitalist agenda that they're paid to promote.


 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. Access to my online writing will always remain free. If you see some value in what I do, please consider supporting my work with a small donation/subscription.



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