The millionaire chancellor, George Osborne, has wielded his axe against the people of Britain in the most savage public and social sector cuts in living history. Half a million public sector workers are to lose their jobs we are told, but these cuts are necessary to dig ourselves out of “the £155 billion annual deficit left by Labour.”1 “Leading global economists” have praised Osborne’s courage and given the coalition government the thumbs-up. Even old Rupert Murdoch came out from the woodwork to add his voice to the applause.
“Strong medicine is bitter and difficult to swallow”, the public were told by the billionaire,2 who unfortunately did not go on to explain why the public needed to be taking such bitter “medicine.” Perhaps the public were responsible for creating the banking crisis that caused the massive black whole in the public finances? It was the fault of the people, now they are sick and need “strong medicine.”
Those who have memory spans more than the last few days will have noticed a subtle shift in rhetoric from mainstream news media. The banking crisis is rarely mentioned now and somehow the emphasis has transferred to blaming the huge hole in public finances instead on the previous Labour government. “The cuts are necessary” the public is continuously being told because of the “mess” the economy is in.
Little reference is made to the actual reason for the huge deficit, the fact that unprecedented billions of pounds were spent from the public purse to bail out huge private corporations, ie the banks, in imminent fear of collapse. This avoidance is perhaps understandable as half a million hard working people facing being made redundant are not likely to appreciate that the wrecking of their families and livelihoods was necessary to protect the fortunes of wealthy private investors.
The story is that it was necessary to “save” the banks for the good of everyone, including the public who would have suffered equally had the financial system collapsed. No explanation is given and people are just expected to accept this. Although ordinary people may have a minor interest in the global financial system, through involvement in pension funds or investment in shares, it is the world’s ultra-rich elite that are the major stakeholders, making massive profits from a system that is designed to produce money out of money.
The government claimed it was acting in the interests of the people in intervening to “save” the banks and financial institutions whose share prices were nosediving, but it neglected to clarify that by “people” it meant only those people who count ie the wealthy in society. Government began purchasing the rapidly devaluing shares at pre-crisis prices, using public taxpayers’ money so that private shareholders would not suffer major losses in their personal fortunes.
Ordinary peoples’ savings (up to £35,000) were protected by the government-backed Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in any case, so comments on popular news media about safeguarding people’s savings were misleading. Rescuing the banks and the international financial system was in the interests of the world’s rich elite, not the ordinary people.
The shocking announcement by Alastair Darling two years ago of a staggering £500 billion rescue package for the banks is a distant memory now. At the time, the British public were reassured that “the taxpayers’ interest is being protected”. Darling stated that he was “very clear that in return for all this, the taxpayer has got to see some upside. In relation to lending to small businesses, in relation to mortgages… that’s important too.”3 In return for the bailout by the public, the banks would return the favour by lending to small businesses, providing mortgages to ordinary people, and paying back the billions as soon as they got themselves on their feet again.
But that was a long time ago, soon forgotten by the dominant news media and popular commentators. It seems it is now job of the public to pay off the huge debts that were incurred by benevolently saving the ailing banks. Joe Smith, assistant social worker at the local council, will lose his job, wont be able to pay his mortgage or buy his kids any Christmas presents, may get depressed and even try and commit suicide, but the people have to swallow the “bitter medicine”. Rupert Murdoch, the archetypal moneyman, “makes no apologies” for these scroungers who “have grown accustomed to looking to the government – for their housing, for their health care, for their retirement.”2 Without actually saying it, the message between the lines is that the country’s massive debt is due to Labour’s irresponsible pampering of the public sector and it is now time for a shake up, Thatcher-style. This shifting of blame for the massive public debt from the real culprit, the international banks, to an imaginary one, can only lead one to ominous conclusions about the role of the global news media and whose interests it serves.
So the country is in massive debt and it is everyone’s responsibility to get us out of this mess. “We’re all in this together,” as Cameron and co keep telling us, a mantra faithfully taken up by news media and mainstream commentators. However, the Institute of Fiscal Studies announced that the poorest would be the hardest hit, and “families with children…the biggest losers.”4
Many people do not understand the intricate details of the financial system and trust that news media are a fairly reliable source of information, especially the grand old BBC. A question that is not often discussed when talking about the massive public debt is: who exactly is the country in debt to? It would seem to be an obvious and important question. Broadly speaking, government raises capital by selling bonds which yield interest for investors. Once again, it is wealthy investors who are able to buy and profit from the country’s debt.
So we poured in hundreds of billions of pounds of tax-payers’ money to bail out private corporations owned by wealthy shareholders to prevent them incurring potentially huge losses in their personal fortunes. We borrowed most of this money from the same group of international financers that we were bailing out, and we now have to suffer massive cuts in public services, notwithstanding the thousands of tragic personal stories, to pay them back — with generous amounts of interest added.
The state, under the domination of big business, with the news media as its public relations arm, has been transferring public money into private hands for decades through various innovative means, a process that Chomsky succinctly calls the “privatization of profit and socialization of risk.”5
The British public, and the ordinary people of all nations, have been robbed in broad daylight. But where are the shouts of protest? Why does the British government intervene with hundreds of billions to safeguard the interests of the wealthy, but cannot put aside a fraction of this amount to saving ordinary hard-working people’s jobs and livelihoods?
Welcome to the New World Order.
A million people took to the streets in Britain to protest against the invasion of Iraq, but what did it achieve? With the emergence of a “new” world order (which is already beginning to resemble a de facto world government), first announced publicly by George Bush Snr,6 and more recently by Gordon Brown,7 citizens of the world feel disempowered and incapacitated when faced with the sheer enormity of the global machine.
Western societies, closely followed by Eastern ones, are witnessing what sociologists are calling ‘the atomisation’ of society and the progressive isolation of the human being, possibly as a consequence of the technological urban environment. The trend began with the break up of wider communities, then isolation from extended family, and now finally the disintegration of the nuclear family itself. In a global order whose only moral teaching is a hedonistic individualism, human beings are increasingly becoming isolated from other human beings, interacting instead with the ‘virtual’ companionship of computer and media technology. This situation, coupled with the stressful nature of the contemporary workplace, is leading to record levels of unhappiness, distress and mental disorder.8
Social isolation of the individual suits the ruling elite of the new global order for when people are isolated, they are weak. When people come together and begin organising themselves, this threatens those whose interests lie in maintaining the status quo. The recent general household survey in UK shows that huge numbers of people are now living in single-person households ie alone, and the figure is projected to increase dramatically.9 As human beings become more isolated, they become increasingly disempowered.
This may provide an answer as to why Islam is being set up as the enemy of the ‘new’ global economic and political order. Apart from the obvious advantage of affording western governments a new “arch-enemy” to fill the void left by the sudden exit of the communist block, necessary for justifying to the public the need for continued massive “defence” spending and various domestic and foreign policies, the emergence of an Islamic polity may be perceived of as a threat as it would be unlikely to integrate into the world capitalist economic system, due to the strong quranic prohibition of any type of usury or interest-involving transaction. Therefore, we see the insistence of western powers, led by the US, to maintain secular governments in Muslim countries often contrary to popular sentiment. Clinton admitted in his autobiography that the reason US ground forces remained in former Yugoslavia for so long after the conflict was to ensure that an “Islamic state” did not emerge from the various factions present.
Moreover, the Islamic teaching contains within it strong resistance factors to the process of societal atomisation. Ties to extended family members are considered a binding obligation on all individuals, a daily gathering of adherents to the faith must take place at the local mosque for communal prayer, and every Friday the wider community is under religious obligation to gather together. The Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) stated that even if three people live in the open desert, they must come together to offer the ritual prayer, or else risk being overwhelmed by dark forces, for “the wolf only eats the sheep that has strayed [from the flock].”10 Such injunctions provide a built-in defence for Muslim communities against the societal trend towards atomisation.
For a new world order that is wary of citizens coming together, the Islamic insistence on congregation must be problematic. In many Muslim countries the perceived threat is defused by state control over the Friday prayer and use of state-appointed imams coupled with close monitoring of sermons by domestic intelligence agencies. In the British context, the institution of the Friday prayer affords the Muslim community with the potential, with some simple organisation and foresight, to become a powerful lobby to further their common interests at home and abroad. No other community can boast of well over half a million of its members coming together on a weekly basis11 and listening to their religious leaders on the pulpits. A level of planning and coordination between the country’s 1400 mosques – which does not presently occur — would allow a common message to be delivered, in effect to the whole community, and powerful and speedy responses to challenges that may arise.
Muslims must look to come together with other citizens of the world who also suffer oppression under the tyranny of the new Orwellian global order, and search out ways to understand and confront the common enemy.
- “OECD welcomes the Osborne cuts and praises ‘far-reaching’ plan to tackle deficits.” Daily Mail, 22 Oct 2010. [↩]
- Murdoch, R. Inaugural Margaret Thatcher Lecture, 21 Oct 2010. [↩] [↩]
- “Bank bailout: Alistair Darling unveils £500billion rescue package.” The Telegraph, 08 Oct 2008. [↩]
- “Spending review cuts will hit poorest harder, says IFS.” guardian.co.uk, Thursday 21 October 2010. [↩]
- “Interview with Noam Chomsky,” The Daily Banter. October 30, 2008 [↩]
- President Bush’s speech to Congress. March 6, 1991. [↩]
- “G20 summit: Gordon Brown announces ‘new world order’.” Telegraph.co.uk. 03 Apr 2009. [↩]
- “Key facts and trends in mental health.” The NHS confederation, Nov 2009. [↩]
- Living in Britain – the 2001 General Household Survey. [↩]
- The Excellence of Performing Salat (Prayers) in Congregation. Chp 191, Riyadh al-Saliheen. [↩]
- Mehmood Naqshbandi: Problems and practical solutions to tackle extremism. Defence academy of the United Kingdom; the Shrivenham papers – No. 1, Aug 2006, p. 8 [↩]