Hopefully the debacle of New Labour will put some on the road of questioning these assumptions. After all, what better advertisement for libertarian ideas can there be than Blair? Here we have a man elected as a moderate social democrat who has presided over the most blatant lying to justify imperialist conquest, ignoring of the population and implementing Thatcherite corporate-backed neo-liberal "reforms."
Faced with the biggest march in UK history, Blair ignored it. Now, after proudly proclaiming he had "no reverse gear", Blair has announced a "big conversation" with the electorate. It does not take much imagination to see the outcome of this most decidedly one-way "conversation." When challenged whether he would back down over fees if they are rejected by the electorate, the ex-public school boy replied with his typical non-reply: "Of course we will listen to people. But we've got to deal with the facts. There are lots of people in this country who went neither to grammar schools nor to public schools. So let's look at their interests. Surely their interest is to be able to go to university and have the places available." In summary: no.
It need not bother us too much that Blair's hypocrisy is matched only by the Tories (after all, who introduced student fees the Tories say they wish to abolish in the first place?). The message is clear. Like any government, it will listen to people only to ignore them when they do not agree with the decisions of the politicians. And people claim that in a democracy the state represents the people!
Of course, the "revolutionary" left sees an electoral opening and is promptly pursuing the tactics which has lumbered us with the likes of Blair to begin with. "Vote socialist," they cry, so failing to see that Labour's betrayal is not the fault of individuals but rather the tactics used and the institutions worked in. The state machine, the permanent bureaucracies which hold real power, quickly shape would be radicals into tame little spokespeople for the status quo. We cannot expect different politicians to react differently to the same pressures. We need to build a movement outside of Parliament which no government, left or right, can ignore. One based on direct action, solidarity and self-management and who trusts its own power to get things done rather than a few leaders to act for us.
Elsewhere, Blair's lies are being exposed. In the run up to the invasion of Iraq, Blair followed the Bush Junta's accusations over the threat Saddam posed to the world. We all remember Colin Powel's speech at the UN where he talked about "facts" rather than speculation just we remember not believing him in the slightest. With the colonisation of Iraq, these "facts" have proven to be, well, less than forthcoming. Yet the invasion was supposedly justified as a matter of "pre-emptive self-defence." Now the CIA has admitted that it "lacked specifics" regarding Iraqi weapons prior to the Gulf War. Stuart Cohen, former CIA analyst and current Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, says that the CIA lacked any specific information about Iraqi WMD - and told everyone in the Bush Administration that this was the case.
Cohen notes that the CIA thought that Iraq possessed some WMD, specifically chemical and biological weapons and missiles to deliver them with ranges more than 150 km. Yet nowhere did the CIA suggest there was evidence that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the US, or that Iraq was planning an attack against it or any one else. This in spite (or perhaps because) of the Vice President spending a considerable amounts of time at the CIA (described as an "unprecedented move" by former intelligence officials).
Iraq should not be forgotten while we fight Blair's attacks on the home front. Hundreds of mostly working class American troops have died and been wounded fighting to keep profits margins high. Tens of thousands of Iraqis, again mostly working class, have been killed or wounded for the same end.
Faced with the anti-Bush demos in London, some wondered why people did not protest against the terrorists. Strange logic. I'm sure the next time Oslama bin Laden is invited on a state visit, the protests will happen. After all, the UK has wined and dinned some terrible monsters in its time, not to mention supporting a lot more. Yet if terrorism is the issue, we would have to conclude that the invasion of Iraq has harmed the battle against terrorism. A growing number of counter-terrorism experts feel the invasion of Iraq has hurt rather than helped the global battle against al-Qaeda. So Bush is soft on terror.
Not to mention, of course, making London the number one target for terrorism. Who says Blair cannot deliver? But, then again, he did say the opposite, namely that war would not increase the likelihood of attack. And this in the face of advice from terrorism experts as well. So, if by "deliver" we mean lie, then, yes, Blair delivers with a payload which would make a B52 blush.
And talking of Iraq, scepticism about the US's version of what happened in Samarra is growing. In the US and here, a lot of "quality" newspapers on Monday reported what happened as front page news, most declaring that around 50 Iraqi combatants had been killed. Unsurprisingly, given a record monthly death toll of U.S. soldiers, the military portrayed this as a major victory, as did the "free press." Strangely, few noted this was "according to military officials" or included any civilian witnesses or Iraqi hospital accounts in their initial reports. Now these accounts are surfacing. Hospital officials report that only nine people had died, most of them civilians. Eye-witnesses report indiscriminate firing on civilians by US troops.
The US army, infamous for its unwillingness to count the number of Iraqis it has "liberated" from the mortal coil, stood by its figure in spite of no bodies. It claims to believe that the bodies of the 54 dead combatants were swiftly collected and buried, while being under constant US surveillance: the Americans have a base in Samarra.
A small event in the occupation, to be sure, but one which encapsulates the lying and disregard of the public we have come to expect from our "democratic" governments. And people still wonder why we are libertarians!