Tag Archives: Margaret Thatcher

The Lies of the Land

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The Lies of the Land –
A Brief History of Political Dishonesty
By Adam Macqueen
Atlantic Books – £14.99

When truth is not spoken to power, the powerful do not always speak the truth.

         (‘Where Power Lies’)

They are the lies uttered by those in charge, told because they felt it was their duty to lie: that by doing so, they were serving what is often called the ‘greater good’ and that the end justified the means. They are the lies told because the people in power convinced themselves that they knew best. That they had a superior ability to see ‘the bigger picture’ and discern the ‘moral truth’ of a situation (as opposed to the boring, black-and-white details bogging down the folks closer to ground level). The lies told because it was the ‘right’ thing to do.

         (‘Where Power Lies’)

Talk about a literary nail in the coffin of politically induced fabrication.

The Lies of the Land – A Brief History of Political Dishonesty, calls it, tells it, and shares a menagerie of despicable lies that have been told over the years; either by, or on behalf of those who supposedly have the people’s best interests at heart.

Namely the leaders and politicians that are not only at the vanguard of Westminster, but many of the world’s capitals. As Adam Macqueen has so prophetically written in the book’s Introduction: ”As sure as night follows day, the louder you shout about your opponent’s lies, the less obliged you feel to tell the truth yourself.”
Indeed.

As these hardly surprising, yet highly accurate and well written nine chapters make exceptionally clear, those in whom we are asked put our trust, are the most least likely people whom we would trust were we to bump into them on the tube or at some risible cocktail party along Whitehall.

Riddled with complete and utter contempt for that which we oft refer to as the truth, so many of those at the helm of the political persuasion, are themselves, no better than blatant criminals. In fact, many are worse, as again, The Lies of the Land remind us throughout.

For instance, on page 200 of chapter seven’s afore-quoted ‘Where Power Lies,’ the author, writing in reference to Margaret Thatcher and the sinking of the Belgrano during the horribly pointless Falklands War, quotes Labour MP, Tam Dalyell: ”He was a veteran conspiracy theorist, in many cases not without good cause, and in this particular case he and many others were convinced that the Belgrano had been sunk in order to scupper a peace plan which the US and Argentina’s neighbour Peru had been attempting to broker, so that Mrs Thatcher could pursue a war she had decided she had to win at all costs. In a 1987 polemic against the prime minister, Dalyell thundered: ‘I say she is guilty of gross deception. I say…she is guilty of calculated murder, not for the national interests of our country, not for the protection of our servicemen, but for her own political ends.”’

Suffice to say, to stumble upon such soaring home-truths again and again throughout these 337 pages, is what counters for this book being such a fascinating read. Or, as Matthew d’Ancona, author of Post-Truth and Guardian columnist has since said: ”An excellent guide through the thickets of political mendacity. Brilliantly-researched, intelligent, and lucid, this book is essential reading.”

There you go: essential reading.

David Marx

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Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East

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Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East
By Azriel Bermant
Cambridge University Press – £22.95

Throughout my political life I have usually sought to avoid compromise, because it more often than not turns out to involve an abdication of principle. In international affairs, it is often also symptomatic of muddle and weakness. But over the years I have been forced to conclude that the Arab-Israeli conflict is an exception. Here a historic compromise is, indeed, necessary.

                                                                                    Margaret Thatcher

It does make one wonder where former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, the all round architect of so-called Broken Britain, had the vivacious vim of audacity to think, let alone actually utter the word, ‘compromise.’

She is nevertheless, completely correct to use the word in relation to the appalling, on-going stalemate of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Although so far as eradicating great swathes of the United Kingdom, by way of the unlawful/soul-destroying Miners Strike of 1984-5 is concerned, she remains the most unscrupulous of political vermin, to have ever traipsed the steps of Downing Street.

Suffice to say, said Miner’s Strike has very little to do with Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East, but just as Tony Blair has become increasingly tarnished over his handling of Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War; for me personally, I cannot help but forever equate Thatcher with said strike and the total, total annihilation of (Britain’s) moral society.

With this in mind, let it be said that there was a most pronounced prism of cynicism which needed to be reigned in as I made my way through these twelve chapters of predominantly linear, literary diplomacy. Twelve chapters of coherent and very considered analysis of that which the title purports: an examination of the ‘Iron Lady’s Middle East policy throughout her tenure in office.

Something which, all things considered – her relationship with America and Ronald Reagan especially – wasn’t always quite as verbatim as expected. Her London constituency of Finchley may well have been predominantly Jewish, but Thatcher wasn’t always in agreement with Reagan’s foreign policy towards Israel.

A questionable modus operandi that Azriel Bermant touches on on numerous occasions throughout these 217 pages (excluding Figures, Acknowledgements, Notes, Bibliography and Index), not least in the book’s Introduction itself: ”Thatcher was instinctively sympathetic towards Israel, and she did attempt briefly to counter the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) position on the Middle East. However, there were also numerous occasions when she took the lead in supporting policies that caused considerable difficulties for the Israeli political leadership […]. This book therefore, challenges the exaggerated emphasis that has been placed on the differences between the FCO and 10 Downing Street on Middle East policy, and also questions the impact of partisan pressures on Thatcher’s policy towards the conflict.”

With an inexorable spotlight on her rather brazen approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this book fundamentally questions claims that Thatcher sought to counter Foreign Office policy, by maintaining she was in (relative) close agreement with Whitehall on the unsurprisingly, on-going dissension.

As such, a little dry perhaps, but on the whole, Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East is concise and very much to the point.

David Marx

The Great Brexit Swindle

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The Great Brexit Swindle
By T. J.Coles
Clairview Books – £10.99

Perhaps the best evidence for the truth about Brexit is Nigel Lawson’s article in the Financial Times entitled, ‘Brexit gives us the chance to finish the Thatcher revolution.

Just as Margaret Thatcher was capable of inciting one to spit blood during her incorrigibly vile and in-humane, eleven-year reign at the helm of British politics; the tiniest, sneakiest reminder of said tenure, remains just as equally spiteful and hateful, today, as when she used to regularly spout forth in the eighties.

Brexit notwithstanding, where millions of gullibles were hoodwinked into believing their day of democracy had finally arrived upon a wide-open platter of ‘Up The Junction,’ ‘Up The Arsenal’ and, wait for it,’ God Save The Queen’ last June (2016); the colossal and rather unfortunate irony lies in the fact that almost ALL of those who despised Thatcher, actually voted to Leave.

The three quintessential reasons being that huge swathes of the British (primarily English) populace are insecure, impeccably fick and guess what? Horribly racist – sometimes a caustic combination of all three.

Unfortunate qualities this equally impeccable, brave and brazen book, more than sheds pristine light on.

To be sure, The Great Brexit Swindle – Why the mega-rich and free market fanatics conspired to force Britain from the European Union is the utmost of invaluable and volatile of reads; quite simply because it tells the truth in such a way as it invariably needs to be told.

In the chapter ‘Finishing Thatcher’s Revolution,’ author T. J. Coles writes: ”In this book we have highlighted the genuine grievances of working and unemployed persons who saw their livelihoods and prospects decline and who ultimately voted for Brexit. We have also noted the propensity towards xenophobia. England is where pro-Leave sentiment was strongest, particularly in the deindustrialized north. Instead of educating working and unemployed English people about the common enemy of neoliberalism, the tabloids and television media have given people the impression that migrants are to blame for job insecurity and a general decline in living standards. In addition, the skewed demographic character of the UK gave older people greater voting power. The polls show that older people were more inclined to vote Leave.”

Indeed, older people, along with the mighty myopic, the uneducated and the hateful; in other words, those who subscribe to the ideology of the despicable tabloids.

For a balanced overview of Brexit: READ THIS BOOK.

David Marx

Orwell’s Faded Lion

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Orwell’s Faded Lion
The Moral Atmosphere of Britain 1945 – 2015
By Anthony James
Imprint Academic £14.95/$29.90

The later consequences of the Bush and Blair invasion of Iraq became clear in June 2014. The extreme group ISIS had conquered and occupied large swathes of Iraq, showing themselves to be considerably more ferocious, murderous and ruthless towards many Iraqis than Saddam Hussein had ever been, as well as a potentially far greater danger to the West. Tony Blair’s own self-justifying comments on this development were puerile and detached from reality. The one thing that Blair could never admit is how much the original American-British invasion had fuelled support for ISIS.

(‘Who Controls The Past Controls The Future’).

Having reviewed a number of books on Tony Blair over the years, I’ve always found myself being inadvertently confined to his way of thinking. To be sure, I’ve always found the tentacles of his varying in depth arguments and interviews inherently far reaching. Not to mention plausible, believable and down-right influential.

No wonder he made for such a superlative politician.

Lest it be said that to certain a degree, the former Prime Minister still knows how to cajole and hold-court; which is just one of the many, many reasons, why I really cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Orwell’s Faded Lion – The Moral Atmosphere of Britain 1945-2015 by Anthony James, is a tough, gritty, honest and at times, bleak overview of Britain’s political morass since the end of the Second World War. Although what accounts for its most readable quality (I couldn’t help but read the entire book in the best part of two sittings), is its clear and concise, rightful apprehension of the truth.

There’s no woolly, flim-flam, thank-you-mam approach to that of it’s political endeavour. Like George Orwell himself, hence the title, these 148 pages pack a super-suave punch, right into the smug and superfluous face of spin and impeccable lies.

For where else in this soulless day and overtly jaded age of social implosion, would you read: ”[..] with adult memories of Britain before 1979, I find it difficult as a parent to convey fully to my daughter […] the depth and scale of the changes in British society, many of which have turned out to be permanent and irreversible […] Britain after Mrs. Thatcher has been radically different and considerably worse and has not shown any sign yet that it can escape from the mould she imposed upon it […]. Her revolution, like all revolutions, was driven by an idea: you run the affairs of a country (it is not appropriate to say ‘society,’ the existence of which she denied) like a business, according to the instincts of businessmen and businesswomen […]. Although Mrs Thatcher lacked any understanding of the Marxism she hated, Karl Marx had given an enduring description of the spirit of her revolution in The Communist Manifesto, almost a century and a half earlier.

[Capitalism] has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment.’ It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. ‘It has resolved personal worth into exchange value… In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.”

(‘Who Controls The Past Controls The Future’).

Each of this books five chapters are grounded in such unwavering writing(s) as that above, which, regardless of political persuasion, makes for a thunder-bolt of an awakening call.

One of the most compact and satisfying of reads so far this year (I can’t wait for the sequel).

David Marx

Existentialism and Romantic Love

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Existentialism and Romantic Love
By Skye Cleary
Palgrave Macmillan – £63.00

Other people are a fact of life.
                                          David Cooper.

Love is a passion to be chosen and mastered, not sacrificed to.
                                          Skye Cleary.

I’d highly recommend this most excellent of books, just on the strength of its final chapter ‘Simone de Beauvoir and Loving Authentically’ alone. Reason being, there’s so much to be gleaned, so much to be inspired by, so much to go and away and think about.

And perhaps act upon.

It is because Existentialism and Romantic Love traverses the most complex and complicated of emotions we oft refer to as love – in a most self-defining manner, profoundly more reflective than an array of dreadful Hello and Cosmopolitan magazines combined – that fundamentally accounts for its validity. That it does so from an existentialist perspective which is resoundingly thought provoking throughout all of its seven chapters (Introduction and Conclusion included), propels the book in its entirety unto a literary place that is simply more commendable than commendable.

Authoress Skye Cleary already reminds us in the book’s Introduction that: ”not all mirrors can provide accurate reflections.”

Such pronouncement in itself, is enough to trigger colossal bouts of pensive persuasion amid love’s fraternity of analysis and assessment. Be it of the self. Or one’s relationship with another. As more often than not, we instinctively think we know about these things – but in truth, we don’t

In a world where capitalism and its grotesque ugly sister, advertising, have become inherently more instrumental within modern day relationships than that of love itself – which, lest it be said, absolutely isn’t tangible – it’s no surprise that mutual conflict can sometimes supersede the initial kernel of romance.

Or, dare one actually say it, love.

For want of a perhaps more definitive description, said miasmic maze of psychological undoing is coherently addressed in this book’s aforementioned final chapter: ”Beauvoir agreed with Sartre that conflict is a fundamental part of life because we clash with other freedoms. Nevertheless, embracing the conflict is a necessary part of life because transcending (pour-soi) is not easy, and giving it up means giving up existing. Transcendence is necessary to being a sovereign subject, which Beauvoir defines as actively, assertively, ambitiously, creatively, and courageously pushing oneself forward in the world, overcoming oneself, going beyond the given in life to be an agent in one’s life, and engaging in projects that one creates for oneself.”

Suffice to say, it is of vital importance to actually know and comprehend the above to begin with.

But again, due to economic demands and the smokescreen, diversionary importance of having to keep up with the myopic folly of such complete and utter bollocks as that of what other people may be wearing and driving, ”going beyond the given in life to be an agent in one’s life,” isn’t always as easy as it may sound. Reason being, such distraction as that promoted by the ideology of Hello Magazine et al, goes a long way in diluting and perhaps ultimately confusing what is truly important in life: ”Beauvoir did not mean that the need for others should be taken in the Machiavellian sense of using each other as means to ends. Rather, each individual acts in the context of society […]. The important thing for Beauvoir is acknowledging that the world is shared with other people and that one way or another individuals depend on the community for survival, self-definition, and meaning.”

”Each individual” acting ” in the context of society,” is a most potent force to be reckoned with. Perhaps one of the most important. This partially explains why so much of British society, and American society even more so, has been crumbling away in recent years.

After all, both places could all so readily be defined by what former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, once described as there being ”no such thing as society.”

As such, never has love, existentialist or otherwise, been in such short supply. All the more reason that one should truly investigate this most authentic, fascinating and quintessentially timely of books.

David Marx

1971 – Never A Dull Moment

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1971 – Never A Dull Moment
Rock’s Golden Year
By David Hepworth
Bantam Press – £20.00

          It was the best of times because in many respects it seemed to be the first of times.

What an utterly inviting, engaging and rather revelatory read 1971 – Never A Dull Moment has turned out to be.

As a regular reviewer of books, it can become relatively easy to slip into the subliminal slipstream of literary nonchalance, whereby the many inexorable words on the page are no longer punctuated by any form of inspired attraction. Although such is most certainly not the case with regards this glittering testimonial to the year 1971 – the year David Hepworth has described as ”rock’s best year.”

To be honest, it’s hard to disagree.

One need only randomly refer to any of the book’s twelve chapters (one for each month of the year along with a Prologue and an Epilogue) to ascertain just how idiosyncratic, how invigorating, how very, very valuable and important, popular music once was. A time when the music industry, and dare I say it, society at large, wasn’t so (kn)obsessed with a plethora of boy-bands and/or wailing tarts – for whom the parameters of music continues to entail nothing other than a cloying cleavage and all the vocal finesse of Benito Mussolini.

Reason being, 1971 was still a regal time of unquestioned innocence; which Hepworth is (unsurprisingly) keen to already alert us to in the very first chapter ‘January,’ wherein he writes: ”Smokers every where. On tube trains, in pubs, in offices, even in hospitals. No joggers, no health shops, no gyms, no leisurewear, no trainers, no mineral water, no Lycra, no fast food, no obesity. Wiry people […]. The only people with tattoos got them in the services […]. No security industry. No gates on Downing Street, no full body scans, no surveillance cameras, no speed bumps. Football fans pay two bob at the turnstile and then shove […]. no political correctness.”

No political correctness, yet there was still such a thing as society.

There again, Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet of Einsatzgruppen hadn’t yet arrived to evoke such sullen economic mockery amid the myopic naivety of the working class. No wonder rock’n’roll meant precisely that: rock and fucking roll.

Four blokes like The Who, making a great B-I-G colossal noise that actually meant something. That actually endeavoured to at least traverse such opium dullness as that of today’s grey, dull, barren, not to mention seismically redundant excuse of a pathetic music industry.

Indeed, from The Who’s Who’s Next to David Bowie’s Hunky Dory, from Carole King’s Tapestry to Led Zeppelin’s IV, from The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers to Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells A Story, from Pink Floyd’s Relics and Meddle to John Lennon’s Imagine; in 1971, there really wasn’t, as this book’s title more than aptly suggests, a dull moment.

As Hepworth states in the book’s Epilogue: ”The middle of the road was the only place to be. Underground was over ground, anything could be a hit. It was into this moment of panic and opportunity that all these 1971 masterpieces were hurled […]. If my twenty-one year old self could have been transported from 1971 to 2016 he would be struck dumb by the laptops, the phones, the affluence, the foreign tongues on the street, the idea that music could be accessed as if from a tap, the fact that three out of five stories in the news were about the sex lives of famous people and the puzzling realization that he couldn’t just go out on Saturday evening and buy a ticket on the door for any show in town.”

The high-octane realization ought to surely be the fact that there are no shows in town actually worth going to, while those that are, cost somewhere in the region of almost a hundred pounds per ticket…

To be sure, one could conclude that for those of a certain age, 1971 – Never A Dull Moment is a truly terrific book; but to be perfectly honest, for anyone remotely interested in the truth and what the sanctity of music once meant (and perhaps, could once again), this book will and ought to appeal to those of any age.

David Marx

Of God and Man

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Of God and Man
By Zygmunt Bauman & Stanislaw Obirek
Polity – £14.99 (paperback)

               The moment that uncertainty was born was the moment that morality                       was born – together with the moral self, a self aware of walking a                                  tightrope.

Engaging and thoroughly thought-provoking, stimulating and brimming with a theological analysis that is ultimately enticing to say the least, Of God and Man, is many things – predominantly that of a search for clarity and some kind of behavioural understanding.

As the title might suggest, this book is an in-depth, dense investigation into the sort of moral abyss; many of us would sooner bypass for whatever fleeting distraction of folly may happen to come our way. As such, by way of a more than fetching, if not intriguing dialogue between the sociologist and philosopher Zygmut Bauman, and the theologian and cultural historian Stanlisalw Obirek, these seven chapters ecclesiastically erupt unto a place where an assortment of home-truths, silently scream with the sort of candid candour, great swathes of society continues to do its utmost to avoid.

For example, whether it’s the following from the second chapter (‘What about This Religion? On the Threat of Fundamentalism – Not Only the Religious Kind’), where Obirek emphatically states: ”To possess the truth is so all-consuming that the walls built around it can only be stronger, higher, simply unconquerable. Dialogue and interaction become not only unnecessary, but even redundant, interfering with the bliss of the possessed truth. The only thing that remains is conversion, opening the eyes, and in extreme circumstances excluding or even killing the adversary. This is my objection, Zygmut, to the followers of monotheism.” Or the following from the sixth chapter (‘The Disinherited; or, Creating Tradition Anew’), where again, Obirek address Bauman: ”So maybe, together, we are on the road to a greater understanding and increased ability to handle the world, because dialogue allows us to cross the boundaries of our own loneliness? That you are able to read newspapers, react to questions sent from different parts of the world, always reading new texts and finding in them accurate diagnoses of our reality allows me to believe that an alternative exists; that TINA (There Is No Alternative), proclaimed by Margaret Thatcher with such conviction and with such devastating results – not only for British society – is passing into the dustbin of history as one of the twentieth century’s stupidest utterances by a politician. And that is good news.”

It is good news – although a mighty shame it took so long for much of the populace to let it finally pass it ”into the dustbin of history.”

There remains an enlightening and fundamentally quintessential daring throughout these one-hundred and sixteen pages; the sort of which, by the time one has reached the book’s conclusion, one cannot help but feel compelled to read more.

Ask more. Investigate further.

David Marx