Monday, 16 May 2011

Thousands march in Spain against cuts.... just one big english-speaking media reports.

Just about two months after Britain went to the streets on the March for the alternative, against the coalition cuts, gathering in London around 500,000 people on the 26th of March, and the 10,000 march of disable people for the same reason who took place in May, it was the turn of Spain.

Around 20,000 Spaniards went to the streets of Madrid, plus another 50 cities around the Spanish Kingdom, including around 10,000 in Barcelona, under the initiative"Democracia real, ya!" (Real Democracy, now!) a rally against the government cuts, the bankers and politicians, asking for a "solution of the economic crisis thinking in the people, not in the banks".  A movement that comes now that Spain has the highest unemployment rate of the European Union, 21.3 % of the population.

In an open letter from José Luis Sampedro Sáez, a Spanish writer, humanist, economist and member of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, who has being advocated for an economy that is "more human, in solidarity, and capable of develop and dignify the people", he says that:

You have understood that is not enough to be upset, it is necessary to transform that upsetting feeling into resistance and give a step forward. A Historical movement needs action, movement, protest and pacific rebellion, The call for outrage shall not be stop in being a best-seller easily digested by the system and you are showing that with this initiative. [...] The official media is not going to support you and you will find many obstacles in your way, but what is at risk is your future.  The 15th of may shall be something more than an oasis in the desert, shall be the beginning of a strong fight until we achieve that, effectively, we are not "merchandise in hands of politicians and bankers any more". Let's say NO to the financial tyranny and its devastating consequences.

 And people listened to the call and went to the streets, a rally that was gather basically via social media over the internet, since it was little coverage in the Spanish media about the organizing of the event.

But was really outrageous was precisely the lack of covering of the event itself.  The Spanish media mentioned just little about it on the news, like if it was just a small march, and focusing on the arrests that the police performed and the number of policeman hurt during the rally. "24 arrested and 5 policeman injured in march against the system" it's the title on El Mundo. A few mentions in the international spanish-speaking media also were made.

Oddly enough, there was no mention at all in the British media about the event. We can argue that the British public has little interest in what is happening in Spain beyond the soccer matches, and it could be understandable, even when not desirable, that it didn't make to the front pages, but so far (16 of may, 8 pm) none of the mayor British media has mentioned the news at all!!  It just didn't happen for the english-speaking world. The only exception was the Washington Post article about it, so far the only mass media to report the event for the international public who doesn't speak Spanish.

And that is basically the reason of my post. In a world were the English language has become the lingua franca of the world, is really sad that the protests against the neo-liberal system around the world are silent.

But the march did happened, and #spanishrevolution became a world wide trending topic on twitter, even when the media is not covering.  But twitter gives just a glipse of what is happening, and we need to rely on the blogs of some Spanish participants to understand even a little of what was all about.

The march had lots of people, lots of messages, a big diversity of social profiles, groups and ideas. A big number of people outrage of a "democracy" that has become a parody of itself, a political party rule that doesn't represent the people and acts against them.

"They call it Democracy and it is not", says Juan Luis Sánchez.  In a small account of the march in Madrid, were it gives account that the march was a rally without the intervention of the political parties or even the unions, it was a march of the people, specially the young ones, like "Juventud sin miedo" (Youth without fear) an organization of youngsters that went to the march armed with books like The Quixote and One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Similar accounts from Seville, Barcelona, Malaga, Oviedo, etc. are found, were people talk about the success of the marches, were complete families went out to the streets to protest. Shouting themes like "people, united, will never be defetead" and "we are not merchandise of politicians and bankers" people gathered in Plaza Cataluña in Barcelona, says Samuel Rodríguez. We are being robbed by the banks, not by the immigrants is the title of the Ovideo account by Javier Bauluz.




There has being an occupation at the Puerta del Sol (spanish for "Gate of the Sun", which oddly enough is not a gate, nor has any sun monument, but one of the main squares of Madrid, probably the equivalent of Trafalgar Square in London) and people are planning to stay indefinitely there to show that the movement was more than just one day.

People around Europe are showing that they are not happy, not happy at all by the government measures that only benefit the banks and the "macro-economy" leaving the social structure of the countries vulnerable and sometimes destroyed.  And more importantly, that there is an alternative, a solution that benefits the people and not the economic interests.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Royal Propaganda, Goebbels would be proud of Elizabeth Windsor

Last weekend was mental, really mental. It was the ultimately Medieval bank holiday, and I really begin to doubt if humanity has really evolved in the core since the dark ages. One week after, I want to reflect upon some things on the events.

First, we had a Royal Wedding, to celebrate an archaic institution that on its structural values goes against democracy, accountability, freedom of religion, state-church separation, woman rights and gay rights. Buckingham Palace PR machine went out with all, and held one of the biggest media hypes in recent times.  Then another institution that shares all those “qualities” with the monarchy, the Catholic Church, after having a very bad year on popularity, decided to held the beatification of Karol Wojtyla, aka John Paul II, without a doubt his most charismatic leader ever, but we have to question, how is getting this former Pope close to be a Saint helps with the abuse scandals, when he was not only protector, but friend of paedophiles like Marcial Maciel. And then to finish it all, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the crusaders kill the big heretic boss, making him a martyr and the Empire celebrates on the streets.

The events themselves will require a long post analysing them and all the things around.  But I want to centre in one specific theme, The propaganda machine that surrounded them, and in specific the Royal Wedding, and I’m doing it not because I think it’s the most important or with bigger repercussions, certainly on that category the Oscar goes to the Killing of Osama by Obama, but because is one I lived directly. 

Joseph Goebbels said:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it

Well, the old Joe will be certainly proud of Elizabeth Windsor and her government.

Buckingham Palace started a massive media campaign to which, almost all media networks surrender and keep the editorial line dictated from the Royal Throne.  It was simple, ALL Britain was celebrating the wedding of Mrs. Windsor's grandson, and the event was the core of what means to be British, and everyone would have their “Proud to be British” moment watching, people would through into the streets in a massive number of “traditional street parties” and the monarchy would stronger than ever. Right?, well..Wrong!

For that we were told a series of lies, big ones and that were repeated by the media over and over. 

1)    The support of the monarchy is overwhelm outnumbering the very few republicans by much.  Reality show that 1 in 5 Britons want to have an elected head of state.
2)    Everybody in Britain is looking forward with great excitement the wedding, when a poll, previous to the wedding suggested that around 80% of the population was not interested at all.
3)    People would be celebrating all along in Britain.  Truth, the street parties application were lower than anyone expected, the majority of councils have none, even in big cities like Glasgow.
4)    All the world loves the Windors and the British monarchy and 2 billions persons would be watching the event. That was the one that won the prize really, the big big lie that Goebbels was talking about, and that was repeated all over. Media, even left wing one, like the Guardian and even media networks overseas repeated the mantra, “2 billions expected to watch the royal wedding” over and over, and as the genius of propaganda said, people eventually start to believe it.

But... Let’s analyze the numbers, shall we?

There are 1.5 billion TVs on this planet, from which

China:     400,000,000     
United States:     219,000,000     
Japan:     86,500,000     
India:     63,000,000     
Russia: 60,500,000
Brazil: 36,500,000

That is roughly 60% of the televisions on this planet

2 billion is 29% of the world’s population. Now, the country where presumably it would be the bigger audience is the UK, being the country with the biggest percentage of support for the monarchy.  And even here 60% of the population didn’t watch the event. If you can’t get even half of the population watching in the UK, can you seriously expect 28.9% across the world?

I think is safe to assume that in China, Japan, Russia and Brazil the event was not a major issue, so we would not expect a big audience there. Actually excluding the Commonwealth countries and the USA I would say it was a non relevant issue at all.  And a recent poll  showed that the USA was not really that interested, only less than 40% was interested, and not to a big degree, so other major population viewer dropped to get the big number. Now India, most-watched TV event in India was the 2011 India vs Sri Lanka cricket world cup final, with 135 million viewers. That’s only 11.7% of the Indian population, do you expect to have a bigger number for the wedding of a person who is viewed by many Indians as the continuation of the Empire that conquer them?

Let’s just examine other figures. The 2008 Olympic games opening ceremony got One billion viewers, the Soccer World Cup 2010 got 715 million. Do you seriously expect me to believe that the wedding of William Windsor captives the double of audience worldwide than what are presumably the two events of bigger international interests in the last 5 years?

Come on!!, even if you love the Windsors, you have to accept that the number is just a big propaganda statement.  But people repeated the mantra without even question it.

Now, we have the first part of Goebbels recommendation done, keep the lies big, and repeat them over and over and over.  It’s time to pass to phase two:

Use the power of the State to repress dissent.

The first attempt to repress dissent was with the group Republic, a non-party political pressure group that wants to have an elected head of state. They planned to organize a Non-Royal wedding street party, to celebrate republicanism and democracy, and show you can be a patriot without having to bow before the Windsors.  Well, the attempt was blocked, Camden council didn’t granted the permission over some claims of that this group had not submitted a “management plan” - which turned out to be thoroughly untrue, they demonstrate that with some emails and to the embarrassment of the council publish them and circulate them over the internet and some news sites (never in the front page of major ones of course).   Fortunately they manage to keep the party going, in a different place. So, until then, freedom of speech one, fascist tactics zero.

But things get worst, a couple of days before the wedding police start “pre-emptively” arresting people that they believe could cause disruption on the day of the wedding. were the “pre-emptive arrests” of 70 people under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice Act 1996, which grants the police ‘emergency’ stop and search powers. 99 people were “excluded” or “barred” from the City of Westminster on April 29. A small area was declared a “sterile” zone by the police, using the powers of the 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

Buckingham palace also decree that no humour or mockery of the Royal couple was going to be made on public broadcast media.  So, not even protesting with a joke was allowed.

On the day of the wedding itself, a group of gay people organized a “zombie flash mob” in Soho square, a few km away from Westminster Abbey, but still in central London, and they were told to leave or would be arrested because they may “offend royalists”.

Additionally, the police arrested others, when they entered a branch of Starbucks on Oxford Street - arresting them “on suspicion of planning a breach of the peace”, surely buying a coffee is a very dangerous terrorist act.

So basically, having a republican sentiment equals to try to persecute the innocent royal couple and unpatriotically disrupt the nation’s rejoicing?

It was a very sad display of the most radical tactics of a fascist state, in a country that is supposed to be opposed to that and be a champion of democracy and freedom.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Patrick Wolf

Does anyone else loves Patrick Wolf?

I discover him actually by chance on youtube a few weeks ago, and the more I listen to his music the more fascinated I am, he mixes lots of sounds and genres I love, and the style varies a lot even in a single album, which is wicked, since usually the singers-composers tend to find their style and not move much from there, unlike the singers that sing songs from others that have like more chance to “choose” different styles.   It’s like listening to Bjork mixed with Kate Bush, Mika and Depeche Mode, but with a fabulous and fresh style.

As a musician, he tries to find new sounds, and to experiment, he plays the piano, harp, accordion, harpsichord, organ, theremin, ukulele, viola and violin, which is very impressive in itself, but beyond being multi-instrument player, I think he’s not afraid of trying new things, from commercial pop to dark melancholic folk and electronic sounds, also and a thing that I always celebrate in real artists, is that he really gives part of himself to his music, for that I mean that he manage to puts his own feelings and state of mind (and soul) in the tracks and transmit it in a brilliant way to the audience.  One may like or dislike some artists, but true art is about transmit feelings, if you manage to do that, then yes, you are entitled the name artists.

I have not listen to all his albums, I first followed what the internet give us about him, which it was a very nice surprise. Then, I decided to buy one of his albums, The Bachelor, which is surprisingly only £2.50 on amazon,
 then I learned that this album was founded by his fans, after leaving universal music and not wanting to deal with any major record label, he went out to his fans to ask for help, and give them the chance to buy stocks of the album, managing to collect £100,000 to record the 14 track album (explaining why is so cheap, since there’s no middle man and big company asking money for it).  This album, as he has described, is very dark due to him being in a very dark place, giving up on the idea of love and long term relationships.

There’s anger, but also a sense of hope, the revolution that leads to resolution, and great rock style sounds over the song “Hard Times”

The folk orientated and melancholic sounds of Damaris

The folk blues with a great stamp of despair in the Bachelor

Or the electronic sounds of Vulture

I have also listen to some tracks from the previous album, The magical position, which is a more commercial pop one, from a time when love was in the life of Wolf.

The baroque pop of the magical position, with a very nice video full of bright and happy colours, in a song that is also full of happy feelings, was the first to capture me.

And finally on a totally 80s style pop the new single of his upcoming album Lupercalia, The city.

I’m also fascinated with Patrick Wolf the character, first his extravagant androgynous looks, and his open sexuality that doesn’t constrict himself to a label. He said in an interview  "In the same way I don’t know if my sixth album is going to be a death-metal record or children's pop, I don’t know whether I’m destined to live my life with a horse, a woman or a man. It makes life easier." Which is a brilliant form to put it. And in other said that "My sexuality is kind of liberal. I fall in love with men and women. I guess you would call me bisexual. I like to have sex and fall in love—I don't like giving terminology for my sexuality.” 
It was, without a doubt one of the better discoveries I have made in lately, and I’m totally fascinated by this young artist.

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