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Issue #1561      22 August 2012

Culture & Life

“The worst is on the way”

It doesn’t take much for right-wingers to drop any pretence of being civilized, does it? Really, all it takes is the chance to make some money and they will give up the trappings of civilization with alacrity. In a section of Palestine beyond the so-called Green Line, a section illegally-occupied by Israel, tourists are encouraged to enjoy the thrilling sport of pretending to shoot Palestinian “terrorists” with real guns.

After its illegal takeover by Israel, the area, now featuring a settlement known as Gush Etzion, in 2002 became the site of the Calibre 3 shooting school, a training camp for Israeli “security professionals including soldiers and bodyguards”. The private company that operates the facility, however, was not content with the income from solely that line of business and accordingly three years ago opened its services to civilians, drawing its customers from two countries whose populations are encouraged to take similar pleasure in using guns: Israel and the USA.

According to US news outlet Common Dreams, “The company says it offers ‘the values of Zionism with the excitement and enjoyment of shooting which makes the activity more meaningful’.”

The company offers a two-hour “tourist course”, in which tourists and family groups (including children) are taught about guns using wooden replicas, meet local residents of the Israeli settlements and hear exciting tales of “encounters on the battlefield”, watch a simulated assassination of “terrorists” by guards, then are upgraded to real weapons and take turns shooting at photos of “terrorists”, identified by their wearing the Palestinian keffiyeh scarf.

The Calibre 3 website promotes the experience as a “special encounter that can not be experienced anywhere else except on the battlefield.” Gosh! Doesn’t it sound great?

And for people who presumably do not have much grasp of the reality of current affairs, the company’s line is apparently successful: “It’s a fun experience for the whole family,” Rachel Frogel, a young mother holding a baby in her arms, told Agence France-Press at the Calibre 3 school.

Now that the Olympics are over and with it the flag-waving rhetoric, it may be opportune to look beyond some of the spin-doctoring indulged in by the organisers of the Games and their equally shallow media mouthpieces, and look at the reality of life in Britain today.

At the end of June, figures released by Britain’s Department for Communities and Local Government showed a whopping 16 percent increase in homelessness when comparing the first quarter of 2012 with the same period last year. No amount of bike riding around the Queen Victoria Monument and up past Buckingham Palace will make that shocking figure shrink, especially since the homeless will see precious little of the billions of pounds allegedly brought into the British economy by the Games.

Instead, the charity Oxfam says Britain could return to Victorian levels of inequality, where having a job is no longer enough to save workers from hunger and homelessness as workers are caught between falling incomes and rising costs. The Tory-led British government is making huge cuts to welfare support for people on low incomes and claiming that this will give those people the “incentive” to go out and get jobs. But the figures show that the majority of people living in poverty actually do have jobs already: those jobs just don’t pay enough. As Chris Jones, Oxfam’s Director of UK Poverty (now there’s a job title no one would want) says: “there simply aren’t enough decent jobs available”.

Britain’s capitalists, however, instead of unzipping their wallets and creating jobs, are putting their money elsewhere – anywhere it might make some more money for them. Some of them are also putting money into a corporate-backed faction within the Labour Party with the misleading name “Progress”. This faction was established by Lord Sainsbury with a donation of over £2 million. Paul Kenny, general secretary of the general union GMB (one of the three largest affiliates of the Labour Party), characterises the Progress faction as “an organisation funded by external vested interests who seek to gain influence over candidate selection and in internal elections”. In other words, it’s a well-heeled group that is trying to gain control of the Labour Party.

And although the record of the last Labour government was pretty dismal from a working class viewpoint, victory for the backers of the Progress group would push the country even further to the right. If the British people are suffering now, they would soon be a lot worse off. And while some might think that will “hasten the revolution”, what it will really hasten is the spread of right-wing extremism.

Already, the present government’s constant attacks on welfare recipients as “scroungers” is encouraging an upsurge in hate crimes against people with disabilities (presumably seen by fascist thugs as a legitimately sanctioned target with the added benefit that they can’t fight back). But the outlook for British capitalism is as gloomy as for the rest of Europe: Germany’s Chancellor Merkel is in deep trouble, France is still rent with unrest, Spain and Portugal are in crisis, the Eurozone continues to totter on the brink of collapse and disintegration.

Franco-German capitalism is still pursuing the same goal of Continental domination through the creation of a European super state, but the two European powers are following different paths to get there. They may be allies but they are imperialist rivals too.

After the victory of social democracy and right-wing scaremongering in the recent Greek elections, many commentators heaved sighs of relief that “the worst of the crisis was over”.

But the Greek Communists, the KKE, looked to the future for Europe and the Greek people and said “The worst is not over … the worst is on the way.”  

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