Thursday, 2 April 2009

Of torture and murder

I will return to the subject of my last couple of posts very soon - I have certainly been thinking much about them - but now I would like to talk about something that has been troubling me vaguely for about a month. It was then i received a message on my facebook page concerning a crime that had horrified the British nation some years ago. In February 1993 a toddler called James Bulger was abducted, tortured and murdered by two ten-year-old children. The message that had ben forwarded to me was a hoax, asking me to sign a petition to prevent the release of the perpetrators - who had been, in fact, released several years before. There are many such hoaxes about and many people who unwittingly forward them. What disturbed me, however, was the covering message which asserted that if I ignored it I was "seriously fucked in the head".

This angered me. For one thing, I knew that the perpetrators had already been released but more importantly it revealed, as far as I could see, a terrifying blindness to reality. What happened to this child was horrifying and I would make no attempts to minimise it. But the perpetrators were themselves also children - both aged 10 - below the age of criminal responsibility in many jurisdictions. That means something - they are not expected to realise the full implications of their actions. They were tried and convicted, however, and were taken into custody and eventually deemed to be no longer a threat. Being unacquainted with the full details of their cases I cannot possibly comment on the virtues of their release and subsequent reintroduction into society. I do know, however, that the tabloid press went to town on it.

The crime was horrifying. I do not know what went through the minds of those who committed it nor how they have come to terms with it now they are adults. I hope that they have, however, and that their life is full and rewarding. James Bulger cannot be brought back to life.

The tabloid press, however, so vigilant in its demand for justice to be served on children is strangely silent on other issues. For a large part of the 1950s and 60s the CIA funded an eminent psychiatrist in Canada, Ewen Cameron, in his research on how to delete the human personality. As his subjects this man of science used patients who were experiencing such things as post-partum depression. This scientific moron believed that if he could eradicate all past experience he could rebuild a healthy human being. To this end he used sensory deprivation, extreme disorientation, all manner of drugs, electric shocks and other methods. His funders, however, were not so naive, they did not expect any therapeutic results - their interest was simply in how to disintegrate the human personality. The results of this research, although long practised covertly, were legitimised in the Bush regime and have still not been renounced by Obama, who seems unlikely to pursue the torturers and prosecute those who gave the green light to them.

I am not surprised and expected nothing less. Whatever virtues Obama may have, and they may indeed be many, he is in the service of a nation and a system which has prospered through the use of torture. Which has prospered through deliberate mass murder. Those who own the tabloid press - the Murdochs of this world - have fostered this ideology of theft, greed, murder, rape and torture. They have feted the ideologues who gave an intellectual gloss to naked and unabashed greed - in particular Milton Friedman and his disciples. These, oh-so-dainty and respectable academic apologists for cruelty and greed are still presiding over the deliberations of the politicians whose souls they have bought - including the current incumbents of both Downing Street and the White House. And the latest G20 farce in London.

And nobody seems to care. They are too busy telling me that I am "seriously fucked in the head" if I do not join the lynch mob baying for the blood of a couple of ten-year-olds.


Annie L. Bodnar said...

Ok, now I think I have to take issue with the statement that America "has prospered as a nation" through the use of torture. This is far from true. America was built on immigrant power and the hard working citizens who prosper despite what it's government does to thwart them. There is little the average citizen can do other than vote and protest at what the government chooses to do in secret.

I know full well the crimes governments engage in, but to blame a whole nation for what it's aristocrats and autocrats do is a bit hyperbolic. You could say that the British Empire had it's heyday as well, but I know monarchies are responsible for that, not citizens. You could say the same for the Dutch and for the Africans for dealing in slave labor long before Americans.

However, I agree with tabloid news and fear mongers who spread the rumors. They are merely sowing the seeds of discontent and hoping more violence ensues so that they may "report" such pseudo-events. Good news never sells after all.


Annie L. Bodnar said...

I meant to say that I agree with your assessment of tabloid news and fearmongers. I do not agree with them at all. Sorry about that.

Brian Charles said...

I fully take your points here, Annie. The US citizens are not individually responsible for the actions of its governments and corporations. And also acknowledge the contribution made by immigrants from all nations. Much of my anger is, in fact, due to the fact that many of the high ideals of the founders of the nation have been corrupted by those entrusted to preserve them.

You are right to draw my attention to the behaviour of the British and the Dutch Empires. These are, however, now a memory - the brutal but squalid little war in the Malvinas/Falklands which ensured hatcher's re-election merely some sort of grotesque echo. The British Empire prospered through torture and murder That is the way of Empire.

And the predominant world Empire now is the USA. There are few regions in the world where the stars and stripes don't flutter over a military base. Whatever the rhetoric, this is an Imperial project. Just as British India was.

In the years since the second world war, the US along with its allies has been involved in provoking and sustaining bloodshed in, to name but a few, Iran, Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Argentina, Indonesia, Phillipines, Iraq, Afghanistan,
Vietnam, Korea, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Israel. All this is a matter of record. Survivors of torture in many of these countries speak of Americans being involved in directing their torture.

American corporations have prospered as a direct result of all these actions. Many are on record as having directly funded death squads. That prosperity has directly benefited the citizenry who are employed by those same corporations- not just in the US but of the West in general.

I am not blaming individual citizens for this - as you say, most of this has been kept secret from them. Many of my closest friends are American and much of the culture I love has its roots there. But if Bush has done one service to the US it is that his administration was so terminally corrupt and brutal that it has revealed the toxicity of the economic system that enabled it to flourish.

If government of the people, by the people and for the people is to survive - or be reasserted - then it is necessary to look at what has been done by the corporate traitors who have used government in order to extend their profit base and bring them before the courts This is not hyperbole. Murder and torture have been committed not in the name of a monarch, as in British Empire, but of the American people for at least the last fifty years.

In his closing address to the US people, Eisenhower - hardly a raging radical - warned of the dangers of a corporate takeover of government by what he called the Military - Industrial Complex. This has happened and the consequences have been dire for much of the rest of the world.

Annie L. Bodnar said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you, but there is no practical solution to this problem as we see it.

Corporations and governments go hand in hand. The most we, on the lowest strata of society, can do to battle this corporate machine is to withdraw financial support from them. However, they are so insidiously tied with our everyday living needs, this becomes impossible to do without shooting ourselves in the foot, to choose a poor metaphor.

Voting doesn't do it. Obama is quickly realizing that what he promises cannot be carried out due to control on the inside by inside groups such as the CIA and others; he quickly realizes that no one can possibly eradicate these groups without huge financial resources of their own to work with. Unfortunately, money is the lingua franca in our society and most of us poor schmucks are merely trying to survive and feed families on a daily basis.

I would really like to hear more
about practical ways to combat what you say is happening rather than be excoriated by my UK friends for being part of such a hydra, one which I and the working class people I know, did little to create.


Brian Charles said...

Hi Annie,

I did not intend to excoriate you and I am sorry if you felt that I had. My comments are directed at the US because that is the currently dominant Imperial power and it is also the one with whic my own country is closely allied.
This is not anti-Americanism but anti Friedmanite free market capitalism - which has been embraced as the ideology of choice by successive US - and UK - governments since the unholy marriage of Thatcher and Reagan.

I do not know what the solution is but a necessary step towards it is to name what has been happening. High crimes have been committed over many years - the name of Oliver North comes into my head at this point - and no-one has been called to account for them. My own country is also culpable in this.

I will not write any more here as am planning a longer post which will deal with my personal take on these issues.

Annie L. Bodnar said...

No apologies necessary, Brian. I get a tad touchy when this comes up in other conversations as well. I'm looking forward to the post!