thumping the tub
Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. (from This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant.
Thursday, November 24, 2005

There has been no quantifiable difference in the actions of the Western Powers over the years (particularly in relation to foreign policy) but the way they are going about it is changing. I was talking to a friend the other day and we got to thinking about how much more bare-faced about it they are now than they used to be.

Rather than simply torturing, abusing and wrongly convicting people covertly they are doing it openly in everyone's face. I have always suspected that Guantanamo Bay is more or less an advert in that if they had secret camps then what is the point of having such a high-profile one? Obviously the idea is to breed fear into people. Military Psy-Ops units have said that this was the point of the torture photos from Abu-Ghraib. The idea was to show the photos to other prisoners to get them to confess. This is, I am sure, no consolation to those who were tortured to get the pictures.

It is the openness of the abuses that is the difference - not the abuses themselves. Cheney is going round Washington actively lobbying for torture. This would have been unthinkable even twenty years ago. It would have been done in private.

An argument could be made that this is a good development as it shows these people up for what they are and the public at large will be revolted by such developments and stop it all from happening. Take a look around - that isn't the case - yet.

CIA, MI5 and MI6 officers resigning in disgust and coming out with information is not a new thing but the sheer quantity that are doing it at the moment is telling. There seems to be someone who has resigned whisteblowing almost weekly on Democracy Now! All of them are telling roughly the same story - that instead of policy being fitted to the intelligence the intelligence is being fitted to the policy. Again, this is not new but the sheer bare-facedness of it is.

Domestically is no different. In the UK Blair lost a vote on his new terror laws. In days past the loss of a vote in the House of Commons was enough to get a vote of no confidence in the government. Blair would win such a vote if it was called but there wasn't even a sniff of one. Blair simply said that everyone who disagreed with him was wrong and says he will get the vote the next time round.

In the UK there used to be the doctrine of 'Ministerial Responsibility'. The idea was that if there was a major mistake in any government department then the Minister had to go - even if he/she was not personally responsible. Even if it was mainly for show it did help to provide a minor check on what politicians were up to. Now they never resign unless caught doing things that are genuinely or borderline illegal. Even then they get brought back in another job within a few months. This idea is gone.

In the US some people believe the Valerie Plame case and all the other things that are spinning round add up to being much worse than Watergate. Is there even a hint of contrition? Not a bit of it. Tom Delay's mugshot picturing him grinning from ear to ear gives you an idea...
In mainland Europe, after the French and Dutch people voted 'No' to the proposed EU constitution politicians in both countries just said that they must not have explained themselves properly and the silly people hadn't realised what was in their best interests. Consider Chirac's national address "You have rejected the European constitution by a majority. It is your sovereign decision and I take note of it." Take NOTE of it?!? Shouldn't you be acting on it?

They don't listen to us. They don't listen to their officials. They listen to their friends in commerce and the military. It is getting worse. One should still has to make clear one's outrage but it is probably better to do it to the people around you. If you do it to this set of leaders then all they will change is their spin.

Joe Carpenter...

I've never understood the idea of speaking truth to power. The truth, surely, is that in almost all countries of the world, political and economic systems are designed to benefit only the rich and powerful, at the expense of those with less money and power. This is how the world works, and I see no reason to think that the powerful don't already understand that. After all, they designed it; they maintain it.

Prof. David Miller

I wouldn't want 5 minutes to talk to the G8 leaders. What would be the point? Even a month, politely offering the latest statistics and best analysis of how their policies are destroying humanity and the planet, would be no good. The experience on Iraq, on Africa and on climate change is that the G8 leaders do not listen to wise words. Instead they pursue the interests of big business in its drive to subject everything to the market. Talking is not going to change their minds. So if you have five minutes, and you want to change the world, the most effective thing to do is join the great movements of our time, against war and for global justice.
posted by michael the tubthumper @ 10:58 am  
  • At 2:00 pm, Blogger JOS said…

    Great post, Michael. I think Bono should come over here and read it. He is one example of many who are legitimizing those in power by using his status and money given him by his fans to work with them on their terms.

    We can not work within this system and expect change because it will always benefit those who creatted it. Cheers.

  • At 2:35 pm, Anonymous Mickey Z. said…

    Great stuff, Michael. As our society becomes more and more indoctrinated, it seems secrecy is less necessary. Compare and contrast U.S. actions in Chile (1973) with regime change in Iraq in 2003.

    Keep up the excellent work...

  • At 5:04 pm, Blogger Keir said…

    Nice one Michael. The whole "in the open" thing you mention with regard to secret detention centers and Guantanamo has many analogues. Clinton's foray into Serbia was about "legitimization" and one can wonder how much of a mistake bombing the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was. The message--as officially stated at one point--was to seem just insane and aggresive enough to instill fear in, well, everyone. I think that's also the story with the militarization of space, even though tests of the technology continually fail.

  • At 5:06 pm, Blogger Keir said…

    Also, kind of related, Paul Street has written some compelling stuff about how the American adventure in Vietnam was easily a success. It depends what you think the mission was.

  • At 5:19 pm, Blogger michael the tubthumper said…

    cheers all

    Keir - chomsky said the same thing. its sometimes called 'an exemplary action'

    jos - i sometimes find bono and geldof more nauseating than bush and bliar

    mickey (and everyone) i assume you all have...but have you read 'killing hope' by william blum??

  • At 7:35 pm, Blogger Disillusioned kid said…

    Good post, bad situation. A useful rejoinder to the fluffy thinking which drives campaigns like Make Poverty History, mind.

  • At 9:07 pm, Blogger joe said…

    Michael, this is truly an excellent blog, excellent work.
    Each time I visit, I'm impressed and delighted. I'm honored to be a brief part of it, today.

    You know, there's an old Zen story about a scorpion who asks a frog to carry him across a stream. The frog says: "No, you'll sting me."
    The scorpion tells the frog that he's changed, reformed, and that he promises not to sting him.
    Well, somewhere near midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog says: "You've stung me. Now we'll both drown." The scorpion replies: "Im sorry. I'm a scorpion, it's my nature to sting people."

    We're ruled by a system, the nature of which is to sting people. It's a "Scorpion System." It can not be reformed...

    Meanwhile, in my neighborhood, there are still people who are convinced that they did the right thing by voting for George Bush.

  • At 10:40 pm, Blogger michael the tubthumper said…

    in this neighbourhood there are still people that fall for the old 'if you don't vote for ........(insert labour leaders name) then you will get the conservatives (tories) and they are RE-e--a-all-l-y-y bad. same as the democratic repub thing in the US. people fall for it every time when in truth labour and the democrats are just the ruling elite's second 11

  • At 12:34 am, Anonymous Mickey Z. said…

    Yes Michael, I think Blum's work is crucial. In fact, when asked "where to start," I often tell folks to read two books:

    1. Zinn's "People's History"
    2. Blum's "Killing Hope"

    ...and then go from there.

  • At 11:02 pm, Blogger mikevotes said…

    Great post as always. You do such good long format content.

    One of the reasons Cheney has given for the CIA exemption is that he doesn't actually want to torture, but wants to be able to use that as a threat against the detained.

    No, I don't buy it either.

    Also, I don't see Guantanamo as as PR item, I see it as an effort to push the publicly acceptable, so that the covert can go even further.

    Also, over at my blog, I finally conceded the argument to you regarding the BBC. After reading their spin piece on the Mirror revelation, that Bush was just joking about bombing al jazeera.

    I give up. You win the argument.


  • At 1:15 am, Blogger Keir said…

    Hey Michael, that pre-concert speech is up now at my blog. Cheers for the "aargh's" you typed for me during the discussion. I had to remain civil.

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What is Tubthumping and who is doing it?

Name: michael the tubthumper
Home: Glasgow, Scotland
About Me: Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant. 28 years old, I write and research for a couple of websites and also do my own stuff.
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Thumping The Tub Video

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I have made a few short movies. Here are links to free downloads for them all in the order that I made them (as far as I can remember). Please feel free to use, distribute, disagree with, shout at etc etc

  • Praise The Lord and Pass The Ammunition
  • This was a REAL song from World War 2. I was so stunned by it I had to make a movie

  • How Far Is It From Here to Nuremberg
  • This is my attempt at a video for the excellent, if worrying, David Rovics (see links) song

  • What You Like
  • I believe the word for this is "splenetic". Only 20 seconds long.

  • Imperial Measures
  • What is going on in Iraq? Some things you knew, some you didn't. A couple of bits of info are out of date now.

  • Wish You Were Here
  • Wish You Were Here is a 6 minute film about the unprecendted rate of animal extinction we are currently experiencing

  • Gorillas and us
  • I don't like creationism, neither did Douglas Adams

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    some of the blogs I look at
    Arse of the month

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    The inaugural 'Arse of the month' award goes to our very own Scottish First Minister Jack (Joke) McConnell. He seems to spend a lot of his time sucking up to english politicians and yet it appears they don't even know his name. Follow the link to see..

    It's All Gone Scottish

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    A list of some other Scottish sites and blogs most of which, if not all, are pro-independence. I don't agree with content on all of them obviously. Some are Scots at home, others abroad.

  • The Scottish Patient
  • Kim Ayres
  • Our Scotland
  • average tosser
  • 1820
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  • the menace of liberal scholarship
  • the modern era of law
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