Sunday, November 30, 2008

Layer 92 Enemies Of The State

The good old BBC seems to excel in showing movies that synchronise with issues currently in the media spotlight. Last night and tonight they’ve been showing Tony Scott’s “Enemy Of The State”.

I saw this film at the cinema when it went on general release, and liked it a lot. Will Smith and Gene Hackman are superb in portraying individuals whose lives are at risk from ‘rogue’ operators in one of the security services. Of course it’s over the top and melodramatic, but the point is well made about the power of the state to spy on and harm individuals who may be considered enemies of the state. Consider that it was made in 1998, and then consider the massive increase in both the powers of the security services the sophistication of the technology available to them post 2001.

The BBC, of course, commissioned and are showing “Spooks” on BBC1, which also demonstrates in a chilling way how much technology and know-how is available to the security services.

Next consider the arrest last week of the Tory shadow minister for immigration, Damian Green, and the way in which his home and his offices were invaded and scrutinized.

This whole affair seems unbelievable. If this sort of thing can happen to such a high-profile parliamentarian, then clearly it can happen to anyone. I never thought I’d feel sympathy for a Tory.

It must have been pure coincidence that BBC Radio 4 throughout last week serialized a new biography of Arthur Miller as their book of the week.

Henry Goodman reads from Christopher Bigsby's biography of Arthur Miller, the great American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American literature and cinema for over 61 years, writing a wide variety of plays, including celebrated plays such asThe Crucible, A View from the Bridge, All My Sons, and Death of a Salesman.

Miller, of course, was at one time sentenced to a month in prison by Congress for refusing to name individuals he’d associated with or been with at political meetings. And that was after he’d written about political witch-hunts in The Crucible!

This was the first time I’ve made a point of listening to every single episode of ‘Book of the Week’. Miller has long been a hero, and this was riveting stuff.

Up to Pearl Harbour Miller saw himself as a revolutionary. After that he presumed the whole country would unite in an anti-fascist project with ideals geared towards greater compassion for the poor and needy, and greater egalitarianism. He assumed his political beliefs would now be ‘respectable’. He dropped his pacifism and wanted to contribute to the war effort against the fascists.

He also wanted to write plays ‘that would transform America’. He wanted to write ‘with a clear eye and a cold understanding, an idealism and a sense of need for a changed world’.

Well, a ‘changed world’ isn’t what the conservatives, the neo-conservatives, the good old Republicans, and the Far Right in general, have in mind. Shit - even New so-called Labour STILL isn’t talking any radical talk, in spite of all that’s happened and all that’s been done by greedy fat cats and would-be fat cats to wreck the economy and destabilise the entire planet. So who’s the enemy of the fucking planet?

The FBI thought that ‘Death of a Salesman’ was a “shrewd blow against the American way of life”. Imagine - they were terrified that anyone seeing the play might start to consider that capitalism as a system was inhumane, exploitative and wicked.

“When does one cease to work and start to live?” asked Miller. When indeed.

He also said, “Powerful people had me in their sights and were only awaiting a clear shot”. Those who resist the prevailing political orthodoxies are always in the sights of those who wish to propagate and preserve them. No question of turn-taking when it comes to real change in political and economic cultures.


Last week Melvyn Bragg’s ‘In Our Time’ dealt with the Reform Act of 1832, and whether it either brought about genuine democracy, or merely ensured that radical political change was finessed and moved off the national agenda through the introduction of democracy-lite.

“We must get the suffrage, we must get votes, that we may send the men to Parliament who will do our work for us”.

So declares a working class reformist in George Eliot’s novel Felix Holt: the Radical. It is set in 1832, the year of the so-called “Great Reform Act” which extended the vote and gave industrial cities such as Manchester and Birmingham political representation for the first time. The Act is often described as a landmark moment in British political history.

But to what extent was Britain’s political system transformed by the Great Reform Act? What were the causes of reform in the first place and was the Act designed to encourage democracy in Britain or to head it off?

- BBC website.

Chartism was the first great proletarian movement for Parliamentary reform. New Labour is as far as we’ve come with it. And here we are with Mandleson mischievously chattering about the need to bring back his old gang of Blairites into the cabinet. Which Gordie will no doubt do.


And talking of Blair, the wonderful Daily Show on More Four last week repeated the edition in which they had Blair on for the whole of the show.

Jesus - the guy is even more excruciatingly appalling and vile since he’s moved on and converted to Catholicism - not that that’s the reason for it. He’s another Thatcher - insofar as age and experience will utterly fail to bring him the gift of enlightenment and wisdom. He, like her, will just go on becoming more and more of a grotesque caricature of himself - Iron Man to her Iron Maiden. A hideous, embarrassing twat.

I thought initially that Jon Stewart was pretty soft on him, but actually he didn’t need to satirise or take the piss. Blair, just by opening his stupid big grinning mouth does the job perfectly well, revealing himself as the self-obsessed and utterly misguided lying psychopathic mental case he always was and always will be. A true enemy of the people, and indeed of the planet.

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