The End of Western Freedom (and why Russians should ignore their hypocritical lectures)

In a recent post at Streetwise Professor, in reply to a Russophobe commentator, democracy activist* and net-buddy Mark Sleboda compiled a damning indictment of the real state of Western freedom. Newsflash: for the world’s (self-appointed) moral arbitrators, it’s nothing to write home about! It’s well worth reading, which is why I’m reprinting it here with his permission.

… Andrew you cherry-picked the one single example of Western pre-emptive arrests of protesters out of those that I have previously provided where the police in the UK have at least gone to the trouble of making false accusations and spread misinformation in order to provide justification for their crackdowns on peaceful protesters (UK, EU, USA 1, 2).

Here is an article in the British newspaper, The Guardian, discussing such manufactured police false-flag operations against peaceful climate change protests (1). The police harassment and false statements about peaceful climate protesters in the UK has been well documented. Here is the “equipment” that the police confiscated and were using as false justification for harassment and arrests of climate protesters at the Kingsnorth protest previously mentioned (2, 3). And here is the damages the police were eventually forced to pay for their harassment a in a rare victory in the courts (4).

However, even where police violence against protesters has resulted in deaths, like Ian Tomlinson, the police have routinely used internal tribunals to “investigate themselves” and thereby gotten away without any punishment or cost. The system and society look the other way

This unfortunately has become standard practice in the UK where the police system has redefined all protesters as “domestic extremists”, as the political consensus over climate change caused by consumer capitalism is starting to collapse. This follows a discernable trend in the West where protests involving the Western conception of liberal rights is usually tolerated, but any protests that challenge the dominant socio-economic paradigm (such as climate change protests) or question capitalism and its externalities (such as the G-8/G-20/WTO protests) is often harassed or brutally suppressed (5, 6).

Police have even established units for routine police spying and infiltration of environmental protest groups. Britain has become an Orwellian police state with Big Brother video surveillance on every corner, and where all political dissent against the socio-economic status quo is suppressed. Much like the US that has established a police state that spies on peace groups that dare to protest against America’s aggressive imperialist wars (7, 8, 9).

Police brutality towards peaceful climate and ant-capitalist protesters has become the standard in the UK. You can watch for yourself (10, 11). The same is evident in the US (12). In Canada police have even been repeatedly caught infiltrating peaceful protest groups with agents acting as provocateurs to start violence and riots in order to provide justification for cracking down on protests (13). Even during protests against the Olympics! But even when official ethics investigations are conducted nothing is done and the mainstream media largely ignores it.

That is because in the West we have constructed a false and comforting narrative about “freedom” and “democracy” in our societies. We have come to believe this myth at all levels of our society from the government to the media and the general public, so that even in the face of direct contradiction the totalitarianism becomes self-propagating.

*** If you watch one piece of evidence I have provided here to justify my accusations about rhetorical hypocrisy of the West towards the orchestrated Strategy 31 protests in Russia – watch this one. This video shows the true face of protests and “freedom of assembly” in the West – at the Copenhagen Climate Conference of which all of the world’s leaders attended. I can attest because I was there – as an official delegate inside the conference, and then when it became obvious that the world’s leaders would do nothing except presenting a desperate face-saving measure instead of taking any substantive action to change our unsustainable consumption-based capitalist economies that are destroying our planet in a hurry – I and many other delegates walked out and joined the protesters on the street. This is what we saw – and as cynical as I am, I was shocked and mortified at the level of stormtrooper-like violence used by Western police against peacefully protesting youth in order to enforce the existing political and economic consensus. ***

This is a personal concern for me as I have been an occasional protester in the US, UK, EU, Canada, and Russia, mostly concerning climate change issues and I can tell you that the country with the most civil treatment towards legal and peaceful protesters is, surprisingly, Russia. The police in Russia are doing nothing of this sort of sustained and systematic brutality against peaceful protesters. If they were – it would be all over the world’s press in an instant. But when it happens in our own Western countries – the mainstream media looks the other way and ignores it. It is a double standard in a Self/Other dialectic defining Russians as the Other for the purposes of continuing our self-deception about the nature of our societies and governments.

The police violence and harassment at the protests that I have shown – including the last one at Copenhagen was at legally sanctioned and registered protests. The Strategy 31 protests were civilly broken up by police because they were protesting illegally without permit. They were issued permits to protest at other locations in downtown Moscow every time – but they refuse them. Why? It is because protesting is not their aim. Provocation is. Their acts are not directed at Russian society where they have no support (The Russian liberals have an ill-disguised loathing for the Russian people as a whole because they are not “Western” enough for them) but at the Western press.

That is why the protests draw a hundred or two hundred protests at most – and twice as many foreign journalists and camera’s to cover it and observe the Russian police arresting the liberal celebrity ringleaders. There is no “torture” involved against protesters in Russia. This is an utterly false accusation without any evidence to back it up. The liberals would be crying all over the Western press in a second if it were so. The Strategy 31 protests in Russia are a staged spectacle – and those that they have detained have been released every time after only a couple of hours and been home safe in bed in time for milk and cookies.

There is also the fact that the handful of perennial liberals in Russia, now rebranded as Strategy 31, are protesting for some senseless reason alongside Eduard Limonov – presumably because the National Bolsheviks are capable of drawing more support and protesters (no matter how miniscule that is) onto the streets than themselves. The National Bolsheviks are a very real violent terrorist and anarchist group; Limonov having done prison time for admittedly trying to start a Nationalist Russian military insurrection in Kazakhstan. The National Bolshevik anarchists have been responsible for repeated violent and destructive actions. So in Russia, the police actually have reason to be cautious with Strategy 31 as long as the National Bolsheviks are involved.

* EDIT: An accidental misrepresentation on my part: see Mark’s comment on his political convictions.

Comments

  1. Good piece.

    It is very sad that British society is fucked up, not just the authoritarian state, but the corruption and inertia comes close to giving Russia a run for it’s money. Petty minded things, like officialdom etc, there is not really a ‘can do attitude’ anymore I have been trying to find a job and, well there is no point continuing as I will just descend into 4 letter words to describe the madness of the bureaucracy and people’s narrow mindedness. I suppose I could just trot out a few tired cliches-, ‘intellectual decline’ being one of them.

    However, centrally, your point about the British media and our concept of freedom is very telling. Burecracy is mad, any demosntration of any kind has to be registered by the police, or you will be arrested. When you do register, people are filmed by the police and kept on record, not to mention that for everyone else, we have the most CCTV cameras in the world.

    Media bias is rife- There was a recent report on British soldiers in Afghan. suspected of heroin smuggling on military planes. This of course raises the precedent of Kosovo. Yet this quite intensive and long BBC report ‘decided’ to make no mention of it, despite being extremly linked as up to 90% of the heroin our junkies shoot up on comes through the place.

    • The media does not talk about anything that won’t end up a blood-stained fistful of dollars in it’s pocket, every media that exists today.

  2. I think you took it a little far in your last paragraph or two about NBP. They’re closer to the Merry Pranksters than to al Queda.

  3. Wow… wow.. i would never expect an article like that from a non-russian commune.. wow.. I am impressed! I honestly thought people in West do not see that.. thanks God they do! Thanks for the article, it was a pleasure to read it!!

  4. Hey, Anatoly, congrats to you and especially Mark Sleboda, you made it into INOSMI:
    http://www.inosmi.ru/world/20100916/162956794.html

    • Thanks, yalensis.
      Спасибо Иносми за столь много комментов! Постараюсь ответить на некоторых в ближайщее время.

  5. Anatoly, thanks for the article, it was really unexpected for russian audience. It’s time to say truth and you’ve done it! Thanks.
    Anna, Russia

  6. Yes, article directly to tell interesting, Anna in the comment of the right, are surprised, moreover as. To write such same it is not patriotic, as it could, many will think read this article. And that such article when won’t write and will show the most interesting in the most popular mass-media because owners of mass-media of your countries depend on the patrons in your government even more. Reflect to belong to whom your mass-media, who these people and what a circle of contacts at them, these people aren’t ready to publish such materials. “Samples of democracy” are strange are ready on everything if only not to disturb quiet way of life and their growing fat citizens. Roman. Russia.

  7. georgesdelatour says:

    Any hypocrisy can be resolved in one of two ways. A preacher publicly condemns gay sex while privately visiting male prostitutes; he can change his public hostility to homosexuality or abstain from gay sex. An environmental activist flies to climate conferences in a private jet; she can change her stance on climate change or stop using the jet. Once the accusation of hypocrisy is made the question is, how would the accuser like the hypocrisy resolved?

    I’ll give you an example. UK governments have respected the rights of the Falkland Islanders while trampling over the rights of the Chagos Islanders. I feel angered by it, and I’ve joined the campaign to get the Chagos Islanders the right to return home. It looks as if Vince Cable, the new Lib Dem minister, is finally going to allow them to do just that.

    Unfortunately some people shout hypocrisy purely as a rhetorical strategy. Once you unpack their opinions you find that what they really want is for the UK government to treat the Falkland Islanders as badly as it’s treated the Chagos Islanders. That wouldn’t be hypocrisy. It would be something worse.

    The suffragettes wanted the same rights as men. They wanted women to gain the right to vote, not men to lose the right to vote. But taking the vote away from men would have removed the inconsistency just as surely as giving it to women did.

    We should use the accusation of hypocrisy to try and raise peoples attitudes and behaviour to the best it can be. Not to drag it down to the worst it can be.

    • georges: I never really thought about it that way… I mean, treating hypocrisy as a dispute between two parties, in which a compromise is possible. You make a very good point. Thanks!

  8. This is quite damning indeed. However, the fact of the US government putting down several protests in quiet does not totally destroy it’s democracy. There are faults, sins, yes, but many people still have free speech, many people still freely assemble and criticize the government, perhaps some- most of them are simply useful idiots, hugging trees and putting rainbows on flags, but true, intelligent protest does exist, especially on the Internet and I do not mean the ridiculous 1984 visionaries on RT. There is still a hope for averting totalitariansm for the Americans, very much hope and very much chance, they must merely doubt for a moment, open the hole in the back of their heads to let the true knowledge come in, and cut off a massacre in it’s tracks.

    “For knowledge will forever govern ignorance and the people that wish to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives” -Thomas Jefferson.

  9. georgesdelatour says:

    Anatoly

    I understand that you’re focussed on the climate change issue. But if you want to generalise you’ll need to consider how other UK groups are treated, including ones you may dislike. I suggest you look at the treatment of Fathers 4 Justice, Islam4UK, the English Defence League and many other groups too.

    (BTW I think Plane Stupid don’t help the climate change cause. They come across as puritanical rich kids motivated by contempt for the proles and their ugly stag weekends in Tallinn. We have a long tradition in England of deciding a pleasurable thing is bad if the working classes are enjoying it.)

    With all its faults the English jury system is an extra protection for protesters. In 1996 a jury acquitted three women from the peace group Swords to Ploughshares of criminal damage to a British Hawk jet worth millions. The jet was to be delivered to the Indonesian government where it would likely play a role in human rights abuses against the people of East Timor. The jury accepted the women’s argument that they sincerely intended to prevent the crime of genocide against the population of East Timor, that the damage had been the result of principled belief, done for no personal gain and without malice; and that this did not have the character of criminal activity. If a judge or panel of judges had heard the case, the women would have gone to prison.

    Do you have juries in Russia? If you don’t, would you like to have them?

    • There is a jury system which, on memory, acquits in 75% of cases.
      However, also IIRC, the vast majority of cases still go through the inquisitorial system, where acquittals are very rare.

  10. You’re lying about the “Strategy-31.” You’re lying about what authorities have allowed the protests in other places. You’re lying about what the police peacefully dispersing the protesters. You’re lying about what comes to 100 people at these protests. We are there usually on Triumph Square in Moscow, several thousand. And we were out there beating by police. There are many photos from the protests on Triumph Square. So why you’re lying?
    You write the same thing that putin’s organization “Nashi” and “Molodaya Gvardia” wrote on their website .

    Without respect for you.
    Victor, Moscow. Member of Strategy-31.

    Sorry for language mistakes. Google translate

    • You’re lying about Mark Sleboda lying about the “Strategy-31.” You’re lying about what authorities haven’t allowed the protests in other places.

      http://www.ng.ru/politics/2010-08-02/1_smoke.html

      Quote: “Можно было избежать беспорядков и в столице. В официальном сообщении пресс-службы мэрии говорится: «Правительство Москвы действительно пыталось вести переговоры с заявителями в случае, когда они претендовали на уже занятое другими общественными организациями место. Как известно, они отказывались от любых предложений». В качестве альтернативы несогласные могли собраться на Болотной площади, на площади Краснопресненской заставы, у памятника А.С.Пушкину или на Чистопрудном бульваре. Но организаторы оппозиционного митинга на Триумфальной даже не попытались соблюсти законную процедуру и подать заявку на проведение своей акции.”

      You’re lying about several thousands coming to Trinmfal square.
      http://saltt.ru/node/3341

      The most impressive result – 1100 participants in July, 2010. In other cases – no more than 500.

      “So why you’re lying?”
      Yes, Victor. Why are you lying?

  11. It is the truth.

    • It was not me above, but in reply to the statement : “(cit) There is no “torture” involved against protesters in Russia. This is an utterly false accusation without any evidence to back it up.” I can provide a reasonably (or rather – unreasonably) large number of links like this Khimky related or like this.

      Cheers

  12. wow! they have free press in the West! really unexpected

    • Maria: Yes, there is free press in the West, but you have to search for it, and it’s mostly in the blogosphere. God bless Internet!

  13. Mark Sleboda says:

    Thank you for posting this on Sublime Oblivion Anatoly, it’s a real honour. Although I feel compelled to warn everyone that you have terribly misconstrued me as a ‘democracy activist’, (although I suspect that that reference was tongue-in-cheek…) After years of service in the US military in the nuclear engineering field, collateral duty as a fleet Voting Assistance Officer, and later volunteering as an activist for the US Democratic Party – I have finally been dragged kicking and screaming to the terrifying realization of what an awful way of choosing our government and ordering our societies that liberal democracy/parliamentary games really is. That is part of my rationale for immigrating to Russia and adopting Neo-Eurasianist and Authoritarian Green Socialist political convictions.

    Everyone knows the famous quote from Winston Churchill that,
    “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other fotorms that have been tried from time to time. ”

    But not as many know that he also then said as a self-reply that, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
    Which to me was epitomized in this amusing video clip from the recent parliamentary-cum-presidential elections in the UK. http://www.politics.co.uk/audio-video/video/general-election-2010/video-what-s-a-constituency-$1372802.htm
    Similar scenes can be seen in the US, and it must be said in most democratic countries.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKKKgua7BwQk

    I think I would be better describe myself as an occasional climate change/environmental activist, but I don’t like the term ‘activist’. I certainly don’t engage in it as a profession, as regularly as many others I know and admire, or believe that it will have any effect or make any difference at all. It is for me just an occasional opportunity for personal and moral catharsis.

    • Mark, you shouldn’t worry about being an “activist” or marching in demonstrations, etc. You are obviously a very smart guy, have an unusual background, and variety of experience; you are an intellectual and good writer, thus you can use your talent to help the causes you believe in.

    • Thanks for the clarification, Mark.

      I was not aware of that you reject democracy in principle; I was under the impression that you were just very disillusioned with the hypocritical and substandard way in which it is practiced in some Western countries which claim to be beacons of freedom.

      Though I don’t reject it outright, my own views on democracy are ambiguous. Obviously it is failing big-time in addressing the limits to growth on the planet, which is IMO the single most important global issue.

      But can any political system do it successfully? Perhaps China, with its technocratic authoritarian guidance, has a shot. It’s recent overtaking of the US and Europe in renewable energy investment gives cause for hope.

    • Myself, I haven’t totally given up hope in the ideals of “democracy” and “individual rights”. But realistically, rule by a committee of faceless bureaucrats and technocrats who engineer their own seamless succession process (aka the Chinese model) seems to work pretty good.

  14. Mark Sleboda says:

    @Anatoly – I can agree with essentially all of that last

  15. Alexander G says:

    You can go to jail for having the wrong opinions regarding “the joys of diversity” in Western Europe. They call these “hate speech” laws. In America you may not go to jail for having such opinions (not yet anyway), but you will have your reputation destroyed.

  16. Good article. However let’s not forget that police brutality in the West should not serve as an excuse for Russian police.

    • Nobody is excusing anybody anything. Just pointing out Western hypocrisy, when Westerners (especially USA) portray themselves as more virtuous than the other side.

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