Greenwald on Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza

Glenn Greenwald writes in the Interceptor

In American media discourse, when Palestinians overwhelmingly kill soldiers (95% of the Israeli death toll) who are part of an army that is blockading, occupying, invading, and indiscriminately bombing them and killing their children by the hundreds, that is “terrorism”; when Israelis use massive, brutal force against a trapped civilian population, overwhelmingly killing innocent men, women and children (at least 75% of the Palestinian death toll), with clear intentions to kill civilians, that is noble “self-defense.” That demonstrates how skewed U.S. discourse is in favor of Israel, as well as the purely manipulative, propagandistic nature of the term “terrorists.”

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أول مساعدات تصل إلى غزة منذ بداية الحرب 29-07-2014

أول مساعدات (غير المواد الغذائية المنتهي الصلاحيتها المرسلة من مصر و الإمدادات الطبية الاماراتية التي وصلت برفقة جواسيس اماراتيين) تصل اليوم 29-07-2014 إلى غزة منذ بداية الحرب وتسلم للمستشفى الميداني الاردني

كلمة محمد الضيف في 29-07-2014

عن بث شبكة القدس: بعد قتل أكثر من 1200 شهيد و 6000 جريح في غزة و خلال ما سيصبح أطول حرب بين العرب و الإسرائيلين من 66 سنة, محمد الضيف قائد المقاومة الفلسطينية في غزة يخطب

في خطاب له بث في العاشرة من مساء اليوم، الثلاثاء، أكد القائد العام لكتائب عز الدين القسام، محمد ضيف، على أن إسرائيل لن تنعم بالأمن ما لم ينعم به الشعب الفلسطيني.

كما أكد على أن مقاتلي القسام يستهدفون جنود الاحتلال، بينما يستهدف الاحتلال المدنيين الفلسطينيين في وخاصة في أعقاب كل عملية تنفذها المقاومة الفلسطينية. كما أكد على استعداد المقاومة الفلسطينية وجاهزيتها للقتال، معتبرا أن “موازين القوى باتت مختلفة، وأن العدو يرسل جنوده إلى محرقة محققة”.

وقال ضيف إن جنود الاحتلال كأنهم يساقون إلى الموت في ما أسماه “ورطة الحرب البرية”، مشيرا إلى أن هذه المعركة باتت مختلفة، لأنهم “يواجهون مقاتلين يعشقون الموت كما تعشقون الحياة”. على حد قوله.

وأضاف أن ما عجزت عنه الطائرات والمدفعية والزوارق الحربية لن تحققه القوات البرية، لافتا إلى أن استمرار عمليات الإنزال خلف خطوط الجيش الإسرائيلي.

وتابع أن المقاومة الفلسطينية آثرت قتل العسكريين على مهاجمة المدنيين، في الوقت الذي “يرتكب فيه العدو المجرم الجرائم ضد المدنيين، ويهدم منازلهم” عندما يعجز عن مواجهة عناصر المقاومة.

وأكد ضيف على أنه “في هذه الجولة لن ينعم الكيان الغاصب بالأمن، ما لم ينعم به شعبنا”، مشيرا إلى أنه لن يكون هناك وقف لاطلاق النار بدون فك الحصار عن قطاع غزة، ويعيش الشعب الفلسطيني بحرية وكرامة، وأنه لن تقبل الحلول الوسط على حساب حرية وكرامة الشعب الفلسطيني.

وأكد في ختام كلمته على أن المقاومة الفلسطينية تؤكد جاهزيتها واستعدادها لهذه اللحظة، مشيرا إلى أنها بذلت كل جهد ممكن، وأنها واثقة من النصر

: بعد قتل أكثر من 1200 شهيد و 6000 جريح

في خطاب له بث في العاشرة من مساء اليوم، الثلاثاء، أكد القائد العام لكتائب عز الدين القسام، محمد ضيف، على أن إسرائيل لن تنعم بالأمن ما لم ينعم به الشعب الفلسطيني.

كما أكد على أن مقاتلي القسام يستهدفون جنود الاحتلال، بينما يستهدف الاحتلال المدنيين الفلسطينيين في وخاصة في أعقاب كل عملية تنفذها المقاومة الفلسطينية. كما أكد على استعداد المقاومة الفلسطينية وجاهزيتها للقتال، معتبرا أن “موازين القوى باتت مختلفة، وأن العدو يرسل جنوده إلى محرقة محققة”.

وقال ضيف إن جنود الاحتلال كأنهم يساقون إلى الموت في ما أسماه “ورطة الحرب البرية”، مشيرا إلى أن هذه المعركة باتت مختلفة، لأنهم “يواجهون مقاتلين يعشقون الموت كما تعشقون الحياة”. على حد قوله.

وأضاف أن ما عجزت عنه الطائرات والمدفعية والزوارق الحربية لن تحققه القوات البرية، لافتا إلى أن استمرار عمليات الإنزال خلف خطوط الجيش الإسرائيلي.

وتابع أن المقاومة الفلسطينية آثرت قتل العسكريين على مهاجمة المدنيين، في الوقت الذي “يرتكب فيه العدو المجرم الجرائم ضد المدنيين، ويهدم منازلهم” عندما يعجز عن مواجهة عناصر المقاومة.

وأكد ضيف على أنه “في هذه الجولة لن ينعم الكيان الغاصب بالأمن، ما لم ينعم به شعبنا”، مشيرا إلى أنه لن يكون هناك وقف لاطلاق النار بدون فك الحصار عن قطاع غزة، ويعيش الشعب الفلسطيني بحرية وكرامة، وأنه لن تقبل الحلول الوسط على حساب حرية وكرامة الشعب الفلسطيني.

وأكد في ختام كلمته على أن المقاومة الفلسطينية تؤكد جاهزيتها واستعدادها لهذه اللحظة، مشيرا إلى أنها بذلت كل جهد ممكن، وأنها واثقة من النصر.

Asem al-Fouli on the misconceptions of the Egyptian secularists (Part 4)

Asem al-Fouli on the misconceptions of the Egyptian secularists (Part 4)

We have (gradually) been translating Asem al-Fouli’s important four part article on rationality in Islam for readers of this site. This series first appeared in Arabic in el-Shaab Newspaper on

For translations of the earlier parts (here) follow:
For part 1, follow this link:
For part 2, follow this link:
For part 3, follow this link:


These articles have much to commend them, however, their treatment of logic and rationality stops short of a complete synthetic picture on the matter and will be addressed in due course (ETA: August 30).


Main points in part 4:


**Scholar-jurists and philosophers: Ibn Taymiyya begins his campaign against Aristotle before Renaissance thinkers do
**Ibn Taymiyya: None of the “definitions” of the logicians are a help to our perceptions nor their analogies a path to certainty… logic is not fit for the study of nature, only induction can be the method of science
**Francis Bacon: After two thousand years of mapping out logic and chopping it with the machine invented by Aristotle… philosophy fell and lost its self- respect
**Roger Bacon: if you gave me the freedom to do so I would burn all the books of Aristotle… their study of leads to disorientation and ignorance



Ibn Taymiyya didn’t study philosophy in search of the truth, as did Ghazālī, but he studied it in order to be able to disprove what in it was opposed to religion; in Sheikh Abu Zahra’s words “he believed in what the Prophet said first, then he sought to deny the malice in philosophy” .
Ibn Taymiyya only followed the Book, the Sunna and the ways of the companions and the successors in their understanding, with the help of his clear mind. He was appalled by the claim of the philosophers that Qur’anic proofs were said to be presumptive and that they were not seen as representing absolute certainty, as by contrast was the logic of Aristotle in the way it established proofs which led to certain propositions.


He writes: “if the theoreticians thought they were warranted in their representations in regard to the Qur’an and their views and propositions opposing it, there was in fact no correct instruction to guide or provide them with knowledge. Those who have taken this road, have all recounted their individual tales of what necessarily would become confusion and doubt… and they confirmed by their own testimony and reports about themselves, that whoever presented the Book in order to criticise it, did not gain any certainty of which he was assured, nor any knowledge of which he could be convinced. And those who claimed in regard to some matters that they had clear reasoning which contradicted the Book, they were faced with other rationalists who said: “these attributions are known to be void from clear reason, so whoever used them to contradict the Book, did not possess the wherewithal to assert a clear truth, either in virtue of the claims of the advocates themselves, or from their immediately apparent contradiction, or from counter-claims of others who followed the same reasoning”. So if you consider that the masters of philosophy themselves did not arrive at a clear truth which contradicts the Book, but only to confusion and uncertainty, or to conflicts between the parties, would others be able to?”

The idea which ibn Taymiyya emphasises is that the differences between the philosophers and their opposition to each other confirms that the tools on which they depend are not productive of certainties as they claim, otherwise all those who knew how to use would arrive at the truth, while truth is unique and cannot be different between different people. These differences between the philosophers confirms that the philosophical approach leads only to presumptive results in which the possibility of error remains, and reliance is not possible on such an approach, in opposition to the Qur’an. This goes back to the idea he explains in his ‘Staving off the conflict between reason and text or the agreement between clear reason and true reports’ where he says “divine science cannot be inferred from analogical inductive reasoning (al-qiyās al-tamthīlī) where the original and new cases are considered to be equivalent or by demonstrative reasoning (al-qiyās al-shumūlī) where particulars are considered to be equivalent. There is nothing that compares with God, so he can’t be compared with other things, and He cannot be included with other things in universals that treat all particulars on a parity. Because of this, when sects from among the philosophers and the theologians, used such forms of reasoning in addressing divine questions, they did not reach the truth, rather there proofs were contradictory”.


We shall limit our presentation to what Ibn Taymiyya was driving at, seeking to minimise the value of Aristotelian logic as a tool intended to ensure correct thinking and the validity of conclusions resulting from it, and to clarify his attitude to the philosophers, without trying to explain the different approach which he established and on which he relied in his thinking; that is another story.

Aristotelian logic

The logicians (al-munāṭaqa) would have it that knowledge either pursues a concept (taṣawwur) or a judgement (taṣdīq). Conceptualising is about finding out about what exists, and judging is about ruling on a particular matter.

Conceptualising for the philosophers has no other role than to make analytical definitions, which they call “ḥadd” and which they explain as “the expression that points to the essence of a thing”. When it comes to a mere description, the term “rasm” is used, and this is delimited (without a complete definition) through the accidents (aʿrāḍ, sing: ʿaraḍ) or properties (khawāṣṣ, sing: khāṣṣa) of the thing being defined. The “rasm” cannot help in providing the true essence of a thing, since it only describes appearances. “Taṣdīq” has no other tools in respect of the philosophers than the categorical syllogism (al-qiyās al-manṭiqī) which consists of a major premise (muqaddima kubrā) in the form of a necessary universal proposition, a minor premise (muqaddima sughrā) in the form of a proposition about particulars, and a conclusion. For example: opposites do not attract (major premise), silence opposes motion (minor premise), and the conclusion would be that any moving body cannot be silent.

In contrast with this, analogical inductive reasoning (al-qiyās al-tamthīlī) [used by the scholar-jurists] works by adding a rule on a known case to an unknown case to form from both a rationale (‘illa) for a new rule. This “induction” (istiqrā’) thus results from perusing certain particulars in order to deduce a joint universal rule, which omits all other similar particulars which are not inspected.

For Aristotle analogy and induction do not represent a form of correct reasoning, and cannot provide certainties or proofs in matters of logic. And the logicians insist that their way is the only way that leads to certain knowledge, and that any other way is useless, while ibn Taymiyya insists that both these claims are false. Neither does their way lead always and inevitably to certain knowledge, nor do all other ways fail to provide such knowledge.

Definitions do not help us to conceive of the truth

In regard to conceptualisation ibn Taymiyya replies: “Concepts arise purely in virtue of definition, and this state of affairs is unhelpful for there is a need for proof rather than just assertion. How is this obtained? If this is an assertion without knowledge, then it is so from the very start according to the rule-based system they claim protects the mind from erring in thought. For a definition is merely the assertion of the definer and his claims. If for instance he claimed that the human being was an animal that spoke and laughed, this would be a matter of experience, and a claim without any justification. Either the one listening to the claim knows of its truth without the need for the assertion or he doesn’t. If he knew, he is no better off for the definition, and if he didn’t know, how can he be sure that he correct in the claim simply in virtue of the claimant making the claim, without any proof that can add to knowledge. So in both cases it can’t be the definition which allows us to know the definiendum.


In fact, ibn Taymiyya’s analysis is difficult to refute. If you don’t actually know the essence of a thing, you cannot accept a definition which a philosopher might claim defines the essence of that thing, because the processes of logic do not cover the validation of any definition. How can it be insisted upon that concepts are unattainable without definitions. And in his Refutation of the Logicians ibn Taymiyya lists ten aspects to the baselessness of the claim of the logicians that definitions are the only way to enable conceptualising the essence of a thing.


Have a look at one of these aspects to appreciate the rationality of ibn Taymiyya’s approach:
“God gave man internal and external senses to know objects in the external world, so he knows by hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching externally, and more importantly he knows also what he experiences within himself, in “his heart”. Language does not produce concepts based on individual objects, but through analogy and combinations of words. But none of this helps to conceive of the truth; the idea being that truth conceived either internally or externally eschews assertions of definitions, thus preventing the use of such definitions. When it comes to the sense of taste, for instance, in the case of honey, no-one benefits from concepts. Whoever doesn’t taste it, just as someone who reports on sugar without tasting it, cannot grasp the truth of the matter from a definition.


He gives examples to approximate it, saying that the taste resembles such and such. Such analogy and representation is not the definition that the logicians claim. This applies also to the internal senses, such as anger, joy, sadness, gloom, knowledge and so on. Whoever experiences it conceives it, whoever doesn’t experience it cannot conceive of it with a definition, just as the blind (those afflicted with colour blindness) cannot conceive of colours through definitions, and the sexually impotent, sexual intercourse through them. So whoever says that definitions are useful in order to conceive the truth, is speaking nonsense”.


The Categorical Syllogism does not lead to certainty

Ibn Taymiyya also rejects the claims of the logicians in respect of judgements: “they don’t understand anything of judgements except through reasoning – that is the demonstrative reasoning (al-qiyās al-shumūlī) of the philosophers, not the analogical inductive reasoning (al-qiyās al-tamthīlī) of the scholar-jurists. He says: “This is not axiomatic but rather a negative stance which denies [the validity of other ways], and is not backed by evidence, and which they thus advocate without proof. How can they say that no human being can arrive at judgements which are not axiomatic, except in virtue of demonstrative reasoning? The philosophers say that certain knowledge is not possible except through proof – which for them means demonstrative reasoning – where for them there must be a proposition which is a positive universal, such that knowledge be in the form of a universal. So if what is known is axiomatic, possibly each of its particulars is axiomatic in the first place, i.e. not requiring proof, and if it were known conceptually, in other words known through theoretical reason, it would still require axiomatic knowledge [acting as the premise for the demonstration or syllogism]. So it unravels passively as part of a sequence, and is rationally void [since propositions are either axiomatic in of themselves or demanding proof as to their truth using axiomatic propositions].


Whichever of these cases becomes the universal case used as the premise for the demonstrative proof, the conclusion can be known without the use of such a proof. Ibn Taymiyya presents several instances of this: “Everybody knows that nothing moves and stay still at the same time, and knowledge of the universal proposition is not necessary (i.e. that contradictories do not combine) and so on in everything where two contradictories are known. If two meaning are known to contradict one another, they are known not to combine [and this is necessary to the mind from the necessity of non-contradiction]. And doesn’t see the contradiction cannot have any idea of the universal proposition (that contradictories do not combine). Knowing that those two meanings being contradictory do not combine, can be attained without that major premise (that contradictories do not combine). There is no lack of knowledge except in the case of that reasoning which is called demonstration”.

In summary ibn Taymiyya sees demonstrative reasoning as establishing what is in fact established already, as in the case of all human beings “are” animals, Aḥmad is a human being, thus Aḥmad is an animal, where you actually knew from the start that the human being Aḥmad was an animal, when it was you accepted that all human beings were animals, etc…

The seeds of scientific method

None of this meant that Ibn Taymiyya rejected the syllogism outright, but he felt “that it reminded him of the form of demonstrative reasoning and its terms, which involved the use of enormous energy, without effective outcome, in the sense that everything that could be done with this type of reasoning could also be done without it.

Whereas we have the parts of the body, each of which are given a name in natural science, [ibn Taymiyya] confronted the shortcoming (in demonstrative reasoning), in the correspondence between those mental conclusions resulting, as the [philosophers] claim, from the definitions [followed by] reasoning, and what we [actually] find in the external world (i.e. the parts of the body in the real world), not being certain [or exact]. This is because on the one hand you have universal mental judgements, and on the other, external objects defined in virtue of their subject matter. Perhaps mental judgements can, in virtue of these subjects, indeed be applied to external objects, but only on the basis of evidence from the senses. If the evidence of the senses does not come through their demonstration, where is that certainty that the philosophers ascribed to it?

In this last paragraph we referred to ibn Taymiyya’s fundamental idea, which while being explained, was not set out in detail, around which idea was subsequently built the modern methodology of experimental science. This required that external objects in nature be analysed, with experiments being conducted to ascertain their characteristics, and that it is not appropriate in natural science to use logical demonstration or mental reflection. And if this now becomes obvious to you, then Aristotle would have disagreed with you absolutely.
So ibn Taymiyya doesn’t disagree with Aristotelian logic from the point of view of reasoning as such, only in respect of the philosophers’ claims, firstly that this is the only way to certain knowledge, for indeed there is another way, and secondly that it is a foolproof procedure. On his view, the procedure doesn’t guarantee a certain outcome, and can cause problems and errors: ultimately, “it is a lengthy procedure, which pushes away evidence, making what is close at hand in our knowledge further away [than it needs to be], and turning what is easy into something difficult”. There is also Ibn Taymiyya’s important contribution in pointing out the usefulness of logic in the scientific research which itself should depend on observation and experiment. Note that in all his objections, he without any doubt pursues a direct logical method.

Logic and modern science


I consider that I have proved Dr. Fouad Zakaria and his followers wrong in their belief that Muslim scholar-jurists rejected logic because they felt that logical reasoning would discourage Muslims from [an attachment to] their faith. In fact, quite to the contrary: some of the most important of the ancient scholars glorified logic – not just Ḥujjat al-Islam Abu Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī, and they used it to show that it was the philosophers who erred in its use. And those who attacked logic (ibn Taymiyya for instance) did not attack systematic reasoning, rather they wished to encourage thought by freeing it from the constrictions of the formalities of Aristotelian logic and allowing the potentialities of straightforward systematic thinking in all its different ways. And these were the first tremors on releasing the mind on its way to building the modern experimental scientific method of research. Modern science doesn’t emerge until after liberation from Aristotelian logic, to take the road to induction on which ibn Taymiyya became one of the first to tread, leaving behind Aristotelian demonstration… and on this, let us from some witnesses.ِِ


Aristotle believed that the syllogism, which starts from universal propositions, is the only way to get to certain knowledge. But induction doesn’t accept this unless all relevant particulars have been reviewed.Reviewing just some of them to arrive at a judgement which is then use to apply to other individual cases is not considered as productive of certain knowledge. Modern science has been built entirely on the examination of sample cases which are tested in experiments, on the basis that that the results should describe the characteristics of all similar individual cases, not only those only of the samples being examined. This describes exactly the induction followed by ibn Taymiyya, the value of which he defended in the field of experimental research; against the views of the peripatetic logicians.


Will Durant writes in his book “The Story of Philosophy”: “We are bothered, at the outset, with [Aristotle’s] insistence on logic. He thinks the syllogism a description of man’s way of reasoning, whereas it merely describes man’s way of dressing up his reasoning for the persuasion of another mind; he supposes that the thought begins with premises and seeks their conclusions, when actually thought begins with hypothetical conclusions and seeks their justifying premises” [p. 116].


At the beginning of the experimental method in Europe, it was Francis Bacon – ranked by some historians of philosophy as the greatest mind of modern times – who originated the inductive method – 400 years after ibn Taymiyya. In his work on the evidences of modern inquiry Bacon wrote that the error of the Greek philosophers was to spend much time on theory and little time on observation and practical research, where thought is supposed to aid observation rather than supplant it. He said, furthermore, that after a thousand years of having mapped out logic and dissecting it with the tools proposed by Aristotle’s, philosophy has come to the point of having lost the respect of everybody, and we must throw out all the theories from the Middle Ages, the dialectics, the debates, and the theories which require convoluted proofs and forget them. And Bacon’s work on the progress of education abounds with attacks on Aristotle and on his followers in the Middle Ages, and on demonstrative reasoning. In the “Great Instauration” he says “demonstrative reasoning doesn’t apply to the first principles of knowledge but applies in vain on intermediate axioms, and in this it does not parallel nature accurately but leads rather to a presentation as a matter of form, which misses the point of the exercise. Roger Bacon makes even stronger statements when he says “if you left it up to me I would burn all of Aristotle’s books, because their study cannot lead other than to waste, error and increased ignorance”.


The reader must have noticed that such statements don’t differ in essence much from what ibn al-Salah said, by which we saw that Fouad Zakaria measures Muslim thought, namely that “whoever uses logic is a heretic!”. So we don’t accept much of Aristotle’s logic as a tool of thought or as a path to knowledge, but on the other hand it is a good method of presenting thoughts and managing arguments. When two discussants begin to weigh up the major premise, they agree on its import and have thus passed the half-way point to a complete understanding. If they then address the minor premise and agreed on its import, agreement arises naturally in regard to the conclusion. If, on the other hand, they disagreed on anything in the premises, they would have revealed the source of disagreement, which in turn can then be calmly addressed. But the agreement of the discussants doesn’t necessarily mean that would have reached certain knowledge and an agreement on the truth; their agreement on the premises doesn’t guarantee their validity.

Ibn Taymiyya’s severity – he was generally unbending in his discussions – was one of the characteristics of clashes in the heat of those arguments. Subsequent to these battles, with the softening of attitudes and the settling of the dust, Sheikh Abi Zahra clarifies for us the ultimate position of the Muslim scholar-jurists when he says: “logic weighs up the deductive process but does not establish the proof itself; it sets out the substance of the proof but does not produce this substance, and this is the way with all the methodological sciences. Prosody doesn’t add to the content of poetry, nor does it provide the orator with any expressions. Explanatory criticism weighs up the forms of speech and the structure of rhetoric, but does not inform the orator about the substance of rhetoric and illustrative imagery. We don’t need logic or philosophy in order to believe, but learning them is warranted in order to defend Islam, to protect it, and argue its corner in the best possible way. Perhaps they are guided, such as persist in their striving and wrangling, having been refined and strengthened through the methods they have learnt… such is the benefit of logic. So with definitions, forms of demonstrative reasoning, and the use of examples, they can bring out the flaws in arguments. It is enough that they bring out flaws by using demonstrative reasoning, know definitions in all their particulars, and the specific from the general in the major premises, to show up the vicious from the virtuous. But logic cannot be the sole method of reasoning, for mental resources are not limited by logic. It may be a disciplinary criterion, but nevertheless it isn’t by itself the way to mental discipline, for good instincts and clear thinking speak louder”.

George Orwell on “Freedom of the Park” – Tribune 1945

A few weeks ago, five people who were selling papers outside Hyde Park in London were arrested by the police for obstruction. When taken before the magistrates, they were all found guilty, four of them being bound over for six months and the other sentenced to forty shillings fine or a month’s imprisonment. He preferred to serve his term.

The papers these people were selling were Peace News, Forward and Freedom, besides other kindred literature. Peace News is the organ of the Peace Pledge Union, Freedom (till recently called War Commentary) is that of the Anarchists; as for Forward, its politics defy definition, but at any rate it is violently Left. The magistrate, in passing sentence, stated that he was not influenced by the nature of the literature that was being sold; he was concerned merely with the fact of obstruction, and that this offence had technically been committed.

This raises several important points. To begin with, how does the law stand on the subject? As far as I can discover, selling newspapers in the street is technically an obstruction, at any rate if you fail to move when the police tell you to. So it would be legally possible for any policeman who felt like it to arrest any newsboy for selling the Evening News. Obviously this doesn’t happen, so that the enforcement of the law depends on the discretion of the police.

And what makes the police decide to arrest one man rather than another? However it may be with the magistrate, I find it hard to believe that in this case the police were not influenced by political considerations. It is a bit too much of a coincidence that they should have picked on people selling just those papers.

If they had also arrested someone selling Truth, or the Tablet, or the Spectator, or even the Church Times, their impartiality would be easier to believe in.

The British police are not like the continental gendarmerie or Gestapo, but I do not think one maligns them in saying that, in the past, they have been unfriendly to Left-wing activities. They have generally shown a tendency to side with those whom they regarded as the defenders of private property. Till quite recently ‘red’ and ‘illegal’ were almost synonymous, and it was always the seller of, say the Daily Worker, never the seller of say, the Daily Telegraph, who was moved on and generally harassed. Apparently it can be the same, at any rate at moments, under a Labour Government.

A thing I would like to know – it is a thing we hear very little about – is what changes are made in the administrative personnel when there has been a change of government. Does a police officer who has a vague notion that “Socialism” means something against the law carry on just the same when the government itself is Socialist?

When a Labour government takes over, I wonder what happens to Scotland Yard Special Branch? To Military Intelligence? We are not told, but such symptoms as there are do not suggest that any very extensive shuffling is going on.

However, the main point of this episode is that the sellers of newspapers and pamphlets should be interfered with at all. Which particular minority is singled out – whether Pacifists, Communists, Anarchists, Jehovah’s Witness of the Legion of Christian Reformers who recently declared Hitler to be Jesus Christ – is a secondary matter. It is of symptomatic importance that these people should have been arrested at that particular spot. You are not allowed to sell literature inside Hyde Park, but for many years past it has been usual for the paper-sellers to station themselves outside the gates and distribute literature connected with the open air meetings a hundred yards away. Every kind of publication has been sold there without interference.

The degree of freedom of the press existing in this country is often over-rated. Technically there is great freedom, but the fact that most of the press is owned by a few people operates in much the same way as State censorship. On the other hand, freedom of speech is real. On a platform, or in certain recognised open air spaces like Hyde Park, you can say almost anything, and, what is perhaps more significant, no one is frightened to utter his true opinions in pubs, on the tops of buses, and so forth.

The point is that the relative freedom which we enjoy depends on public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them. The decline in the desire for individual liberty has not been so sharp as I would have predicted six years ago, when the war was starting, but still there has been a decline. The notion that certain opinions cannot safely be allowed a hearing is growing. It is given currency by intellectuals who confuse the issue by not distinguishing between democratic opposition and open rebellion, and it is reflected in our growing indifference to tyranny and injustice abroad. And even those who declare themselves to be in favour of freedom of opinion generally drop their claim when it is their own adversaries who are being prosecuted.

I am not suggesting that the arrest of five people for selling harmless newspapers is a major calamity. When you see what is happening in the world today, it hardly seems worth squealing about such a tiny incident. All the same, it is not a good symptom that such things should happen when the war is well over, and I should feel happier if this and the long series of similar episodes that have preceded it, were capable of raising a genuine popular clamour, and not merely a mild flutter in sections of the minority press.

Tribune, 7 December 1945

How the unravelling of Yugoslavia began with a Reagan Memo

Watch “the weight of chains” documentary about how the unravelling of Yugoslavia and the ensuing Yugoslav war and subsequent NATO bombing of Serbia all started with a memo written and signed by Ronald Reagan on March 19, 1984 called “National Security Decision Directive on US Policy towards Yugoslavia”, which at one point read “… US policy will be to promote the trend towards a market oriented Yugoslav economy…”

Open the link:

Nobel Peace Laureates Slam Human Rights Watch’s Refusal to Cut Ties to U.S. Government

Mairead Maguire, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Richard Falk, Hans von Sponeck, and Keane Bhatt write to Human Rights Watch president Kenneth Roth

On May 12 2014


Nobel Peace Laureates to Human Rights Watch: Close Your Revolving Door to U.S. Government

open link:

and on July 8 2014

Nobel Peace Laureates Slam Human Rights Watch’s Refusal to Cut Ties to U.S. Government

open link:




John Pilger on George Orwell coming of age

In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl and asked her about her films that glorified the Nazis. Using revolutionary camera and lighting techniques, she produced a documentary form that mesmerised Germans; it was her Triumph of the Will that reputedly cast Hitler’s spell. I asked her about propaganda in societies that imagined themselves superior. She replied that the “messages” in her films were dependent not on “orders from above” but on a “submissive void” in the German population. “Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I asked. “Everyone,” she replied, “and of course the intelligentsia.”

Read John Pilger’s article by opening this link: