If you are wondering, it was Julius Caesar who instituted January 1 as the first day of the year, honouring Janus, the God of Beginnings
Janus was bicephalic, or had two heads, one looking backwards (in time) and the other, forwards. It seems a reasonable exercise to perform at the end of one year and the beginning of another.
Looking back, I see that I have written quite a few articles over the decades, many of them focusing on the injustice of the policies of western cuntries in Iraq, in Syria, in Libya, in Serbia, in Georgia, in Afghanistan, in Israel and Palestine, in Ukraine and against Russia, always against Russia since before that day in 1991 when the Soviet Union was dissolved arbitrarily without asking the people whether they wanted to destroy the system which had brought backward nations into the front line of development within two generations.
I have criticised the policy because it was and is neo-imperialist in nature, it is disrespectful, it is unilateral, in a multilateral world, it is dishonest, it is underhanded, it is deconstructive, it sponsors acts such as cyber terrorism, it uses terrorists as its foot soldiers and it turns a blind eye to atrocities committed by its lackeys. It is hypocritical.
In writing these articles, I received a lot of criticism, threats, including death threats against myself, my family and even my dog, I was the victim of cyber terrorist attacks from sophisticated systems. I also received praise and accolades for being one of the pioneers of intervention journalism and for being part of the movement which dismantled the myth that the MainStream Media (MSM) told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Without realising it at the time, I suppose I was part of that first wave of internet journalists to grace the pages of the first internet journals (Pravda.Ru was, in fact I believe, the first true Internet Newspaper) and writing in English and Portuguese (I am native speaker level in both languages), I reached a wide audience, and saw my pieces translated into many languages as my messages reached far and wide.
Not because of me, but as part of the wave whose crest I surfed, many others took up the mantle and today I can look back at a time when people ceased to believe without question what the MSM shoved down their throats in a daily dose of utter bilge and I can look forward to a continuation of a democratisation of news and information, where events take place at our fingertips and where we have the right to question, to turn a story on its head, inside out and upside down and reach the truth by ourselves. The result of this movement has been that the MSM these days, to survive, has to provide at least part of the other side of the story, at least some background, at least a setting, a time line which was not drawn as arbitrarily as lines on maps yesteryear.
These days I do not write as much as I did (sometimes up to ten pieces a day) basically because I do not need to. I have already said what was to be said and I have already done what was to be done. There is a time to step back and observe, reflect and guide, a masterly lesson given to us by Fidel Castro. Everybody, today, knows how to seek alternative news sources on the Internet, the attempt to quash freedom of movement on the Net has been stifled in the bud, as other channels opened up like mushrooms and everyone knows how to ask Why? In English and Cui bono? (to whose benefit) in Latin. And then everyone reaches the conclusion that things are not as binary as those who control the MSM, who are the same that control capital (the military, industrial complex, global political movements, in an acronym the BARFFED – Banking, Arms, Resources, Finance, Food, Energy, Drugs lobbies, manhandled by the FUKUS Axis – France, UK, US).
Today everyone knows that Georgia attacked Russia and murdered Russian peacekeepers first, an outrage to which Russia gave a measured response, everyone knows that Russia thwarted the attempt by the Tblisi regime to deny Abkhazia and South Ossetia their right to citizenship referenda, everyone knows that Kosovo was and is a narco-state-terrorism project in the Balkans, everyone knows that the Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA (Ushtria Çlirimtare ë Kosovës, UÇK in Albanian) was a terrorist organization involved in trafficking of weapons, drugs, human organs and human beings. In short, a bunch of thugs, with whom the FUKUS Axis likes to cavort.
Everyone knows that the attack against Iraq was illegal and was responsible for destroying the credibility of the United Nations Organization, perpetrated by the same dynamic duo who today turn a blind eye or even worse, who foment, acts of butchery, savagery, terrorism and slaughter by Israel, which claims that murdering kids is self-defence and whose policy of stealing homes and lands and destroying cemeteries goes ahead without a shred of criticism. What to expect of the dynamic duo who deported the entire population of the Chagos Isles, gassed their pets and turned them into a military base. Today, everyone knows how to Google up the story. Then everyone knows that the dynamic duo, always with six stones hidden behind their backs, have roofs of glass.
Everyone knows that if the West had not told Ukraine not to implement the Minsk Agreements in 2015, there would never have been Russian military operations in the country and Ukraine’s (then) territory would have remained intact. Everyone knows that the FUKUS Axis’s policies in Syria and Libya were absolute criminal disasters, siding with terrorist groups on their own lists of proscribed groups and turning a blind eye while the most shocking atrocities were committed, including by NATO itself, just a larger version of Israel, policywise, with the same modus operandi. Bomb the crap out of everyone then claim you are being careful or defending yourself. After telling civilians that it is safe to go wherever just before it is strafed with phosphorous. How callous does it get? Evil is not the word for it. Demonic, more like.
Everyone knows that if Russia were to do in Ukraine what Israel is doing in Gaza or what NATO did in Iraq (Shock and Awe, remember?) then everyone would be complaining but Russia is not, is it?
Everyone is also absolutely sick and tired and fed up with war, conflict, hatred, us and them stories, violence, repression, disrespect, dehumanization, demonization, the adoption of two sets of weights and measures and the distancing of political representation from the people. What do “they” do in Parliaments or Congresses? Does anyone know? “They” may promise things in election campaigns or in manifestos but then “they” can renege on their promises or simply ignore them. Kind of like cocking a snook at democracy, is it not?
So while everyone is enjoying the right to pick news stories apart and say “Yes, well that is not really so, is it?” we need to remember that in today’s world, there is a reaction to every action and that victories can become Pyrrhic within a very short space of time. Reactionary forces chip away at the rights we have earned.
Let us take for example the tremendous victories of the political Left in the last century: workers’ rights, children’s rights, universal education, universal healthcare, pensions, women’s suffrage, women’s rights and empowerment in general. Let us also remember, to varying degrees, the glories won by the social political model over the social terrorist model, over the same century: free housing, zero homelessness, guaranteed job, zero unemployment, free public utilities, meaning gas, water, electricity, communications, free public transportation, social mobility, opportunities to work and travel abroad, indexed pensions, free leisure time activities, free food, free drinks in some cases. Where is all that now? When is your scheduled hospital appointment? Where is your safety on the street? Where is the security of the State? Can you afford preventive dental care for your family? Are you safe to venture out anywhere you choose after dark? No? Then what exactly is your government doing for you? You pay your taxes for what?
So the conclusion is that we cannot sit back on our laurels and crow from the rooftops that we have won. Won what, exactly? A victory is as ephemeral as the validity of the victor to hold his position, just like the head of any herd of animals, having won his right to lord it over the group, has to then fight every day to stay there.
Let us not therefore claim that we have won any wars. We have won a few battles together, and I must admit that at 65 years of age, I do not feel the need to occupy space which others, younger than me, can occupy with better results. My weapons are around five decades old (when I started writing). I also have other goals, and for those who wonder what I am doing, I am dedicating much more time to reading ancient texts, maybe cooking up a future writing project but not about international affairs, I am dedicating time to learning Latin properly, and not passing exams by photo-memorisng entire books, which I did, I am preparing myself to embark on a massive list of languages to learn (Arabic, Turkish, Mandarin Chinese, Albanian, a Bantu language, an Indigenous American language and to bring the others I already speak up to C2 level), I am dedicating time to my project to write courses for free access for any child anywhere on Earth, so that anyone with access to the Net can learn without paying a cent, I am dedicating my time to writing courses for teachers to administer these said courses, I am dedicating more time to UN Women, of which I am proudly Media Partner, I am dedicating time to preparing myself to document languages, cultures, traditions, gastrononmnies, dances, songs, chants, lore, stories, sayings so that the death of that old lady over there does not mean the death of a wealth of culture. I am planning to visit every main city in the world, at least virtually if not in person and I am preparing myself to work more with the Half the World movement (half of it unspoiled by humanoid bipeds). I am dining out more and being more adventurous in my eating habits, favouring small, family-run restaurants over noisy eateries and food courts where one fights for space with a backside or an elbow or kids on roller skates. I must be getting old.
But this does not mean that I am disinterested or disassociated with what is going on, it means I have done my part, without any arrogance because I have done far less than many others and to be honest I have always given equal pride of place to my hobbies, namely sports, daily exercise routines, cultural activities, pets, reading, gardening, gastronomy, listening to people. It does mean that I am now taking maybe a passenger seat, not a back seat, while I wind up my professional activities and plan my retirement activities. And I can say that I have worked 18-hour days. 6-day weeks doing 4 or 5 different jobs for 45 years in preparing myself for the right to a meaningful third age.
Many of us who launched intervention journalism are still around. However, what about those who follow? And what about the political Left in future? We must continue together to fight against Fascist tendencies to control the Net, we must make sure that the rights we have achieved are not taken away from us, we must watch our governments and political class with a hawk’s eyes and set up civic platforms, watchdogs of experts to monitor their activities, we must hold our elected representatives to account. For instance, upon selection, ask the question “Under what conditions would you vote in favour of going to war/getting involved in a conflict?”
And then deselect if the representative voted for any other option than military intervention in the case of a direct and real threat to national security. Take your eye off the ball, and the opponent will steal five metres/yards. Take your eye off the ball and your Government becomes your opponent.
And where stands the Left in future? We may define the Left, broadly, as a political area that favours the management of resources by and for the People, governance involving the People and favouring social policies which make the People comfortable and defend their interests. This means State intervention in all key areas of governance and the delivery of services which are free where possible, or affordable at the very least, in the areas of healthcare, at all levels, education, housing, job security and indexed pensions. The Left, broadly, favours a world community based on peace, mutual respect and a social fabric based on sharing traditions, cultures, stories, gastronomies, religions, lore.
The Left, broadly, is environment friendly, meaning it puts forward policies which protect the environment and all its members, including our brothers and sisters, the animals and plants we are supposed to share our home with, not massacre them, murder them and leave swathes of it uninhabitable.
There is a lot of work to be done in these areas. And let me finish with another, that of gender violence and women’s empowerment. The world’s first author, a Babylonian woman called Enheduanna, wrote hymns and songs to the Goddess Inanna, who had the power to transform men into women. She was an all-powerful Goddess personified by the Moon (female in most languages). Over time, women’s rights and their position in society were chipped away, piece by piece, and eventually the Sun Gods or those associated with the Sun (masculine) took pole position: Ra, Helios, Apollo, Jupiter, Mythra, the Roman Sun God who was celebrated on 25th December (the Sun was believed to be born as the days grew longer).
Male predominance has reached a level where even in languages, “he” is used for the third person, ignoring “she, it”. Why not use “(s)he” or (s)h(it), ha ha ha? It has reached a level where one third of women around the world in all continents and all social and economic groups have experienced some kind of abuse or sexual harassment.
The moment a Man raises his hand to a woman is the exact moment when he ceases to be a Man.
This is our social fight alongside our environmental one, in which we must do all we can to clean up our planet and greenify our exploitation and consumption of its energy sources.
Wishing all my readers, whether they agree with me or not, and your families, a very happy (Christmas) season and a new year which brings you and yours the very best of all your wishes. Let us make 2024 a year of togetherness and reconciliation, which requires emotional intelligence and a change of attitude by those behind every conflict globally, and it’s always the same ones. Everyone knows who they are, however much they hide behind a mantle of goodliness and claim how morally righteous they are. Righteous, my foot.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey can be reached at [email protected]