25 December 2006

Astroturf Christmas

Astroturf is artificial grass. “Astroturfing” is slang for creating an artificial political appearance of “grass-roots” support. An example of astroturfing is the full-page advertisement carried in last Wednesday’s Johannesburg Star for “Globe for Darfur”, the bottom line of which is the URL of a web site. A full-page ad in the Star is extremely far beyond the budget of any genuine solidarity movement in South Africa for many years past. A look at the web site shows that there is no South African or Muslim content - no mass content at all in fact - but only the names of a list of dubious NGO backers. In the site you can read tips on how to write letters to the editors of newspapers and other such tips. Let’s be frank. The attempted “Darfur” intervention in Sudan is Imperialism pure and simple. “Globe for Darfur” is a bogus, artificially funded attempt to dress up Imperialism as something else than what it is. It is one of many repeated attempts this week, and every week, to “Astroturf” politics so that you can be told that what is done for Imperialism is done in your name, supported by the “grassroots”. But Astroturf has no more roots than a plastic Christmas tree. The three examples of Astroturfing we have today are all from the “Independent” group of newspapers, owned by the sanctimonious sanctions-busting rugby player and baked-bean salesman, Tony O’Reilly. The above is one example. Then, in the guise of a film review, the Saturday Star carried a gratuitous and grotesque attack by a Pretoria movie fan called Tat Wolfen, on Cuba, of which he or she knows nothing. The gut feeling one gets when reading this kind of stuff is: Here is the monster! No Pasaran! They shall not pass! But unfortunately it is Christmas time, and these monsters think they can creep around without being challenged. Maybe they think that this is “only” the Entertainment section, and that Astroturf is acceptable there. But political Astroturf is unacceptable anywhere. The Communist University challenges the Star: Show why you should not be called servant of Imperialism! You running-dog lickspittle lackeys! See the linked film review and JPEG facsimile of the page. The last example comes from yesterday’s Sunday Independent. The true story is that Somalia is being invaded by a military force which may be Ethiopian or US or Israeli or even Egyptian, but whose rear is in Ethiopia. This force claims to have secured a bridgehead in a place called Baidoa, where it has set up what is called an “Interim” (or maybe transitional, or provisional, et cetera) government. Now the US Imperialists, supported by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa in his meeting with GW Bush two weeks ago, are claiming to “defend” this phoney little shred of Astroturf in the bundus of Somalia against the rest of the Somalis, at a time when the Somalis are beginning to get their own act together. See the linked article. Yesterday the Snuki Zikalala SABC announced blandly that “air strikes” were being used by the invaders against the Somalis (whom they demonise as “Islamists”). Anybody who know a little bit of history knows that the pioneers of aerial bombardment of villages were the Italians in Libya and the British in Iraq (under the Rhodesian Arthur “Bomber” Harris) in the first two decades of the 20th Century. Then the Italians used air power to conquer Ethiopia in the 1930s, in a most disgusting and notorious way. It is shocking and intolerable that aerial bombing should be used in that same area yet again. Physically, it is like using bombers on Transkei, or the Free State. Who will speak up against it? South Africa has given the nod to the USA. Why? On what basis can they do that in our names? Just in case you have forgotten how Imperialism operates, “The Capital of Salvadoran Memory” is a good reminder, including how difficult it continues to be, to deal with the legacy of these things. Which is of course what the Imperialists intend. See the linked document. The struggle always continues. What has to be done is the work of building real “grass roots” and not Astroturf. This work is systematic and regular. You put in the work, you get the result. No excuses of “apathy”, “fatigue” et cetera should be entertained for even a second. The last document below is a link of links to structures and sources and opportunities for dialogue, ready for you to use as soon as you have had enough Christmas jollification. Click on these links: Tat Wolfen attacks Cuba in Saturday Star (579 words) Page facsimile of Wolfen tat in Saturday Star (JPEG image) Imperialist aggression, Sunday Independent blames victims (453 words) The Capital of Salvadoran Memory, Jeffrey Gould, Counterpunch (1708 words) Media Release Lists Page form for groups all together (Lists of links)

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous02 May, 2009

    Firstly, Tat Wolfen is (and was, when your article was written) a Johannesburg movie reviewer of long standing, as opposed to a "Pretoria movie fan".

    But one cannot expect anything other than misinformation from a blog that supports a thoroughly discredited, irrational and unjust social system.

    Mr Wolfen was very pleased with that article, which salutes filmmaker Andy Garcia for showing the Cuban revolution up for the sham that it is.

    As a matter of interest, Mr Wolfen has expressed his immense satisfaction about the article being featured in your blog, as people need to be subscribers to the Saturday Star in order to read this article online. Your blog has, however, made it possible for even non-subscribers to the Saturday Star to read this well-considered review.

    You have therefore given the review an extended life on the Internet.

    Now, intelligent readers who aren't necessarily subscribers to the newspaper can still enjoy the review - which pops up quite high on Google searches of "Tat Wolfen".

    These readers, being capable of sifting the chaff from the wheat, will ignore the context of the ranting that surrounds it, and simply enjoy the review.

    Hopefully, this write-up will even prompt them to buy or rent this superb film!


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