Tell a lie, tell a big one.Ha, ha, ha.
Posted on February 6, 2019
The socialist and comedian Jeremy Hardy died last week. I was fortunate to meet him on a number of occasions and, as the tributes suggest, he struck me as being a very decent human being. Many people have expressed admiration for the way in which he was able to take the most serious of matters, deal with them in a sardonic, almost light-hearted way and yet, at the same time, manage to smuggle in a telling political point on which listeners would find themselves musing soon afterwards.
In a compilation piece at the end of Radio 4’s News Quiz we heard him taking on the argument that some refugees seeking safety at a UK port were obviously much older than the children they were claiming to be. Jeremy took issue with this, explaining that if you’d walked from Baghdad to Dunkirk, pausing only for a treacherous ride on the open sea in a leaky dinghy, carrying only the memory of the destruction of your house and the violent death of loved ones, all of that may well have had an adverse effect on the ageing process.
Like many left-leaning comedians, Jeremy’s main talent was stripping bare layers of misinformation and propaganda and exposing what was actually going on. At the bottom of such comedy sits one simple fact: governments, corporations, financial institutions and the majority of media organisations lie to us on a daily basis. The last two years in the UK have now demonstrated that the extent of this mendacity is so glaringly obvious that to deny it is to make yourself look foolish.
We know how to run the economy, say the people who rob pension funds, render worthless people’s savings and set us off on ten years of austerity. We know how to create jobs and employment say the people who shift production overseas, deny employment rights and pay such paltry wages that workers end up juggling three jobs to make ends meet – if they’re lucky. We’ll guide you seamlessy and gently out of the EU…..OK, let’s not even go there.
Both Hitler and Goebbels are credited with quotations about telling lies. The words of both of them amounted to much the same thing – if you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big one and keep telling it until people believe it. Looking at the news on the days close to Jeremy Hardy’s death, two great big, stonking whoppers – both close to his heart – were doing the rounds. The first was about events thousands of miles away, the second very much closer to home.
In Venezuela, a new darling of the West and its media, Juan Guaido, has emerged, Macron like (how well it’s worked out for him, eh?) to challenge the democratically elected leader, Nicolas Maduro. Crowds have thronged the public squares demanding that this handsome, well-groomed young charmer be installed to replace the grizzled old relic, the legacy of Hugo Chavez and his madcap attempt to redistribute the county’s (enormous) wealth.
I can hear some of you bristling already. Am I suggesting that there is no hardship in Venezuela? Not at all. Has Maduro done a good job? By and large, not really. Is there evidence of dreadful abuses of human rights? Yes. Am I, Trump-like, denying the size of the crowds in the street? No. But what almost every media report seems to have missed has been massive pro-Maduro rallies, supported by those much poorer and disadvantaged than advocates for Guaido. Take a look – a close look – at pictures of the different demonstrations and note the startling difference between their clienteles.
The reporting also won’t stray from a narrative that the socialists Chavez and Maduro have mishandled the enormous wealth that should have flowed from their huge oil reserves. This is further proof positive that even when given the head-start of massive natural resources, socialism is doomed to failure. It must therefore follow, that when there is a failed state, it is the bounden duty of the great western powers to step in, having softened things up with a decade or so of crippling sanctions, and support undemocratically elected leaders. Ooh – and while we’re here, shall we just have a quick squint at the oil? The oil. Did we mention the oil? There might be some oil, mightn’t there?
Because every time these western powers have felt the need to intervene to preserve order and democracy (and have a quick look at the oil) that’s worked out brilliantly, hasn’t it?
Jeremy Hardy would have made hay with the lies told about the need for intervention in a place most people struggle to spell, but I’m pretty sure that even his comic muse might have weakened in an attempt to squeeze anything out of the latest reheated attempt to discredit his friend, Jeremy Corbyn.
Just so that were clear – to accuse Corbyn of being an anti-Semite is an out and out, bare-faced, porky-pig, big fat lie. Regrettably, it’s now been said so often that it has become an idea with which he has become almost inseparably associated. I’ll try not to shout here but…..deep breath…..just because someone supports the Palestinian cause and criticizes Israel’s actions, that does not make that person an anti-Semite.
The praise heaped on Jeremy Hardy in the past few days has all acknowledged how his deep-seated political beliefs informed his behaviour, his stage act and his extensive radio appearances. Some have even, steady now, recognised him as a socialist. One that I particularly enjoyed talked of how he could speak to both Radio 4 listeners and socialist paper sellers – because he knew that the two were not mutually exclusive categories. But none, thank goodness, added the coda that it was unfortunate, for all of his talents, that he was an anti-Semite. And that’s because he wasn’t one. It would have been a lie.
Take a minute to google – or an hour to watch – Jeremy Hardy vs The Israeli Army. It’s a work of depth, intelligence and bravery. It is an imperious part of his legacy. The film exposes lies, hypocrisy and brutality. You can find plenty of other footage of him addressing political events from a flat-bed truck and in dusty back rooms. He was an activist and he will be missed. Above all, he knew a lie when he heard it, whether it was about events thousands of miles away or in his own back yard.
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