The Schnews and Squall Annual 2000
From the free, blissfully anti-copyright Schnews and Squall I steal all the material I need to make big money at corporate-sponsored comedy shows and rake fat fees from prime-time television slots (once I've removed all the controversial anti-capitalist bits and that). Theyıre grrrr-eat!!!!
The soaraway readership enjoyed today by SchNEWS totally vindicates its change of direction back in the mid-nineties. It's hard to recall now, but back then SchNEWS was a pretty ordinary magazine covering mainly interior design, fashion catwalks and celebrity chefs. Market research, however, had identified new and exciting possibilities in a growing sector called "radical, anti-capitalist, eco-consciousness."
Squall, meanwhile, fluked it by an incredible stroke of luck which has now, of course, passed into journalistic legend. One day their horoscope writer had her train home cancelled and wrote a one-off scathing attack on privatised railways. That evening, as luck would have it, their travel-editor was held in a Turkish jail for inadvertently photographing the Kurdish village of Hasankeyf as backdrop to soft-porn shots of Gabby Yorath. He wired back a similarly vitriolic piece. Such was the positive postbag to these two articles that Squall's editorial board widened its next issue's attack to the whole system of profit, whereby the earth and all its people are condemned to serve the interests of a tiny corporate elite, and how what capitalism calls democracy is merely the safety valve of privilege and property, whereas grassroots, participatory anarchism is closer to the true democratic ideal. Heady stuff!
Even though some media analysts had doubts at first, the timing of SchNEWS and Squall's shifts of direction could not have been better. And here's why...
In Britain, people have been absolutely deserted by the news-media who have given up on any and all notions of journalistic responsibilty. The most servile intellectual class in the Western world has sold us down the mercury-polluted, phosphate run-off river. They have in their knowing, worldly-wise, sophisticated way just rolled over and swalllowed.
Every single ideological orthodoxy of the "new" capitalism is presented as fact, any questioning of this perfect system is opinion. We live in a land where the Financial Editor of The Guardian can say that Wall Street saved the world from recession by taking the financial burden on itself, and not be laughed out of his job. In any functioning democracy he would have to walk barefoot through the slums of Manilla, the slave-plantations of South Carolina and the Lincolnshire barley-belt wearing a sandwich board on which his words were written.
We live in a land where twice in one programme, a Radio 4 presenter calls for increased military aid for Columbia - the country Amnesty International cites as the world's number 1 human rights abuser (and co-incidentally the recipient of one half of the total US foreign military aid budget.) Where Westminster gossip pases for political coverage. Where Burson Marsteller, Satan's Little Helper and the world's biggest PR firm can become joint partners with ITN and rely on obedient commissars not to mention it.
And why would they? Why bother, when much of what passes for news is corporate propaganda or just straight advertising anyway? The top PR firms send out Video News Releases or VNR's (packaged to look like news items) which go straight to air (and best of all we pay for it). Hence BBC News 24 stories about the wonderful service offered by Amazon.com., and the incredible Tesco price-slash lead-story. Hence the new "more thoughtful" approach to GM. (Turns out its not giving pollution a life of its own after all.) You can play propaganda bingo bymatching whole sentences from TV and broadsheet newspapers with whole sentences from corporate press releases out of Pfeizer, IMF, Hyundai, WTO, BAe.
And why would they? After all, the selection-mechanisms of the institutions they work for naturally choose only those who can really spread their butt cheeks wide for the NASDAQ money-shot. Reporting of May Day, for example, showed the speactacular class bias of our media elite. "Inevitably, some innocent passers-by were caught up in the chaos" said one TV news reporter over a shot of a protestor split up from her child by the TSG riot-cops, who wouldn't let her cross their lines to get her kid. I had seen this woman earlier when everyone was gardening, but guerilla gardeners can't be ordinary people with children, can they?
As Mark Thomas put it, the news-media have sacrificed analysis for access. And as Ken Loach said : "Humphries and Paxman set an extremely conservative and reactionary agenda within which they can pose as radicals."
On the rare occasions the advertising/ corporate press "cover" environmental, poverty and human rights stories, they do so as if they were all unrelated. SchNEWS and Squall's brilliant internationalism reports all struggle and injustice like it's part of one struggle against one injustice, one tyranny. Almost as if all our many different social, ecological, spiritual and personal problems have their roots in the same system. Phew!
Where the broadsheets make what's simple confusing by using show-off technical jargon, upside-down corporate bias and bluster, Squall and SchNEWS intelligently put needlessly obscure stuff into the clear, everyday language of someone down the pub. In fact it's uncanny how much of SchNEWS reads just like someone down the pub. Almost as if most of it was indeed written by people who've just come out the pub. One of those pubs that gets closed down and replaced with a franchise theme-pub.
Short on theory, long on facts and research, SchNEWS and Squall have, along with undercurrents, Corporate Watch, Earth First! genetix update, and many more, contibuted to the best-informed, sharpest resistance movement ever. WTO and IMF delegates sneered that protestors on the streets simply didn't understand what was going on. The fact is that is that those outside actually knew much more about what's going on than those inside - despite the best efforts of the corporate media - and that because of the worldwide, exponential growth in grassroots publications.
The single best thing about SchNEWS and Squall, though, is how they are absolutely indivisible from the whole grassroots protest movements they both inform and are shaped by, inspire and are inspired by. Every writer and researcher, gluepot paster and glue-sniffer at SchNEWS and Squall are also activists. For example, it was [NAME DELETED BY SCHNEWS CREW] who, as we know, single-handedly organised the [DATE DELETED carnival in the city of [DELETED]. And although her face is hidden by a balaclava, that famous Seatte Police Department photo of someone [DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITY DELETED] is of none other than [NAME DELETED], yes, that's right, the one who with the [DESCRIPTION DELETED] who lives at [ADDRESS DELETED] with [NAME DELETED] and [NAME DELETED] and has been building contacts with the [NAME OF ROGUE ARAB STATE AND ITS MAD DICTATOR COLONEL DELETED].
The next ten years are the most crucial in human history. The tyranny of corporate world-take-over will stop at nothing. More and more people are realising with horror that even in the face of imminent ecological collapse they are still meant to believe there is no alternative to the killing machine of global capitalism. The challenge facing grassroots organisers now is, I reckon, to build a broad, diverse, mass movement (but not a mass party). The alliance in Seattle was so broad that it became impossible for the state to ghetto-ize protestors as being not like you. They were everyone. From Raging Grannies to disaffected black youth, from construction workers to family farmers. These words of Egyptian activist and writer Nawal El Saadawi describe where we might want to go from here, with a little help from our friends at Squall and SchNEWS:
"My cousin Zeinab looks old and sick, when I hold her hand I can feel horny knots and cracks caused by long years of labour with a hoe. She whispers: 'When I was a child I dreamed of escaping from this awful life but now I've lost hope. Now there are no jobs, and our debts keep growing. Now we eat fava beans canned in California instead of growing enough ourselves.' I see her eyes questioning. .. Can I tell her that 443 people (men) own as much wealth as half the people of the earth? ....Can I tell her that the peoples of the world are learning how to work together and that many Seattles everywhere, in the North and South are my wish, and my hope?"
Or to put the same thing another way, here's Frank Manckiewicz, ex Vice Prez at Hill & Knowlton PR:
"The big corporations, our clients, are scared shitless by the environmentalists. I think they are wrong about that. I think the big companies will have to give in only at an insignificant level. Right now, the big corporations are too powerful, they're the establishment. The environmentalists will have to be have to be like the mob in the square in Rumania before they prevail."
We have our instructions.