Representation of the Salem witch trials from 1892. By Joseph E Baker. Public Domain Today is the proper morning to fly into Hell. Join me on the descent. It’s 2014, yet again we sit at the precipice, or the crucible, of another international atrocity. …

Representation of the Salem witch trials from 1892. By Joseph E Baker. Public Domain

Representation of the Salem witch trials from 1892. By Joseph E Baker. Public Domain

Today is the proper morning to fly into Hell. Join me on the descent.

It’s 2014, yet again we sit at the precipice, or the crucible, of another international atrocity. It was only in April that I penned an article about Putin and the destabilisation of the Ukraine. As of today, 2,000 innocent Palestinians have been killed in what can now be called apartheid Israel. What is wrong with the world and how can we possibly inch back from the precipice?

2014 has not been a year of the people, that’s my analysis at least. Bill Clinton commented in 1998 that between him and Tony Blair, right wing politics would be out of business for a decade. Well, a decade it was if that. The Right has held a grudge and then some; they have been concocting a story. Across the planet we see the far-Right from the ultra-Zionism of today’s Likud, to Ukraine’s Svoboda, from the United Kingdom’s UKIP to France’s Front Nationale. The story they tell is one of blame and fear.

If you haven’t read The Crucible, you should. The play is a critique of 1950s America that uses the Salem Witch trials as an allegory for McCarthyism. It focuses on the hysteria of blame and its logical consequence – death and demonisation. It does this through blaming next door neighbours of being ‘witches’ and in 1690s Massachusetts, that accusation was synonymous with death. With blame of those on benefits as being the cause of the national debt and subsequent austerity leading to suicide, has The Crucible has become our reality? Has the world has gone truly mad? Has the trade union movement failed in its message of collectivism? Has that precipice moved ever closer?

Sites like USi are vital in bringing trade unionists and those on the left stories that often go unreported. It does so because often because mainstream media doesn’t report the stories it should. State and corporate media has become silent on the constant bombing of Palestinians, biased on the reporting of the seemingly racist shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and as we know, trade unions are lucky to even receive a mention.

I was at a demonstration at Kings Cross station in London a few days ago, a demonstration fighting for rail renationalisation; a BBC reporter approached me and asked for a picture of the 50 demonstrators and some commentary. That said, three weeks earlier 50,000 trade unionists and others marched showing solidarity for Palestine and received no mainstream coverage at all. I mentioned this to the reporter. Media has become about the immediate, not the on-going. The struggles in Palestine now go unreported in the mainstream media, as the media moves on to another story, that along with the MH370 search and the crisis in the Ukraine. Just because we haven’t seen it in the tabloids doesn’t mean the crisis isn’t present, our ignorance is the precipice I refer to. The Romans called it Damniatio memoriae, the damnation of memory – if you don’t report it, the person or story will forever be forgotten

Since the Sykes-Picot agreement (the carving up of the Middle East to its present day borders), the West has sought to define not only where a country lies, but increasingly nowadays where our national conscience lies. We are told what is right and wrong, the national opinion is decided upon by a few select editors and politicos. A story not being reported will damn a story to oblivion. Is our modern equivalent, the ‘right to be forgotten’, just the same? I would hate for my 20 plus articles on USi to somehow be condemned to purgatory by the world’s largest search engine. I’m not suggesting that the filtration of news is occurring on a mass scale, though when we delete the freedom of speech from a mass media journalist I’m sure you can appreciate my suspicion.

Let me look at this from another angle. I have recently found myself unemployed; I have witnessed first hand the plight of those that don’t have work or money to put bread on the table. I have seen those that have queued up with me at a food bank, I have been at the Job Centre and have witnessed the faces of a family’s bread winner being told that they have been ‘sanctioned’ by our right wing friends, now in government. Strangely, when asked by pollsters, the public in the UK are overwhelmingly in favour of benefit caps. I suppose what the Right have brought to those countries in which they control, is a modern version of The Crucible.

Maybe we are in the ‘blaming’ stage, accusing each other of ‘being on benefits’ as Abigail Williams accused those of ‘being witches’ at Salem. Abigail did so with some support, that is until those at Salem realised their humanity and rid Salem from the curse of right-wing propaganda. This is the world we currently live in. Gaza is someone else’s problem, that next street neighbour we demonise, anyone on benefits is a ‘scrounger’, the next door neighbour. If Arthur Miller was writing today, it wouldn’t be the ‘witch’ that he would be using in The Crucible; it would be the so called ‘scrounger’.

Yes, a few topics to mull over, the precipice may have moved beneath us like an eroding cliff. Isn’t the first thing we can do to stop the lack of transparency in our modern world, to report anything we believe to be true? Do we as trade unionists not have a common vision of solidarity? If we can’t rely on mainstream media, we can and should rely on each other, isn’t that what trade unionism is about? Let’s look for those stories that aren’t being told, before we blame each other and single out our modern day Tituba – the scapegoat slave and alleged “witch” in The Crucible.

The Right are after us, let the Left fight back. Read the Crucible, Abigail and Tituba were real people; it’s an old story that should piss off the present.

History repeats itself.

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off” – Gloria Steinem


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
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James Martin

Socialist. @UnitetheUNION National Tutor. Historian, Psephologist and Astrophysicist. Regular contributor to @USiLive.

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