So this is Christmas?

“We are close to Christmas. There will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes — all decked out — while the world continues to wage war.

Nov 26, 2015

By Anil Netto
Christmas… what do we make of the festivities this year, in the light of the Bishop of Rome’s remarks, that Christmas this year will be a “charade” as the whole world is at war?

“We are close to Christmas. There will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes — all decked out — while the world continues to wage war.

“It’s all a charade. The world has not understood the way of peace. The whole world is at war. “A war can be justified, so to speak, with many, many reasons, but when all the world, as it is today, is at war, piecemeal though that war may be — a little here, a little there —there is no justification,” said Francis.

Indeed, emergency rule has been declared in certain countries, detention without trial has once again been given a new lease of life, while freedom and universal rights are being restricted in not a few countries, including ours.

All this in the name of fighting a socalled Global War on Terror (GWOT), a state of perpetual war, which is what the ‘New World Order’ now looks like. Under the Obama administration, GWOT has been changed to the euphemism Overseas Contingency Operation and then to Countering Violent Extremism.

This reminds me of those dark sci-fi movies about the violence and crime that plague the dangerous streets of futuristic mega-cities in a post-apocalyptic world.

Perhaps George Orwell was just three decades too early with the time-frame of his famous Nineteen Eighty-Four book, published in 1949.

The book depicts widespread government surveillance and the manipulation of public minds (these days, it is done using ‘public relations’ as an art of propaganda,  whether political or corporate). Independent or dissident thinking is persecuted or crushed by a tyrannical Big Brother who represents the Party leadership.

The people have to be contented with the illusion of freedom and democracy. They may think they have freedom but that space has been rapidly restricted.

While our Christmas celebrations may now be muted, Christmas came early for Big Business and the Multinational Corporations, with their powers and influence set to be enhanced through so-called ‘free trade’ agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Is it any coincidence that, as our space for freedom of thought, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression is restricted, the powers of MNCs and corporate America are set to expand exponentially if the TPPA comes into force?

Meanwhile, the great salesman for the TPPA, Obama, dropped by in Malaysia to peddle his wares using Orwellian euphemisms to tell us that what the TPPA offers is actually good for us. 

And yet, we have not yet seen any costbenefit analysis.

But the most insidious parts of the TPPA lie elsewhere.

US analyst Chris Hedges of Truthdig speaks of a conversation with politician Ralph Nader, who describes the TPPA as follows:

“The TPP, along with the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and Nafta (North American Free Trade Agreement), is the most brazen corporate power grab in American history…

“It allows corporations to bypass our three branches of government to impose enforceable sanctions by secret tribunals. These tribunals can declare our labour, consumer and environmental protections [to be] unlawful, non-tariff barriers subject to fines for noncompliance.

“The TPP establishes a transnational, autocratic system of enforceable governance in defiance of our domestic laws.”

Another writer Jack Rasmus ( warns that the TPP Commission, which is provided for under Chapter 27 of the agreement, could function as a global corporate legislature-executive institution. “The Commission members function as a kind of corporate global ‘Politburo,’ a legislative committee of the Multinational Corporations of the TPP members with, yet to be defined, accompanying executive powers. No separation of powers here.”

It is unclear how the members will be elected, who chooses them, how long their terms will be, etc.

This is quite apart from the ‘investorstate dispute settlement’ mechanism which has the power to penalise national governments who dare to act in the public interest to rein in corporations, and forces  them to compensate corporations for any loss of profit.

So, Big Brother could increasingly include not just political powers, but unelected corporate elements working in secret and shadowy commissions and tribunals with little accountability.

So where does this leave us?

The Bishop of Rome is not saying that Christmas is cancelled, nor is he downplaying its significance.

Rather, he calls on us to think again about our superficial revelry and partying. All the tinsel and fruitcake won’t take away the pain of people suffering from war and its consequences — apart from existing poverty, hunger, and increasingly, environmental destruction. 

Francis reflects: “What shall remain in the wake of this war, in the midst of which we are living now?

“What shall remain? Ruins, thousands of children without education, so many innocent victims, and lots of money in the pockets of arms dealers.

“We should ask for the grace to weep for this world which does not recognise the path to peace... to weep for those who live for war and have the cynicism to deny it.”

“God weeps, Jesus weeps.” While we weep, we should not forget the light that was sent to the world to counter the forces of darkness that roam the world.

George W Bush (yes, him), said in 2001: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

Perhaps we would do better to remember what Jesus said instead: “Whoever is not against us is for us” — not in a perpetual war — but in the quest to bring light to a world filled with darkness so that everyone can have the freedom to live their lives to the full, the way God intended it to be. So

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