The Canary is excited to share the latest edition of our letters page. This is where we publish people’s responses to the news and politics, or anything else they want to get off their chest. We’ve now opened the letters page up so anyone can submit a contribution. As always, if you’d like to subscribe to the Canary – starting from just £1 a month – to support truly radical and independent media, then you can do that here:
This week’s letters
This week we have people’s thoughts on a Jonathan Freedland Guardian column, a Canary article on Long Covid, and Catalonia
The Guardian‘s Jonathan Freedland’s comments on Israel: a third way is possible
Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian says that Israel faced a tragic choice after the Hamas attack of October 7th [“In its war against Hamas, Israel faces a tragic choice between two different routes to disaster“, 1 December].
They had to choose between doing nothing or launching a military campaign to destroy Hamas. Of course they chose the latter. However, there was a third way, and the choices will still be there when ‘Operation Swords of Iron’ is over. Israel can end the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza. Outrageous though it may seem to many people to say so, Hamas were always open to the two state solution.
There is also a fourth way, the piecemeal obliteration of Palestine, with intermittent bouts of destruction. That is the path Israel has pursued since 1967.
Brendan O’Brien, via email
Long Covid: Dante’s inferno needs reimagining
A response to the Canary article Don’t just blame Boris ‘the liar’ Johnson for Long Covid. Blame the crooked psychiatrists who fomented his beliefs, too.
Well said [in the article].
I observe that it costs about US$10m to fund sham research which writes into the peer reviewed medical literature a belief, if not the illusion of consensus, that a particular complex chronic physical illness medicine hasn’t a clue about is always psychological in nature.
There are at least a dozen such complex chronic illnesses, starting with “neurasthenia” which was debated and psychologized in the 1880s.
Although I think it had happened before, the first time I’ve seen documentation of a special interest spending that US$10m was the American chemical industry litigation defense effort funding ESRI in the 1990s.
Gulf War Syndrome didn’t even pretend, it was simply decreed psychological.
And of course I concur that PACE Trial was similarly sham research. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out “cui bono?”, until it became clear that there are five million cases of disabling ME/”CFS” in Europe and the western hemisphere. Properly administered lifetime disability income for all of them would cost about US$5 trillion – a year’s GDP for a country the size of Germany or the UK – which is far beyond the ability of payers like the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and insolvency for any private insurer.
Long Covid has simply doubled that exposure in the space of four years: another five million lifetime disability claims.
The only answer for society, both economically and humanitarian, is to do the science to figure out – after 140 years – what actually happens in these complex chronic illnesses, to develop an objective test (which the payers of disability income existentially fear) and then to develop treatments which attack the root cause of the illness rather than just trying to mitigate symptoms.
But the payers of disability income, acting silently through seemingly independent academic intermediaries, are actively arguing against research into these illnesses, and have been for decades.
The psychiatrists are just the pawns of the terrified money people.
Where’s Dante when we need a deeper circle?
Steve Chalmers, via email
ED: we agree with all of that, and thanks for the considered response.
Spain’s government’s impressive about-turn: democratic horizon for Catalonia?
Today’s Spanish nationalism was heavily influenced by General Franco’s forty years of dictatorship. Due to international pressure, fascism agreed to move towards a more or less democratic system and was therefore not defeated and eradicated as in Germany or Italy. In Spain, fascism persisted, more or less disguised, at the base of the army, the police, big business, the Popular Party (the PP was founded by seven of Franco’s ministers), the media and the judiciary.
This overwhelming domination by the heirs of the regime caused even the most open or left-wing sectors to drift towards a supremacist nationalism that excluded those who were different and tended towards aggressiveness. And it was further accentuated by the confrontation against the armed struggle of Basque independence, in which all means were used to win at any cost for the sake of the sacred unity of Spain. And they have treated the peaceful and democratic Catalan independence movement equally, legitimising the use of all the tools of the state (police, secret services, media and judicial system) to destroy the supposed enemy.
The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, PSOE, which had supported the PP’s outrages, continued the dirty war when it governed from 2018. At the same time, far-right politicians within the PP created their own party VOX, against feminism, immigrants and the Catalans and Basques. In its beginnings, the PSOE demanded that VOX be in the televised debates with the intention of damaging the PP electorally, although it was not appropriate because they were an extra-parliamentary force. In the short term the PP lost votes at the expense of VOX, but then the beast became big and now everyone is regretting it.
In the 2023 elections, the PP won but could not form a government, while the PSOE’s Sánchez could form a government if he got the support of Junts, the pro-independence party of Carles Puigdemont, exiled in Belgium and whom the PSOE had vilified to dehumanising extremes. Now that they need his support, Puigdemont has demanded a “historic agreement” to democratically resolve the Catalonia-Spain conflict, foreseeably with a referendum.
Puigdemont has set the following conditions: an end to the dirty war, the removal of independence from Europol’s terrorist list, an amnesty for all those persecuted by the “lawfare” (judicial dirty war) carried out by the Spanish justice system, and negotiations in Switzerland with international mediation.
Sánchez has accepted everything, because he wants to stay in power, but also because it was reasonable and it was the opportunity to put an end to the orgy of repression that had become unsustainable. This abuse by the state could no longer be sustained, because independence has been winning elections, because Spain has been condemned by the Council of Europe and the United Nations, and because the lawsuits that the Catalan independence movement has brought against Spain before the European courts are about to come to light.
From now on, Sánchez has the difficult task of explaining why he is amnestying the Catalan independence movement if, until now, he said that they were criminals who could not be negotiated with. The right wing is right to criticise him for having made a U-turn out of a lust for power and because the PSOE governs almost nowhere and, to maintain the party, it needs the economic income allowed by the central government. We shall see if Sánchez’s personal need can help find a democratic solution to the eternal Spain-Catalonia problem.
At the moment, there are people demonstrating in the streets against stopping the judicial prosecution of Catalan “coup perpetrators”. The PP will try to make Sánchez pay a price for separating himself from nationalist postulates and VOX accuses Sánchez of being a coup leader, a dictator and compares him to Hitler. Protesters make fascist proclamations and call for the death of Sánchez and Puigdemont.
From the army, some fifty retired military officers have called for a coup d’état to save the homeland and nobody has said anything to them. And the judges have also protested against the allusion to “lawfare” because they say it undermines the separation of powers. They have even demonstrated in their robes, violating the principle of non-participation in politics and, worst of all, they are forcing the judicial machinery to convict the maximum number of people before the amnesty and they are raising the charges to terrorism so that they cannot benefit from the amnesty.
The amnesty law is being processed, but the fact is that in Spain there has never been a problem with the laws, nor with the ordinary justice system comparable to that of Europe, but rather the problem is with the high judges when they have to judge Catalan pro-independence supporters, because then they use justice for political ends to harm their enemy.
In any case, the facts show a powerful Catalan independence movement that has managed to force the Spanish state to contradict itself and accept an amnesty that all state powers described as impossible until four months ago. We shall see how events evolve.
Jordi Oriola Folch, Barcelona, via email
Want to get involved? Email membership(at)thecanary.co and we’ll publish your letters, too! Terms and conditions of publication apply.