With 25 Days to Brexit, The Four Fathers Release New Single ‘I Want My Country Back (From The People Who Wanted Their Country Back)’

4.3.19

The cover of 'I Want My Country Back (From The People Who Wanted Their Country Back)' by The Four Fathers (cover image by Brendan Horstead).Today marks 25 days until the UK is supposed to leave the EU, and my band The Four Fathers are taking the opportunity to release — via Bandcamp — our anti-Brexit anthem, ‘I Want My Country Back (From The People Who Wanted Their Country Back)’, which has become something of a live favourite over the last couple of years.

Please have a listen to it, share it if you like it, and, if you want, you can even buy it as a download (for £1/$1.25 — or more if you wish).

I wrote it in the weeks after the referendum, when the chorus came to me out of the blue — as often happens to me — and I then struggled to hammer out some verses, aimed at the stupidity, arrogance and lies of, variously, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and David Cameron. However, although the chorus arrived fully-formed and has never changed, I thoroughly revised the lyrics for the verses after discussions with my friend, the musician and producer Charlie Hart, whose suggestions led me in a direction that was — at least partly — more poetic, especially in the song’s opening lines: 

It was just after the summer solstice
When it should have been sunny and bright
But a darkness fell over everything
Extinguishing all light

You can listen to the song or buy it below:

I also recognise in my lyrics that some who voted to leave the EU were reacting against the erosion of their lives, communities and livelihoods, which has taken place since the 1980s, under Margaret Thatcher, and was not reversed under John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown or David Cameron, but it still pains me that so many people don’t seem to realise that the EU didn’t fundamentally play a role in this, and that the blame for it lies with our own governments, whether Tory or New Labour (or, from 2010-15, the Tories backed by the Lib Dems).

In my lyrics, I still take aim at the isolationists, and reflect on how, to my mind, the tendency of patriotism is towards war. I also take aim at the racists and xenophobes, empowered by the referendum, who have changed Britain for the worse since June 2016. Since the referendum, whenever I meet EU nationals, I apologise for that happened, and then ask them if they have been abused in any way since then — and I have yet to meet any EU national who hasn’t, at the very least, been shouted at in the street and told to “f*ck off back home.”

It’s hard to believe that, on March 29, we’re supposed to leave the EU, and that this date marks two years since Theresa May triggered Article 50, the mechanism for doing so. It’s also hard to believe that it’s nearly three years since the referendum, which I still believe was, fundamentally, an act of gross political cowardice and folly on the part of David Cameron that was then picked up on by the Euro-sceptic lunatics on the far right of the Tory Party, who everyone, from Ted Heath onwards, kept in a box, and which they sat on until Cameron, scared by the rise of UKIP and the increasing noise from the box, decided, with monstrous hubris, that he would defuse UKIP and the Euro-sceptic loons with an idiotically ill-conceived referendum. 

Sickeningly, the subsequent twists and turns of the Brexit soap opera have drowned out almost all other meaningful political debate about British politics, as the “age of austerity” that was cynically implemented by Cameron and George Osborne when they took office in 2010 has continued to destroy the state and the very notion of civil society, and continues to see the Tories determined to drag Britain back to the mid-19th century in terms of the suffering and punishment of the poor, and the deliberate fostering of an ever-growing chasm between rich and poor.

And, in the meantime, Labour — for the most part, and in particular in the councils it controls — fails to challenge the austerity agenda, and is now just as gleefully joining in the plundering of the poor for profit — via the disgraceful ‘regeneration’ industry that is committed to destroying social housing and local businesses for unaffordable new developments that are bad for everyone except the developers and the other leeches who profit from them.

In the wake of the EU referendum, the dogged but dim Theresa May, the former home secretary whose six-year tenure was overflowing with the most alarming racism and xenophobia and Islamophobia, filled the void left after David Cameron’s instant departure, and, since then, has obsessively tried to deliver the undeliverable — a Brexit that doesn’t cripple the British economy. 

I share the conviction of others who have looked into Brexit closely, who have realised that it is actually impossible to leave the EU without destroying one’s economy, and who have also realised that this situation was set up deliberately. As the great anti-Brexit analyst Ian Dunt explained in his book, Brexit: What The Hell Happens Now?:

Article 50 is brutal. Insofar as it was ever expected to be used, it was as a punishment mechanism. ‘I wrote Article 50 so I know it well,’ the former Italian prime minister Giuliano Amato said shortly after the Brexit vote. ‘My intention was that it should be a classic safety valve that was there, but never used.’

It’s not that I believe the EU is perfect — far from it. Its neo-liberal impulses are genuinely dangerous, but freedom of trade and movement within the EU has, to my mind, helped to erode the kind of narrow nationalism that led to centuries of war, and, in any case, on a purely pragmatic basis, untangling over 40 years of laws and treaties tying us to the EU appears, genuinely, to be impossible.

Whatever its failings, changing the EU should take place from within, rather than, as the Brexiteers want, isolating ourselves as a backwards-looking island that is free to be as racist as it likes, and as delusional as it likes, thinking that isolation is the way forward in an inter-connected world in which we need other countries at least a much as they need us.

With 25 days to go, I’m still hoping that there’s an escape route. In the song, I conclude by stating, “The only light in the darkness / Is that Brexit will destroy whoever makes it real”, but I’d rather it didn’t quite come to that, and that we can pull ourselves back from the brink before that destruction comes true.

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, the resistance continues.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

44 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    With 25 days to go until the UK is supposed to leave the EU, here’s my latest article, promoting ‘I Want My Country Back (From The People Who Wanted Their Country Back)’, the new single by The Four Fathers, an anti-Brexit anthem that has been a live favourite over the last few years.

    It’s also an opportunity for me to provide an overview of the entire Brexit fiasco, as I see it, noting how it has unleashed racism and xenophobia, has drowned out all other political issues (even as the Tories’ own austerity programme continues to make life miserable for millions), and now threatens to destroy our economy in the most extraordinary act of national suicide.

  2. Tom says...

    At this point, May is desperate to not completely lose face. Go down in history as “The No Brexit Deal PM Who Destroyed the UK”. Even when she takes the usual boring shots at the SNP in the House, it literally means practically nothing.

    She says she won’t run again at the next general election. So the cynical response would be why should she care about 3/29th? Also, if she did step down, who would take over? I’ve never heard any of the “political pundits” actually come up with an improvement over her.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    Catchy title and Chorus! I want my sanity back (from the people who have sanity-lack!)

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tashi. Nice additional lyrics!

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your thoughts, Tom. So yes, Theresa May is in an extraordinarily unenviable position, committed to fulfilling something that cannot possibly have a good ending. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

  6. Damo says...

    This country has gone mad it’s divided and nasty brexit especially a no Deal will be is a disaster of the highest order may, farage Johnson won’t suffer our repulsive political class of either side won’t suffer it will be the poorest the vulnerable who will suffer because when the economy tanks and there’s no food or meds the bullyboys will look for scapegoats and we all know who theyll attack first

  7. Damo says...

    The thing that’s so sad in all of this is the majority of the leavers that the news always shows are from economically dead towns miserable dead places these poor deluded sods their lives are gonna get much much much worse I just don’t understand the thought process the UK manufacturing era was finished by the 90s Thatcher saw to that so did Blair this country is not a world player and the days of so called empire finished over 100 years ago the thing that’s pitiful is working class people voted for this before the Eu we had no rights and in this class divided country we were treated like shit and these poor sods voting for this in these godforsaken towns the Eu protected you your lives are gonna get much much worse the only industry that’s gonna thrive is the debt /bailiff industry.. It’s fucked up Andy it really is.

  8. Damo says...

    One of the things that appalled and kind of amused me last November David Cameron popped back up yes him the father of all this mess.. I’m bored.. It.. Squeaked I want to re enter politics.. IT.. Was met with a resounding.. NO.. Lol this creature must live such a carefree indolent life of ease that.. ITS.. Bored.. Well David aren’t you the lucky one

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, it’s extraordinary how easy it was for the propagandists – the politicians and our ridiculous right-wing media – to appeal to the plucky British bulldog siege mentality of so many of our fellow citizens, Damo, as though we were still the predominant Empire, or as though we “won” some sort of war in 1945, when the reality is that there are no winners in war, and, in any case, it was the Russians and their sacrifice that overwhelmingly brought the Nazis down. I genuinely suspect that one of the big drivers for the Brexit vote was the absurd sense of superiority that came from our athletes’ success in the Olympics in 2012, when the entire country was awash with the Union Jack. People are such idiots, always seeking affirmation of their significance though indicators that are meaningless – with nationalism at the top of that list, closely followed, I suspect, by the smug idiocy of being more materially wealthy than one’s neighbours.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Absolutely, Damo. Imagine a scenario, back before the referendum, where a Tory government was involved in all kinds of behind the scenes fighting about the severity of its plans to inflict the most severe economic damage imaginable on the poorer members of British society not because of their own policies, but because the people themselves had asked for it. It would have been dismissed as an insane fantasy.
    And yet now we have opportunistic lunatics like Rees-Mogg defending “the will of the people”, personally profiting from Brexit, and being opposed by people from my younger days who I despised at the time, but now find common cause with – Michael Heseltine, for example, who was Thatcher’s attack dog, or John Major. And in the House of Commons, Ken Clarke, the main – only? – representative of the Tory libertarian left, now comes across as the only real example of an MP taking the p*ss out of the whole idiotic scenario.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, Cameron didn’t get much interest, did he, Damo? Amazing that he thought he would. Obviously, the establishment doesn’t have a history of making one of their own into a scapegoat, because of how it discredits them in general, but I do hope Cameron is paying some sort of price for his cowardice in calling the referendum, his arrogance in presuming he would win it, and his immediate resignation, when, as we all remember, he wandered off whistling.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Anne Caron-Delion wrote:

    Hey just listened to your ‘Country’ track and loved it.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Anne. Very glad to hear you’re loving it! 🙂

  14. Damo says...

    Rees-Mogg is a very sinister dark figure he reminds me of Joseph Goebbels poseing in happy family shots yet seeing the death of thousands millions these twisted halfmen we are seeing are part of the rise of the right wing globaly now and they are vile and twisted Andy they are.. TWISTED. They are all part of it and it’s all BAD

  15. Damo says...

    The thing that’s really really sad really fucked up is all these far right brexitiers… Their grandfather’s or great grandfather’s fought as did mine in the second world war to rid the world of fascists far right fascists.. And yet hear they are voting for the far right.. Their grandfather’s must be turning in their graves

  16. Damo says...

    These people should be shown the footage of the liberation of Auschwitz or Belsen shown the horror of where this all leads and should be shown the footage of that young northern soldier given the hideous task of driving that bulldozer moving the piles of body’s when interviewed.. I’ve never seen the like never seen anything like this before the people that did this you wouldn’t even think they were human

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    A reminder of Goebbels’ family portrait, Damo, in case anyone needs their memories refreshing about how the Nazis did family propaganda: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goebbels_children#/media/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1978-086-03,_Joseph_Goebbels_mit_Familie.jpg
    It’s ridiculous how the media gives Rees-Mogg the oxygen of publicity, just as they have done so repeatedly with Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson. He was only ever a peripheral figure, but when he saw an opportunity for self-promotion via Brexit – because, I suspect, like so many politicians, he harbours delusions of one day being Prime Minister – he seized it, as the chair of the European Research Group, which he became in January 2018, and has shamelessly run with it.
    On Europe, he’s able to indulge himself as an insane separatist, but he’s not screamingly to the right on everything. In 2015 he supported Shaker Aamer’s release from Guantanamo, and just three weeks ago, on Question Time, he said we should have “sympathy” for Shamima Begum: https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/question-time-jacob-rees-mogg-surprises-audience-and-says-we-should-have-sympathy-for-shamima-begum/
    Shaker photo here: http://tmblr.co/ZJJ72m1na75Iv
    Like so many Tories, fundamentally he treats it all like a game.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    It’s such a mess, isn’t it, Damo? They think they’re striving for independence from the sovereignty of the EU, but fail to realise that they’re empowering the far right in British politics.
    It’s such a shame that there wasn’t a robust enough denial of all the anti-immigrant sentiment that built up – particularly, I think, in the years running up to the referendum. For that, the blame has to rest with the mainstream media, and with feeble politicians, but also, I have to say, with the pro-Leave British people people themselves, who ought to be able to make their own assessments of what’s real and what’s hyped-up and unappealing hysteria – in the media as well as on the streets where they live, and in their shops and pubs. There’s good and bad in everyone – settled people in Britain as well as refugees and immigrants – and yet the narrative that was allowed to develop was that settled while British people are somehow the definition of human brilliance, while everyone else is somehow sub-human – refugees, immigrants, Muslims, the whole of the EU, it seems. Once you open this Pandora’s Box of bigotry, there appear to be no depths to which people won’t sink.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    I never recovered from seeing the aftermath of the holocaust on ‘The World At War’ when I was 10, Damo. It confirmed me as a lifelong pacifist. And one of the bitterest ironies, of course, is that the far-right tend to be holocaust-deniers, so what was fought for in WWII is, yet again, being overturned by those with home-grown fascist tendencies.

  20. Damo says...

    These deranged Holocaust deniers especially that fuck wit that was pictured recently if those men who were there fighting the fascists and seeing first hand the horrors of the concentration camps if they came back they would slap these fuckers into the back of next week

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    That seems a fair assessment, Damo. I remember from my childhood seeing footage of a mass grave of extraordinarily emaciated naked bodies, and, I think, someone with a bulldozer. So many people watched ‘The World at War.” Is it possible to see something like that and then to forget it?

  22. Damo says...

    I remember watching it Andy another incredible documentary is people’s century I find it horrifying that these fascist movements have returned and they return when there’s great inequality such as now we have the bankers to blame for that and the politicians who are fueling that return. We seem to be repeating the mistakes of 80 years ago

  23. Damo says...

    I sent you a friend request on fb Andy

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    I never saw ‘People’s Century’, Damo – I never even heard of it until now. I see it came out in the mid-’90s when I was extremely off-grid. Someone has helpfully put it all together here (in the absence of the BBC and PBS doing so): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuL26fXZ8eTNLLnugg2BTyOZQ7HT-QZk4
    As for repeating the mistakes of 80 years ago, we have to see how it all pans out. It’s certainly the case that the first stages have taken place: poor, mostly white people, who self-identify as the native race, have been persuaded by politicians and the media – and have also persuaded themselves – that they are uniquely hard done by, and that someone is to blame; apparently immigrants, Muslims and the EU. The next step will depend on exactly how ruined the economy becomes, and that’s where Brexit’s so crucial. If we manage to stop it, we’ve got a chance, but if we don’t, and the economy goes into meltdown, I genuinely fear for what might happen.

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Great, Damo. Thanks!

  26. Damo says...

    Scapegoats will be sought

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Scary thought, Damo. I suppose if it all goes horribly wrong, as we expect, it’ll be the fault of New Labour for having allowed immigration from Eastern Europe in the first place, which seems have been the biggest driver of Brexit racism. I suppose also Muslims will get blamed, because they always do. Oh, and the EU, of course. Let’s blame them. In fact, let’s start a war with them. Haven’t had one of those for a while – and it’d be a good way of getting the population down, what with all those useless eaters moping around everywhere without jobs.

  28. Damo says...

    The thing is there are people who would be up for that

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    I know, Damo – and people prepared to push it, as well. If we do leave, and end up in economically broken isolation, all manner of deranged sh*t can be proposed by our so-called leaders that will be accepted by people who, metaphorically, have been kicked repeatedly in the head by the tabloid media for the last 30 years.

  30. Damo says...

    I’m a YouTube surfer Andy love watching old clips but YouTube has now become.. RIDDLED.. By brexit crap and politics zzzz I don’t watch it but they constantly post pro brexit videos I watched 1 minute this morning 1 minute is enough read some of the comments the usual stuff but one comment from a young man obviously born in the 90s… ID RATHER HAVE NOTHING THAN STAY IN THE EU.. Omg poor bastard too dim /brainwashed to know what he’s even talking about he has benefitted his entire life from being in the EU they don’t seem to understand how tough life was for working class people before the EU in a class saturated and divided society at least then we had the unions and jobs for life young people had apprentiships leading to jobs.. That has all gone.. To that foolish young man be careful what you wish for you could and more than likely will end up with.. NOTHING

  31. Damo says...

    Google is so creepy and sinister it lurks watching.. HARVESTING.. Our data.. Monitoring the sites we visit so if you watch or visit any left wing sites.. Your bombarded with right wing garbage.. What they think we’re gonna change our minds… It’s soooooo sinister

  32. Andy Worthington says...

    My stress levels can’t take too much delusion pro-Brexit guff, Damo. It just makes me angry.
    It’s very sad to hear people who are so deluded, though – and to note that they will be ripe for manipulation by the far-right. One sign of English arrogance, it has always seemed to me, is how English people assume that WWII-era German people were somehow “evil”, and fail to recognise that in fact they were manipulated by Nazi propagandists to become virulently anti-Jewish.

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    I do wonder, Damo, about how much we’re manipulated by the algorithms of our new masters, the tech companies. Sometimes, obviously, they’re fundamentally flailing out trying to secure our business. You buy a pair of shoes, and then, when you obviously don’t need shoes, they bombard you with adverts for shoes. However, on a more sinister level, they are manipulating us endlessly with their “if you like this, you might like this” messages, which are affecting how people think – or rather, how they allow decisions to be taken for them – and these messages are not innocent; they’re paid for by someone who gets to control people’s free will while having them think that they’re simply being helped by benevolent technology, by benevolent corporations. That’s really quite sinister.
    With the Brexit stuff you’re talking about, In wonder if it’s simply that your activity has involved anti-Brexit discussions like the ones we have, and the bots can’t distinguish between pro- and anti-. That certainly happens with me regarding housing. My online experiences are riddled with adverts for over-priced new housing developments in London, not because I support them, but because I spend a lot of time writing about how implacably opposed I am to them. The bots, however, are stupid, and can’t tell the difference, just like, on Facebook, how they banned my friends the Commie Faggots; that’s a satirical name, rather obviously, but bots don’t understand satire.

  34. Damo says...

    I don’t know if you watched last night’s ch4 dispatches the brexit millionaires.. Just just literally disgusting.. DISGUSTING.. leeches and parasites.. Osborne, Rees-Mogg, Davis, currupt business men tory donors all profiting off the ruination of a nation just obscene and the gormless population going along with it cheering on their ruination.. You couldn’t make this shit up

  35. Damo says...

    You need to watch last night’s dispatches blew it wide open what brexit really about.. GREED, CORRUPTION.. TAX AVOIDENCE.. If this was south America or romainia these fuckers would be dragged from their beds paraded through the streets and h….d it’s inconceivable how anyone could still think brexit is about sovereignty or taking back control watching gloating business men boasting about the money

  36. Damo says...

    Facebook is clamping down on anyone posting anything about torie corruption I posted on a friends post about the torie corruption in Hastings council, Facebook sent me this whole number about it being hate speech bullshit and funk mark Zuckerberg lol

  37. Andy Worthington says...

    I didn’t see it, Damo, but I did see a clip of Rees-Mogg looking astonishingly uncomfortable when being questioned about the alleged £7m he has received through Brexit profiteering, before regaining his composure and telling C4’s reporter, “The amount I receive is not for public disclosure”:
    https://twitter.com/C4Dispatches/status/1105108677768417280
    Unfortunately, I’ve also just looked at the comments on this clip – people are literally queuing up to congratulate him, including Tory journalist Isabel Oakeshott, for making money. People queuing up to congratulate him for the most blatant conflict of interest, making money personally out of something he’s involved in politically. Who are these idiots? They’d be ecstatic if all our leaders were, openly, disaster capitalists destroying the country, because that would apparently demonstrate how good they are at business, and as we should know by now, success in business is the only measure of human success in these deranged times.

  38. Andy Worthington says...

    But as I was noting, Damo, people think it’s clever for politicians involved in Brexit to make money out of it. Their stupidity – and their fawning adulation of wealth – knows no bounds. By this logic, the greatest success for the country should be measured by how much it’s plundered and ruined by the people in charge of it. And some of these people claim to be intelligent, Damo!
    Mind you, the journalist Isabel Oakeshott, I see on closer inspection, is a huge Brexit supporter. She ghost-wrote ‘The Bad Boys of Brexit’ for UKIP slimeball Arron Banks, and is openly pro-Brexit. Last year the Daily Beast reported that she was “in possession of extraordinary details about Russia’s cultivation and handling of Brexit’s biggest bankroller [Banks]”: https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-a-journalist-kept-russias-secret-links-to-brexit-under-wraps
    As for Rees-Mogg, the absurdity of anyone supporting him should have been made clear last summer, when the MEP Molly Scott Cato wrote this for the Guardian = ‘Will a no-deal Brexit make most of us poorer – and Jacob Rees-Mogg richer?’: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/24/no-deal-brexit-poorer-jacob-rees-mogg-dividend
    He’d just admitted that “he no longer believe[d] leaving the EU will bring us economic benefit, and [said] we may be waiting 50 years for the ‘Brexit dividend’, if it ever arrives at all.” Scott Cato suggested that, therefore, his pro-Brexit stance was for personal gain. She also noted, “Jacob Rees-Mogg is often seen as the ‘respectable’ face of the Conservative hardline right wing. His style recalls an era when the British empire was flourishing and merchants traded grain, but children starved, and – most importantly – there were no pesky democratic constraints to prevent the wealthy enjoying their freedom.”
    Back to starving children, then, in our bright new future!

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    It’s so hard to tell with Facebook whats going on, Damo, because they’re so ridiculously aloof, unapproachable and imperious. If we’d known they’d be like this no one on the left politically would ever have got involved with them, and, tbh, we’d have been better off paying a fiver a month for a service that included a huge and responsive customer services department (although I should also note that a paying service would have been pitched at £25 a month, because all the corporate bloodsuckers want at least £300 a year from us for their services – check out mobile phone companies’ charges).
    Instead, however, we get nothing. Changes made without warning, bots policing content and consigning people to Facebook ‘prison’, as though we were pupils in some sort of harsh Victorian school. It seems clear that some activists are regularly shut down by Facebook – those dealing with the crimes of the Israeli state, for example – but in other cases the bans, or the slapped wrists, might be for the manner in which things are expressed rather than because the very basis of criticism isn’t allowed. How do we know? We don’t, and we can’t because they won’t tell us, because they treat us with contempt.
    As they’ve changed their systems, it’s become considerably more difficult for me to get people to see my links. It’s why I now tag people – in my Guantanamo posts, primarily – because otherwise they don’t see what I’m writing at all, whereas going back a few years, my posts would always be seen. I dread every new, unannounced change, because I never know what they’ll do to try to scupper my work, as they restlessly tinker with everything, like these people always do – never content to stand still, always moving the furniture, always obsessively going on about how relentless, obsessive change is the only way to stay ahead of everything (surely they all do too much coke?)
    The bottom line? Facebook needs proper regulation, but it may by now all be too late. The tech companies are now, apparently, more powerful than our governments. Check this out, from Washington Monthly – ‘How to Fix Facebook—Before It Fixes Us’ by Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook. I read it in the magazine when I was in the US last January: https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/january-february-march-2018/how-to-fix-facebook-before-it-fixes-us/

  40. Andy Worthington says...

    Also, Damo, I just saw that Elizabeth Warren has announced her desire to break up Google, Facebook and Amazon, because they have too much power. As she said, “Today’s big tech companies have too much power – too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else.”
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/mar/08/elizabeth-warren-amazon-facebook-google-big-tech-break-up-blogpost

  41. Damo says...

    I have always had a love hate relationship with fb I go on Facebook a while then come off for a couple of years it’s been great to reconnect with people but I also find it oppressive and sinister you have to monitor and police everything you right I used to join these groups non political such as London in the 60/70s but it’s just full of squabbling people a major turn off

  42. Damo says...

    Rees-Mogg was truly caught out on dispatches profiting from brexit.. Oow it’s all fantasy it’s not for the public to know… A leech and a parasite a dangerous throwback to 1939 he is not a good man I do not understand how dim the population has become believing these people watch the doc Andy it will spell it all out there was one fat torie pig literally gloating I’ve made two hundred million off brexit so far and I’ll make even more if there’s a no Deal disgusting the decadence of these people they are literally laughing and rubbing shit in people’s faces and nobody is calling them out apart from yesterday’s doc but then it’s not the content of people’s characters anymore is it it’s all about money and power now.. More than enough is never enough now it seems

  43. Andy Worthington says...

    I have a generally good relationship with everyone across all the pages I run or am involved in on Facebook, Damo, so it works well apart from the constant low-level anxiety about the FB police (anxiety that is really quite profoundly unacceptable). However, I generally stay away from the public forums because, like Twitter, they’re full of obnoxious people. The fact that the internet has allowed online obnoxiousness to flourish to such an extent is really one of its most serious unintended consequences. People should be profoundly ashamed, but instead they’re turning into monsters. In the old days, you used to have to go down the pub and say that sort of sh*t out loud … and then you’d get punched. Now people have a virtual platform, and say things they genuinely should be trying not to even think.

  44. Andy Worthington says...

    I think life has become like an episode of ‘Black Mirror’, Damo. People are congratulating politicians and business people for destroying their lives, because it shows how clever they are when it comes to making money. I’ve long had a particularly bleak joke that no one cares what you do anymore, so long as you make money, and have thought about setting up a fake company, getting invited to parties, and then, when I’m asked what I do, telling them with a straight face that I found a way of making a fortune out of harvesting and selling children’s body parts from around the world. I sincerely think that most people wouldn’t bat an eyelid so long as I said I was making good money out of it.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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