Slavery Through Debt
August 1, 2016
When I was in my youth, the prospect of getting a mortgage filled me with dread. I saw it as an albatross around my neck: that sort of debt keeps you shackled to work for decades.
I recognised the curse of slavery through debt in my twenties. Lately I’ve been reading of slavery through debt as economic policy. Neoliberal, of course. And the more I read, the more I regard banks as bizarre phantoms that have us under their spell.
I mean, what is money? As and of itself, it’s worthless. It took quite a while for the idea of paper money to catch on because it has no intrinsic value. Before notes it was gold and silver coins. But these days such fripperies are strictly for collectors or investors. In fact, most of the money in circulation doesn’t exist at all! Did you know that?
Only 3% of pounds sterling in circulation is in the form of cash. The rest of it exists as digits on bank computers. When was the last time you were paid in cash? Your wages are a bunch of numbers transferred from your employer’s bank account into your bank account. You’re not working for pounds or dollars or euros anymore. You’re working for numbers. Electronically generated digits.
And here’s the thing: that 97% of invisible, intangible ‘money’ is in the form of credit. And here’s the really weird bit, kept secret until last year: credit is created out of thin air. For years we were led to believe that commercial banks acted as intermediaries between us and the central bank, borrowing from the Bank of England at one rate, lending to us at a higher rate, and pocketing the difference.
Nope. I saw an onstage conversation with an economics professor from Kingston University, who told about his lunch with an old pal of his who worked at the Bank of England. He asked him about these rumours flying around about banks simply creating money when they make loans. Was it true? No, said his friend. It wasn’t.
Six months later the professor is on stage retelling this conversation because the Bank of England had just published a report confirming the rumour to be true: that when a bank makes a loan, it registers it on its leger, et voila! Money! They add it to your account as a set of digits, you transfer those digits to the vendor, and that’s that! Here’s the keys, you can move in today!
Now, here’s the weird bit: somehow this whole mechanism – originally designed to make good use of actual money – has been manipulated to get entire countries into crippling debt. Damn near entire continents. If you’ve ever wondered how banks have enslaved the entire planet, you need to read this:
The Mask Has Fallen
July 28, 2016
At first democracy (at least in Britain) was a compromise. It was that or revolution. Then, as now, productivity was high, but pay was low and days were long, dangerous, and never guaranteed. People were grateful to have a job because then, as now, the alternative was abject poverty.
But something quite unexpected happened. In 1888, young women – some as young as seventeen, many of them Irish immigrants – went on strike at the Bryant and May matchstick factory in London’s East End.
They weren’t just the victims of poor pay, fourteen-hour work days and the severe health complications of working with white phosphorus. They were rarely paid at all, thanks to a system of trivial fines.
When their appalling conditions were exposed by the journalist Annie Besant, the article angered Bryant & May’s managers, who tried to get their workforce to sign a paper contradicting it. They refused.
This led to the dismissal of a worker on another pretext, so 1,400 women downed tools and refused to work. Management quickly offered to reinstate the fired employee but the women demanded more concessions, particularly with regard to unfair fines and the right to form a union.
At first management stood firm, but fear of bad publicity forced them to concede defeat.
The success of these plucky young women sparked an explosion of militant industrial action right across the country. Workers weren’t particularly interested in parliamentary democracy because, then as now, parliament had always been a body that represented the interests of the rich and powerful. What they wanted was economic democracy, where not just workers, but the community at large had a say in the way industry was run, and a fair share of the wealth it created.
A dozen years later the growing labour movement, represented by the Trades Union Congress, established The Labour Party. They were split even then, with trades union leaders regarding socialism as ‘unobtainable’.
For the 25 years leading up to WWI, the UK was on the brink of revolution, a potential threat since the French edition a century earlier. In the first half of 1914 there were over 9,000 thousand strikes across the country, and it looked as if the revolution might happen industrially rather than militarily. But once war was declared, all strikes were abandoned in a wave of patriotism.
But once the war was over, all bets were off and the Great Unrest, as it was called, returned in full force. Having just finished defending the Realm from ‘the Hun’, parliament could no longer deny working class men the right to vote, but were able to fend off their wives for another decade.
So, we’ve had democracy for less than a century, and all the while the establishment has been fighting a rear-guard action to reverse those gains, especially those made since WWII.
The Americans had fought and won their revolution by 1783, and from the destruction of the old came the construction of the new: a new nation and a new constitution, drafted by their own elites. And let’s be clear: while they may have thought of themselves as forward thinking, egalitarian men of the future, the Founding Fathers weren’t too keen on too much democracy. Let’s not forget the White House was built by slaves.
Although America’s elites rose from relatively humble beginnings, they now have a full blown oligarchy to rival any aristocracy at any time on the planet. And they’re no more interested in democracy than the British Establishment. For decades they’ve persuaded the rest of us to play along with the charade, and we happily played our part thanks to three decades of post war prosperity. The future, the one we’re in now, looked even better.
But all the while neoliberal forces were quietly working away behind the scenes, waiting for the perfect opportunity to pounce. They were not disappointed, and it came in the form of economic chaos in the 70s. Once Thatcher and Reagan were in power, there was no stopping it.
And so here we are. Hillary doesn’t care about democracy or the rules or what we think. She answers to a higher power: an oligarchy so powerful it no longer needs to maintain the illusion of democracy. They don’t care. They have their hands on the levers of power via the patronage of mere politicians willing to do their bidding. It’s just a puppet show.
The real shame of it is that had Bernie become President, he too would’ve bent to the same powerful forces pulling Obama’s strings, not to mention every president since who-knows-when.
Rats in the Ranks
June 30, 2016
In a classic case of jumping the gun, the rats are deserting the good ship Labour in the hope she sinks. To quote Nicky Campbell, Big Brother’s legendary political commentator: “Who are these people?”
It’s fair to say all they’ve done is out themselves as ‘The Unworthy’.
If you ever wanted an insight into how hopeless modern democracy has become, this is it. Any Parliamentary Labour Party member who wants a crack at leading the party must first receive enough nominations from their parliamentary colleagues to pass muster. Corbyn got in by the skin of his teeth moments before the nominations closed, because enough people on the right thought it’d be a giggle to watch this rank outsider finally make a laughing stock of himself.
Ho ho ho.
And that’s why we have the most popular Labour Party leader in living memory: the party machine was so locked in-step with established ideology they failed to spot what was really going on. And it’s only thanks to a minor anomaly introduced by Ed Miliband that permitted a wider base of Labour supporters to vote for their leader.
Which has left the right wing of the party retching into their whiskey sours in utter disbelief and despair.
Suck it up, fools!
As much as I loath the Tories, I have a tiny smidgen of respect for them because they’re at least better organised. Years playing rugger and hockey have taught them the importance of playing as a team.
[“But what about Bozza?” I hear you cry. Well, he’s an anomaly, innit. And he’s gonna pay, just you wait.]
The Tories are the political wing of the 1%, and the fact they actually pulled 24% of the adult population last year – and have won more elections than Labour since its inception – is testament to their skill at playing a disciplined game. Which can’t be said of Labour.
Labour may not represent all of the 99%, but they surely have the numbers to trounce the 1%. But that’s the problem with the Left: theirs is a very broad church, and they hamstring themselves by constant bickering.
The right wing of the Labour Party urged the left for decades to put up, shut up, and get behind the leader in the interests of all, and they did! But now the boot’s on the other foot, the right wing are chucking their toys out of the pram.
When Labour’s great hope, John Smith, dropped dead in the street, an unknown by the name of Tony Blair managed to convince the heavyweight Gordon Brown to let him steer the party to victory. Eighteen years of Tory rule had finally ground to a halt, not least because of ‘Cash for Questions’ and the indelicate sight of Jonathan Aitkin falling upon his Sword of Truth.
A drovers dog could have won the ’97 election, and Labour could have gone left or right, but decided to appeal to disaffected Tories in the full knowledge the party faithful would vote for them no matter what.
This rising class of Labour acolytes became known as ‘Blairites’, but I insist we call them by their proper name: ‘Thatcherites’. Blair and Brown were Thatcherites, ergo their supporters are Thatcherites. [History will never forget the unelected PM Brown, waving beside the senile old bag on her way to tea at Downing Street, resplendent in hot pink, the saucy minx.]
And so, with each passing election Labour’s party faithful began to wake up to the monumental con that’d been played upon them by an Oxford graduate and his disciples: Show up to vote for us as you’ve done for generations, because you’ve got no one else to vote for!
The arrogance of these bastards was finally laid bare when the hapless Gordon Brown – completely ignorant of the workings of radio microphones – made it known to the world his utter contempt for precisely the rump of working class voters that put the Labour Party in power in the first place.
Silly Gordon Brown.
It’ll go down in history – and will remain long after we’ve shuffled off this mortal coil – the delicious moment the unelected Prime Minister was ambushed in his very next interview at BBC Radio’s studios. Just imagine the glee among the producers and everyone else in the building who’d already heard Sky’s behind-the-scenes scoop, and the historic moment they were about to witness: the crushing moment when Brown and the rest of the world knew he’d just lost the election.
Bumbling. Snobby. Twitty Brown.
[I must say at this juncture Brown wasn’t completely useless and did this country at least one good deed: as Chancellor of the Exchequer he kept us out of the Euro, despite intense pressure from the Messiah, Blair. So thanks for that, Gordo.]
Then came Miliband, another outsider who couldn’t lead a horse to water, let alone eat a bacon sandwich. Bizarrely, this nerd and former Rubik’s Cube champion had somehow won the support of the unions, upsetting Labour’s Thatcherites by trouncing his own brother in proper dynastic fashion.
I’d encountered Ed a few times by then in my capacity as a news cameraman, and to accuse him of being wooden would upset tables & chairs the world over.
I have two memorable encounters with Ed. The first was in Number Ten. I was the pool cameraman shooting Brown receiving some foreign dignitary or other and, job done I get a call from the newsdesk telling me to hang on for a statement from Ed Miliband, at that point Minister for Who Cares (aka the Environment, and I DO feckin’ care!). This request was repeated by Brown’s minders.
So I wait.
Eventually I get the nod to start rolling, and Ed marches up, stares off into the middle distance at someone who isn’t there, and answers a question they didn’t ask.
Eventually he stops talking and it was one of those occasions when my comic timing was absolutely perfect:
“Right… So, um… are you gonna win the election or not?”
Belly laughs all round from the minions, one of whom I now recognise as John Mann. How funny can a cameramen be? Ho ho ho! You had to be there, of course.
The second time I recall was being dispatched to stand outside his house one morning with a junior producer. In typical fashion we were dispatched an hour before he was due to arrive in case he ducked out. (Freezing weather never bothers desk jockeys).
Anyway, the producer and I stood there and got to know each other in that superficial way you do when sharing cigarettes and shooting the breeze, while VIPs like Ed take their time and stumble out an hour later – bang on time – to give us an interview.
Out he comes with his missus, walks straight up to us and stops. And waits.
For the question.
No hello’s, no how are you’s, isn’t it really fucking cold and thanks for keeping us waiting, dipshit. None of that. Instead, here he is, all 6’3” of him waiting for the pre-arranged question.
The producer, as stunned as I am, remembers why she’s there and asks away. The question does’t matter, of course: it’s just a lay-up so Captain Cube can slam dunk the kind of reply you’d expect from the walking gadget.
So, just like at Number Ten, he rattles off a pre-prepared answer and waits. A pause ready to give birth wanders past, and I look at the producer. She looks at me. “Any more questions?” I venture.
No, sez she.
And that’s that. Off the Milibands go, and I film them as they go.
It’s fair to say I wouldn’t follow that bloke into a pub, and I’m not alone. As sinister as Blair was – and is – he had the Tories on the back foot from start to finish. But the best they could come up with after Blair was Brown, followed by Miliband?
When I stood as Hoi Polloi in the 2015 election I did so in the full knowledge I’d probably come last. And I did. But I expected to wake up to a Labour government the following day, just as I expected to wake up on June 24th to remaining in Europe.
Un. Fucking. Believable.
But not really! In both cases my wife broke the bad news from the bathroom. You don’t forget things like that. She’s always breaking bad news from the bathroom.
What’s interesting is what’s happened since the referendum. First of all, Cameron’s resigned his premiership, a single year into his second five year term. That’s a HUGE sacrifice. (Or is it?)
I never regarded this referendum as a test of his leadership. To be honest, I think he did the right thing in having it in the first place, albeit a generation too late. It’s one of the many things that bothers me about politics in this country, and the ugly certainty among those in power that referendums are far too much democracy for their own good.
The Labour Party’s foundations suffered from collapse after Blair became Bush’s poodle. His leadership relied heavily on its foundation of working class voters, but he made the repeated mistake of ignoring them. Press conference after interview, year after year, the champions of the working class revealed themselves to be political opportunists riding a wave they cynically knew wouldn’t last, not least because they were instrumental in bringing it to an end.
So well done you, Mr. and Mrs. Blair (you frightful snobs). Well done you, Mr. Mandleson. Well done you Mr. Campbell, and all the rest of you who fled when the getting was good. Congratulations. Off you go. Your time has come. You’ve wreaked absolute havoc in the name of the labour movement, because your solution to the problems faced by the working class was to persuade the best of them to join the middle class. Just like Blair and his wicked wife.
How’d that work out, Tony?
But enough of that tit. That was then, this is now.
When Corbyn contested the Labour leadership, he was adamant we should leave the EU. But once he became leader of the labour party it was clear he’d been brow-beaten into accepting official party policy, and thus supported Remain. Not surprisingly, his heart wasn’t in it and half his shadow cabinet is using the referendum against him in the same way the Tories have decided this is a leadership matter for Cameron.
I’ll tell you WTF: proper wank bollox is TF.
Democracy has become a game of strategy that has less to do with the demos, the people, and everything to do with power, be it hereditary, political or financial.
Which brings me back to now.
In the UK we have Jeremy Corby, in the States we have Bernie Sanders, and in Hornsey & Wood Green we have me, all of us trying to make what’s wrong right.
The rats in the ranks of the Labour Party have decided to use the referendum as the perfect opportunity to slay Jeremy Corbyn, because that’s how the political game works. But what the political game-players have forgotten – and routinely overlook – is that the landscape is shifting beneath them .
Corbyn was conciliatory when he put his shadow cabinet together, but in an obviously calculated maneuver his overtures for peace within the party have been seized upon by the dispossessed on the right, sensing it’s time to revolt.
Well, revolt you may – and revolting you are – but you won’t be missed. For decades your kind has stymied socialism, preferring instead a kind of…
What are you for? If you’re no longer the political wing of the labour movement, what are you? As much as the Tories disgust me, they at least have a set of values, as abominable as they are. But if the Labour Party isn’t front and centre promoting the interests of the working class, instead of encouraging the best of them to join the middle class, then it’s little more than a tried and tested mechanism for ambitious Tory rejects to achieve power.
You think I’m joking? I’ve seen the Blair’s up close and personal. Tony’s sharp enough to know when to keep his mouth shut, but his harpy wife gives the game away.
I could never understand why the mainstream media painted Cherie in such a dark light, until I actually encountered her. [We’re rarely introduced, cameramen, to those we interview. Instead, we’re generally treated as tradesmen or servants, people who are expected to keep their mouths shut and smile politely, no matter how absurd the behaviour of the subject in hand. So I never actually met the Blairs, but I definitely encountered them.]
The first time was outside Number 10. It was Christmas Eve and the Blairs invited the media down to film them being all Christmassy out the front. An enormous Christmas tree had been placed by the door for days, and we all made our way through security, taking up our usual positions on the other side of the road in our pens.
[It’s interesting to note that Downing Street was open to the public until Thatcher moved in.]
So there we are, smoking fags and talking shit while waiting for the show to kick off. The thing about these gigs is we’re expected to be ready to shoot the second summat happens. Someone comes through the gates? Film the fuckers. Number 10’s door opens? Film the fuckers. It probably won’t make telly but you film it anyway, just in case.
So eventually the door opens, and cameras are clicking and rolling, and out swan the Blairs with a whole bunch if physically disabled kids to sing a Christmas carol. In the spirit of Christmas, the Blairs beckon us over. Never mind those ol’ steel barriers designed to keep us in our place! It’s Christmas! Let’s have a sing song!
So over we go and film the Blairs singing Silent Night, Cherie holding a crippled toddler in her arms, singing like her life depends upon it. Once they finish she asks if we have what we need, and “Yes” comes the reply.
Then, somewhat regally, she responds with:
“Off you go then. Back to your pens!”
And she meant it! It wasn’t a joke. She wasn’t smiling.
She openly demonstrated her complete contempt for we jobbing craftsmen. Workers! This apparently intelligent woman failed to comprehend the obvious difference between the tabloid editors who hate her, and the snappers and shooters just getting through their day.
Nasty, elitist cow.
The London press corp are a pretty tough bunch, and this obvious snottery wasn’t so much offensive as gut-clenchingly hilarious. I doubt she’ll forget it.
There was another time when the Blairs had to vote in the local council elections. Once again I’d been sent on a pool job, this time to Westminster School, their local polling booth. It was me and a photographer again, and when the Blairs showed up with their entourage – complete with secret service types – they were met by local Labour and Conservative wardens thrilled, of course, to be greeting the Blairs when they disembarked. The Conservative warden, a woman, greeted Tony, asking if she could rely on his vote (Ho Ho!), her majesty Cherie replied “Not bloody likely!”
Everyone froze for a moment, except the Blair’s, who strode into the polling booth, Cherie Booth taking the lead.
Here’s an educated woman so full of herself she fails to get an obvious joke, and replies with such contempt for a ‘lower’ member of her own political class, it’s clear she thinks it’s okay to behave in this way, presumably mistaking it for ‘class’.
It wasn’t done in the fashion of her husband, who got the joke and politely declined; it was nasty, rude and elitist… this jumped up barrister strutting around like she’s royalty. Imagine the conversation with Tony afterwards.
There’s an important state of mind that exists among the upper class called ‘Noblesse Oblige’, the notion that those born into privilege have an obligation to behave with a certain level of humility, and lend their hands to charity.
Unfortunately, meritocrats like the Blairs – especially the missus – feel they have no obligation to luck, having struggled for years to compete with those born into it.
You can understand her frustration, but I cannot accept her elitism. Here’s a woman whose contempt for the monarchy wasn’t motivated by disgust for elitism, but by the barrier this class put before her. Cherie may not have ambitions to be queen, but she loved being queen bee: a meritocratic snob not remotely interested in equality, but one who resented the class obstacles placed in her way to absolute command.
Just like Hillary.
Oh, how much Cherie must covet the rise of Hillary.
And there she is: the very personification of the right wing of the Labour Party. And they wonder why we don’t like them.
June 8, 2016
When I was a kid, I learned in Commerce in year 9 that labour was no more important to business than raw materials, a commodity to be bought.
“That’s a bit shit,” I thought, and immediately lost interest in economics altogether.
Which is a pity, since it’s a matter of great interest to me now. But even as a boy of fourteen, I felt the reduction of humanity to nothing more than an expense – to be kept as low as possible – wasn’t the right way to think about God’s Creation, whether you believed in God or not.
My young, innocent self thought the people in charge of this sort of thinking needed to regard labour as something substantially more important than raw materials, machinery and buildings. Labour has beating hearts and minds and needs and desires. To leave that out of the equation is a gross oversight that must be corrected.
We have a right to expect better from our ‘betters’.
It’s this type of thinking that sees Sir Alan Sugar routinely lambasting his apprentices with the refrain “We’re not a bloody charity!” It’s the kind of thinking that permits… no, encourages, business leaders – the ones who make all the money – to have virtually no regard for anyone but themselves. That means bugger the workers, bugger the environment, bugger society. Even bugger the customers and the shareholders.
Of course, very rich businessmen will tell you they’re very generous people, pointing to their charitable donations. And that’s precisely what they’re for: to paper over the cracks of naked greed with a thin veneer of tax-deductible respectability.
Which brings me to yesterday, when we all got to see one Mike Ashley in action.
A thuggish looking feller who wouldn’t look out of place wearing a puffer jacket on the doors, or a cheap suit in a second hand lot. Unlike billionaires like Murdoch, this one has the good sense to keep out of the spotlight. He’s sharp enough to know that if you’re running a 21st Century corporation like an 18th Century workhouse, it’s best to keep your head down.
Ashley says he built his Sports Direct empire from a ‘rubber dinghy to a super tanker’. He claims it’s one thing to be manning a single outboard motor, but an entire ship? How could he be held responsible for that?
But it begs the question: who came up with the idea of docking peoples’ pay if they were late?
Whose idea was it to dock them a full fifteen minutes for being just a minute late?
He didn’t even know it was going on!
This reminds me of another dictator. Let’s call him Adolf. Contrary to popular belief, Adolf didn’t come up with the death camps, or decide to include the physically and mentally disabled as inmates. Adolf was surrounded by adoring insiders who were always trying to outdo each other in the eyes of their beloved Fuhrer, and it was from this pool of sycophants that such dreadful ideas were dredged from. I would suggest it’s the same with mien furher, Mike Ashley: surrounded by arse-sucking maggots anxious to get into his good books. If Mike was, I dunno… Santa Claus, maybe these wankers wouldn’t be wankers, and would instead come up with ideas like rapid delivery systems for the distribution of gifts aimed at educating as well as entertaining children all over the world.
But they didn’t. Instead, they apparently came up with a whole bunch of ideas, like treating the people who make their beloved leader super-rich – and no doubt contribute significantly to their own bonuses – like slaves. Not your garden variety wage slaves, but actual slaves. One wonders if they’d gleefully apply the lash, if permitted. (I bet someone suggested that too, but didn’t get it past Legal. Maybe they meant it in jest… you know, to get a laugh from the Supreme Leader to bask in that warm afterglow.)
Now, I’m no fan of Rupert Murdoch, but he at least pays more than minimum wage for his drones. Staff even have shares in the company, not to mention free subscription to the services they help to deliver. But lets not get too carried away: the rates he pays are at the bedrock of the industry, unless of course you’re onscreen ‘talent’. They’re certainly paid competitive rates not unlike, may I suggest, Mike Ashley’s coterie of acolytes.
But this raises another question. Should a successful corporation pay minimum wage to many of its employees simply because they’re unskilled and poorly educated? Let me tell you, quite a few of the people I worked with at Sky News fit that description, but they earned £30-£40k back in the 90s. Those on the bottom rung earned about £25k, the national average.
This brings to light the nature of work and remuneration in this country. From what I can tell, wages are considered as rewards for dutiful, rather than diligent, service. That people are promoted not on merit, but on the grounds they’re ‘the right sort’. I’ve had a number of managers over the years who were pretty shit at managing, and were little more than attack dogs on behalf of those upstairs.
This is how the likes of Murdoch and Ashley prosper. They employ members of the middle class to keep the working class in check, all of them scrambling for a bigger slice of the pie, ready to betray any of their own to get it.
That’s how pigs earn their billions: by taking advantage of the rest of us and declaring themselves ‘Great Leaders’ by virtue of the wealth they’ve cornered for themselves.
Follow them if you will. Follow those false profits who worship the deadly sin of Greed. Follow them do your death, because you know there is no reincarnation, no afterlife. You only think of the afterlife as being yours, and if you aren’t reincarnated, life no longer matters because it no longer matters to you.
You don’t think about life after your life, because as far as you’re concerned You won’t be coming back. You will die and rot in a hole, and whatever happens after that doesn’t matter because You will no longer exist.
And you’re mostly right!
You won’t exist, but billions of others will, hopefully for thousands or even millions of years.
But back to Mike Ashley and the politicians who helped make him the arsehole he is today. I can see someone like Kieth Vaz sitting there and saying “Yes, well… he’s clearly a pig. But he’s our pig.”
History isn’t over.
June 1, 2016
The Tories lied about tax credits to win the election, and the Lords called them out on it. So, now they bitch about the Lords not playing by the rules. Which begs the question: what is the House of Lords for if not to call out dishonest governments and hold lying prime ministers to account?
And where’s the Queen in all this? I’d like to think Mrs. Windsor and her gang of merry men would step in to prevent the likes of Adolph manipulating democracy in order to take complete control. But where is she? What is she for?
Interesting, isn’t it, how readily we take up arms against foreign foes, but dither while our own leaders slowly, but surely enslave us.
How’s it go again? “Britons never will be slaves?”
You’ve been slaves for a thousand ruddy years!
But after The War To End All Wars, followed by The Great Depression and then, World War II – a total of 40 years of misery for anyone who wasn’t rich – after all that, you FINALLY found yourselves in the position to demand lasting change, WHICH YOU GOT!
Our mistake is to assume history marches ever onward, and that we have the numbers to maintain the momentum. But we’re far too trusting, something our foreign occupiers have exploited for centuries. That’s why the Peasants Revolt in 1381 – and every revolt since – failed miserably: we repeatedly placed our trust in our “betters”, our aristocratic occupiers, who repeatedly and ruthlessly exploited our reasonableness when their backs were against the wall, repaying us with state-sanctioned murder most foul, and even more brutality.
The post war period was an illusion. It’s now become apparent the elite permitted only a single generation to enjoy the fruits of their labours because they had no other choice. Our grandparents’ sacrifice had been too great to ignore. Impossible to ignore.
For a while.
And that’s the thing about dynasties, you see. They know how to wait. Theirs is the long game, looking as far into the future as they do the past. They prepared the ground early for the fightback, funding lobbyists to quietly push the neoliberal agenda established by Friedrich Hayek in Paris in 1938. Hayek’s school of thought gained further support in 1947 with the establishment of the Mont Pelerin Society (a group of conservative bankers and economists), and was later enthusiastically embraced by Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics in the 50s and 60s. Inch by inch, lunch by lunch, the mindset of the political elite was ever so steadily shifted away from the “post war consensus” of Bretton Woods, the international post war agreement masterminded by John Maynard Keynes in 1944, to the abomination we have now.
The key words at Bretton Woods were “international cooperation”. After the horror of wars resulting from the ultra nationalism of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the new world order was to be one of cooperation, rather than the rampant, blood-curdling competition of the past. The future was bright.
Strict capital controls were put in place, exchange rates largely fixed, and barriers to trade lowered. There were also extremely high rates of tax for extremely wealthy people, which helped fund three decades of increasing prosperity for the working classes, which included social security and access to free education and health for all.
This was a brave new world systematically undermined by the acolytes of a new world order, which was in fact a return to the old order of only two classes: the very, very rich, and the desperately poor, no matter how clever you are or how hard you work. A time and place where laissez faire capitalism again rules the roost.
If you want a look at the future they have in mind, go visit a third world metropolis: the 1% are international jet-setters while everyone else lives in abject poverty.
History isn’t over.
It’s never over. Every generation must fight to keep what we’ve collectively earned over the generations, because that’s precisely what the rich are doing. They have more at stake. More to lose. Just because the class war went quiet for a few decades doesn’t mean it’s over. Just because we stopped fighting doesn’t mean they have.
Controlling the masses is a perpetual game of strategy for them. They know too well if they take their eyes off the ball they may lose everything, including their heads. The rich will never give up the fight, and if we do we’re back to square one. Better to impose our reasonableness upon them now, than allow them to impose their tyranny upon us later. And mark my words: that’s precisely what the Establishments been planning for decades: The Re-Establishment.
April 29, 2016
I woke up yesterday midway through David Baddiel’s whinge on Radio 4 about anti-semites in the Labour Party. Especially Ken Livingstone.
Now, I’ve met Red Ken and it’s fair to say he isn’t red. A little pink, perhaps – after all, we were doing a live cross on a lovely day in Hyde Park – but it’s only the red tops who ever call him Red, as if he’s a communist.
Or a lobster. Have you seen the British sunbake?
No, as red as Ken isn’t, he does come across as a bit self-important, but as pompous as he is – and as Red as he’s portrayed – it’s fair to say an anti-semite he is not.
Ken is a working class chap who never went to university, but rose from humble beginnings to put the wrong noses out of joint in the Labour Party. Despite that – or because of it – he became the Mayor of London (not the Lord Mayor, it should be noted, a position traditionally occupied by the kind of posh gits who hate him).
David, on the other hand, is a middle class fellow who ultimately graduated with a double first from Cambridge in english literature. He was also a member of Footlights, the most direct route into fame and fortune on the telly.
Now it’s fair to say David is a rich and famous comedian and, latterly, a filmmaker. That’s where it would all end if he wasn’t Jewish, the kind with a massive chip on his shoulder.
Perfect telly, really. Or radio, in this case.
Now, David made a claim about Ken on the Today program that was demonstrably untrue. Back in 2006, Ken stumbled out of a party late one night – off duty and a little worse for wear – when he was accosted by a journalist from the Evening Standard, a rag which apparently had a vendetta against him. What wasn’t immediately obvious was the fact the journalist in question was also Jewish. This is what transpired:
Oliver Finegold: “Mr Livingstone, Evening Standard. How did it …”
Ken Livingstone: “Oh, how awful for you.”
Finegold: “How did tonight go?”
Livingstone: “Have you thought of having treatment?”
Finegold: “How did tonight go?”
Livingstone: “Have you thought of having treatment?”
Finegold: “Was it a good party? What does it mean for you?”
Livingstone: “What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?”
Finegold: “No, I’m Jewish. I wasn’t a German war criminal.”
Livingstone: “Ah … right.”
Finegold: “I’m actually quite offended by that. So, how did tonight go?”
Livingstone: “Well you might be, but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard. You’re just doing it ’cause you’re paid to, aren’t you?”
Finegold: “Great. I’ve you on record for that. So how did tonight go?”
Livingstone: “It’s nothing to do with you because your paper is a load of scumbags.”
Finegold: “How did tonight go?”
Livingstone: “It’s reactionary bigots …”
Finegold: “I’m a journalist. I’m doing my job.”
Livingstone: “… and who supported fascism.”
Finegold: “I’m only asking for a simple comment. I’m only asking for a comment.”
Livingstone: “Well, work for a paper that isn’t …”
Finegold: “I’m only asking for a comment.”
Livingstone: ” … that had a record of supporting fascism.”
Finegold: “You’ve accused me …”
After the words “You’ve accused me” there is a gap on the tape followed after five seconds by a sound indistinguishable, other than its being a male voice.
(My thanks to the Guardian for that.)
Of course, the British mainstream media – owned by rich men, some of them Jewish – had a field day. They declared Ken an “anti-semite” and a massive official fuss was made. Ken was dragged through the indignity of a kangaroo court, which predictably found him guilty of anti-semitism.
At the time I was working for ITN and I filmed an interview with what I call a “Professional Jew” – someone who’s profession revolves around being Jewish – who was enraptured at the humiliation of a man who’d, frankly, done nothing wrong as far as I could tell.
I’ve worked for decades in the news media in this country, and it’s not something I’m proud of. In fact, it’s a source of embarrassment and shame, but I was never afraid to buck the trend and ask the sort of questions tame producers wouldn’t.
But there’s something about Jewish lobbies that teach you to keep your mouth shut. What I wanted to ask this sanctimonious cow was: “Have you ever wondered why people hate Jews? Has it occurred to you the hatred directed at you and your kind is a reaction to your self-righteousness? That and the fact you habitually denounce any criticism of Zionist fascism as anti-semitism?”
Of course, I didn’t say this because I had a family to support. There’s no doubt that had I the temerity to say what was on my mind, I’d have lost all that. Just like anyone who ever sheltered Jews from the Nazis.
So I gritted my teeth and moved on. Isn’t that the way?
But enough’s enough.
I’ve had it up to the back teeth with the special place some Jews place themselves in the pantheon of racism. Especially when you consider how racist and elitist some of them are. They’ve mastered the art of victimhood, playing mazaire any time anyone comes close to a reasonable complaint about the despicable behaviour of Israel’s shameful attack upon their hosts, the Palestinians.
So let me make myself clear: Israel has no right to exist.
And let me make this clear as well: there’s a clear distinction between Jews and Zionists.
Of course, many Jews know this. But Zionists don’t, or pretend they don’t. As far as they’re concerned, anyone who denounces Zionism – or the state of Israel – is an anti-semite, because ever since the Holocaust anti-semitism has been directly associated with fascism and the nasty stupidity that goes with it. And no right-thinking pacifist wants to be labelled as that.
I grew up in a small city in Australia where I’d never heard of Jews, let alone Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or even Satanists until my teens. In Goulburn you were either Catholic, C of E, Methodist or Baptist. But I learned about the Holocaust when I was in high school, not least because of the BBC series the World at War, and another series called… Holocaust.
We were horrified. Despite the fact I attended the local catholic high school, I had no sense the catholic church had a problem with Jews for, you know… executing their Saviour. I mean, Jesus was Jewish, innit? In Year 9, Brother Crawford read us a book called “David”, a story about a young Jewish boy who managed to escape his fate at a death camp, and I can tell you now we were rooting for this kid because, hey, Aussies love an underdog, don’t they? And we all knew what a bunch of cruel bastards the Nazis were.
Which is why the cruelty of the Israeli regime is so baffling.
But back to the Today program on Radio 4: David Baddiel bitterly complained about the twitter trolls who keep sending him cartoons of Nazis, wondering disingenuously why they could be so thoughtless and cruel. After all, Israelis haven’t rounded up Palestinians en mass to gas them, have they? They’re not obviously engaged in genocide, are they?
Well, no, but that’s no excuse. It would be more accurate to compare Israel to the former South African apartheid regime. But what’s going on in Gaza is a reminder of the Warsaw ghetto, where Jews were confined to a defined neighbourhood and systematically brutalised and starved, just like muslims in Gaza have been since 1948.
I should note here that Dave was joined by Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, a senior rabbi with Reform Judaism, who repeatedly insists that anti-Semites are simply hiding behind the terms “anti-Zionist” and “anti-Israel”. She made the point that everyone else bangs on about self determination, why shouldn’t Jews?
This would have resonance if the Jewish world championed people like the Kurds, not to mention acknowledge all the victims of the holocaust, including the mentally ill, Gypsies and homosexuals who were likewise exterminated by the Nazis.
(To hear the entire segment listen to this from 1.36.00 onwards: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b078d47c)
Anyway, because Dave got his facts wrong on the radio, and rightly complained of the vile tweets he routinely receives on his twitter account, I took the trouble to tweet a correction: Ken Livingston didn’t know the journalist doorstepping him on his way out of a party was Jewish when he made his remarks about prison camp guards.
But Dave wasn’t having it. So I found a transcript of the conversation and linked him to it.
Since he’d earlier done me the courtesy of a reply, I thought I’d ask him a question that intrigues me. I recently heard that the majority of Jews these days can’t trace their roots back to Abraham because they’re the descendants of converts, especially the Khazaris.
Now, I’m very suspicious of any kind of anything that sounds even vaguely anti-semitic, because there’s a lot of it about, and I don’t like it. Quite apart from being racist (or something), this conspiracy theory – like all conspiracy theories – lacks intellectual rigour. Everything I read about it stated it as fact, except Wikipedia, which regards it as a hypothesis:
“The Khazar theory of Ashkenazi ancestry is a hypothesis that Ashkenazi Jews descend from the Khazars – a multi-ethnic collection of Turkic peoples who formed a semi-nomadic Khanate in what is now Southern Russia, extending from Eastern Europe to Central Asia. The theory relies on some Middle Ages‘ sources such as the Khazar Correspondence, according to which at some point in the 8th-9th centuries, the ruling elite of Khazars was said by Judah Halevi and Abraham ibn Daud to have converted to Rabbinic Judaism. The scope of the conversion within the Khazar Khanate remains uncertain, and the evidence used to tie the Ashkenazi communities to Khazars by descent is exiguous [very small in size or amount] and subject to conflicting interpretations.
…This theory has had a complex history, within and beyond Judaism. The origins of Ashkenazi Jews are strongly contested to this day. Major scholars have either defended its plausibility or dismissed it as a pure fantasy. The theory had been received with skepticism or caution. by most modern scholars… It has also been seized on at times by antisemites and anti-Zionists for various purposes to argue for the idea that Ashkenazi Jews have no ancestral connection to ancient Israel. One recent proponent of the theory argues that the topic, itself controversial, is vexed by neglect and ideological insecurities.”
So, I genuinely wondered what Dave had to say about this, because I’ve often wondered why European Jews don’t look remotely semitic.
“I have no idea what it means.”
I attributed the snotty, disingenuous tone – and refusal to respond to any further queries – not to his semitic roots, but to the innate sense of superiority that must come with a double first from Cambridge, not to mention a successful career at the BBC. It beggars belief a man of his obvious intelligence and level of education has never heard of this theory. His unwillingness to engage on the matter was a very polite “Fuck you, pleb.” Or maybe I’m being a little too sensitive.
Baddiel complains that anti-Zionists’ reference to Nazis in their criticism of Israel is proof that they are in fact anti-Semites. He’s of the opinion you can criticise Israel without resorting to this crude comparison, but this is a classic case of wilful ignorance. Of course anyone who knows anything about the Nazi’s treatment of Jewish people will draw an obvious comparison. People like me who find the behaviour of the state of Israel utterly repugnant are going to identify the irony of a fascist regime behaving almost exactly like the fascist regime that persecuted them. The obvious question is: didn’t they learn anything from they’re own persecution? That’s the point, Dave.
In the meantime, all hell was breaking loose.
Ken Livingstone, the man Dave was whinging about on the radio, had himself been on the radio to defend the suspension of a Muslim Labour MP, Naz Shah, for this silly meme she shared on Facebook a couple of years before she became an MP.
Up went the cry “Anti Semite!” along with a number of claims amongst prominent Jews that the Labour Party has a serious problem with anti semitism within its ranks, especially since Jeremy Corbyn became leader.
Of course, upon closer inspection it becomes clear this so-called anti-semitism is an accusation levelled by Zionists against anyone who has the temerity to criticise Israel’s occupation of Palestine, or the murderous Israeli apartheid regime that routinely “cuts the grass”, a revolting euphemism for occasionally using the Palestinians to field test their weapons of mass destruction.
But why is a meme circulated on Facebook years ago so newsworthy now? Simple: the up-coming council elections. It’s fair to assume those semites rattling on about anti-semitism among the left are probably right-wing bigots themselves: either full-blown Tories or their right-wing buddies in the Labour Party, who suddenly found themselves dethroned when Corbyn was elected leader after their second election defeat in a row.
So here’s the news, Mr. Baddiel: although you claim you’re not a Zionist, you’re definitely a propagandist for the right wing. You are a vocal part of a dodgy cabal of fascists keen on discrediting Jeremy Corbyn in the lead up to council elections, in order to drag the Labour Party back to the right.
You are living proof that not all bigots are morons, and that educated, intelligent bigots are the ones we must be extremely wary of.
Though It Continues To Triumph, The Power Of Big Business Remains Brittle.
– Ben Eltham
Although this article refers to the situation in Australia, it’s relevant the world over:
“Big banks and big energy companies have the best lobbyists, lawyers and tax accountants money can buy. They’re not shy to donate big sums to the major political parties. Ordinary citizens don’t have access to these resources, and they don’t have the ear of the politicians who make the rules either.
“But big business has an Achilles heel, and it knows it. Big corporations are inherently unpopular.
“Ordinary citizens want big companies to pay more tax. They want the power of the big banks curbed. They want more renewable energy, not less. The political power of business is based on money, but that influence could crumble in the face of a determined populist attack.
“This vulnerability showed itself this week, when nine business lobby groups issued an extraordinary open letter on Monday. They are deeply worried that the Coalition has given up on the unpopular task of budget repair (read: cutting government spending).”
“The real truth of the power of big business is how brittle it is. If voters were presented with alternative policies that punished big business, they would most likely vote for them. No wonder the business lobby is so worried.”
How America Became an Oligarchy
– Ellen Brown
“Today the vast majority of the money supply in Western countries is created by private bankers. That tradition goes back to the 17th century, when the privately-owned Bank of England, the mother of all central banks, negotiated the right to print England’s money after Parliament stripped that power from the Crown. When King William needed money to fight a war, he had to borrow. The government as borrower then became servant of the lender.
“In America, however, the colonists defied the Bank of England and issued their own paper scrip; and they thrived. When King George forbade that practice, the colonists rebelled.
“They won the Revolution but lost the power to create their own money supply, when they opted for gold rather than paper money as their official means of exchange. Gold was in limited supply and was controlled by the bankers, who surreptitiously expanded the money supply by issuing multiple banknotes against a limited supply of gold.
“This was the system euphemistically called “fractional reserve” banking, meaning only a fraction of the gold necessary to back the banks’ privately-issued notes was actually held in their vaults. These notes were lent at interest, putting citizens and the government in debt to bankers who created the notes with a printing press. It was something the government could have done itself debt-free, and the American colonies had done with great success until England went to war to stop them.”
The French are right: tear up public debt – most of it is illegitimate anyway
“The report on French debt contains several key findings. Primarily, the rise in the state’s debt in the past decades cannot be explained by an increase in public spending. The neoliberal argument in favour of austerity policies claims that debt is due to unreasonable public spending levels; that societies in general, and popular classes in particular, live above their means.
“This is plain false. In the past 30 years, from 1978 to 2012 more precisely, French public spending has in fact decreased by two GDP points. What, then, explains the rise in public debt? First, a fall in the tax revenues of the state. Massive tax reductions for the wealthy and big corporations have been carried out since 1980. In line with the neoliberal mantra, the purpose of these reductions was to favour investment and employment. Well, unemployment is at its highest today, whereas tax revenues have decreased by five points of GDP.
“The second factor is the increase in interest rates, especially in the 1990s. This increase favoured creditors and speculators, to the detriment of debtors. Instead of borrowing on financial markets at prohibitive interest rates, had the state financed itself by appealing to household savings and banks, and borrowed at historically normal rates, the public debt would be inferior to current levels by 29 GDP points.
“Tax reductions for the wealthy and interest rates increases are political decisions. What the audit shows is that public deficits do not just grow naturally out of the normal course of social life. They are deliberately inflicted on society by the dominant classes, to legitimise austerity policies that will allow the transfer of value from the working classes to the wealthy ones.”
Why I heckled David Cameron during the party leaders’ debate
April 3rd, 2015
“The main political parties say the same things at each election, focused on economic outcomes that benefit the 1% more than the people who actually keep this country running. It seems that the government and corporations are the only ones “in it together”. As far as I’m concerned, they plan to sell the NHS, cut services and make maximum profit. Shouldn’t we also be “in it together” by telling our politicians that we won’t go along with anything that puts lives, the environment and health at risk?”
Bank Robbery: Inequality and the Banking System
– Ivo Mosley
“The concentration of power and wealth in a very few individuals signifies a new social order. No rich individual is capable of day-to-day management of his/her own affairs: they are served by hierarchies of people and corporations. Many levels and branches of human and corporate ‘persons’ devote their working lives to maximising wealth at the tip. Laws are manipulated, taxes avoided, costs are cut, workers shed, regulations ‘captured’, environments destroyed, etcetera.
“The poor are treated more and more exploitatively – and yes, with more and more contempt. Distant orders are given by departments devoted to cost-cutting and ‘efficiency’ – meaning more profit to shareholders; the state picks up the cost of these ‘efficiencies’. Overarching decisions affecting millions of lives are made at greater and greater remove by people who never have to witness the suffering and death they cause. This ‘remove’ is perhaps the most important factor in human affairs: if you are not close to the death or suffering your activities require, you can easily ignore it.”
When did the rich become so utterly horrible?
– Alex Proud
“Income equality fell pretty much steadily from the late 1920s to the end of the Seventies and it’s now back where it was in the 1930s. That’s a given. But what baffles and disgusts me is how utterly callous so many super-rich people are. It’s how little they care about anyone else. It’s how ostentatious and vulgar they are. It’s how greedy they are and how people who already have hundreds of times more than they could spend in a lifetime just want more…
“Had any of this lot (or the thousands like them) acted like this a few decades ago, they’d probably have experienced a kind of public shaming. But the rich have been very smart. They’ve quietly bought off the middle classes. We’re the well-paid tax consultants who dream up ways for individuals to live as off-shore companies. We’re the travel agents who put together their incredible holidays and the architects who design their garish palaces. We’re the PRs who whitewash their moral failings and the media people who write fawning profiles of them. For what to them is pocket change, the rich have made us their bitches – and you can always find a servile middle-class apologist who will tell you how lucky we are to have these repulsive people.”
The Lie We Live
– Spencer Cathcart
Typically American in its bombast, nevertheless this video goes some way to illustrating Hoi Polloi’s position on society and politics. Oil and minerals aren’t the most valuable resources on the planet: people are, and we’ve been conditioned to forget that.
The 100 Best Zen Sayings and Proverbs of All Time
– The Unbounded Spirit
“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” — Alan Watts
Britain mourns a monster – because he was king.
– Polly Toynbee
March 27, 2015
“It’s comical, but tragic too, as a reminder of the indignity the British accept in their accustomed role as subjects, not citizens. Here are church, royalty and army revering a child-killing, wife-slaughtering tyrant who would be on trial if he weren’t 500 years dead. This is the madness of monarchy, where these bones are honoured for their divine royalty, whether by accident of birth or by brutal seizure of the crown. Richard, whose death ended the tribal Wars of the Roses, is a good symbol of the “bloodline” fantasy. Our island story is one of royal usurpage and regicide, with imported French, Dutch and German monarchs who didn’t speak English. The puzzle is that this fantasy of anointed genes persists, even unto Kate’s unborn babe.”
Enough of the dry politics of numbers. We need to discuss values and vision
– Will Hutton
March 26, 2015
“The ability to sustain large volumes of government, so-called “gilt-edged” securities, was understood to be part of the national settlement, the fair order of things. There was a vague understanding that Britain had been fighting and winning wars for centuries and creating an empire through its sophisticated approach to creating and managing large levels of national debt.
“It was this, as much as martial valour, that had won the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo – or the Battle of Britain. The debt would sort itself out as it had in the past – which it did, falling over the 1980s and 1990s as inflation eroded it in real terms. Nobody would think to crucify the nation’s public services, its security and the wider state over delivering an artificial debt ceiling. My father and his generation were perfectly sane.”
“But before the state borrows to smooth the pattern of spending, it could find more tax revenue. For example, there are 180,000 potential taxpayers with very high incomes who claim non-domiciled status – a legacy of empire – to pay no tax. Britain is the only country in the world to offer non-dom status. Abolish it, and assuming conservatively that the average lost tax is £100,000 per person, tax receipts would be boosted by £18bn every year. Revalue property from 1991 values , introduce more council tax bands, and there is an additional £12 to 15bn in the coffers. Suddenly, there would be no fiscal crisis.”
Ferguson and the Criminalization of American Life
– David Graeber
“The police spend very little of their time dealing with violent criminals—indeed, police sociologists report that only about 10% of the average police officer’s time is devoted to criminal matters of any kind. Most of the remaining 90% is spent dealing with infractions of various administrative codes and regulations: all those rules about how and where one can eat, drink, smoke, sell, sit, walk, and drive. If two people punch each other, or even draw a knife on each other, police are unlikely to get involved. Drive down the street in a car without license plates, on the other hand, and the authorities will show up instantly, threatening all sorts of dire consequences if you don’t do exactly what they tell you.
“The police, then, are essentially just bureaucrats with weapons. Their main role in society is to bring the threat of physical force—even, death—into situations where it would never have been otherwise invoked, such as the enforcement of civic ordinances about the sale of untaxed cigarettes.”
Ukip is in meltdown – and not because of the protesting ‘scum’
– Suzanne Moore
March 24th, 2015
Farage is dangerous, not because of his politics, but because he’s luring white working class voters away from the Labour party with promises he knows he can’t keep. The only way he can halt or slow eastern european immigration is by pulling the UK out of the EU. Since he’s unlikely to win enough seats to even make such an attempt, it means Labour is going to lose voters to an arch Thatcherite. And I don’t think they realise that.
Europe was better when it was the EC. People in the UK don’t care much for the EU, and they certainly don’t follow it. Europe makes perfect sense as a trading block, but as a political block it’s failing miserably. And if the end result is a Federal Europe with a European version of the US Congress in Brussels (or maybe Paris?) then no, Hoi Polloi are not keen on it. In short, we want to bring back some democratic power to the UK Parliament.
The immigration debate has once again highlighted the fact that laws we have no control over are being imposed from afar. This must change. The free movement of labour throughout Europe was a fully functional idea when the member states were Western European. Once the former Soviet Bloc countries entered the EU, it was split between rich and poor countries, resulting in an enormous wave of labour migrating from one side of the Union to the other. Just as if you had all the passengers on a ship suddenly move from starboard to the port side, so too the good ship Europe is listing badly.
Free movement of labour only works between countries with similar levels of wealth. Theoretically, the working class displaced from the UK could head to Bulgaria or Romania to find work, but that’s extremely unlikely.
We think that rather than impose limits in immigration from eastern bloc countries, the UK should instead adopt a Briton First mentality: Britons cannot be overlooked in favour of cheaper labour from elsewhere. Acceptable wages and conditions must be met, and gang-masters outlawed.
The European Parliament is one of the largest legislative assemblies in the world, and it’s member citizens know very little about it. It’s an extra level of government that, frankly, we can live without.
Furthermore, the European Parliament is merely the wingman to the European Commission, a unelected, bureaucratic institution that determines what policy is debated in Parliament. And luckily, we didn’t join the Euro:
“The EU’s malaise is self-inflicted, owing to an unprecedented succession of bad economic decisions, beginning with the creation of the euro. Though intended to unite Europe, in the end the euro has divided it; and, in the absence of the political will to create the institutions that would enable a single currency to work, the damage is not being undone….
“Those who thought that the euro could not survive have been repeatedly proven wrong. But the critics have been right about one thing: unless the structure of the eurozone is reformed, and austerity reversed, Europe will not recover.
“The drama in Europe is far from over. One of the EU’s strengths is the vitality of its democracies. But the euro took away from citizens – especially in the crisis countries – any say over their economic destiny. Repeatedly, voters have thrown out incumbents, dissatisfied with the direction of the economy – only to have the new government continue on the same course dictated from Brussels, Frankfurt, and Berlin.”
Joseph Stiglitz, January 8, 2015
Why Our Culture Is Making People Unhappy
– Alan Watts
March 22, 2015
Alan Watts delivered this profound message decades ago, and unfortunately not much has changed. This thought-provoking five minute video may give you insights into how we’ve collectively lost our sanity and why so many of us are unhappy.
Watts believes the madness stems from our culture valuing hate more than love. “Expressions of physical love are far more dangerous than expressions of physical hatred,” Watts says. “And it seems to me that a culture that has that sort of assumption is basically crazy.”
The biggest privatisation in NHS history: why we had to blow the whistle
March 21, 2015
“There are lots of firsts here. It is the first time that cancer or end-of-life care has been contracted out. The first use of the prime provider model on anything like this scale. The first privatisation without formal consultation. The first huge international NHS contract that could fall under TTIP. Transfer these services out of the NHS now, and we may never get them back.
“The leading bidders are all US private healthcare companies, some of them implicated in failures of care elsewhere. One is Optum, the US brand facing allegations over the American hospice-packing scandal. (Optum is defending itself against the allegations.) It is the first time that the commissioning responsibility held by local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – the right to spend a billion pounds on behalf of the NHS – will simply be gifted to a private company.”
In our horrifying future, very few people will have work or make money
– Robert Reich
March 21, 2015
“We need a new economic model.
“The economic model that dominated most of the twentieth century was mass production by the many, for mass consumption by the many.
“Workers were consumers; consumers were workers. As paychecks rose, people had more money to buy all the things they and others produced — like Kodak cameras. That resulted in more jobs and even higher pay.
“That virtuous cycle is now falling apart. A future of almost unlimited production by a handful, for consumption by whoever can afford it, is a recipe for economic and social collapse.”
This is an issue close to my heart and something we’ve been discussing at Hoi Polloi.
We have to rethink work. The current thinking is that corporations can pretty much get away with whatever they want – including the systematic destruction of the planet we live on – because they “provide jobs”. That’s the argument put forward by one MP in support of Trident: it provides hundreds of jobs, and to scrap it – an expensive weapons system designed never to be used – would put all those people out of work.
We have to snap out of this “we have to work to survive” nonsense. What happened to that 21st Century we imagined long ago where machines do all the work, leaving us to have more fun? Well, machines and computers are doing more and more of the work, but the owners of those machines are pocketing the profits by displacing workers.
Those people who still have jobs are working harder and longer for less, with the constant threat of unemployment – and therefore destitution – hanging over their heads.
Those machines need to be working for all of us, and we need to be working less. Instead of the usual 5 day working week, I propose a 3 day week, revolving around Sunday, that can revert to being sacrosanct. Or Saturday, since some may object to working on the Sabbath.
Here’s how it works: some people work monday to wednesday, others work thursday to saturday, and everyone has four days off. We need more people doing less work, which will entirely eliminate unemployment.
Furthermore, if people don’t have to work so much to live, they won’t be so bothered about “foreigners taking our jobs”. We need to sever the work = income link. We should ALL prosper from GDP, not just the elite who are only looking after themselves.
Among other things, Hoi Polloi is about the importance of recognising the rarity and incredible specialness of life. Humans – equipped with our incredible minds – are capable of so much, yet we seem so determined to destroy ourselves and everything else on this planet to satiate the greed of a tiny minority. Hoi Polloi wants to bring together people who are determined to use our collective intelligence and skills for the betterment of all life, not simply to flatter the egos of the fatuous few. Here’s a speech by David Christian, who narrates a complete history of the universe – from the Big Bang to the Internet – in a riveting 18 minutes. This is “Big History”: an enlightening, wide-angle look at complexity, life and humanity, set against our slim share of the cosmic timeline:
“We’ve seen that DNA learns in a sense, it accumulates information. But it is so slow. DNA accumulates information through random errors, some of which just happen to work. But DNA had actually generated a faster way of learning: it had produced organisms with brains, and those organisms can learn in real time. They accumulate information, they learn. The sad thing is, when they die, the information dies with them. Now what makes humans different is human language. We are blessed with a language, a system of communication, so powerful and so precise that we can share what we’ve learned with such precision that it can accumulate in the collective memory. And that means it can outlast the individuals who learned that information, and it can accumulate from generation to generation. And that’s why, as a species, we’re so creative and so powerful, and that’s why we have a history. We seem to be the only species in four billion years to have this gift.
“I call this ability collective learning. It’s what makes us different. We can see it at work in the earliest stages of human history. We evolved as a species in the savanna lands of Africa,but then you see humans migrating into new environments, into desert lands, into jungles,into the ice age tundra of Siberia — tough, tough environment — into the Americas, into Australasia. Each migration involved learning — learning new ways of exploiting the environment, new ways of dealing with their surroundings.“
HSBC chiefs face Margaret Hodge at her most merciless
– John Crace
March 13, 2015
‘“Laughable,” Hodge said in response to Fairhead’s attempts to convince the committee that the HSBC audit committee had been fit for purpose. “But we had policies and structures,” Fairhead insisted. This provoked yet more laughter. Even the Argentinian ambassador smiled.
‘What the committee had to understand, Fairhead continued, was that people at her level at HSBC were paid far too much – “compensated is the word we use,” Gulliver reminded her – to be actually personally responsible for anything and it was entirely unreasonable for anyone to expect her to know anything about anything. This was too much for Hodge. “Either you were naive or incompetent,” she declared. “Whichever it was, I think you should consider your position as chair of the BBC Trust.” Fairhead looked amazed. The £110K she gets for that is peanuts.’
How Thatcher’s Government Covered Up a VIP Pedophile Ring
– Nico Hines
March 11, 2015
Another reason to hate the bitch: “A newspaper editor was handed startling evidence that Britain’s top law enforcement official knew there was a VIP pedophile network in Westminster, at the heart of the British government. What happened next in the summer of 1984 helps to explain how shocking allegations of rape and murder against some of the country’s most powerful men went unchecked for decades.”
Inflicting suffering on those in need is now at the heart of our benefits system.
– Francis Ryan
March 10, 2015
‘“The whole idea is the punishment, that’s what you’ve got to suffer,” one adviser was filmed explaining. This mentality is normal now and beyond Dispatches the evidence is mounting. “I got brownie points for cruelty,” one former DWP adviser told the Guardian last month.
Lord Green headed HSBC at the height of its wrongdoing. He must face MPs.
– Austin Mitchell
March 10, 2015
“I’m constantly amazed, as the HSBC banking horror story unfurls, to discover how many people at the top were paid so much to not know what was going on. It’s even more amazing to find that they face no sanction at all, beyond the embarrassment of appearing before parliamentary select committees to justify the way they’ve profited from turning a blind eye to what amounts to criminality.”
A relentless climate movement is starting to win big.
– Bill McKibben
March 9th, 2015
“The richest industry in human history wants to keep on their current path for a few more years, even if it means dragging the whole planet over a cliff. (Never forget for a moment that this industry, having watched the Arctic melt, immediately set out to drill the newly open waters for more oil.) Their power lies in money and the political favour it can buy; our power lies in movement-building, and the political fear it can instill. They know they’re in a tough spot so they’re spending like crazy (the Koch Brothers, party of two, just announced plans to dump $900m on the next US election, which is more than the Republicans or the Democrats will spend). We’ve therefore got to organise like crazy.”
Pearls and Irritations.
March 4, 2015
“So once we take out the odd years and black sheep, how easy is it to jump between classes? Several assumptions need to be made in order to estimate an intergenerational elasticity from surnames. But if we accept Gregory Clark’s methodology, his results imply a very static society… This would mean that social status is at least as hereditable as height. It suggests that while the ruling class and the underclass are not permanent, they are extremely long-lasting. Erasing privilege takes not two or three generations, but ten to fifteen generations. If you cherish the notion of a society where anyone can make it, these results are disturbing.”
If church leaders can’t complain about poverty who on Earth can? – David Mitchell
February 22, 2015
“But, like many of us, they feel that something is seriously wrong, not just with the specifics but with the fundamentals of our political system. They’re calling on us to make a leap of faith – not to a belief in eternal life, but to the liberal conviction that society is better, that collectively and individually we’ll be happier, if we look for and expect the best in each other, if our first instinct is compassion, not anger.”
Still irresistible, a working-class hero’s finest speech
February 14, 2015
‘A rat race is for rats. We’re not rats. We’re human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts, and before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat-pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ put it, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?”‘
Why Ernesto Laclau is the intellectual figurehead for Syriza and Podemos
– Dan Hancox
February 9, 2015
“Elite contempt for the masses has been fairly easy to identify in Spain’s recent history – a land of patriarchs, landowners, priests and, above all, Franco, the nation-state’s chiding father. The indignados were not the first to protest in their millions in Spain. Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias says his earliest political memory is the anti-Nato demonstrations of the 1980s. There was also Iraq and the mass trade union demos and strikes of the 1970s and 80s. The Laclauian fault-lines between a mass of “the people” and “the regime of 78”, already existed with a certain degree of solidity before 2008 – but it has taken the remarkable series of events since the start of the crisis to harden that “internal frontier”.“
The 6 Grand Illusions
February 3, 2015
“Just look no further than the phony institution of modern democracy to find a shining example of false choices appearing real. Two entrenched, corrupt, archaic political parties are paraded as the pride and hope of the nation, yet third party and independent voices are intentionally blocked, ridiculed and plowed under.”
And so the Great British Railway Rake-Off rolls on
– Aditya Chakrabortty
September 1, 2014
“Last winter, I asked academics at the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change to tot up how much firms such as Virgin and First Group were making. They reported that in the financial year ending in March 2012, for each pound train operators invested, they were making £2.47 back. As I said at the time, find a bank account paying you that. That stupendous return on capital employed, as accountants refer to it, tells us that train companies invest very little but get a lovely flow of cash to send back to shareholders.”
Chilcot: we know Blair was to blame for Iraq,
so this is already a work of history – Simon Jenkins
January 24, 2015
Inequality isn’t inevitable, it’s engineered.
That’s how the 1% have taken over. – Suzanne Moore
January 19, 2015
“The rich, via lobbyists and Byzantine tax arrangements, actively work to stop redistribution. Inequality is not inevitable, it’s engineered. Many mainstream economists do not question the degree of this engineering, even when it is highly dubious. This level of acceptance among economists of inequality as merely an unfortunate byproduct of growth, alongside their failure to predict the crash, has worryingly not affected their cult status among blinkered admirers.”
Margaret Thatcher is dead, but her toxic legacies live on
– Another Angry Voice
December 25, 2014
“Only the blue tinted spectacles brigade would even try to pretend that Thatcher didn’t leave the UK countless toxic legacies such as over-centralised power, adherence to ideological neoliberal pseudo-economics, countless failed privatisations, the massive scale of tax-dodging, industrial decline, mass unemployment, housing policy neglect, rising debt (national, corporate and private), a hopelessly mismanaged education system, political subservience to the Murdoch empire and the reckless gambling of the deregulated financial sector that eventually led to the global financial sector meltdown. Probably the single thing that stands out above all of these toxic legacies is the way that she ruthlessly destroyed the gains of the post war society, cynically setting sectors of society at each others throats whilst deliberately re-extending the wealth gap. “
The mainstream media oligopoly – Another Angry Voice
December 25, 2014
“The vast majority of newspaper coverage in the UK is presented from a right-wing orthodox neoliberal perspective, which is entirely at odds with the popularity of social democracy amongst the general public.”
How the Green party is miles ahead of the game on monetary policy – Another Angry Voice
December 25, 2014
“Everything changed in March 2014 when the Bank of England released a document entitled Money Creation in the Modern Economy which admitted that “Whenever a bank makes a loan, it simultaneously creates a matching deposit in the borrower’s bank account, thereby creating new money” and goes on to explain that banks actually loan out money whether or not they have enough in deposits in their reserves and then borrow the shortfall from the central bank to top up their reserves; thus showing that the Bank of England has accepted that Positive Money were absolutely right. This is probably the closest thing to a revolutionary paper released by the Bank of England in living memory, and has brought the subject of monetary policy to the fore.”
Money and the Myth of Freedom – Gregg Prescott, M.S.
December 24, 2014
“If you can imagine a world without money, then you can ultimately discover your life purpose and why you are here at this particular point in space and time. Certainly, we did not incarnate to become economic slaves to a failed system of fiat currency (or a slave to any currency, for that matter) but because of our perceived belief that we NEED money to survive, we perpetuate this cycle of insanity.”
MEET ALFREDA BIKOWSKY, THE SENIOR OFFICER AT THE CENTER OF THE CIA’S TORTURE SCANDALS – Glenn Greenwald & Peter Maass
December 23, 2014
“Earlier that year, the Associated Press reported that a “hard-charging CIA analyst [who] had pushed the agency into one of the biggest diplomatic embarrassments of the U.S. war on terrorism” (the rendering for torture of the innocent El-Masri) was repeatedly promoted. Despite internal recommendations that she be punished, the AP reported that she instead ‘has risen to one of the premier jobs in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.’”
JEB BUSH V. HILLARY CLINTON: THE PERFECTLY ILLUSTRATIVE ELECTION – Glenn Greenwald
December 23, 2014
The two ruling families have, unsurprisingly, developed a movingly warm relationship befitting their position: the matriarch of the Bush family (former First Lady Barbara) has described the Clinton patriarch (former President Bill) as a virtual family member, noting that her son, George W., affectionately calls his predecessor “my brother by another mother.”
12 things you should know about that piteous open letter to Russell Brand – Thomas G. Clark, Another Angry Voice
December 22, 2014
“The letter defended bankers’ bonuses and complained about the concept of “debt” as a problem. It’s almost as if our poor, hungry financial sector worker doesn’t even understand that the reason that there is so much debt in our economy is that the private banks invent 97% of the currency that we use out of nothing, then rent out these debt backed wealth tokens as interest bearing loans. Hence all the debt – because if nearly all of the money in the economy is invented out of nothing by the banks and rented out to us, then destroyed by the same banks when it is repaid, where exactly does all of the money to pay the interest come from?”
The Tories’ plan for poor people: stop them breeding – Polly Toynbee
December 22, 2014
“The desire to extirpate the poor goes back a long way. In 1913 the eye-opening report, Round About a Pound a Week by Maud Pember Reeves and her group of Fabian women (republished by Persephone Books) detailed the household accounts of mothers trying to keep their families on the average £1 manual wage. The report’s irrefutable evidence showed that wages were too low to live on, puncturing the perpetual myth among the comfortable (then as now) that the working classes were “bad managers”. In fact, these mothers scrimped every farthing, maximising calories in bread and dripping.”
We’re one crucial step closer to seeing Tony Blair at The Hague – George Monbiot
December 21, 2014
“Blair’s cabinet ministers knew it, and told him so. His attorney general warned that there were just three ways in which it [war] could be legally justified: ‘self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UN security council authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case.’ Blair tried and failed to obtain the third.”
“But while the case against Blair is strong, the means are weak. Twenty-nine people have been indicted in the international criminal court, and all of them are African. (Suspects in the Balkans have been indicted by a different tribunal). There’s a reason for this. Until 2018 at the earliest, the court can prosecute crimes committed during the course of an illegal war, but not the crime of launching that war.
“Should we be surprised? Though the Nuremberg tribunal described aggression as ‘the supreme international crime’, several powerful states guiltily resisted its adoption. At length, in 2010, they agreed that the court would have jurisdiction over aggression, but not until 2018 or thereafter. Though the offence has been recognised in international law for 67 years, the international criminal court (unlike the Rwanda and Yugoslavia tribunals, which hear cases from before they were established) will be able to try only crimes of aggression committed beyond that date.”
Harvard Study Unveils What Meditation Literally Does To The Brain – Arjun Walia
December 16, 2014
“The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.”
The article also has a link to “special audio MP3s that help induce a deep state of meditation.”
Molecular Biologist Explains How THC Kills Cancer Completely – Christina Sarich
December 16, 2014
“In fact, three scientists from the Department of Health and Human Services said in the abstract — or summary — of their findings submitted with the patent application:
“The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroproectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke or trauma, or the treatment of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”
Surely they knew it could treat cancer too.”
Capitalism’s Biggest Lie
December 12, 2014
Nick Hanauer is a Seattle venture capitalist worth $1bn, and he’s been pissing off other one per-centers for some time. The super-rich banker also appeared on TED earlier this year to tell the world that rich people don’t create jobs, consumers do. He points that companies don’t actually like to employ people. Only consumer demand can force corporations to take on more staff, and clearly consumer demand is dependent on whether we have money in our pockets to spend. Hanaeur advocates the Middle-Out school of economics, rather than the dis-proven Top-Down myth we are used to. His argument is refreshingly simple.
As children starve, where’s the state? – Zoe Williams
December 12, 2014
“By what appalling misfortune has that hunger been allowed to fester and left to non-state agencies to deal with? If the country were bankrupt, the offer by the Red Cross to distribute food parcels – made last year, for the first time to the UK since the end of the second world war – would have been greeted with gratitude. Instead, the Department for Work and Pensions remarked that there was “no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks”. In a political scrum, that point no doubt appeared to be worth making. In the context of human rights, it couldn’t be less relevant: you cannot leave your citizens hungry on the basis that it’s not your fault. Their right to sustenance is enshrined, and the cause of their hunger irrelevant to it.”
America is the Most Unequal Society in the Developed World – Les Leopold
December 11, 2014
“Americans are virtually blind to the growing gap between CEO pay and the pay of the average worker. In 1965, for every dollar earned by the average worker, CEOs earned 20 dollars. By 2012, that gap mushroomed to 354 to one.”
Too big and too scary, but the global fat cats can be chopped down to size – Nesrine Malik
December 11, 2014
“…if a company reports 20% of its sales in the UK, for example, it is taxed in the UK on 20% of its worldwide profits. Don’t want to pay tax in the UK? Then you can’t sell there, irrespective of where you declare your profits. This removes the incentive for offshoring, and passes the onus on to the corporation to adapt to the law in each country of operation rather than governments defaulting to whatever convenient arrangement the corporation has made for itself.”
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek) – David Cain
December 11, 2014
“The ultimate tool for corporations to sustain a culture of this sort is to develop the 40-hour workweek as the normal lifestyle. Under these working conditions people have to build a life in the evenings and on weekends. This arrangement makes us naturally more inclined to spend heavily on entertainment and conveniences because our free time is so scarce.”
Full scale of plastic in the world’s oceans revealed for first time – Oliver Milman
December 11, 2014
“More than five trillion pieces of plastic, collectively weighing nearly 269,000 tonnes, are floating in the world’s oceans, causing damage throughout the food chain, new research has found.”
Business giants walk off with our billions – Aditya Chakrabortty
December 9, 2014
“The economy most of us experience – everything from who collects our bins, to how we commute to work, to that new school attended by the kids – is often not a free market at all. Instead, it’s a bog of privately run monopolies; of public projects and services outsourced to businesses for years, even decades, at a time; and massive taxpayer subsidies handed to the corporate sector with fewer questions asked than of disabled people wondering where their living allowance has gone.
“Grasp that, and the question of how to tame corporate power becomes easier to answer. If corporations rely on the public for a sizeable chunk of their revenues and power, then we should start asking what they are doing for us in return. Do businesses deserve the privileges given them by society?”
Ed Miliband has lost my vote if he kowtows to private education – Margaret Drabble
December 6, 2014
“We hear a lot about “draining the swamp” that breeds terrorism, and that’s not my kind of language, but it does suggest to me that the swamp we really need to drain is the swamp of entitlement. That is where the language of class warfare breeds. Jokes and sneers about white vans, plebs, bigots, Mr Plod, the Bullingdon Club and bacon sandwiches, and the press’s exploitative delight in associated faux pas, are the scum that rises to the top of a society that seems unable to rid itself of a culture of class deference.”
Benefits Britain. Sheesh.
December 4, 2014
Last night I watched Benefits Britain for the very first and last time. It sickens me. Those of us in the know, know the sorts of people who make telly, and they’re not working class. They may allow us to operate equipment they’ll never fully understand, but the people who pitch, write and produce this guff are from privileged backgrounds, and this type of class warfare makes me want to scream. They concentrated on an alcoholic, an idiot who claims her house is haunted (so she doesn’t have to pay bedroom tax) and a couple moved from their 3 bedroom council house to a 1 bedroom council flat because their kids have left home. These people cost us… what? What portion of the one and a quarter trillion pound debt we’ve incurred to keep the banks in business are these people responsible for? How much of the £2 Billion this government borrows each week to cover the budget deficit is down to them?
When I started working in telly 30 years ago, we instinctively sympathised with the poor. Producers these days see them as targets for public ridicule. It disgusts me. Where are the documentaries charting the theft of tax revenues from the Treasury by clever accountants working on behalf of global corporations? Where are the documentaries outlining the greatest daylight robbery of all time – with the governments assistance – of over a trillion quid to keep casino banks in the business of paying themselves and their top executives billions in bonuses?
I’m fed up to the back teeth with middle class prats making a business out of persecuting the poor.
Climate change’s first victims are always those least to blame – Lily Cole
December 4, 2014
“In a cruel irony, some of the world’s most fragile communities – the ones most closely connected to the natural world, who have lived most sustainably and have had the least impact on our changing climate – are the first to suffer as a result of its changes.”
We are starting to learn who owns Britain – George Monbiot
December 3, 2014
“The Scottish government might address the speculative chaos that mangles the countryside while failing to build the houses people need. It might challenge a system in which terrible homes are built at great expense, partly because the price of land has risen from 2% of the cost of a house in the 1930s to 70% today. It might take land into public ownership to ensure that new developments are built by and for those who will live there rather than for the benefit of volume housebuilders. It might prevent mountains being burned and overgrazed by a landowning class that cares only about the numbers of deer and grouse it can bag and the bragging rights this earns in London clubs. As Scotland – where feudalism was not legally abolished until 2000 – becomes a progressive, modern nation, it leaves England stuck in the pre-democratic past.”
The Third Industrial Revolution – Jeremy Rifkin
December 3, 2014
“Join Jeremy Rifkin as he describes how the five-pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution will create thousands of businesses and millions of jobs, and usher in a fundamental reordering of human relationships, from hierarchical to lateral power, that will impact the way we conduct business, govern society, educate our children, and engage in civic life.”
It’s a fantasy to see the working class as an intolerant blob – Suzanne Moore
November 29, 2014
“Some working-class people are horrible. Vile, racist, proud of their ignorance. They live perpetually trapped in their own stupidity. There, I said it. I can say it because I am not in the Labour party and I come from the working class, and therefore simply cannot regard it as a homogenous group. Yes some working-class folk are salt-of-the-earth, decent and have even read a book. If you are one of those types, you get embraced by the middle class as you have “improved” yourself. Come on in, Alan Johnson.”
We are working harder than ever and it’s killing us. We need more chill time – Gaby Hinsliff
November 29, 2014
East coast rail has been too successful – quick, privatise it — Owen Jones
November 29, 2014
“But east coast has embarrassed the government with its success for far too long. In the name of neo-liberal dogma, the railway must instead be a rip-off, fragmented mess. Private rail companies will continue to leech off the public purse. It is all too emblematic of a society that puts profits before people. The hope must surely be that this dogma has finally overreached itself.”
‘How the hell can you privatise water?’ – when Harry Leslie Smith (91) met Owen Jones (30)
November 25, 2014
“What message would you give to my generation?
“First of all, I would suggest that voting should be made compulsory, and until it is, what they have to do is get up off their arses and go to cast their vote. If they don’t like any of the people who are on the ballot, spoil the ballot! Spoiled ballots are counted too, they might not realise it – and if the government comes to power and finds only 37% of the people are voting for them and the rest are saying, “Shit on you!” maybe there’ll be some changes.”
Grotesque inequality is not a natural part of being human – Owen Jones
November 25, 2014
“But all the evidence should bring a sense of optimism to those, like myself, who want a rather different world. We are malleable creatures, crafted in part by our environment. Margaret Thatcher recognised this: just after assuming power sheannounced that her mission was to “change the way we look at things, to create a wholly new attitude of mind”. Her crusade certainly achieved many stunning successes, promoting greed and breaking down the bonds of solidarity that tied us together.”
Freya Newman To Appear For Sentencing In Sydney Tuesday Morning
November 25, 2014
Freya Newman is a hero: a Digger, a Battler, a True Blue Aussie. She will go down in history as a conscientious objector to class privilege, exercised by a class with no class at all.
Media ‘gagged over bid to report MP child sex cases’
November 22, 2014
“The reporter was told that there were a number of high-profile people involved and they were getting boys from a care home in the Richmond area. So I put someone on to it, the chief reporter I think, to make enquiries. It was the following day that we had a D-notice slapped on us; the reporter came over and told me. It was the only time in my career.”
If social mobility is the problem, grammar schools are not the solution – Gaby Hinsliff
November 15, 2014
“The sociologist Leon Feinstein’s study children’s developmental abilities at 22 months and then tracked their progress to adulthood will by now be wearily familiar to many, but it bears repeating. The surprise was that children from wealthy families who were deemed low ability as toddlers didn’t just catch up: by the age of six or seven they had overtaken even the brightest children from the poorest backgrounds. By 11 it’s asking an awful lot of one exam to unpick the complex mix of parenting, schooling, lobbying for extra resources and attention, and who knows what else, that stops these children falling through the glass floor.”
John Pilger on ISIS:
Only When We See the War Criminals In Our Midst Will the Blood Begin to Dry
November 14, 2014
“In order to facilitate the action of liberative [sic] forces… a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals [and] to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria. CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main [sic] incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals… a necessary degree of fear… frontier and [staged] border clashes [will] provide a pretext for intervention… the CIA and SIS should use… capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension.”
The right has won control of the English-speaking world – thanks to the weakness of the left – Jason Wilson
November 14, 2014
“Elsewhere, and particularly in Latin America, it’s evident that democratic socialism is still a possibility, and a field of experimentation. Their leaders’ commitment to basic economic justice is not only something that the Anglosphere’s left ought to take on, but which may be necessary for its survival. Those who say we have nothing to learn from still-developing economies have not paid enough attention to regressive developments closer to home. The millions who have been and soon will be immiserated by the machinery of liberal capitalism will have little time for the morality tales of neoliberalism. If existing centre left parties do not speak to their demands, who will?”
This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time – Harry Leslie Smith
November 6, 2014
“My uncle and many of my relatives died in that war and they weren’t officers or NCOs; they were simple Tommies. They were like the hundreds of thousands of other boys who were sent to their slaughter by a government that didn’t care to represent their citizens if they were working poor and under-educated. My family members took the king’s shilling because they had little choice, whereas many others from similar economic backgrounds were strong-armed into enlisting by war propaganda or press-ganged into military service by their employers.”
Scandalously low pay should not be the new normal – Polly Toynbee
November 4, 2014
“Where is Labour, which should be driving the push for fair pay? Fumbling and mumbling, with an air of uncertainty. Its cautious conference promise to raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour by 2020 was rapidly punctured: this doesn’t reach the poverty threshold, and is barely more than an inflation rise. Better than the Tories, but unimpressive and it’s no answer to Miliband’s thoughtful early words about the dysfunctions of modern capitalism.”
Britain Slides Towards Ever More Selfishness.
November 4, 2014
“If your country has a public health system that ensures that everyone who needs treatment receives it, without payment, it helps instil the belief that it is normal to care for strangers, and abnormal and wrong to neglect them. If you live in a country where people are left to die, this embeds the idea that you have no responsibility towards the poor and weak. The existence of these traits is supported by a vast body of experimental and observational research, of which Labour and the US Democrats appear determined to know nothing.”
Power and the inconvenience of truth
November 3, 2014
Although this is an article from an Australian newspaper, it’s relevant right across the democratic world.
“After each election, one or other oligarchy rules for a period, during which its power, including power to advance the interests of its adherents and supporters at the expense of the general community, is effectively unlimited.
It’s “not nepotism, .. just the way the world works.” The arrogant, the ignorant and bullies thrive in the absence of enforceable rules.”
The People vs the Political Class – Richard Cooke
June 10, 2014