Naomi Klein V Trump 3

Politics is riven across the globe just like between Klein and Trump which makes things jolly-dee for the elite. Therefore, The Economist must make good reading when it writes that America is divided. It suggests a political gridlock and economic inequality. A huge disturbance for the ‘left’ is the New York Times report that 53% of white female voters put their mark for Trump and, 30% of Hispanics did likewise. There doesn’t seem to be a clear road ahead.

www.economist.com/news/21723797-the-future-of-america

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/22/us/after-success-of-womens-march-a-question-remains-whats-next.html?

Any unifying organisation has the problem from the contentious question of how many suitcases each individual organisation should bring with them. Therefore, the argument that ‘Indigenous peoples rights are sacrosanct’ (242) and individual movements must be ‘protected’ (243) and ‘identity politics’ (91) must be supported and ‘reparations for slavery’ (125) is a weakness. Ms Klein commits the crime of playing to the gallery.

“… to have hope of changing the world, we’re going to have to be willing to change ourselves.” (261)

If the movement for change is to take us to a better society for all, then we must – start as one- not as a host each with baggage; because somewhere down the line factions will peel off. They still might!

The Big Q. Do I stand for all or do I stand for me?

The driving force must be equality of opportunity; from there we work out what is needed to make it a reality: better welfare system, free education, medical care and nursery places for all etc.

Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism – Thing 20 (210-220)

We cannot right the wrongs of the past no matter how heinous. The best that can be offered is to come along and help decide. That’s democracy! There are some on the ‘left’ that want the frog-march as the compulsory dance. I prefer, slow, slow, quick, quick slow waltz. It’s more fun.

Thanks…
for my world

Unfortunately, there will be no ‘leap’ on climate change, though it is necessary. In an article for the UN April 2016, How to Finance Global Reflation, Andrew Sheng wrote, “An estimated $6 trillion in infrastructure investment will be needed annually over the next 15 years just to address global warming.”

James Rickards, The Road to Ruin (87)

Ms Klein has looked at this question of finance and come up with some figures (247). However, the guardian newspaper suggests that subsidies for the fossil fuel industry were around $5.3 trillion in 2015. The problem is how to get that money used for renewables? We can’t just slice it off, though that would be nice. It would have to be weaned off as thousands of jobs are tied up with the money. The argument for a waltz is really powerful.

www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/01/

Nonetheless, some problems are more pressing and require immediate attention. “We are, it bears repeating, out of time.” (235) But ‘superhuman speed’ might not be possible. (69-70)Paul Mason Postcapitalism (250) using the IEA data that suggests we must cut CO2 emissions by 50% by the year 2050 and that is only possible if we arrest it by 2020. A very tall order! The game is afoot. Mason (262) makes this point:

“So we need to inject into the environment and social justice movements things that have for twenty-five years seemed the sole property of the right: willpower, confidence and design.”

People around the world are already aware of climate issues but there needs to be a concerted effort, a ‘superhuman’ push to bring coordination to a campaign. It’s called marketing; the wherewithal is out there it just needs wakening. There is no shortage of evidence:

Europe –

  • UK – London pollution levels breached for 79 days 2016 even though it has a charge £.
  • France – Paris is to introduce stickers for cars based on the age of the vehicle at €3.50 each
  • Germany – Stuttgart worse pollution in the country. Citizen groups taking the state to court. City to introduce ‘fine dust’ days.

America – A mountain of evidence! www.uk.reuters.com  June 2017 reports thousands of extra deaths annually. A study by Harvard School of Public Health states, “…this is not just a health issue, but a social equality issue as well.” Study by Qian Di et al. Other sites include cbsnews.com/news and Health.com and many more.

Drivers are prosecuted while the real criminals go free. The injustice of it all!

The material is available it comes down to focus, presentation and access. What is needed is a sponsor: an organisation, a newspaper, a charity or all three. Reaching out to the wealth of talent that is out there and a multitude of possible approaches can be taken.

 

Banksy

I’m always amazed looking out of the train window at the effort and sheer class of some of the graffiti. It needs to be harnessed. Likewise, the creative expertise of video makers utilizing their skills to get a positive message across. Add the array of other talent within social media working on a campaign. Of course there will be trolls and hackers out to mess it up. Some probably paid by the big boys to do exactly that.

Is it possible? Willpower! One possible script would be a competition of graffiti artists to submit their design by photograph having done their art on a 6 x 4 canvass. Not Trump Tower! The designs would be collated by the sponsor and the artists themselves would choose the winner. It would take a few months to complete but that’s exactly what is needed. It could generate a great deal of interest. A similar exercise can be employed for video makers. It’s about releasing the creative juices.

  1. Slogan writers; who knows what talent is out there. People might get involved just for the hell of it. Creating some weird and wonderful crap but they’re participating and having fun doing it.
  2. Pollution masks with the tag – end fossil fuel subsidies. People can make their own, groups, organisations etc. use an old scarf; put it on a pinny (apron). Have a fun time on social media. Have a facemask day, mask party, mask rally, fashion show, international day. It’s a policy of keeping the momentum. It’s about generating wider public awareness.
  3. Have a talent show of the worse and best song about pollution. Viewed online!
  4. Produce a cartoon or comic strip of 5 plates.
  5. Its E-Mail Day every 3 months send an email to your politician: end fossil fuel subsidies – make it happen or GO.

To local rags /national rags – Government are paying hitmen to bump us off –                   end fossil fuel subsidies.

The winners of graffiti, video caption, and slogan, can have their entry made into an email postcard that can be downloaded and sent to…..

  1. Recycling, already up and running but still a good avenue to increase awareness. ALL packaging must be recyclable!!!

Release the juices, let the vats flow! Be ambitious, be confident and release the creative powers of the people.

Generate the scale of numbers, and politicians will cause a rush on toilet paper! Let the ‘powers that be’ try to spoil the party.

 

The Jink Gang

CHARGE! And they roar as they stampede towards the enemy. Suddenly they come to a halt at the moat, hurdle their abuse, stomp their rage, and make threats they cannot impose. Just then someone shouts – another fight! and off they run. Charge!

Meanwhile, the residents of the castle carry on; as do the folks on the bailey, little changed. In the distance if you strain your hearing there’s a faint echo of: charge! The stumbling, fumbling ‘Jink Gang’ push on.

Gradually some will tire as other commitments surface and the mantle is passed to the blood of youth. Others will stay for they wish to retain the notion of youth and have no ambition to accept responsibility. Love, marriage, home and kids take centre stage. Having a job and keeping it becomes a major priority.

HORROR! There is no remorse as they meld into the society they abhor to become castle dwellers or ambitious folk from the bailey. Gone is their naked rage to be replaced by a conscious awareness that needs change. It is not their war anymore. And the carousel continues to turn.

Such is the existence of the liberal left. With no clear plan, and little understanding of how to attack the castle stronghold or gain the support of the bailey folk, they tread on. Busily, they chase after every concept of injustice believing that they, are the acorns of change.

Taking sides is part of the ‘must plan’, embracing any group perceived to be downtrodden. Thus they have pigeon-holed minorities as the only true sufferers, all others are fakers. Unfortunately, there is no big picture for that would spoil the view and it takes time to draw such a picture. And haste is of the essence.

Fighting fascism is a pivotal rule of the ‘must plan’ but questioning the fascist tendencies of communism is so blasé. If you cannot abide by the rules don’t apply to join.

After the dinner party at the theatre the entourage, behind the canvas throw, demand a uniformity of approach to all injustice they identify. There are rules for a purpose: listen, learn, and adopt the new language, let us speak in neutral terms in all conversation.

Accept the new thinking, it would be boorish not to. Pay heed to the wisdom of our leadership and the world will achieve a new harmony where all will be at peace.  We shall build from the bottom up so that all benefit. Just follow our lead. You know we are right.

You cram these words into mine ears against

The stomach of my sense.” Alonso. The Tempest (11.i.)

Out of context but sharp and to the point on sentiment.

Excuse me Sir/Madam/ Neutral person, what about capitalism?

*Don’t trivialise our movement with unanswerable questions!

In our world the individual is supreme; their needs are paramount. We show our humanity by such actions.

Excuse me Sir/Madam/ Neutral person, which individuals?

*You are a peevish little sod!

Excuse me Sir/Madam/ Neutral person, where do I fit in? I’m a poor working class person and suffer from ego-depletion1 (42) which means I’m more likely just to give up. You see, most who live in poverty suffer from these symptoms and when you live in my world misfortune walks with you every day.

You may not know but I have a high U-index which means I spend a lot of time in an unpleasant state of mind. (393)Another thing Mr Kahneman2, points out when studying the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (396-397) is that:

“The objective of policy should be to reduce human suffering. We aim for a lower U-index in society. Dealing with depression and extreme poverty should be a priority.”

I may be wrong but Mr Kahneman’s view seems to be very broad and means everybody in those circumstances. And do you know what – everybody includes me!

1 & 2 Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow               Penguin Books

Excuse me Sir/Madam/Neutral person, can I ask a few questions?

  1. What makes you think your way is better than any other?
  2. How do you differ in approach from fascists?
  3. Will we still be living under the capitalist system?
  4. How do you plan to control the underbelly of sex and money?
  5. If you believe in a better world with decent welfare for all; why do you have a tax avoidance business arrangement?

*Nosy little shit!

 

Klein V Trump 2

It’s time to reflect.

Naomi Klein berates Trump for using the rage and despair of the people to get elected (27). The same can be said for almost any politician. If there is a flow in opinion they start to paddle in that direction to try to keep abreast of the current. Most politicians speak with a forked-tongue.

For decades the elite aided by their bovver boys have done whatever they deemed necessary to make a profit. This led to the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1999, which freed the money men to make honey in a desert. Thank you to the democrats!

The ‘left’ have either been acquiescent or asleep. Some were to be found hopping-mad at Davos screaming themselves hoarse. Anarchists wore their masks, not the superhero variety, to fight the class war. The poor, they struggled on trying to make ends meet.

A massive cash bonanza for the big boys was globalization. A nice big can of gloss was used to paint a picture of relieving poverty worldwide by taking jobs to the poorer regions. Yes, the number of recorded poor did drop but that was conditional on what a living wage was deemed to be: $1 or $2 a day. Workers in the west could not compete against cheap or slave labour.

Factories closed, tens of thousands were thrown out of work. Some districts began to look like ramshackle places and hope went whistling with the wind (27). However, the big boys made a killing. Globalization was neatly summed up by John J. Sweeney labour leader of the AFL-CIO 1955-2009:

“In the ‘Nike Economy’ there are no standards, no borders and no rules. Clearly, the global economy isn’t working for the workers in China and Indonesia and Burma anymore than it is for the workers here in the United States.”

www.azquotes.com/author/14360-John_J_Sweeney

The ‘left’? They were absorbed in their new quest; identity politics. The ‘left’/liberal’s had no reasoned argument to overcome the horrors of capitalism and so sought to stamp on the toes of the elite. Multiculturalism and Political Correctness were unleashed with some fanatical adherents rattling on every door locked or ajar. (91)

Note the words of Trevor Phillips, former head of the Commission for Racial Equality writing in the Daily Mail newspaper. (16/08/17)

My comrades on the Left flaunt their moral superiority. But many of them are the most racist and sexist of all.

 

Unfortunately, there was little consideration given to the bulk of the population in particular the poor. There are a horde of issues out there that directly affect millions of poor folks. To many people the sweeping changes of the liberal/left took on the role of a drill sergeant: Attention! About Turn! Forward – March! It proved a very divisive policy. Those who would not be regimented were castigated as bigots, Neanderthals and trash etc. The louder they were screamed at the more entrenched they became. Surprise!!!

‘Audite et alteram partem’.

Listen even to the other side

Cited by Ha-Joon Chang, Economics: the User’s Guide (458)

The poor were facing a barrage of economic woe: globalization, wage freezes, benefit cuts, the full bucket of austerity. On top of that they faced a tsunami of political dogma. Add to the mix their main source of information, the cheap tabloid press and you start to see where confusion nests.

Between a rock and a hard place ordinary Joe starts to shimmy towards the ones who seem to understand and who make good promises. It’s the WIIFM! What’s in it for me?

Throughout the world we have witnessed the movement of ordinary Joe, fed up to the back teeth with the establishment and hearing nothing but abuse from the liberal/left. America, France, the UK and in South America people are searching for direction.

Yes, people can regress at times of crisis (192) but what helps them get back some dignity is understanding and assistance. And yes, encouragement can be taken from ‘- explosions of utopian imagination’ (217) of the 60s and 70s, but.

The radicals of Chicago and Paris 1968 are silent now. The peaceniks and the make-love-not-war army of self-indulgence have all gone to the care home. Well, that’s how it seems. The huge movement in the UK, CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) failed. There are a whole tranche of organisations and committed folks willing to help but there is no unity of purpose. Initially (228)!

Let’s be clear, you cannot build a better society without the majority of the population in support. Crucially there has to be an acknowledgement of the significance of the WIIFM for ordinary Joe no matter his/her race. Anything that creates a barrier lessens the opportunity to advance change.

Trump surfed the waves like a seasoned pro (119) but what was the alternative? The Democratic Party snuffed that out! So it’s not about, “…being willing to engage in a battle of ideas-.” It is about proposing new alternatives, being open (243) and willing to discuss what makes some so angry. Perhaps you start from the basis that they are lost in a no-mans-land.

It was not the “…wealth-worshipping world view that created the backlash in the first place.” We have always had bling since the earliest of times. It was that most people were not engaged in political life. Many simply viewed it as distasteful. We need to reconnect!! Dogma is still dogma if you are being forced to accept it.

Therefore it is about the ‘injustice of it all’. (119) It’s about fairness and how it is perceived. My perception might be overshadowed by my politics.

Johnathan Wolff, Political Philosophy (85) in discussing Rousseau’s polity:

“…without rough equality of wealth, factions will form. This would not only cloud the judgement of the voters but perhaps create an obstacle to the existence of a general will; a policy equally in the interests of all voters.”                             

Naomi Klein V Trump 1

I saw the book title, ‘NO is not enough’ by Naomi Klein, read the blurb and thought this is my cup of tea. However, I was met with a cup of gloop. No doubt well-meaning and to some extent forward thinking. But! Then I hit the last pages and began nodding my head, yeah, I’ve hit hard core. Ooh! I was at last excited, Klein and I are on the same train heading to somewhere better. But!

The mention of dismay that Hillary Clinton failed and could not be, “…a role model…” (17) had me reaching for the megaphone to scream the title of the book. Clinton was and is an entrenched and fully paid up member of the establishment. Many in the Democratic Party did not support her and actively campaigned against Clinton as their candidate. The champion of the hour was Bernie Sanders.

In hindsight, perhaps, the ruling elite of the Democrats regret their decision to force Sanders off the ticket. He could have beaten Trump but the fat cats at the top did not want to wrestle with Sanders brand of politics.

Ms Klein to her credit supported the Sanders campaign but later found fault in his policy decisions. Notable was the decision on reparations for slavery. (125) Klein quotes Sanders that reparations would be ‘”divisive”’ and that that decision may have cost him a substantial black vote. Is she suggesting he play to the gallery just for votes? I disagree with her analysis and believe that Sanders showed more understanding of the big picture of what it takes to unite the people.

Opposition to Sanders on that issue points more towards a lack of understanding of the bigger picture, which has become characteristic of the ‘Left’ in politics. There are too many questions associated with the policy of reparations: would payments be generic or individual? How much overall? Who decides how to spend it? Spend on what? The whole episode could prove fractious in the extreme. Not to forget the rest of the poor looking on.

The ‘left’ get a policy idea and run with it without much, if any, debate. You are either with them or against them. It’s an assumption of righteousness. On the mild side it’s patronizing on the other it’s dictatorial. We know what’s best for you! They get so engrossed in pursuing their own agenda they don’t see the need to consult or feel the anxiety of the poor. It’s the Moses syndrome!

Isn’t ironic that Klein supports Sanders only to go nit picking when he fails. She should be having a go at the hierarchy of the Democratic Party for their lack of vision and courage, which she acknowledges (123). But then all the guys at the top think alike. They may sport different colour ties when they meet up at the country club but eat at the same table.

Going back to the possibility of Hillary Clinton as president would only have ensured a continuation of the same old policies. Gender has no bearing on what a leader does; it’s their politics, their belief system. A female leader does not ensure a more thoughtful or caring approach to policy.

My way or …

I’ll refer you back to 1979 in the UK and the premiership of Margaret Thatcher. Her policies battered the working class into submission and caused severe damage to the manufacturing base of the economy. Her approach involved the ‘shock’ attack of neoliberalism, economic thinking of the Chicago School.

And recently, we have the rule of

Better my way …

Angela Merkel, a so called centrist politician leading a left leaning coalition. Well!! If we are to believe Yanis Varoufakis, finance minister of the Greek government 2015 and no one has refuted his analysis of what took place.* The sting began with the bailout of €110bn to the Greek economy in 2010, the first of three. Varoufakis is adamant that as the money poured into Greece it was just as quickly siphoned off back to the German and French banks that were facing collapse.

*Yanis Varoufakis, Adults in the Room (34)

This blatant and shameless robbery of the people’s money to save the banks was one of the most audacious scams in our history. To pay the debt Europe was forced into austerity. Merkel used the clout of the troika* to impose the deal. A decade later the debt is still being paid. Europe has been put on a very strict diet while Germany feasts on its ill-gotten gains.

*European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Klein bemoans that Obama did not take the opportunity during the financial crisis (2008) to steer America in a different direction but no such condemnation of Merkel. Instead Merkel is commended for the creation of 400,000 green jobs (214) while coal still remains the basic energy provider for the nation. The decision to extend the green environment may have more to do with a dependency on Russian oil and gas.

Moreover, the ordinary people of Europe have paid an extreme price to bolster and maintain the German economy. Cracks are now appearing as the duration of the German plan continues to hurt. The EU is in deep trouble!

We must commend Ms Klein for accepting that Merkel’s raid on Europe was “merciless” (214). The actions of Merkel were a precursor to Trump’s campaign. Merkel put Germany first and had no concern for the needs of others. Trump has stated on numerous occasions that he will put America first come what may. Is he following Merkel’s lesson plan?

Merkel kicked democracy into the tall grass while she went about her business. Clear evidence can be found with the troika’s actions in Greece and Cyprus. Will Trump go that far?

Let’s leave the last word to Yanis Varoufakis:

I witnessed first hand what I can only describe as a naked class war that targeted the weak and scandalously favoured the ruling class.

The Great EU Swindle

I witnessed first hand what I can only describe as a naked class war that targeted the weak and scandalously favoured the ruling class. Yanis Varoufakis

Trust is a dead word! The EU political elite have sapped the hopes and aspirations of millions of ordinary people throughout Europe. Nearly a decade of austerity has cheated them out of €billions to save the French and German banks.

In a stampede to maximise their profit the European banks lead the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ into the cesspit of derivatives. They wanted their cut, to cash in in the quick buck world of finance. They stood to make €millions but, there is always a but, the 2008 financial crash squeezed their balls till they screamed.

Thoughtless in their pursuit of dosh (€/£/$) and fearing they might lose out and look like idiots to the rest of the financial mob, they galloped headlong into the fray. BOOM! BOOM! Their bonuses blowing in the wind they trundled back to beg governments to bail them out. Governments did at phenomenal cost and then passed the bill to the ordinary people. Austerity!

“I witnessed first-hand what I can only describe as a naked class war that targeted the weak and scandalously favoured the ruling class.”1

The Double Whammy

The people were bludgeoned twice. This was a heartless mugging; the subprime mortgage crisis left millions without homes, struggling to survive and then came a decade of austerity. Such is irony. Joseph Stiglitz shoots with both barrels when he states, “…U.S. subprime crisis meant exploiting the poorest and least-educated among us.”2

As the 2008 crisis hit the governments of the EU passed power over to the troika: the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). All decisions about bailing-out fell to them. The crisis appeared to suggest the collapse of the EU.

Angela Merkel berated the Americans for causing the debacle but soon had to eat her words as she handed over an initial €406 billion to German banks. She hadn’t realised they were burst too. Moreover, the German banks had previously loaned $477 billion to the weaker states of the EU.  Later, Merkel would hand over another huge amount.

The banks of France, Germany, Netherlands and UK had a $30 trillion exposure, which meant that if the slightest thing went wrong they would collapse. A massive bailout was needed and quick.3 The troika with their gang of technocrats were called to action.

The Sting

Five countries needed transfusions: Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Greece. In 2010 Greece received a €110bn loan from the troika. “As soon as the bailout loans gushed into the Greek finance ministry, ‘Operation Offload’ began: the process of immediately siphoning the money back to the French and German banks.”4

Of the money given over some 66% came from the EU taxpayer and 33% from taxpayers throughout the world. Thus the banks were salvaged at the expense of the people. Greece was left to cope. During the period 2010 – 2012 Greek government spending dropped by 15%. More bailouts required.5

A second then a third bailout was needed in 2012 and 2015. The Greeks got the blame for mishandling their finances as the people of Europe made snide remarks about the Greeks, not realising that it was Merkel and gang passing it on to the banks.

Little Cyprus suffered too at the hands of the troika. In 2013 Cyprus got a 10bn bailout but the strings attached were severe, the Popular Bank (Laiki Bank) was forced to close. Like other countries within the block Cyprus had to accept austerity. Wikipedia March 2013

Outside of the corridors of power the deal was condemned.

  1. Paul Mason, then a reporter for BBC Newsnight queried,

    “What is Germany doing? It triggered the Cyprus crisis and is playing hardball,…”

  2. Economist Richard D. Wolff described it as “blackmail”.
  3. Dr Jeffery Stacy believed “…it hurt Cyprus and Europe”.
  4. The economist magazine described the deal as, “…short-sighted and self-defeating.”

They were small, they were weak, they were used as a lesson plan to the rest; don’t step out of line! Democracy be damned – and it was! The BBC put the blame firmly in Merkel’s corner. While the Guardian newspaper warned that Cyprus would suffer.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18586532

www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2012/may/18/euro-crisis-cyprus-next

The bailout of Cyprus, “… raised profound questions about the democratic nature of EU decision-making.”

www.Ise.ac.uk/

The people had no say, democracy was ignored, the needs of the elite were met. Meanwhile the poor had to take the medicine without exhibiting any symptoms.

Anyone who reads Yanis Varoufakis book Adults in the Room and still believes in the EU need to see someone!!! But don’t take the word of Varoufakis. The German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble makes it as plain as daylight when speaking to Varoufakis:

“In the Eurogroup you are probably the one who understands that the eurozone is unsustainable. The eurozone is constructed wrongly.”6

The ‘powers’ may argue that they done what they did to save Europe for democracy. It was merely a temporary suspension and, strong arm tactics were necessary to achieve restitution. BUT!

  1. The cost was one-sided. Ordinary Joe paid in full.
  2. Banks were saved without consequential costs.
  3. Banks continue to make huge profits and top employees to make awesome bonuses.
  4. The ‘powers’ never explained their actions
  5. The ‘powers’ succeeded in smashing the concept of fairness.
  6. And succeeded in destroying trust.
  7. Political leaders could not think of an alternative plan.
  8. The elite went scot free!!!

Democracy was cast aside; kicked in the balls and dismissed as a troublesome kid. There can be no clearer evidence that the people were used as pawns to benefit the elite.

“It is unfair to accept benefits but refuse to pay.” The bankers did!!! Johnathan Wolff  7

  1. Yanis Varoufakis, Adults in the Room (481)
  2. Joseph Stiglitz, The price of Inequality (xlv11)
  3. Y V (38)
  4. YV (27)
  5. YV (19 + 499 note)
  6. YV (407)
  7. J. Wolff, Political Philosophy Third Edition (59)

 

 

Drawbridge Brothers 4

Banksy

Diversity is a weak glue. Its purpose is to placate today’s society. It is based on a vision that suggests that society will not change. The basic premise is that of equal opportunity and a general respect for the rights of the individual, inclusiveness. Unfortunately, this brings diversity into conflict on various aspects of its tenets.

You must admit it is a lovely picture, well drawn and you can see why many are attracted to it. But it was drawn in charcoal, posted on the outside and it rained. The jolly old rain!

We can all agree with Ha-Joon Chang1 that “Equality of opportunity is the starting point for a fair society.” But and it is a big but, “However, it is equally unjust and inefficient to introduce affirmative action and begin to admit students of lower quality simply because they are black or from a deprived background.” From any angle we come back to the obvious conclusion that we are dealing with discrimination.

Is it ok to discriminate against a rich kid because their family has money and therefore his/her life chances are so much better? To which group should we lend our support – an underprivileged female or an underprivileged black person? Michael Sandel2 deals with this question expertly.

Sandel prompts us with a proposition that affirmative action is acceptable because it fulfils a ‘socially worthy aim’. That still leaves us with the problem of discrimination. The real question is why society needs affirmative action or diversity, what is the root cause? We are always skipping over the big question as though it is too big to solve. Stay clear a political volcano is about to erupt!

Professor Johnathan Wolff3 opines that affirmative action can be ‘patronizing and degrading, and, in the long term, may do more harm than good’. America has had a form of affirmative action since the mid-1940s. While a number of black and Hispanic people have gained from the initiative the vast majority are still on the bottom rung of life chances.

As Wolff points out, ‘…equal political rights are worth fighting for, but they are of little value if you are still treated unequally in day to day life.’ So, even democracy may not solve the problem. Representative democracy is subject to corruption and nepotism to mention but a few distractions.

Tony Blair came to power in the UK 1997 with a sound bite of ‘education, education, education’. Later his left-wing credentials were left shattered on the ground as he became more Thatcherite than Maggie.  We have to take a serious look at the power of the market over our lives to find a solution?

In South Africa, apartheid was shown the way to …. Off. However, the ordinary people are no better off financially or socially; they are free, but free to live in poverty. The ANC has not delivered!

We are constantly told that a strong and growing economy is the best way to ease the burden of poverty. It seems to be one of Theresa May’s favourite sayings and guess what, she’s wrong. The 2008 financial crash is testament enough. The market ruled and the people lost – big time.

Therefore does ‘trickle-down economics work? According to J Stiglitz4 the nations that adopted the Washington Consensus – the American way – strong growth everyone wins “…the poor have benefitted less from growth.” This is supported by Ha-Joon Chang1 “Trickle down does happen, but its impact is meagre if we leave it to the market.” Poverty is as widespread today as ever.

Therefore, the concept of diversity sounds good looks good but is wishy-washy. It is all things to all people. I’m sorry but that cannot be the way forward. We cannot allow certain sections of society to spew their intolerance for others as a belief. We cannot allow a minority group to dictate policy for the nation.

If we are to build an understanding that will last then we must accept that that will take time. We must talk not push, we must listen not railroad, and we must argue not fight. Remember inclusiveness! Let’s put it to music

The road is long

With many a winding turn

That leads us to who knows where

Who knows where

But I’m strong

Strong enough to carry him

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

 

Songwriters

Bobby Scot, Bob Russell

Read more: Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

1.       Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About CAPITALISM (p210) (pp137-138)

2.       Michael Sandel, Justice (chap:7 pp167-183)

3.       Johnathan Wolff, Political Philosophy (p186 + p91)

4.       J Stiglitz, Globalization, (p79)

 

Drawbridge Brothers: Nationalism

Nationalism is the closing of a door. The ideology gives off a strong penchant for isolationism and, a tendency to breed ethnic and racial discord, at times leading to hatred. If you think – ‘we must look after our own’ – it becomes a definitive barrier to a broader, more cosmopolitan outlook. It closes a chapter to a life that could be illuminating.

 

There’s much discussion about the origins and when it reared its ugly head. Francis Fukuyama1 (p187) cites two authors of the subject, i.e. Benedict Anderson who suggests nationalism emerged in the 16th century, whereas Ernest Gellner puts it at the 19th century. A third voice, Steven Grosby, Nationalism (p118) opines that it is difficult to determine.

Agreement is reached that it is a question of identity. Perhaps it could be construed as a need to belong. A powerful emotional state can be generated by the ideology. So strong are the feelings brought to bear that it can override rational thought.

It is widely agreed, Fukuyama (p191) that nationalism was ‘socially constructed’. Of course, it has mainly benefitted the elite but does have a base in tradition. However, tradition changes over the centuries. What was cultural norms and thought traditional in the 11th century is quite different to our cultural norms and way of life today. Tomorrow’s cultural norms will be different again; perhaps based more on equality and a move from borders.

The elite and political class have made good use of the powerful emotive pull of the ideology to their advantage. The consolidation of Germany as a nation following the 1871 war against France is an example. The First and Second World Wars with the call to arms ‘Your Country Needs You!’ had them lining up to enlist. An explosive cocktail of pride, – patriotism, jingoism, propaganda and manhood made it almost impossible to resist.

The European Union (EU)

The construction of the EU may seem as a step away from borders towards a new unity as noted by Fukuyama (p192) “… the European Union has been trying to construct a postnational sense of European citizenship since the 1950s.” Steven Grosby (p25) has a slightly different take on the issue when he writes that we are possibly seeing “… the emergence of the empire of the European Union.”

While the author’s intention may be more to do with semantics they do portray quite a contrast of view. Fukuyama hints at an all embracing natural development whereas Grosby has a more Machiavellian tinge to it with the use of the word ‘empire’.

My humble take is that it has more to do with erecting a force big enough to counter the emerging powers of India and China as well as to keep abreast of America. In effect the EU is a business model for economic survival. On present political course it may well become an empire.

However, the EU is not without problems, the UK has voted to leave and Spain already weak has a dilemma with the prospect of the Basque region breaking away. But Spain is not alone, in the UK Scotland threatens to divorce itself from the rest of the nation but wants to remain in the EU. Thus we have the EU trying to build an economic block to rival India, China and America while nationalism is snipping at its toes.

It is a peculiar situation that both Scotland and the Basque region want to break from their parent country but remain in the EU. Neither seems to see the contradiction that the EU wants a cohesive block with no borders but both the above want a separate border. It would seem that they do not understand the cultural shift that is envisaged for Europe.

Further afield in Canada, Quebec has a strong leaning to be independent. Some in Quebec and in the Basque area are prepared to use violence to secure their vision. Steven Grosby (p116) sums it up, “…the uncivil ideology of nationalism continues, often tragically, to have a hold, with varying degrees of intensity, on the imagination of humanity.” Read of the events of the Balkan Wars.

In all cases above, each see themselves as culturally unique in some way with different traditions, as an ethnic body. However, Alice Roberts in her book, Celts (p268) opines that there is no “…‘pure’ ethnic identity, from a genetic point of view.” She later concludes, “We’re all genetic mongrels.” In other words we are all part of a bastard race.

Throughout our history slavery has been a part of our society. People were traded all over the known world. I think of Rome which had an abundance of slaves, who did not scatter for ‘home’ when the empire collapsed, rather they were assimilated. Our history is full of conquests, of much rape and pillage. Slavery was a part of the economics of the old world as it is now with the despicable underworld of people traffickers.

Francis Fukuyama is unequivocal, “It is certainly correct that nationalism was a by-product of modernization, and that specific national identities were socially constructed.” The question is by whom? We can hopefully agree that it was not the march of the peasantry that consolidated Germany, or bound France, or Britain. Conquest, power, dosh (£ $) that was the key motivators. The peasantry did march but as enslaved soldiers of their masters.

A little bomb was left for others to get excited over by the writer Ernest Renan, cited by Fukuyama (p196) when he states, “Forgetting, I would even say historical error, is essential to the creation of a nation.” Hmm!

Nationalism has proven to be a tool in the hands of the unscrupulous, the elite and political class. They call upon it as a sheep dog to corral support for their next enterprise. Pride, a deadly sin, stirs the necessary response to action. Across the way, emotion rides past giving ‘the finger’ to intellect, rationale and reflection, who lower their heads.

1Francis Fukuyama   Political Order and Political Decay