Gender-Neutral 2

The whole G-N policy being promoted needs further explanation to the wider public or it is in danger of being dismissed as a looney fad. Serious thought is required as to what G-N individuals/ body are expecting from society. Simply making demands immediately meets opposition. Therefore, any attempt to force an agenda on the public would be counterproductive.

I was taken by the decision making of school (s) on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Here twelve (12) elementary/primary schools have adopted a change to G-N washrooms (toilets). According to a news report by, cbc.ca/news quoting one principal that the move to G-N washrooms ‘reflects society’.

“A school is a reflection of society and in society you see gender-neutral washrooms”. Principal Norbet Carpenter – Montague elementary school.

We could spend ages deconstructing this statement but suffice to say that G-N does not reflect society otherwise there would not be a call to implement it. The introduction of G-N washrooms is a new development that stems from a political agenda.

Let’s be bolshie, the news report states that the trend was begun by “a” family that complained on behalf of their child. Of course this could be a typo error or woeful reporting. However, no mention was made of consultation with parents or seeking for consensus. That being the case we are left with two assumptions:

  • The policy was forced on the majority without agreement. (who needs Stalin)
  • The reporting was atrocious.

Further confusion was caused by Julia Gaudet, director of student services at the Public Schools Branch, “We are not getting huge amounts of requests, but we are getting requests,” Again there are several questions that could be asked about this statement. Does each request result in a school adopting a G-N washroom? The statement does convey the suggestion that there are few requests.

More general questions come to mind:

  1. What does a child understand by G-N?
  2. Is it based on feeling? Is it to do with embarrassment?
  3. Does the child/family realise that their request affects all in the school?
  4. If the child is female they already have cubicles; what is the problem.
  5. If the child is male then some coaxing and/or coaching to use available cubicles might prove appropriate.
  6. Should any anxiety experienced by the child not be dealt with by counselling in the first instance?

The child/family that raised the issue of G-N washrooms will not be alone in suffering degrees of anxiety. There are numerous issues that confront children of all ages; are these being dealt with on an individual basis? Mental health and abuse/mental trauma are but two. What are the schools doing about these issues? Or, if no complaint, is the physical/mental anxiety left in the unknown tray?

There seems to be a nucleus of schools in the area that have changed to G-N washrooms. Twelve out of sixty-four (64) not a conclusive number but sufficient to stimulate discussion. The population and school numbers are in decline, one reason being that teenagers who are of age are leaving for the big towns/cities elsewhere in Canada. What will they find in the metropolis?

In trying to understand the term G-N I looked it up in a dictionary; merriam-webster.com to find the following definition: ‘not referring to either sex but only to people in general’. I can foresee many problems arising from this and much embarrassment caused by numerous faux pas.

Is it therefore time to re-write our dictionaries to exclude such terms as: boy, girl, she, him, her, woman, male etc. etc. etc. I can hear screams of Noooo! coalescing in a suburban area just before the explosion.

It was my understanding that equal opportunity covered all the bases when it came to human rights. Why then has the G-N faction broken off to pursue their own agenda? Do they perceive their own predicament as of greater need than those of others? Or are they adopting the child philosophy of, scream loud until they pacify you? Note the conclusion of Ha-Joon Chang (213)*

“Equality of opportunity is something to be cherished”.

Kilts are Back!!!

A fashion breakthrough!

All pupils to wear kilts at new G-N schools!   No?

Why not?

Because…..

Sorry I couldn’t hear you. No, you’ll have to speak louder.

The boys won’t wear kilts!

Oh, so all the girls will wear trousers? I see, its equal opportunity at work. Hm.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be an all-inclusive focus with the pursuit of a G-N agenda. There seems little or no consideration for the needs of others (touché). It smacks very much of we will get what we want and you lot will have to put up with it. Like arguments have been made on several occasions mainly by those on the left whom history has shown are just as prone to diktat as the right-wing whom they condemn as fascists.

Every faction is in a hurry and the only thing holding up ‘progress’ is the dullards’, otherwise known as the general population. This body may well be thinking of self-interest but so are the G-N lobby. The general population may be experiencing what Daniel Kahneman (305)* calls “loss aversion” e.g. they like things as they are; thank you very much. And, who might well prefer an approach similar to that proposed by Karl Popper:

That change requires “critical rationalism”,* (107) meaning it has to be thought out and be under constant review and to the benefit of society.

BIG Q: Why is G-N being pursued in primary schools? Is this because kids are more malleable, more open to suggestion? Are children therefore being used as political pawns?

“It is not possible, nor desirable, to try and be gender neutral all the time.” Most of us have a gender we identify with.

www.liveabout.com/gender-neutral-2982565

*Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About CAPITALISM

*Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow

*Bryan Magee, Popper

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-schools-gender-neutral-washrooms-1.4290514

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Edward_Island

 

Gender Neutral 1

Gender-neutral (G-N) is a very hot topic at the moment and as such there are contrasting views as to whether it is a genuine cry for understanding as a sexual orientation. Or has it been made into a political stick with which to beat traditional society. A number of schools have introduced G-N toilets/washrooms but so far extremely few in the wider community.

A question immediately springs to mind of why that should be. And, a secondary point is why in primary schools. Opponents will shoot straight from the hip that the reason is that it would not be tolerated in adult society. Therefore the argument goes on to suggest that it is an attempt to push the issue through the backdoor.

Another point raised is the number of people who consider themselves as G-N and inevitably what percentage they make up in society as a whole. We do not know but it would seem to be small, very small. This leads to the next question of why should society change to accommodate such numbers and, should society change to suit a tiny minority. A case of the tail wagging the dog!

The latter points have some credence because a change to G-N would necessitate a considerable change in outlook. It would entail a huge financial commitment by governments/States/businesses throughout the world to implement it. And, that assumes that the sexes would readily accept the new environment. Questions arise:

  1. There have been clashes between G-N supporters and feminist groups. Therefore, does it have widespread support?
  2. What would be the extent of embarrassment to both sexes which can lead to feelings of intimidation?
  3. Would urinals be included or would all be expected to use cubicles? I’m sure that many women would welcome the addition of more cubicles within existing arrangements, instead of the perpetual queues that many endure.
  4. Who would be in charge of the seat-up/ seat –down predicament?(no pun intended)
  5. Would disable / child facilities be incorporated?
  6. Would women’s private functions be catered for adequately?
  7. It could take generations for males to respect the new arrangements. (and in the meantime?)
  8. Sex is a most predatory instinct! Is this to be flushed away? Can it?

? In a multiple of places I have seen separate disable and child changing arrangements. Why not a similar idea for gender-neutral?

Therefore, is the promotion of G-N an attempt to manipulate society through a political desire for change? This brings us to the classic philosophical debate of whether the needs of the individual should supersede the conditions set by the majority. Taking a purely elitist liberal stance the individual is supreme. Does that therefore mean that the individual has no responsibility to the community? John Stuart Mill has a lot to answer for.

A supportive view is mentioned by Francis Fukuyama, (534) when he suggests that majorities in a democracy can ‘violate the rights of individuals and minorities,’ and find ways to impede there progress. It is, he submits, a question of law and who implements the law. However, democracy itself can and is circumvented by powerful interest groups to get their own way. In many cases this can be simply put as ‘the louder you shout the more you get.’

Big Q: Who owns the franchise on openness? 

Can manipulation be condoned when following an ‘enlightened’ agenda? The alternative view must be that no form of manipulation can be acceptable because we can never be sure of the long-term consequences of change. To be welcomed by most change must happen at a pace that can be tolerated by the population, otherwise you are likely to be hit by various fault lines.

A scenario of a backlash leads us directly into the old –traditionalist V the avant-garde which is a false setting. The given scenario allows the promoters of change to castigate the mainstream as backward etc. This of course is a huge misrepresentation as many who wish to hold tight to the reins of change just want to ensure that the baby is not tossed out with the bath water.

 

It is indeed rational to want to digest possibilities, to think things through and eventually feel comfortable with the proposal. Youth on the other hand has a tendency to charge ahead without due consideration. If it sounds exciting, if others are doing it, then we can’t be seen to be a stick in the mud. Charge!

“Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.”

Tennyson

 

As an alternative we might look to Ambrose Philips 1671 – 1749

But when reflection comes with riper years,

And manhood with a thoughtful brow appears;

We cast the mistress off to take a wife,

And, wed to wisdom, lead a happy life.

Hm. It’s all a matter of perception which fosters opinion but reflection should be a critical element in our thinking and development. It may be fun to run but a walk gives us time to talk.

Moreover, how much consideration has been given to the long-term consequences of G-N on a world bases? Or is there a built in assumption on the part of the G-N lobby that their programme of change will make everyone happy. Everyone get on board – the Titanic comes to mind. (Unforeseen consequence)

Questions arise:

  • How will the education system be affected?
  • Can we expect greater sexual confusion?
  • What percentage of the new society will consider themselves G-N?
  • How will it affect relationships?
  • How will that affect population/species survival?
  • Will there be an input from genetic engineering?
  • Will opposition be allowed to thrive?

There are too many questions. It’s time I started on a book!

  • Francis Fukuyama – Political Order and Political Decay

 

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.

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 (2) Diversity

Banksy

Diversity ‘the great leap forward’ engineered by the Liberal elite was set to lead the whole population in a new and dynamic direction. But, they didn’t bother or merely forgot to invite the rest of us on their planned run. Now we have to be corralled. Little wonder therefore that there’s been a backlash.

Being intimidated to follow a diktat rubs most people up the wrong way. Especially so, when they have to consider every utterance they make for fear that someone will report them to the politically correct (PC) Stasi.

However, it’s more than just being PC:

  1. University of Edinburgh – “Diversity aims to recognize, respect and value people’s differences to contribute and realize their full potential by promoting an inclusive culture…”
  2. University of Oregon – “It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences”. E.g. race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs etc.

http://www.ed.ac.uk/equality-diversity/about/equality-diversity

http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~asuomca/diversityinit/definition.html

It would seem that the advocates of diversity do not fully comprehend their own philosophy as they find it difficult to talk of opponents without the use of abuse (racists, bigots and Neanderthals). In doing so they fail to:

  • Build an inclusive culture
  • Recognize individual differences.
  • Others political and religious beliefs.

A question arises as to, which ‘individual difference’ takes preference, e.g. if a Christian landlord refuses to have a homosexual guest; which has precedence? If a religious body cannot accept homosexuality as an ‘individual difference’, which has precedence?  If women in a certain section of society are downtrodden, which has precedence?

We fast move along to a political hierarchy! So, are we recognizing that the other ‘differences’ are more important than religious belief? In that case should we not have a prescribed list in order of importance? But wait, if we have a list of preference are we not moving away from an ‘inclusive culture’?

  1. So is religious tolerance in or out? Or must it conform to the ideological script to be allowed on board?

Let’s leave it to the courts and sneak further from democracy.

  1. Is it justified to put right yesterday’s wrongs by over indulgence of the present generation of minorities?
  • Justification?……….. Leave a reply!
  • What of equality before the law? Has it been kicked into the long grass temporarily or permanently?

Political belief is a hot potato and many on the right-wing do not like the concept of diversity and so, should be – disenfranchised – allow only Labour and Liberal and, maybe a smattering of Conservatives – but only if they denounce Thatcherism! That darn woman!

In America the concept is wrapped up in the political agenda of Affirmative Action (AA) which has been in force for over 50 years. Again the term ‘inclusive’ strikes a hypocritical chord with many because they feel excluded. Since the 1940s the U.S. government has issued executive orders to ensure that sub-contractors are employing workers on an equal opportunity basis. This has led to cries of ‘reverse discrimination’.

Others, such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggests it creates a “cult of victimization” because it implies that black people need a leg up. It has also met with political opposition with the states of: California, Washington, Michigan, and Nebraska refusing to implement AA.

A study by Thomas Espenshade and Chang Y. Chung (2005) found a bias against white and Asian students trying to enrol in ‘highly selective private research universities’. A further study carried out by T. Espenshade (2009) found a similar bias in college intake, with Asians at the bottom of the pile.

Such has been the build-up of resentment that a survey in 2007 found that 52% of whites thought that AA should be abolished. Of course this could be as a result of better right-wing propaganda or worryingly, a strong feeling of being left out. The latter is certainly the case among Asians as in 2015 a coalition of 60+ Asian-American groups filed legal battles to gain equal opportunities. Up to the present law cases are pending.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_action_in_the_United_States#Arguments_against_affirmative_action

It is true to say that AA has helped a lot of people and was perhaps, the best option at the time. This is the attitude of Noam Chomsky, but he also recognizes that, “… you find plenty of things to criticize”.

Noam Chomsky, How The World Works (pp211-212)

Some may argue that only the negative view has been expressed. However, if the intention of diversity is ‘inclusive’ then surely we must examine the voices of discord to ascertain where things are going wrong.

In the UK in recent times we have witnessed the Labour and Liberal parties institute an all-female panel for the election of prospective Members of Parliament (MP’s).

  • Is this justified?
  • Is it legal under equal opportunity?
  • Is it patronizing?
  • Will it cause any resentment?
  • Will the candidate have the respect of her fellows?
  • How will having more females in parliament make it more democratic or work better?
  • Is it all a cynical ploy to garner the female vote?

I suspect that many of the issues concerning women have more to do with the economic demands of the capitalist system than the backwardness of male MP’s. I could of course be wrong! It may be a combination of both.

The introduction of diversity was an attempt to dictate the thinking, acts and actions of the people. Which other regimes tried to dictate the thinking, acts and actions of their population? I’m thinking Germany and Russia, China etc.

It is a tough ask to change people’s thinking, acts and actions especially if it must be done now. There is nothing wrong with the concept, if we walk together. It’s just the terrible hash made of its introduction. It can only be considered thoughtless in the extreme. The Liberal elite and the political class have learned nothing from business that has long been aware that the top-down approach has serious drawbacks.

The political class have set back any hope of achieving diversity by their lack of vision and their childish rush. It may take two maybe three generations for it to take a hold on the psyche. Of course there’s always the possibility that it was a purposeful screw up!

A blanket approach to diversity as has been adopted is a severe weakness; pampering to every group and the individualist outlook is much too general. Individualism can only exist as long as the great majority are tolerant.

Moreover, a set agenda is a blind spot. Though it does lead to a piece of clarity from Karl Popper, “Who plans the planners”? Because, “…our actions in any case are likely to have unintended consequences”. Does this strike a chord??

Bryan Magee, Popper (p100)

Diversity was born of intolerance of others bias and grew in intolerance. Such was the zeal of improving the lot of many; it produced an army of zealots. That’s the nature of political emotion. The army of zealots and the patronizing attitude of the politicians played a major role in the advent of populism. Reap…..

Democracy: Can it Survive?

 

Democracy holds more emotion in its wake than any other political theory. It has stimulated a considerable amount of discussion and hyperbole from the earliest philosophical writers to the present day. But the burning question is whether democracy can work, and, can it work for the majority of society or is it a pleasant guise for control by an elite?

Certainly, the thought of democracy has wetted the thinking of many writers considered among our best intellects over the centuries:

Plato: was not a fan as he condemned it “… followed citizens’ impulses.” rather than the common good.

Nietzsche: was not enamoured either, he wanted to be, “… beyond the lowlands of the herd conscience.”

Machiavelli: likewise; as the intellects would be the prisoner of the “whims of the people”.

Charles Maurras: believed we should accept that we have, “natural hierarchies”.

JS Mill: was concerned by, “…the moral coercion of public opinion” that the individual was sovereign and bemoaned the ‘tyranny of the majority’.

www.serendipity.li/jsmill/jsmill.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-democratic_thought

Without being disparaging these were yesterday’s men with yesterday’s prejudices, when the very concept of democracy held a fear of control by the ‘herd’. Mill’s focus on the individual is little more than a scream of a narcissist. Along with the others mentioned their fear was brought on by the prospect of the uneducated rabble who survived in vermin infested hovels having jurisdiction over them.

They saw no potential in the hoi polloi. They simply looked at the uneducated mass and contrasted that with their own highly educated self and, were blinded by that fear and blatant snobbery.

Would a look at a more modern picture reveal a more sympathetic view?

Robert Michels: opined “… that democracy is a façade legitimizing the rule of a particular elite…” He suggested that democracy naturally slides into an oligarchy. He himself moved from being a socialist to become a fascist. Can we see a trend?

Rabbi Elazar Shach: had no doubts, “Democracy is a machinery of lies, false notions, pursuit of narrow interests and deceit.” His preference was to follow the teachings of the Torah.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposition_to_democracy

Not much succour there for believers so let’s come right up to date:

A study carried out by Martin Gilens & Benjamin Page (2014) concluded that the majority of the American public had little influence on U.S. government policy. I have encountered that view several times and have raised it on previous posts.

A more damning assault on the weakness of democracy comes from ex U.S. president Jimmy Carter (2015) who is reputed to have said that the USA is now “… an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery.” Wow! Don’t mince your words Jimmy. Again, it is a slight that has its own choir of substance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligarchy

We have come across the term oligarchy a few times and can now add other nouns such as plutocracy and fascism.

  • Fascism – strict rule by a leader & a small group of supporters.
  • Oligarchy – government by a small group.
  • Plutocracy – government by the wealthy.

Political scientists and sociologists will no doubt condemn me but the terms come across as much of a muchness. Or to put it more informally – money talks!

The political class will scream and bring forward an array of quotes from notables to try to establish that they don’t fit into any of the categories above. The social democrats in particular will holler their disapproval of any such characterization. In response I would suggest that they look in the mirror and learn the true insightfulness of reflection. They have ruled, especially in Europe for the last few decades, so anything that has gone wrong has done so under their watch, e.g. the rise of fascism and far-right groups.

“…extremism flourishes in an environment in which respectable voices offer no solutions as the population suffers.” Paul Krugman (p19) End This Depression NOW!

We’ve had ex-president Jimmy Carter, Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman, so let’s hear from political philosopher Noam Chomsky. “It’s getting so that when I hear the word ‘democracy’ uttered by a politician or government official I automatically reach for my BS detector.”          Chomsky – Language and Responsibility There are a whole, whole lot of people do exactly the same as Chomsky.

So nobody likes democracy from the educated of the past to the educated of the present. What shall we do? Dump it in the rubbish can or just leave it to rot. For me, sitting on the next to bottom rung of the ladder of power (big ladder), I say keep it. As it has not yet completed its cycle.

There are weaknesses but there are in all political philosophies. There are also solid strengths as experienced in 2016 with the march of ordinary joe who shocked the political establishment with their voting power.

The body blow to the political class in UK, USA and Italy is a very hopeful sign, though a move to the right it was not a bridge to far. A thoughtful and inclusive campaign can swing things around.

A further strength of democracy is the ability to remove poor governments and the dirtbags whose back pocket is weighing them down. The system while open to abuse is also open to voices of descent and those who aspire to a good society. It’s just unfortunate that the latter voices cannot sing in harmony and as a choir.

Note what Charles Handy (p89) writes, “In a democratic culture, if it is not to degenerate into a battle between interest groups, it is particularly crucial that we find a common cause.”               Handy – Empty Raincoat

False Hope

To this end the social democrats and the general left of the British political scene probably thought they had found a ‘common cause’ with their promotion of political correctness (PCism). They were very wrong. It may have been perceived as a positive step forward towards a good society but it was clumsily introduced and implemented as tactfully as a bulldozer at a F1 race.

One can’t condemn fascism and communism as totalitarian regimes then seek to impose a political agenda, even if that agenda may be construed as for the common good. But to then lacerate opponents and doubters with vile accusations and, invoke the law to enforce its acceptance is hypocritical. It is not equality at work.

Any political agenda which is imposed may be considered as totalitarian. “What is a totalitarian regime but one in which variety of opinion is suppressed and conformity to a particular ideology is enforced.”  Catherine Rowett, www.academia.edu/1766239/A_dangerous_opponent_of_democracy

A more moderate view of PCism comes from Graham Good – University of British Columbia: “… it catches a certain kind of self-righteous and judgmental tone in some and a pervasive anxiety in others…”   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness

It may be shrouded in Karl Popper’s term ‘piecemeal social engineering’. Others may liken it to B.F. Skinner’s (1904-1990) view that society should develop ways to condition people to behave in a more appropriate way.  Book: Walden Two 1948

Some will associate it with George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (p241 (Appendix)) and his version of Newspeak, which was devised, “…to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism.” The sole purpose of Newspeak was to, “…to make all other modes of thought impossible.”

http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/piecemeal-social-engineering

Nonetheless, many right-wing activists believe that PCism is ‘indoctrination’ an attempt at ‘brainwashing’. Can the left in politics answer this view without being curt, inflammatory and dismissive? Dialogue is our only way forward in a positive vein.

Moreover, PCism was introduced throughout the western world. This would suggest a concerted and determined plan to impose it by the social democrat political elite. However, their haste was their undoing because they never took the time to talk it through with the electorate which suggests a contempt for ordinary joe. This fervent flurry to have it implemented and cemented before the likelihood of political change may have forced their hand to try to secure it with the weight of the law.

The law may remain in force, even after political change and, will stop people from openly voicing an opinion but will not change their mental attitude. The use of the law will foster resentment and that resentment will fester. The cost will be high.

There is a considerable loss of trust between the people and their elected representatives, admittedly, not solely due to PCism but it is a serious nail in the democratic coffin. Other costs include:

  • A decided move to the right in politics.
  • The rise of fascist parties in Europe.
  • People ‘feel’ the contempt of the political class.
  • Division in society.
  • A set back in the quest for a good society.

Of serious concern is that once people move to the extreme right in politics they very rarely move back to the centre ground. They become entrenched.

A chasm has opened between those in favour and those against PCism. A vehement opposition has emerged. In some parts of America it has reached fever pitch, with radio talk show hosts lambasting PCism at every opportunity and shows like South Park taking the mickey. It has given the right in politics a ready-made platform from which to pillory the left.

Jokes about PCism may not be heard much on television in the UK but are common in local pubs and clubs. And every time a silly case gains media attention it reinforces the held view and encourages others to join in.

Such a rallying of opposing loud hailers may appear as a positive thing for a healthy democracy but it is not. Entrenchment on either side makes it nigh impossible to find common ground, and a ‘common cause’. Thus the advocates of political correctness may have set back the very principle of equality because they failed to make it inclusive.

Call me a cynical conspiracy theorist but could the failure have been deliberate. In order to maintain the alliance of the political class and business interests and the windfall that comes from corruption.

Without doubt democracy has many challenges but still has room for development. In my opinion PCism is an exemplary example of the dangers inherent in democracy; it was too one sided and the brain child of a cabal of thinkers. The result is that we have factions of right and left at loggerheads or at worse entrenched and bitter.

People Power?

The weaknesses of democracy are apparent if we re-examine the views expressed earlier. We can dismiss the fear of the ‘intellects’ of the past as their vision of despair did not materialize. On the other hand there is a degree of truth in the more modern analyses.

Michels view that democracy is a ‘façade’ for rule by an elite is insightful. If we think in terms of the political class and the present feeling of alienation by the people, that gives credence to Michels’ observation. However, we do have opposition parties and organizations; perhaps not as strong as they should be but that could have as much to do with our lack of involvement as their whispered voice.

We can add to the voice of Michels the study of Gilens and Page and their conclusion that the electorate of America have ‘little influence’ on government policy. The obvious point being made is that the public are simply ignored. That being the case gives credence to Michels other contention that democracy slides into oligarchy.

I would lump together Rabbi Shach’s view on ‘deceit’ with Jimmy Carter’s condemnation of ‘bribery’. They both contend that corruption is rife in the political hierarchy. We should all be aware that corruption plagues our political system. It’s as widespread as trees in a woodland. There is not a country in the world which you could say was squeaky clean. Daunting, isn’t it?

In America, supposedly the great democracy corruption is second nature to the politicians. It is given the name ‘clientelism’ which simply means; you scratch – I scratch and both our backs are covered because the money given to my campaign is just a donation. And my vote for particular legislation is that I support it. A whole lot of $millions is involved.

The problem is so embedded in India that the government has recently changed its currency; new notes for old in an attempt to flush out corruption. As the Indian government has recognised corruption harms the economy. Good luck. However, we should take our hat off to them for such a bold move. Good to see some politicians with a large degree of bottle.

Another positive story comes from South Korea where the president Park Geun-hye has been impeached on bribery charges. The head of Samsung has also been questioned (for 22 hrs) about donations totalling around $25.5 million. The authorities are now trying to secure an arrest warrant for the head of Samsung. President Park’s future will be decided by their constitutional court.

China has only recently set up a new agency to investigate the agency they initially established to counter the growth in corruption. It makes me think it’s a lot like a dog trying to catch its own tail.

A more recent example comes from a report in the Daily Mail January 11 2017. The story outlined that a businessman flew $500,000 in a private jet to Liberia, Africa to bribe two officials in order to have the law changed to suit his mining company.

One more case to hit the headlines is that of Rolls Royce the engine manufacturer. Several areas of the media have given it some prominence with its fine of £641m or around $810m for bribing foreign officials to secure contracts. Daily Mail 2017/01/17

The Guardian claims that along with the BBC they exposed the scandal in October 2016. However, the investigation had been on-going since 2012 with the cooperation of the company. The good thing is that it was exposed. Let’s have a monthly column on corruption in all media.

These are but a few examples and as already alluded to there are few clean bums in the political world. On a serious note we should listen to J. Stiglitz (p165)  “Corruption undermines faith in our democracy.”  The Price of Inequality

What should we do next? It seems like an impossible task to rid the system of the pirates. It’s especially difficult in that we need the existing politicians to implement a programme of corruption busting. Progress is being made based on the evidence above. Fighting corruption is a big job which requires a considerable amount of mental strength and the belief that ending corruption is essential work.

I’ve illustrated with the examples of India and South Korea that it is possible and that there are good guys out there. I’m also of the opinion that there is considerable mileage for politicians to pick up the cudgel against corruption.

Can democracy be saved?? Will the Fantastic Four come to its rescue? The Guardians of the Universe! James Bond, even? Unfortunately, we can’t rely on the fantasy world to help us.

Though I’m reminded of an old movie I watched on TV; it was Michael Douglas playing the role of the American President, Andrew Shepard. He’s addressing the assembled press and uses a one liner which struck me as apt: “Democracy isn’t easy” and goes on to attack his republican opponent Bob somebody.

And that’s the reality, democracy isn’t easy. I wish I had a blueprint, all the answers but I come up against the pure logic of Karl Popper The Open Society. He argues, correctly, that there can’t be a blueprint that we cannot lay down a set path that people will follow because we want them to. If we can agree on something, then let’s have a go, see if it works, if not change it. It’s a slow process but eventually we get to where we hope is a good society. That should be our common cause.

I’m encouraged by the electoral votes of 2016 and hope that the movement continues into 2017 in both France and Germany. I just hope that the political elite can hear the alarm go off.

I was struck by the speech that British Prime Minister Theresa May gave at the UN in September 2016 when she reminded the assembled that:

“We must never forget that we stand here, at this United Nations, as servants of the men and women that we represent back home.”

Colour me surprised but intrigued by her reference to representation, which was positive. But the bit that got my real attention was the use of the word ‘servants’. Was this purposeful as a means to curry favour back home, an ideological slip or a clear understanding of what democracy should look like. Of course, as a believer I hope it was the latter and like me she is a true disciple. Arrrh! My cynical personality is coming out!!!!

Nonetheless, we know in which direction we need to go, for our sakes, for our children and our grandchildren. Let’s keep our common cause in mind every time we vote or want to voice an opinion. Our motto: we know where we’re going. If politicians or businessmen don’t want to come along – stuff them. A good society is too important to be side tracked by the merchants of greed.

We must also be aware that we can’t get everything we want. Let’s walk and talk and see where it leads us.

 

 

 

Bubble Wars

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Bubble Folk are the creation of a lack of reliable informative information the cause of which is mass media and political spin. It also has to do with peoples need to be a part of something. Television and newspapers promote the views of those who own them or who run them (BBC). Thus the predominant opinions we are given are those of the elite.

It’s increasingly difficult to find an objective opinion out there. Without a truly independent analysis of events that uses ‘why’ at the beginning of each question we never get to the crux of the matter. Basically we are treated as cannon fodder by the elite. We the public don’t need to know the ins and outs of an issue; it is their job to look after our interests. They ain’t doing a good job!

A Case in Point:

Recently after the Brexit vote in the UK and the general rise of people power across Europe I’ve heard Jean-Claude Juncker the EU commissioner state on three different occasions that they, the political elite, should not be held back by the rise in populism. Such statements suggest a number of things to me:

  • He does not accept democratic accountability.
  • There is by association the view that people have no idea what they need or want.
  • The political class see themselves as an elite.
  • That he and his ilk are Bubble Folk!!!
  • They have no desire to listen and no intention to act on the public vote.

 

Thinking.

Thinking.

Notwithstanding, we can only make decisions on the bases of the information we receive. Being bombarded by one view or by two strongly opposing views makes it all the more difficult to reach a rational, objective conclusion.

The other problem is that time on TV isth1zoq2kiv restricted and so much of what we get comes down to political sound bites. We have become the peoples of puerile language: texting, twitter and Facebook and all the rest. Billions of text messages are sent every day, much of the content of little relevance. I know I’m one of the culprits! E.g. what’s for dinner? Put the kettle on etc.etc.. I fancy a pint?

Moreover, politicians are their own worst enemy when it comes to presenting a point of view. Invariably they do not answer the question put to them but chose to state the message they want to get across. In so doing promote their own belief and their political party. They are cheap car salesmen! However, people have started to doubt whether politicians know what the truth looks like.

th13r6b7kgEventually political spin wears thin and the electorate switch off when the politicians start to speak. This acquired deafness is now a worldwide phenomenon as people realise that the political elite represent themselves. Reality of their living situations has forced ordinary Joes to recognise this simple truth.

 

Case in Point:

EU – Canada trade deal due to be signed this month, October 2016. The package was worked out in secret its conditions to be imposed on the populace. Business gets what it wants and the people, well, there might be some jobs created. But others will be lost! There will be some scraps left on the table.

Bubble Orgasm:

The political class were stunned by the recent referendum decision to ‘Leave’ the EU, June 2016. The ‘Remainers’ were apoplectic, overcome with convulsions of disbelief, some wanted to storm the barricades of working class areas and beat the …. out of them. It seems democracy is only permitted when the electorate vote according to diktat.

Those who voted to Remain cannot accept the vote and cannot give up on the issue, so convinced are they that the people have made a mistake. Little or no thought is given to why 17 million voted to Leave. Here in lies the crux of Bubble Folk – only they can be right.

  • Why did so many people vote to leave?
  • Why did they feel so disillusioned?
  • Why had this disillusionment not been addressed before?
  • Why have the ‘elite’ not shared more of the nation’s wealth?
  • Why were the ‘Leavers’ lambasted as racist etc.?

I‘ll go back to a point made earlier that the reality of their living situationthII1V3PKP forced the electorate to think of their needs and not those of the elite. There is a lesson in this situation for the elite to comprehend: – when you treat people like …. they will react.

 

Abortion: the Bubble War

There are few other issues that raise blood pressure more than abortion. This is trench warfare in the modern age. No middle ground, no room for compromise, not even a smattering of space for dialogue. No game of Christmas football here. The antagonists are trapped in their respective bubbles.

While there is logic in both arguments it is absent in the antagonistic approach each side has towards the other. There concrete stance has become the home of intolerance. It has become a war of attrition.

In political terms support in the Houses of power is determined by the numbers in each district. Whichever group has the largest number gets the politician’s backing. In these circumstances democracy is pushed along not by what is best for all of society but who has the loudest gob.

New Picture (1)Shout loud and shout long seems to be the best route to get your way. One more reason why ordinary Joes are fed up with the political system is that they are not heard but any minority with a loud gob is.

 

 

We Trust in God:

All religions are made up of bubble folk. Many use their belief system to promote their political aspirations but cannot identify the hypocrisy in so doing.

It’s a Long Way to Tipperary:

So the old song goes. It may well be a long way but it’s even longer to get to true democracy. It’s a steeplechase with so many ditches and a host of hurdles. We are transient folk, all of us, but politicians take it to a different level by their pre-election pledges that quickly become obscure and the newly elected abstruse when in power.

Our failure to make progress comes from the sheer lack of information that the people receive as to what is best for the whole of society as opposed to the demands of the elite. We have tranche after tranche of interest groups intransigent in their defence of their patch. There is much talk about the need of interest groups in a pluralist society.

Of course very few would like to live in a Stalinist environment or any fascist state. However, when groups become adamant in their approach and almost puritanical in outlook they become a hindrance to progress as they develop Stalinist tendencies.

Numerous environmental groups of various hues claim to have the best interest of society as their prime concern yet never stand together. Their interest seems parochial and in this sense serves the interest of the establishment and not that of society as a whole. They are the bubblers! thm83e71td