Tuesday, 28 June 2016

I dream things that never were and say, "Why not?"

There is discrimination in this world and slavery and slaughter and starvation. Governments repress their people; millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich and wealth is lavished on armaments everywhere. These are differing evils, but they are the common works of man. They reflect the imperfection of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, our lack of sensibility towards the suffering of our fellows. But we can perhaps remember - even if only for a time - that those who live with us are our brothers; that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek - as we do - nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men. And surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again. The answer is to rely on youth - not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to the obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. They cannot be moved by those who cling to a present that is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger that come with even the most peaceful progress.

It is a revolutionary world we live in, and this generation at home and around the world has had thrust upon it a greater burden of responsibility than any generation that has ever lived. Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills. Yet many of the world's great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation; a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth; a young woman reclaimed the territory of France; and it was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and the 32 year-old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that "all men are created equal."

These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. And I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe.

For the fortunate among us, there is the temptation to follow the easy and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who enjoy the privilege of education. But that is not the road history has marked out for us. Like it or not, we live in times of danger and uncertainty. But they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history. All of us will ultimately be judged, and as the years pass we will surely judge ourselves on the effort we have contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which our ideals and goals have shaped that event.

Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live.

That is the way he lived. That is what he leaves us.

My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:

Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream things that never were and say, "Why not?"

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Brexit Isn't Just About Britain

I am voting for Britain to leave the European Union.

In making my case here I won't be talking about immigration OR the economy. Nor will I be attacking the usual Remain arguments, which I have done in another post. See it here.

I have to say this on the outset: I don't like borders. Each time something that divides and separates people comes up, I cringe. There something fundamental, something essential that corals people into nation states: culture. Much of culture tends to be heavily steeped in religious beliefs, in geography, in history in a shared socio-political philosophy and plain old economics. And of course, in race.

While it's a lofty aim to eradicate those barriers, it's easy to forget that they're the result of hundreds of thousands of years of social evolution. Evolution takes time, it occurs naturally, out of necessity and obsolescence. Sudden paradigm shifts result in upheavals, mass extinctions if you will. You can't force a new environment on natural processes and expect them to go a certain way. Ask the dinosaurs. Ask 1917 Russia, or 1939 Germany. Or educate yourself about the growing resentment and rise of the far right here and the mainland.

What, you might ask, does this have to do with the European Union? Well, everything. 

The EU is an artificial construct. An enforced paradigm shift. The EU is an attempt to condense and coalesce 2,000 years of turbulent European history and culture into a single narrative in the space of a few decades. It's like a planned and controlled Black Swan event. Those who know, will know that such a thing is not possible. That the powers that be did not foresee the inevitable resistance to it is their failing. There is no such thing as a distinct European identity; there never has been. To go all Ra's al Gul on a sovereign state is wrong. Ask Greece.

Mention the word 'European' to anyone in the world and the subtext in their mind will be that of wealthy nations, made rich from centuries of colonisation and exploitation. We like to believe that that era is over. We've convinced ourselves of it. Empires are dead. After all, there are no British, French, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Spanish or Austrian armies and naval armadas traipsing around the world subjugating little brown, yellow and black folk, enslaving them in their own countries. We've abolished slavery, we have human rights, we have freedom of religion, of thought, of speech, of commerce, we have democracy, we are generous with foreign aid - we've done and continue to do the penance we needed to do. We're better now. We're not the caricature of that guy in a fedora, sitting outside a deli on a pedestrianised cobble-stoned street sniffing the house white, teasing the kale on his plate. We're open to the world. See? We're holding placards saying 'Refugees Welcome'. We're the good guys.

Except, it's not true.

We are in fact, a cabal of wealthy nations, a trade bloc with protectionist policies so unfair that it almost rivals the excesses of the heady days when we went pillaging. And we live in a fortress we call the European Union.

We rig international trade in a way that poor countries can sell us all the raw materials they want, but not finished goods without facing serious tariffs. The difference in EU import duties between processed and unprocessed (and thus value-added) cocoa from Africa is a disgrace. Germany alone makes more money from Ghanaian cocoa than all of Africa put together. Some of the processed and branded cocoa finds its way back to Ghana. What kind of country exports raw materials and imports finished products? You guessed it - a colony.

We insulate our agricultural and industrial output from poorer countries. The CAP subsidies European farmers to produce goods with little regard for international market forces and demand. This excess supply is dumped on world markets creating falling prices and incomes for world farmers. As the EU bleeds their taxpayers for subsidies for farmers, we're witnessing large scale suffering in developing countries who are unable to sell their produce internationally in competition with state subsidised farmers. The carnage of suicides among farmers in India and African farmers going under is something WE are responsible for. 

Using the pretext of environmental protection, we discourage industrial production within fortress Europe, and thus necessitate the need for the shift to the far east - China and India for example. Out of sight, out of mind. China alone uses more coal than the rest of the world put together. Better their countryside, than ours.

I'd be more convinced of the EU's stance on environmental protection, if it hadn't slapped prohibitive import duties on solar panels from China. They make them for a third of what it costs to make them anywhere in the EU. Surely, we WANT this technology to get cheaper. Surely we want it to get cheaper than roof tiles. Admittedly, there is a risk to some jobs should cheaper imports be allowed, but I suspect this has more to do with kicking  innovation in sustainable energy into the long grass than protecting EU jobs. I wonder who benefits from that... Oh, and if you're thinking TTIP, you're right. It's not dead, it'll morph some and it'll be back. This will happen without your consent.

We already know who the losers are - little folk like you and me, who fund this Palpatinesque Galactic Senate, and people in poorer nations around the world. But apart from the huge multinational corporations, who are the winners? Please read on...

You see, left alone, each and every nation will find an equilibrium in bilateral relations with other nations. Trade will hinge on reciprocal arrangements suited to both parties. This way both sides benefit and prosper.

This cannot be allowed if the EU is to maintain its hegemony as detailed above. It follows then, that Europe must stand as one. Europe must be integrated to such an extent that de-tangling would become impossible and unthinkable. The United States of Europe. 500 million vastly disparate people represented by a ruling elite powerless to arrive at parliamentary consensus owing vastly disparate interests, resulting in power in the hands of an unelected, opaque structure of government a million miles away from the people whose lives they run. That template is already up and running. This will happen without your consent.

Enter the aiders and abetters - known to you and me as Europhiles. There are already 10,000 of them earning more than the Prime Minister you elected into the highest office in the land. The EU is a vast receptacle for influencers and power brokers, never mind that their electorates have thrown them out of office - they're still there, sauntering the corridors of power, affecting your lives and the lives of millions around the world. I mean think about it, Neil Kinnock is still a thing. How many times do we have to vote him out to be rid of him? This is happening without your consent.

Should Britain choose to be neutered on the 23rd of June, here's a fun little game I suggested some time ago:
Note the names of 100 politicians, civil servants, journos, and business leaders making highly vocal & very public Remain arguments. Assign each one a number from 1 through 100 and distribute Tombola/Bingo cards amongst your friends. Over the next decade or so, tick off the number for any of the 100 that lands a sweet job, position, or deal within the EU apparatus. You win nothing, of course. Each name you tick off will have already won.

Everything else is distraction. While the nation debates weighty issues like rulings on toasters and vacuum cleaners, curvature of bananas, yada yada... the machine is churning away silently. And then of course there's immigration - that's the easiest argument to whip any country into a frenzy. The more people talk of immigration, reducing it, controlling it, limiting it, changing it, points systeming it - whatever, the more people can respond with cries of racism and xenophobia making sure their virtue signaling is properly visible. Amid the din and noise, the real issues get buried. This is happening with your consent. And your apathy.

And then of course there are the celebrities and famous people. Well what of them? Nothing changes for them. You could vote in Jedward into parliament and their lives won't change one jot. They lend their face to deodorants they never use, cars they never drive, cereal they'd never eat. We're hooked on their crap and they know it.

There is another blog post you must read, which repudiates every single claim made by the Remain camp. Find it here.

Should we fail to win the day, it will be a signal for the EU Project to go full steam ahead - EU taxes, an EU army, further erosion of power from your directly elected - and therefore directly accountable - politicians. It's only a matter of when. A vote to Remain will be all the consent the EU needs.

Do remember, sometimes your vote does not count. Vote Remain on Thursday and it never will. 

Good luck and I hope you do the right thing.

Friday, 17 June 2016

This Did Not Need To Happen

This is a post no blogger or political commentator should ever have to make, and I'd like to confess, I'd heard scant little of Jo Cox before yesterday, save a few bits and pieces on her stance on Syria, refugee children, and the fact that she lived on a boat - all of which I agreed with. Especially the living on the boat - I wish I had the guts to give up bricks and mortar.

I have been known to boast to my friends and family abroad, about how our MPs walk about amongst the general public, take the train or bus, or ride bicycles to and from work, take selfies with anyone who'd walk up to them, and move about without motorcades, flashing lights, and an army of armed commandos.

Yesterday broke my heart. I watched the horror, the senseless attack on Jo Cox unfold on my TV, leading to her death. A young, vibrant, dedicated MP, who sought nothing but to help make the world a better place, using nothing but her beliefs, her conviction and her wide open heart. That she belonged to the opposite side of the political divide didn't and doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, we both wanted the same things in the end, differing only in the means of how we get there.

This isn't an obituary - I could never find the right words to make one anyway, after all, death, especially an untimely and completely senseless death render even the most verbose of people speechless. Nor will I seek to apportion blame, like the childish elements of Remain, Leave, Stronger IN, or extreme Left journos, are wont to.

But then, there is something fundamental here that needs to be said: People often deride and laugh off the seemingly abstract term, 'British Values'. In the decision by the Conservative Party NOT to contest her seat and passing the by-election by isn't subverting democracy, as some commentators may feel strongly about; it is respecting it. In a democracy, it is the electorate that decides, and the electorate DID, just over a year ago. Our reactions to a senseless act of violence cannot, should not, and must not overlook that. Nothing speaks louder for British Values (democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect for and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs, and those without any religious affiliation)  like the aftermath of this tragedy does.

This is what separates us from the rest of the world. This is what makes us, us. THIS is what is worth fighting for. This is why I am a Briton. This is why I hate the castrating effects of homogeneity, homogenization, communism and conformity. Top-down politics as opposed to bottom-up politics. If ANYONE can understand that, it'll be a Tory, not a commie.

The fact remains; the people of Batley & Spen elected a Labour MP. The only reason they no longer have a Labour MP now is because she was savagely murdered. That the Conservative Party will NOT be contesting the seat in the by-election that now has to follow is a small sliver of goodness I can find a little bit of comfort in, and trust me - there IS very little comfort in any of this. I'll take whatever straws I can clutch. I just hope Labour will select someone who believes as she did, represents what she represented and shows the same amount of engagement and commitment to her electorate as she showed. I hope that other parties will follow suit.

Just about 26 years ago, the Conservative MP for Eastbourne, Ian Gow was murdered by the IRA. In the subsequent by-election that followed, the seat changed hands, in favour of Liberal Democrat, David Bellotti. "Bellotti," as Ann Widdicombe observed at the time, "is the innocent beneficiary of murder. I suspect, last night as the Liberal Democrats were toasting their success, in its hideouts the IRA were doing the same thing".

I don't want to be a part of that. I'm glad that neither does the Conservative Party. I'm sure Ms Widdecombe would agree, and anyone else who knows British Values like I know them.

Let's not forget, if it's not by the people, of the people, and for the people, it's not democracy, and to coin a phrase lost amid the current football hysteria - not quite cricket.

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Mayor Of London and Naked Bodies on the Tube

The new Mayor of London has banned all advertisements which portray 'an unhealthy body image' from appearing on London's transport network. There will now be no new advertisements that might 'pressurise people to conform to unhealthy or unrealistic body images'.

Khan sahib goes on to say, 'As the father of two teenage girls, I am extremely concerned about this kind of advertising which can demean people, particularly women, and make them ashamed of their bodies. It is high time it came to an end. Nobody should feel pressurised, while they travel on the Tube or bus, into unrealistic expectations surrounding their bodies. I want to send a clear message to the advertising industry about this.'

Unhealthy and unrealistic? Who decides what is unhealthy and unrealistic? Khan has the answer - he's created this new 'Advertising Steering Group' (More non-jobs paid for by YOU, the reader) which will work (force into compliance, using moral outrage and misogynistic medieval values) with  advertisers to ensure their future ads are 'fit for London.' (His London, not the international London that belongs to its citizens, the nation, and the world that gravitates to it.)

This so-called Steering Group of course, will be made up of people who 'reflect the 'full diversity of London' (Anti-capitalists, religious conservatives, misogynists, White-guilt-ridden apologists, and those currying favour with City Hall - you know the types).

Well, I for one don't think I've seen any unhealthy bodies in any advertisements on the Tube. If anything, they're super-healthy, super-fit, and take a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve. I'd call them aspirational if anything. That's why they're models. A good-looking semi-nude body doesn't offend me, or my kids - I've brought them up better that that - nor do any of us feel obliged to conform to those standards. We appreciate them for what they are, and we're comfortable with what we are. And we'd love to be as fit and as healthy as they are, fully aware of the fact that we may not.

But why stop there, Sadiq Mian? While you're at it, how about you ban adverts portraying Cumberbatch, or Sir James Dyson, or Branson, or Leona Lewis? Most of us will never reach the dizzying heights they have achieved - after all you do want to protect us from feelings of inadequacy, innit?

But you know, some of us are just happy with our little nine-to-five on £22K-a-year and resent having to use a public transport system that pretends to look after the little guy while fleecing them for all they've got. It costs about £40 for a family of 4/5 to get to the other side of London and back. Forty quid, Mr Mayor. That's the kind of tip you'll leave at a restaurant most of your voters can only walk past and peep into. Which of course us little folk pay for.

Or better yet Mr Khan, how about you do the job expected of the Mayor of London? So many were conned into thinking you were about affordable homes, curbing rises in bus and train fares... whatever happened to that?

A lot of my SocMed timelines tried to convince me that you'd be a breath of fresh air for Londoners. A foul stench is all I'm getting. And it's not beach ready.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

The EU Bingo Game

Should Britain choose to be neutered on the 23rd of June, here's a fun little game:

Note the names of 100 politicians, civil servants, journos, and business leaders making highly vocal & very public Remain arguments.

Assign each one a number from 1 through 100 and distribute Tombola/Bingo cards amongst your friends.

Over the next decade or so, tick off the number for any of the 100 that lands a sweet job, position, or deal within the EU apparatus.

You win nothing, of course. There will be nothing left to win anyway.