Mutation or Mutiny?

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Mutation or Mutiny?

Homo Sapiens – What have we become as a species? No longer programmed for survival of our species, we appear to be about to self-destruct.

No longer do we prioritise protection of our young, our water, our food or shelter, as living species generally do.  We have evolved into something else, which isn’t quite alive at all. We are no longer autonomous beings.

We are products, or a commodities, which cannot think, but rather exist merely to make profit, remotely controlled by the very, very rich from some place we are unaware of.

How much longer can be tolerate this mundane existence? Now is the time for change.  But how?

THE ARAB SPRING  brought about governmental changes for Tunisia, Egypt and for Libya, amid demonstrations across North Africa and the Middle East. Whether these changes will have fair and democratic results, and achieve recapitalization of the people with health, wealth and happiness for real people remains to be seen.  The instigation of a no-fly zone by the United Nations bore little resemblance to the airstrikes and drones from the US led onslaught. What support was offered to those areas where there is no oil for pickings? See Libya: Into Economic tyranny 

Occupy London calls for global solidarity to defend the Egyptian revolution.

“We stand in solidarity with the global oppressed and and we call for an end to the actions of our government and others causing this oppression. 

 

The arab people have since this winter been an incredible inspiration to resistance movements all over the world. We stand in solidarity with our Egyptian sisters and brothers and we:

  • We urge the UK government to withhold all support to the Egyptian military until power has been handed over to a civilian government and cease participating in arms deals in the region.
  • Condemn the Egyptian military’s massacre at Maspero and all the military and police violence against peaceful protesters and demand impartial investigations into all these cases.
  • Demand an end to military trials in Egypt and all intimidation of activists.
  • Demand the immediate release of all political prisoners and detainees and for any trials to be before civilian courts with fair representation.
  • Demand immediate lifting of state of emergency in place since 1981 and the guarantee of the right to protest and strike.
  • Cameron, BAE, Rolls Royce, Qinetiq and all, you might be able to airbrush your propaganda but you can’t wash the blood off your hands.

THE RIOTOUS SUMMER  in England showed the anger of those without hope, with nothing left to risk. The official report disregarded events in Croydon, as reported by the Croydon Guardian. The official report lacks understanding.

The Independent reports that the riots were considered by the Cabinet Office to be a “moment of madness”.

The opportunity to “get free stuff” and the chance to get back at police were the other two big motivations, according to the report, “The August riots in England”, from the National Centre for Social Research.

Researchers identified peer pressure, the sight of other people getting away with breaking the law, boredom and acting as part of a group instead of thinking for themselves as factors in nudging people to take part.

It seems to me that they have missed the point.  Riots do not happen without reason. The balance of civilisation depends on all those in society belonging to it, not owned by it. While the government chooses to ignore the causes, others take it seriously, and wisely so. (See  Empire of Things  and Riots, Behaviouralism and Neoliberalism.)

THE REBELLIOUS  AUTUMN began with The Occupy Protests, showing hope that there was to be an awakening to consciousness.

Some in the Church considered their consciences, but the events at St Pauls showed that the Church are not willing to risk their comfortable status by standing with the protestors. Some of them called out, “What would Jesus do?”

The ignorance of the authorities is clear by their response to student protests in November which have been met by over-policing.

Thousands of students and demonstrators marched through London to protest against tuition fees and the “privatisation” of the higher education systemon Wednesday, flanked by a huge police presence determined to ensure the violent scenes that erupted last year were not repeated.

Fulfilling their promise of “total policing”, 4,000 officers took to the streets as Metropolitan police commanders blocked off large areas of the capital, bringing in dozens of mounted officers and blocking off roads with 10ft high barricades.

Protesters from the Occupy movement – which has been at St Paul’s Cathedral since mid-October – set up camp in Trafalgar Square with the aim of remaining until the mass strike of 30 November. They were quickly moved on by police, who also announced “additional conditions” for the march after it had begun.

On November 30th 2011, three million public sector workers in Britain will strike over the government’s attacks on their pensions. The establishment needs to start listening. They cannot turn a blind eye, or act like ostriches. This coordinated strike action represents the biggest strike movement since the general strike in 1926. To all intents and purposes it will be a 24-hour public sector general strike.    

With a National Strike by 3 million trade union members against pension reforms expected on November 30th, is the government going to show they are listening? Or are they powerless like Italy and Greece, so it makes no difference?   

Michael Meacher writes ” So the honest and decent Papandreou is forced out because he wanted to give the Greek people, who would bear the weight of the cutbacks, a chance to express whether they accepted them, however reluctantly, or whether they would take the alternative option of a default and leaving the euro.   The corrupt and despicable Berlusconi is forced out because he cannot lever his own parties in Parliament to force through the cutbacks demanded by the bond markets, without the Italian people being granted any say-so in the matter at all.   Democracy in the EU is now virtually a dead letter.   It was always precarious: neither the Council of Ministers nor the Commission are directly elected.   Now what has been highlighted is that when it comes to the really big decisions neither the European Parliament nor the peoples of Europe have any say in them at all. “

All  seems to have become overshadowed by the Euro zone crisis has seen political leaders with no real power in any case, pushed from office.

Are we now looking at the people reclaiming their rights patiently by Evolution, or bloody and violently by Revolution? Will it be mutation or mutiny? What discontent do we face this winter and beyond?

I believe that we can bring about change, but only by standing together, side-by-side. Solidarity, like Socialism were words to be whispered ashamedly during the eighties but they now are meaningful and acceptable once again.

We can bring about change by questioning the Banks’ motives, by exposing the secrecy, by questioning the politicians, the church and the media.

We will not achieve change by division, but by solidarity. I believe The Labour Party is the only Party, which can challenge the status quo – the Conservative Party will not do this – The Liberal Democrats have shown no intention in challenging the neo-liberalist consensus. Socialist Labour must lead the way.

Ed Miliband has described the Occupy London protest and others across the world as a ‘wake-up call’ and a symptom of a wider crisis caused by Eurozone turmoil, record unemployment, rising inflation and squeezed living standards.Miliband looked to use the actions of Occupy to reiterate the messages unveiled at the last Labour Party conference, where he vowed to rid the country of ‘irresponsible, predatory capitalism’. He added that politicians were in touch with the wealthy elite but were ‘badly out of touch with the reality facing the other 99 per cent’.

Labour must now find its roots again. Labour politicians need to re-find their integrity and speak up and lead like Aneurin Bevan once did so admirably. We need modern day politicians to represent us, like he did and not to follow the neo-liberalists like the Pied Piper led the children to their own extinction. Now is the time for mankind to remember what it is to breathe, to live and to hope. 

Sunny Hundal Liberal Conspiracy writes:

First, to point out that the UK’s economic recovery started faltering before the Eurozone problems. This will require lots of graphs and easily accessible info in one place, and a sustained attempt to point this out to the media.

Second, it will require the left (and more importantly Labour) to have a strong counter-narrative that works, can unite everyone, and works in their favour. Something like: ‘This crisis shows our financial institutions have stopped working for ordinary people – they are being hurt by a crisis they didn’t create. It’s time to reform the world’s financial system and make it work. The Conservatives won’t do that.’

Get the narrative wrong and we’ve effectively lost this entire generation.

Sometimes I think that it might help to believe in some god, which could magically lead the way to socialism. But I know there is no magic in the sky, my belief is in people not gods. And it is we who can achieve a fairer society, a socialism in a greener world.

If I say to you, “if I share, will you?” or “If I fight against unbridled capitalism and neo-liberalism, will you?”, do you see me as naïve, or do you too, still believe that the human species can determine its own destiny and join me?

If that is so, that is my faith – humanity.

Let us hope .

 Empire of Things Think Left

Riots, Behaviouralism and Neoliberalism  Think Left

Britain Under Siege Think Left

Capitalism, NeoLiberalism, Plutonomy, and Neo -Feudalism Think Left

The Human Body: A Source of Profit Think Left

The market has a name – it is Goldman Sachs  Think Left

Michael Meacher Blog Marketised Euro Oligarchy

Homo Sapiens Origin and Evolution

Ed Miliband on Occupy Protest  Nov 2011

Student Protest and over-policing Guardian Nov 2011

Occupy London to mark Remembrance Weekend

Meacher Why is resistance coming from the street and not politics?  

The Labour Party

Liberal Conspiracy : Euro Crisis could set left back a generation

Unison: November 30

NUT: November 30

NIPSA November 30

PCS November 30

The Empire of Things

Status

The Empire of Things

On The Social Psychology of Looting

Previously published here:

By C J Stone

They hang the man and flog the woman,
Who steals the goose from off the common,
Yet let the greater villain loose,
That steals the common from the goose.

Seventeenth Century English protest rhyme

Riots

It was Margaret Thatcher who said there was no such thing as society. “There are individual men and women, and there are families… It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then… to look after our neighbour,” she said. “People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

She said this in an interview with Women’s Own magazine published in October 1987. Six years before that, in 1981, riots had ripped through Britain’s inner cities. There were riots in Brixton in London, in Toxteth in Liverpool, in Handsworth in Birmingham and Chapeltown in Leeds. There were further riots throughout the 80s, including Broadwater Farm in 1985, and Peckham that same year.

On coming to power in 1979, on the steps of Downing Street, Margaret Thatcher had quoted from St Francis of Assisi: “Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.”

Never have a set of words proved to be less appropriate, or more vain, or less honest, or more ignorant of the truth.

The central idea behind Thatcherite policy was an economic theory known as Monetarism. The aim of Monetarism was to break the post war consensus which had given working people unprecedented wealth – a welfare state, a national health service, free education, participatory democracy – and to redistribute that wealth to where its proponents believed it should go: back to the very rich. It did this by deregulating the banks, by breaking the trade unions, by selling off public assets, and by a form of social engineering in which traditional Labour voters were lured into property ownership by selling their council houses to them at drastically reduced rates, and in this way, getting them into debt. Debt became the driving force of the new economy.

Within one year of this we had the first riot: in St Pauls in Bristol.

The Enemy Within

In 1984 Thatcher took on and defeated the Miners. She called the Miners “The Enemy Within”. They were the bastion of working class solidarity in the United Kingdom, fiercely socialist in their outlook. This came directly from their work. Mining is a dangerous job. People who work underground have to watch each other’s backs. This creates a form of solidarity which they then bring back to the surface with them, into the over ground world.*

It is out of adversity that socialism arises.

It is out of love. Solidarity is another word for love.

The National Union of Mineworkers was an organisation of love. You listen to any old Miner talking about their union, and you will hear it. You will hear it in the tone of their voice and in the words they use. It was  their  organisation, forged out of their solidarity, out of the bonds created in the terrible conditions they encountered in their work, out of their history of struggle, out of loyalty to  their class and their fierce independence. The NUM actively stood against the kind of world that Thatcher was promoting. It had to be destroyed.

We had love, and they had greed, and greed won. The defeat of the Miners lead directly to the kind of world we live in now.

*Anyone who doubts this should consider the Chilean Miners. During their first 17 days underground – before they were contacted, when they were nearly starving, and fearful that the probes might not find them – they had instituted a form of democracy, a form of socialism, which many of them say saved them from a descent into barbarity.

There was an irony here. Thatcher appealed to a form of cod patriotism. She promoted patriotic values, waving her rhetorical flag for the assembled audience. And yet she helped destroy this most British of institutions, the National Union of Mineworkers, and to undermine trade unionism as a whole – a British invention – while encouraging an invasion of international corporations in the service industry, such as McDonalds, in which trade unionism was actively banned.

Waving the patriotic flag while inviting a foreign invasion. There’s a word we normally use for this. Under other circumstances we would call it “treason”.

McWages

If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth.

African proverb.

Roll on 30 years, to a new Tory government, to a new Monetarism, to a new austerity, a new Thatcherism.

And don’t be in any doubt that this is exactly what it is. When George Osborne told MPs that his deficit-cutting plan had made Britain a “safe haven in the global debt storm”, what he meant was that the financial institutions, to which he is obligated, have approved of his policies. They don’t have to loot the British economy, because Osborne is already handing the loot to them.

It’s a form of protection racket. The world has already seen what a financial mugging looks like. They’ve already broken the backs of governments in Ireland and Portugal and Greece. Give us your wealth, they say, or this is the fate that lies in store for you too. Give us your public property. Privatise, privatise, privatise, and no institution – not even the Health Service – is sacred.

That is what deficit reduction means. It means privatisation: not by the back door, but by the front door. Financial looting. It means taking British capital, currently held by the British state, and handing it over to financial institutions at a reduced rate. “Waving the patriotic flag while inviting a foreign invasion” again.

We are in the midst of an age of unprecedented structural change in our world, a return to feudalism. Feudalism arose out of the collapse of the Roman Empire. It involved a robber class living off the back of a servant class, using rent as its means. The new Feudal Lords use financial rent – indebtedness – in the same way. What we are watching is the collapse of the New Roman Empire into a new Dark Age of institutionalised plunder, a takeover by the banks.

The austerity measures are already being implemented, and it is the young who are being targeted. So tuition fees are going up to £9,000 a year, while the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16-19 year old has been scrapped. Inflation is rampant, while real wages are declining. There is no future for the young. No jobs, no education, no skills, no apprenticeships. These were mostly scrapped by Thatcher 30 years ago. A nation built on skill has been reduced to a service economy, to McJobs and McWages in a McSociety.

You can call it “muck” if you like.

As Above So Below

“When your most elite, most powerful members of society adopt a strategy of plundering…. they will develop a morality that doesn’t simply permit plundering, but valorises it. When that happens the moral structures of a society will inevitably deteriorate. In the upper classes that leads to polite looting. In the underclass it leads to street looting.”

Bill Black on the Keiser Report, 16/08/2008  

The illusion that’s been created is that we are separate beings. We are not. We are social beings. Margaret Thatcher was entirely wrong when she said there was no such thing as society. Society is the very essence of who we are. We are tied together by bonds of language, by bonds of morality, by bonds of loyalty, by bonds of family, by bonds of society, by bonds of love. You break those bonds and the social world begins to fall apart.

Society is the individual write large. The individual is society in microcosm. As above, so below. The unconscious is not underneath us, it is around us. It is not inside of us, it is outside of us. The unconscious is that part of ourselves that lies in other people. It is in the obligations we owe to the people around us, in our human interactions, only barely recognised, as we negotiate our way around our social world.

In the individual personality, rampant, out-of-control egotism is a form of mental illness. Commonly called psychopathy, it is a mental state in which the individual only concerns himself with his own gratification. So if a psychopath gets pleasure from murder, than he will murder, free from conscience, because personal gratification is his only concern. Not every psychopath is a murderer, though. There are psychopaths all around us, and everyone is capable of psychopathic behaviour. Everyone who seeks personal gratification at the expense of his fellow creatures is a psychopath to some degree.

In the social sphere, the financial sector is a kind of collective psychopath, destroying the health of the economy for its private gratification. We honour the psychopath in our current world. It is the world of private gratification of private power. We give power to the psychopath, while denuding and deriding the common good that arises from our common world.

All private wealth is won at the expense of the commons. What we are witnessing right now are the new enclosure acts, the new clearances. We are beings born of the commons and not only our economic, but also our mental and emotional health, is measured by how much we bring to the common good.

Democracy

“If you don’t find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further.” Gandhi

I saw a BBC reporter interviewing a community activist in one of the riot areas. The activist compared what was happening to the Arab Spring. “But this is a democracy,” the reporter said, in a slightly hurt tone.

Is it though?

There are four pillars to a functioning democracy. We need an effective police force, a free press, rational political institutions and an efficient financial system. All of them must be regulated and free from corruption. What we have instead is a corrupt police force in hock to a corrupt press, with corrupt politicians serving the interests of a corrupt financial elite. Corruption from top to bottom. Corruption in every avenue of our public life. Top policemen taking bribes, politicians on the make, an intrusive and bullying press, distracting us with trivia and gossip, while covering up its own illegal practices, and a City of Londonwhich is entirely out of regulatory control, and which is plundering the nation’s resources for its own private gain.

And you wonder why the young riot?

The kids are looting the shops.

The banks are looting the nation.

Then we have the Labour Party – the Party created by the working class in the early part of the last century to institute socialist policies through democratic means – being seduced by high finance, and taking part in the financial rape of this country. Tony Blair amassing a personal fortune by taking us to war. Gordon Brown bailing out the banks and indebting the nation, borrowing money from the banks to give to the banks, imposing dangerous levels of debt on future generations. Peter Mandelson declaring: “We are all Thatcherites now.” What hope for us when even our own party stands against us?

The Empire of Things

“These people are living in a financial prison, and this is a prison riot.”

Max Keiser on the Keiser Report, 16/08/2008   

We’ve had over 30 years of rampant individualism, of consumerism, of me-ism and the devil take the hindmost; 30 years of mortgaging our future to pay for our present consumption; 30 years of selling off our birthright for a mess of consumerist pottage; 30 years of corruption and greed, of the worship of Things. It is an Empire of Things. So we have our technology and our consumer durables, our computers and our mobile phones, our technical baubles. Well some of us have. Many of us don’t have these Things. The young in particular, don’t have these Things. The young from the sink estates, the second and third generation underclass.

So we’ve set these Things up in place of our values. We’ve substituted them for the social ties that used to bind us together, and we’ve told the young who can’t afford these Things, that they are the only measure of value, that you don’t count unless you can flaunt these Things in the faces of your peers. That only Things count. And then society starts to break down under the pressure of the new Feudal arrangements, in which we are becoming economic vassals paying homage to debt, and the kids take to the streets in a blind fury of acquisitive excitement. And what do they do? They steal. They loot. They plunder. They obey the rules laid down on them by the Empire of Things. They collect the very Things we told them to, declaring fealty to the Things that are our Lords in the new fiefdom of debt.

They do what we tell them to do and then we punish them for it.

The bankers have plundered the economy, and they have been rewarded. The politicians have plundered their expenses, and they still sit in Parliament. The Murdoch Press have corrupted our values, and yet they are still allowed to own newspapers. The police have taken bribes, and yet they talk brazenly of the criminality of the streets.

Young people are put in gaol for the theft of a bottle of water, while bankers are given bonuses for the plunder of nations. People are losing their homes because their children are suspected of rioting, while politicians, who claimed for multiple homes on their expenses, are allowed to bleat on about rioters and looters from their privileged position in the House of Commons.

It’s at this point that I would like to agree with Margaret Thatcher. As she said: “People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

To whom do we owe the obligation? To society, of course.

Previously published at ( http://cjstone.hubpages.com/hub/The-Empire-of-Things )

Ten Thousand Days: The Battle of Orgreave
More on the Miner’s Strike by CJ Stone

MORE ON UK RIOTS

Riots, Behaviourism and Neo Liberalism

Life in the in the UK feels much more vulnerable than it did 72 hours ago.

We have had three nights of riots in London, and trouble on a lesser scale in other cities.

The response of rioters, while undesirable for the public good, is entirely predictable if considered through the eyes of behaviourism within systems.

Behaviourism tells us that people, companies and institutions act in ways that is not detached, but in ways that reflect the system they are involved with. Each system creates its own ‘rewards’ and ‘punishments’. Often these can be unintended by the system creators, but human behaviour will normally find a way to get the most from doing least. For example, anyone who has tried to re-engineer processes in the workplace very soon discovers that people very quickly adapt what they were trained to do into new ad-hoc methods using shortcuts. These shortcuts can create new problems not envisaged in the beginning.

The actions of rioters and looters have been rightfully condemned, and on a moral basis that is correct. However, humans don’t usually have a strong moral code that always over-rides everything else. Looking at the riots in ways other than a pure moral dimension is much more helpful at finding a solution.

We are firmly wedded to a Neo Liberal economy in the UK. The principles of the free market are expected to deliver fairness and social justice, as much as the brand of baked beans you put on your toast. We are told the markets should be left to their own devices, and they will deliver.

What has really happened is that an elite class has evolved, or ‘new money’. They spend their money on private education and the tutoring for their children. This results in a massive percentage of places in the top universities being offered to pupils from a handful of private schools. The path of their children is eased post-university into the best careers. Professions such a Law and Medicine have significant barriers to entry to those without wealthy parents or some patronage.

This elite holds a major sway over politics too. The House of Commons is dominated by people from this class. For example, if the UK’s growth remains poor, it has been touted that the top rate of tax should be cut. Clearly this has most benefit for the most wealthy. It will do nothing to help those on benefits or ordinary wages. No doubt we will be told this reduction in tax burden will ‘trickle down’.

After 30 years of this approach, the bottom tier of society has been totally cast adrift. If they try to play by the rules, then they always lose, as the hand they have to play is always bad. They are playing poker with one card, while the elite send their offspring to the game with half a dozen spares aces tucked up their sleeve.

Understanding behaviourism tells you that at some point, they will throw the rules away and do something else. This is what has been happening in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool. If playing by the rules doesn’t earn any reward but incurs punishments, humans will eventually break them. They have nothing to lose.

Neo Liberalism has fractured our society because it is systematically flawed. It has empowered one part of society grossly, and disempowered others. This imbalance has been locked in, and humans will only be trod on and excluded for so long before they do something violent and destructive as that is the only weapon they have.

Labour Representation Committee Statement on Riots in London

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by John McDonnell on Monday, 08 August 2011 at 17:04

This is the LRC’s Statement with regard to the riots in London, which aims to give some perspective to what has happening and where we go next. I think it strikes the right note.

“In March Haringey Council approved cuts of £84 million from a total budget of £273 million. There was a savage 75% cut to the Youth Service budget, including: closing the youth centres; connexions careers advice service for young people reduced by 75%; and the children’s centre service reduced. Haringey has one of the highest numbers of children living in severe poverty, and unemployment in the borough is among the highest in the UK. In London as a whole, youth unemployment is at 23%.

On Thursday 4 August a local man was shot dead by police. The circumstances of the death are still not clear, but – similarly to many previous cases – it appears the version of events fed to the media by the Metropolitan Police is a tissue of lies. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has opened an investigation, but given their histories of cover-ups no one can have faith in either the Metropolitan Police or the IPCC. On Saturday 6 August a peaceful demonstration marched from the Broadwater Farm estate to the local police station to demand answers.

In Haringey, you are three times as likely to be stopped and searched if you are black; and over two-thirds of those stopped are under 25.

Young people are suffering the brunt of the economic crisis, the cuts and, in many parts of the country, police harassment. The student protests in November and December 2010 highlighted the growing frustration and anger among Britain’s youth.

It is in this context of unemployment, public sector cuts, and police violence and harassment that the riots on the 6/7 August must be understood.

Some will used the riots and looting to call for further police powers, but instead the police need to be made more accountable to the communities they serve – and held to account when they kill. The IPCC has clearly proved itself unfit for this purpose.

We also need to step-up our campaigning against the cuts – arguing for job creation and investment instead of damaging cuts that are devastating communities.

Unless the underlying issues of (particularly youth) unemployment, poverty, and police violence are addressed there can be no guarantee that we will not see further riots of a similar nature across the country.”

http://www.facebook.com/notes/john-mcdonnell/lrc-statement-on-riots-in-london/10150284847828866