Thursday, 28 February 2008

Pivotal times for the future of Democracy in the U.K

Apologies to those readers whom happen to live outside of these shores, though in todays world none of us can ignore what happens to each other. The days of caring about ones own country first and last have got to end. To this end, I want to share with you something that has been bothering me for quite some time which was wonderfully articlulated in this article in the Guardian on tuesday: I have tried to search for it online but could not find a link. Its by Simon Jenkins and it is about the crucial point at which democracy finds itself here in the UK. I myself can attest to what he says.

First, a couple of facts (no reference given in article, though, in my experience, Simon Jenkins is one of the more objective journalists there).

'In France there is an elected official for every 120 Gernmany the ratio is 1:250. In Britain it is 1:2'600'

This is quite staggering. Yet it gets even more so.

'In France the smallest unit of discretionary local government is the commune, with an average population of 1500. In Germany that figure is 5000 people. In Britain the avaerage district population is 120'000...'

The tabloids have been constantly running 'breakdown of society' story for years now and every response by the government has involved strengthening police powers, getting more police onto the streets and handing out Anti-Social Behavioural Orders (or ASBOS) to thousand of kids and teenagers complete with curfews and restrictions on travel. All this does is pander to the tabloids demands to 'get tough' on youth crime and anti-social behaviour. Result? Our prisons are full, the prison populations having risen by more than 50% under the Blair government (perhaps something do to with the over 3000 new prosecutable laws they introduced) and, apparantly, the situation is just as bad as before.

The answer? Well, the Sun tabloid went further than even i expected, running a Poll on the Death Penalty Debate (something that completely passed me far as i can tell, the 'debate' consisted of a telephone poll of Sun readers and a list of abbreviated text messages from people who cant even spell properly. The result of this 'debate'? That '99% of you wanted it back'... No. 99% of Sun readers, when exposed to hysteria and exploitative, hyped up reporting every morning with no other intellectual stimulus to inform them, choose to abandon all morals and ask for the death penalty back. Interesting... but only as an example of how indoctrination can work...

How in hell is giving kids the badge of honour of an ASBO and locking people away left, right and centre going to help with anything? Jenkins makes the right call as far as i'm concerned. Fact is, if you have a grievance in this country, you go to the police. Not the local mayor, or elected official. The police. The same police who violently break up peaceful demonstrations as lackeys to the government. Im sure there are some nice ones out there, who do the job for the right reasons. Fact is, a hammer might hope to be used to hammer in nails. Its just a tool. It does what it is asked, even if that means hammering someones head.

The police are now the only face of the state that the people see. They are the keepers of public order, according to whatever law the government tells them to abide by. It could be to spy on MP's as happened recently to a Muslim labour MP when visiting a constituant in prison or enacting the Serious Organised Crime Act which prohibits peaceful demonstration within a mile of Parliament without permission. When this is the sole connection between people and state, especially at a time of increasing state parranoia and restrictions on civil liberties, there can be no harmony at the local level. Peoples neighbourhoods are run by faceless distant officials with little power to do anything without the say so of central government.

Until people feel that they contribute something to their nrighbourhood, and until they have a different avanue for airing grievances than the enforcers of peace, they will continue to look out for number one.

We need to have an elected official per 500 people, at the least, so that he actually knows them and their needs. They also need devolution of power from central government so that they can address their own groups needs more specifically and targeted, in a way that centralised government makes impossible. People need to feel represented, this is the only way to form a sense of legitimacy necessary for people to welcome the state, not shun away from it. This way people can organise and feel involved in their own community, make them proud of where they live and bring society closer.

The alternative is to continue ton the road that paranoid fear always leads. A police state.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Before the main course, some sites for your delectation

Before I launch headlong into possibly the most horrendous and devastating story of greed, corruption and crimes against humanity I have ever come across (you can look forward to that light-hearted reading tomorrow... 10 points to who can guess what it is from this clue: An ongoing, 40 year occupation resulting in 200'000 deaths and fully supported, to this day, by the US and UK (no, not palestine)) I feel i should share with you some of the great things i have found in the last year. Sure, i can inform you of interesting and important shit... but its much better to have the tools to do it for oneself.
This site is the absolute dogs bollocks. Hosted by the George Washington University, this marvellous group of people have numerous lawsuits currently ongoing with the US government regarding the release of declassified documents and fulfilling the freedom of information act. Its chock full of declassified documents on all sorts of fascinating topics, such as the informant 'curveball'... the conman who duped US authorities (that is, unless they knew all along) into believing all sorts of crap about the mountains of WMD's Saddam had under his bed. This site seeks to collect all the declassified stuff it possibly can, analyse it and post it on the web for all to see... free of charge. Believe me, if this site gets pulled, it will signal a dark day for democracy.
This little gem of a site is a haven for those seeking suhversive documentaries (all free to stream/download), documents, news articles, maps etc from people concerned about getting you the truth...straight from the horses mouth. Not full blown conspiracy theorists, they weed out the sensational to leave you with a wonderful collections of works from the likes of John Pilger, Adam Curtis and Evan Williams. I highly highly recommend the Power of Nightmares trilodgy of films by Adam Curtis. Some of the finest documentary making i have ever seen.

Skeptics Guide to the Universe
This podcast available from iTunes has had me hooked for most of the last year. They weened my interest away from matters of psuedo-science and planted my feet firmly back on the ground. Covering news sotries and quacks from around the world, they educate and inform in a funny and witty style, shooting down those that dare exploit people for their own personal gain (mystics, phsycics etc), telling you the inside knowledge and innoculating your mind against frivolty.
I've included this site in particular (there are others similar) because of the amount of laughs it has given me. Many times the authorities have tried to sue Indymedia, never quite realising that it is an open medium, free for anyone to write. Its a notice board for activists to record and publicise direct action, be it against Arms manufacturers or Coca-Cola. Ive included this because I do not think that the people of this country have the slightest idea simply how much direct action goes on in the UK every single day. It brightens up my day to see yet another young mind chaining themselves by the neck to a gate somewhere. Keep up the good work!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Whats it all about then?

I am starting this blog towards the end of an illuminating if somewhat disillusioning 3 years at Sussex University, Brighton, UK. On the plus side, it dragged me forever from the possible trap of working in an office for the rest of my life, oblivious to the alternative, and has given me my idea for the book I intend to write upon leaving. On the downside, it has left me angry and frustrated at the state of university education, the rigid parameters you are expected to conform to and the slow and painful corporate takeover of British universities.

Yet all that is nearly behind me and I shall finally be able to vent my spleen in a way that attempts to make a difference, something sadly lacking at Sussex University who seem intent on walking further from the revolutionary reputation it gained itself in the 60's and 70's. Now its just another corporate bitch.

So whats this blog about? Eventually I plan to air my ideas as I write my book, get feedback and comments and (hopefully) give you all the chance to participate in a paradigm breaking books creation (I did say hopefully...). Until then, my dissertation takes priority, something I will write on here once I have a few readers!

This is important... dont believe a word I say. That is, dont take what I say for granted. I will try at all times to add links to my sources or guide you to certain books etc that i have found... but I am just one point of view... the same as every other individual. What I say may be fact, it may be opinion... but I will try my hardest NOT to confuse the two and to make it clear.

So what is my point of view? This I want to make clear right away. I am on whichever side regards all of human life equal. Essentially, i feel that the current system of nation states are inherently and unavoidably nationalistic and that the resulting forms of 'pragmatic' foreign policy governments employ are immoral if it is to the detrement of people outside ones own borders. I believe in adhering to Human Rights laws, International laws and the like, be you 'rogue state' or 'world superpower'. In short, I believe that no-one has any form of 'right' higher than anyone else and so, in line with the title of my blog, I proclaim my view to be Globalism - One world; One People.