What secularism isn’t…

March 30, 2014

I’ve always been ever so slightly bemused by the term ‘militant secularist’. It is generally used by two groups primarily; those who wish to oppress the rights of the religious and presume secularism is a backdoor for Sharia. And ironically, the religious sects who think secularism is out to destroy their religion. From both sides, it’s an odd attack.

Secularism is particularly easy concept to grasp. It is quite simply the denial of religious supremacy and privilege – through the power of state – over the lives of others. Civil rights and protections come first. Religious belief is not inherently permitted to interfere with this. And so the term ‘militant secularist’ seems to be an attempt at a slur by religious sects unhappy that their institutional privileges – gained through centuries of erecting hideous barriers to equal civil rights – are increasingly under scrutiny. What is it that constitutes a ‘militant secularist’? Someone who militantly wishes the same protections for you, as for they? Baroness Warsi gave us her unique interpretation of the phrase, whilst completely misrepresenting what secularism actually is:

“For me, what I define as a secular fundamentalist is somebody who says that there should be no public space for faith.”

– And so begins my ‘what secularism is not…’ rant. Secularism is not seeking the outlawing of faith-based arguments in the public space. If someone wishes the state to punish those who argue from a position of faith in the public sphere, they aren’t secularists. For example, every argument against same-sex marriage in the Commons in 2013, was based on faith to some degree. This isn’t banned, nor do secularists wish to ban it. We do not advocate the state punishing anyone for arguing a principle according to their beliefs, nor, even, to stand for election according to those beliefs. I am absolutely fine with The Christian Party existing, with The Islamic Party existing, and I’ll always defend their right to exist. Progress and knowledge derives from free debate and inquiry, on a framework protecting all from oppression. Secularism protects free expression, inquiry, and belief for all. What you are not allowed to do, is force others to live according to the dictates of your religious beliefs only. To do so, is by its nature advocating the supremacy of your individual faith over the freedoms of those who do not subscribe to your beliefs. It presumes the superiority of your beliefs. You’re entitled to this belief, you just have no right to enforce the rest of us to accept it.

In 2012, Peter Popham – foreshadowing Warsi two years later – writing for the Independent, published a curious article entitled “No secularism please, we’re British“. A horrid title that presupposes those of us that hold secular principles dear, are not to be considered British. In it, Popham goes on to misrepresent – or simply misunderstand – secularism, and conflate it with a plethora of completely unrelated ideologies and concepts:

“But the fanaticism of the Islamists has provoked an equally intolerant and intemperate reaction from secular and other quarters, with the ban on headscarves in France and on mosque-building in Switzerland and the rabid anti-Islam rhetoric in the Netherlands; while in Britain it has produced a sudden lurch of opinion among our noisiest public intellectuals against any and all religion. All religions are wrong, goes the argument, everyone knows they are wrong, and their time has expired. As Dawkins put it at the Jaipur Literature Festival last month, faith is “a virus”; he looked forward, he said, to the “complete death of organised religion” in his lifetime.”

– This brings me to my next point on what secularism isn’t. Secularism is not anti-religious oppression. Indeed, for secularists, the idea of the state punishing people for their choice of clothing is grotesquely anti-secular. Whether the state punishes someone for choosing to wear headscarves, or the state punishes someone for choosing not to wear headscarves, for secularists it is equally as oppressive. It is not secularism. Secularism does not grant certain faiths privileges over others. To deny others the right to worship freely where they choose, and to develop property that they are as entitled as me to develop, denying them purely on the basis of what they choose to believe is an act of supremacy and oppression. This is not secularism.

The second point to take from the quote above, is that Popham apparently sees no difference between the French state banning religious garments, and criticism of religion in Britain in general. The two are entirely different concepts, and both have nothing to do with secularism. The former is the state interfering with the private lives and choices of its citizens through threat of punishment – a clear violation of the separation of church and state principle – whilst the latter is individual expression and critique of religion. Secularism ensures an individual the right to wear whatever she or he chooses, without fear of punishment, as well as ensuring the right of the individual to criticise all ideologies. Thus, Popham conflates secularism, with atheism. This ridiculous conflation ignores the myriad of religious secularists, like the wonderful ‘British Muslims for Secular Democracy’. We atheists do not have a monopoly on secularism.

Popham then goes on to rewrite history, in justifying his anti-secular, pro-religious supremacy position:

“What is staggering about the secularists is their arrogance and the shortness of their memories. The materialist utopianism of the Communists and Nazis is to blame for all the worst atrocities of the past century.
Dawkins may appear to make sense, but it is incredible that we should be ready to pay serious attention to a prophet whose message is the same as those whose schemes led straight to the hells of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Mao’s Cultural Revolution and the Khmer Rouge.”

– It is difficult to know where to be begin with this, given the amount of misrepresentations to appear in such a short paragraph. I’m choosing to ignore the ridiculous comparison of Richard Dawkins, to every major dictator of the 20th century, because it’s pathetic. I will address the premise of the argument itself. Here, Popham – again conflating secularism with atheism, and both with anti-religious oppression – is entirely wrong. Secularism ensures equal protection for all, regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or belief. No single ideology allowed a privileged position to oppress at will. Here’s the wonderful thing about secularism; you can be a secular Christian, a secular Muslim, a secular Atheist, a secular Communist, a secular Fascist. You’re beliefs still are not permitted a place of privilege above any others. You are equally protected, equally free from oppression. The right of Christians to publicly say that homosexuality is unnatural, the right of Wahhabi Muslims to insist that Sharia is greater than secular democracy, is protected by the same laws that protect my right to blaspheme and mock religion. What secularism doesn’t allow for, is a Nazi-esque extermination of an entire religious sect based on the dictates of one ideology (despite Popham’s claim, I am yet to see Richard Dawkins advocate this). For that, a state requires centuries of religious propaganda:

In Germany in 1543, Martin Luther produced his work “On the Jews and their lies“. In it, Luther calls for Jews to be put to work as slaves, for Jewish schools to be burnt to the ground, that Jewish people are the enemy of all Christianity. Johannes Wallmann writes:

“The assertion that Luther’s expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment have been of major and persistent influence in the centuries after the Reformation, and that there exists a continuity between Protestant anti-Judaism and modern racially oriented antisemitism, is at present wide-spread in the literature; since the Second World War it has understandably become the prevailing opinion.”

– Nazi policy toward Jewish people was not a new thing. It was the conclusion of 2000+ years of hideous Church sponsored anti-semitism. Luther is vicious in his criticisms and his ideas for the future. But it wasn’t just Luther. The Nazi precedent of forcing Jewish people to wear something that makes them identifiable as Jews, and inferior to the Christian population, was not a Nazi precedent at all. It began much earlier. The Nazis simply appropriated it. Pope Paul IV issued Papal bull Cum nimis absurdum in 1555. The bull states:

“Moreover, concerning the matter that Jews should be recognizable everywhere: [to this end] men must wear a hat, women, indeed, some other evident sign, yellow in color, that must not be concealed or covered by any means, and must be tightly affixed.”

– The Bull also insisted that Jews be moved to Jewish ghettos:

“…all Jews are to live in only one [quarter] to which there is only one entrance and from which there is but one exit.”

– To suggest that the concept of separating church from state – ensuring freedom of, and freedom from religion – is responsible for the terrors of the 20th century, is so incredibly short sighted, and requires a complete rewrite of history. Indeed, if you need to rewrite history to make your case; you’ve already failed.

As is usually the case when an argument fails on so many logical standards, Popham predictably then gets insulting:

“… religious faith can do what secularism cannot: open doors on to areas of human experience – compassion, altruism, serenity, even enlightenment – which have no meaning for the secularists.”

– Here, Popham has decided not to conflate atheism with secularism anymore, because it suits his purposes not to. For Popham, secularism is now soulless. Divorced from all ethical standards. A big grey wall blocking human compassion and enlightenment. And so again, here is what secularism is not. Secularism is not and does not claim to be a ‘moral anchor’ (as Hamza Tzortzis likes to call it) to one specific time and place (1st century Palestine, or 7th century Arabia). It makes no moral judgement. It isn’t trying to be a system of morality. This is why it isn’t an atheist concept. It appeals to all concepts. It rightly presupposes that the state has no right to claim religious truth and force uniformity through it. It acknowledges that you do not get to force the principles and beliefs that guide your life, onto me, and vice versa. Equal protection on a line of equality, ensuring that no ideology be granted special privilege. How you frame your individual moral compass, is then up to you. I see no example of state power combined with religious power, that ended in anything but oppression of those that did not fit its dogmatic heavenly vision.

Indeed, over the centuries compassion, altruism, serenity and enlightenment were strangely absent from religious societies (unless you observed the state religion as instructed). Prevalent in non-secular states; forced conversions, state murder for anyone deemed to say something heretical, forced payment to uphold the state faith, rampant homophobia (see Uganda). Most of those, still occur in nations whose institution of state is shackled by faith. For this, Popham has no basis by which to tell me, as a secularist, that compassion, altruism, serenity, and enlightenment have no meaning for me. I decide that, not him. Further, I believe Popham has the same right by which to decide what compassion, altruism, serenity and enlightenment mean for himself, as I do for me, without fear of state interference.

Another description of constitutes a ‘militant secularist’ comes to us via Mo Ansar:

mo8
– If opposing the ritualistic genital mutilation of children is to be considered ‘militant secularist’, I am happy to wear that badge. No one has a right – under any pretext, including ‘religion’ – to mutilate anyone else, especially children. There is no other area of life where this would be considered even slightly acceptable, and it doesn’t get a free pass simply for being shrouded in ‘faith’.

Secularism, coupled with democracy, is the only system that has an inbuilt mechanism by which we progress. Since its inception, we have slowly worked to break down oppressive barriers (most, originally erected by the parties of faith). I cannot imagine that states with an enshrined religion are ever likely to accept they have no right to viciously oppress sexuality. For this, secular democracy is necessary.

Secularism protects us equally. It is a system that allows for the religious to believe and express the violent notion that we non-believers are cursed to spend eternity burning in the unforgiving flames of hell. That is your right to believe and to say. Similarly, I have a right to say that I find that to belief to be horrific, outdated, and worthy of nothing but ridicule and condemnation. I have no right to censor that belief, in much the same way as you have no right to censor my expression.

It is secularism that protects religious minorities. No longer are Catholics permitted to utilise the power of state to oppress Protestants or vice verse. Sunni Muslims are not permitted the power of state to dictate how Shia Muslims observe Islam according to their own conscience, and vice versa. The secular state cares not for whether you believe the Pope to be the authority on Christianity, nor whether Abu Bakr, Omar and Uthman were rightful Caliphs. That’s up to the individual believer to decide. Evangelical Christian sects in the 1770s aligned themselves with the secularists in public life, in the hope of enshrining secular protections for all religious denominations. Within a century, the US was filled with a variety of denominations, from Catholics, to Mormons, none having power over others to enforce uniformity through privilege and oppression. The playing field is level. This is secularism.

The prominent arguments against secularism seem to follow the same underlying logic, regardless of how it’s presented. Firstly, the argument tends to be a misunderstanding of secularism as anti-religious oppression. Perhaps this is derived from fear of retribution for centuries of religious oppression. But it isn’t actually true. If indeed a state pursued policies designed to oppress the religious, it would follow that the state lost its secular title the moment the oppressive policies were instituted. Secondly, the arguments – especially from the Christian right in the US, and the more Wahhabi Muslim sects in the Middle East – tend to be nothing more than a child-like refusal to accept that their faith does not inherently deserve a place of privilege to interfere with the liberty of others. The former argument, is often an obvious mask for the latter.

It is perhaps worth remembering that had religion not so horrifically abused state power through grotesque persecution when it had it, there would be no need for ‘secularism’. The concept would almost certainly be considered a natural societal condition. The fact that we need a specific ‘ism’ to protect basic individual rights, speaks volumes of the history of religious oppression that preceded it, and how fast and loose they tended to play with human lives. Today, secularism must be the starting point. No one gets to claim their personal religious belief is more worthy of privilege and supremacy, over any other. A line of neutrality, on a framework of civil rights regardless of sexuality, gender, ethnicity and belief, is the only natural and reasonable position for a state to observe. If you wish to impose your personal religious principles on a population, you need to (not be forced to) accompany it with a reasoned argument. Your personal belief is not an adequate reason in itself. If the argument stands up to scrutiny, then it will stand by itself. If you wish your faith to be granted specific institutional privilege – as with the institution of marriage, for example – you’re going to have to provide a reasoned argument as to why the rest of us should accept your inherent right to a position of superiority, and live according to the dictates of your personal faith. If your argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, it would be prudent not to take this as a green light to claim oppression. To do so, comes across as one big child-like tantrum.

Secularism isn’t anti-religious oppression. Secularism isn’t the wish to ban religious folk from the public sphere. Secularism isn’t a system of anchored morality. Secularism isn’t Atheism. In short, secularism isn’t anything that anti-secularists seem to believe that it is.


To be unemployed.

October 31, 2013

You will have to forgive me for my break in usual political/religious blogging, but as this is an outlet for me on a personal level also, it is a necessary piece of writing to get off my chest.

I cannot find work anywhere. I am 27, a freelance photographer, with a degree in Politics & Journalism, I am addicted to writing, I write almost daily on here as well as separately and more personally on another blog, I am fascinated by the World, I utterly adore history (mainly French Revolution and the US Civil War and revolution, but Tudor History and early Islamic history play a role too) and philosophy, I’m teaching myself to speak French, and I am desperately seeking a graduate/entry level position in communications, or PR, or digital marketing, anywhere in the country. I wouldn’t mind teaching either for which I’m currently applying. My dream is to live and to work and settle in the US. But I can’t even find a position here in the UK to gain any sort of experience. And it’s becoming a bit too much to deal with at the moment.

Unemployment has the unique ability to completely destroy any ounce of confidence or love of being alive one may once have enjoyed. I just feel completely empty, all the time. It becomes difficult to sleep as financial worries stack up and food becomes a luxury. Your social life dies because you can’t keep up with friends. You look at your degree certificate with contempt, like it is just another worthless piece of paper that reflects nothing and it no longer feels like any sort of achievement, and for every 300+ applications you send out, you receive maybe two replies because for every job you apply for, 100+ others are applying for daily. Every job labelled ‘graduate’ or ‘entry level’ seems to then demand 2+ years of experience. The very few that offer experience rather than demand it of graduates, seem to have half of Britain applying to. You become an insignificant face, in a sea of insignificant faces and you’re treading a water that is pulling you deeper in every day. Why bother to resist at all?

The latest position I applied for comes with this confidence killing disclaimer:

“Applications: 92
Please be aware we receive a high volume of applications for every role advertised & regularly receive applications from candidates who exceed the job credentials.”

– In other words…. don’t bother. You’re probably not good enough.

The Job Centre is a place of pity, of shame, and a broken, forgotten system with a thin veil of modernity covering its massive cracks. I sat next to a girl who had been coming to the Job Centre for over a year, and as she said that, she laughed nervously and said that if she didn’t laugh, she’d cry. The archaic job search system does not recognise the key words “digital” or “PR” and has trouble with the word “media”. These terms are too new for it, what with being introduced in the mid-90s. But the sofas are comfortable. So that’s just great. The staff talk to you patronisingly, like you’re probably just playing the system, a waste of oxygen, and so deserve to be spoken to like a child. You then get home in time to see a Tory politician continuously tell us all how shameful it is to be unemployed, and how we must be treated with suspicion and anger.

If you’re lucky enough to get an interview, you are one of about 50+ other candidates and if you wish to impress at an interview, you need an extraordinary degree of confidence in yourself, which you now don’t have. Couple this with constant dehumanised “lazy” or “we must be tough on them!” rhetoric by politicians in both major political parties trying to win over a middle class, and a thoroughly right winged media treating you as a statistic, and a shameful drain on society, and you quickly descend mentally to a place where life seems entirely pointless, because you’re convinced that you have no worth. And whilst feeling entirely worthless, you dread the postman’s footsteps every day, because it’ll just be letter upon letter of threats from companies you can no longer afford to pay. Car insurance. Phone bill. Broadband. Every letter includes a subtle declaration that because you can’t afford to pay, they’ll charge you even more. Which you also can’t pay. And so they’ll threaten you with court. And then the bank charge you because your direct debit didn’t work when the company charged you extra for not being able to afford to pay in the first place. And then the bank will charge you more because you couldn’t pay the charge. And it never stops. Why would anyone have children here? What a fucking cruel thing to do.

The feeling that you are worthless isn’t fleeting, it doesn’t subside, it grows until it feels endless. And every slight knock back amplifies it. This is my current reality and I hate it.

If anyone knows of any opportunities, feel free to get in contact because I need just one place to give me even the smallest of opportunities to be able to prove my worth.

Regular blogging will resume tomorrow.


To fly the flag of the Confederacy

January 15, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: By Donald Lee Pardue (Flickr: Still Waving).

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: By Donald Lee Pardue (Flickr: Still Waving).

In his 1953 novel ‘Bring the Jubilee’, Ward Moore imagines a revised history in which the Confederacy wins the Battle of Gettysburg and thus the Civil War. A key theme of the book, is the imperialist ambitions of the Confederate States between the end of the war, and the 1950s. President Robert Lee, whom takes over at the end of Jefferson Davis’ term in Office fights and fights to stop an imperialistic Congress invading Central and South America. The novel is of course imagined alternate history, but it is shockingly close to reality when we note the future aims of the Confederacy during the Civil War period, and the complete ignorance of this by those who still fly the Confederate Flag (appropriated from the original Army of Tennessee flag) under the misapprehension that it represents “State’s Rights”.

I have travelled from the UK to Michigan three times this year. The three seasons I have encountered have all had their merits, and the wonderful landscape adapts each time to reveal a hidden beauty that I hadn’t seen previously. The red leaves of autumn are calming whilst the summer evenings provide beautiful sunsets over the lake. I love Michigan.

However, as an outsider, I have been shocked to see that people still fly the Confederate flag.

I am ensured that it is a symbol of the South in general – and in particular, States rights. This is of course, nonsense. It pre-supposes that the Confederate flag and the Confederacy in general, along with secession was ever about State’s Rights. I believe this mythical idea of the old South used to be referred to as the ‘Lost Cause’; a devious yet charming little term of propaganda romanticising the South to a degree that it absolutely doesn’t deserve.

The ‘State’s Rights’ claim as to the cause of the Civil War suggests that the Southern States were ardent defenders of the individual States as a loose collection of autonomous States that could vote on and set their own laws and regulations, and trade with each other, without Federal interference. This is simply not true. The Southern States were far more anti-freedom, and anti-States Rights than the North.

For example, on the eve of secession, South Carolina issued a declaration entitled:

“Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.”

– Their grievences listed, are almost entirely based on slavery. In the most telling attack on State’s Rights, it is clear that South Carolina did not like that Northern States had at times refused to send fugitive slaves back to their ‘Masters’ in the South:

“an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery. … In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed …”

– Tellingly, the South Carolina Declaration demands that the Northern non-slave holding States conform to the views of slave holding States by allowing Southerners when visiting the North, to bring their slaves with them, as slaves:

“In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals.”

– The South didn’t care for States Rights. The South employed the most imperialistic, totalitarian, anti-liberty social and economic system, dreaming of empire, in the entire nation.

Now Southern propagandists will argue that tariffs, and Federal planning grants were just as to blame for secession, but those points are not mentioned in most Southern literature from the time. The Southern States seceded, because of the issue of slavery. It isn’t State’s Rights, it is White Male Rights.

Similar to South Carolina, Mississippi’s Declaration of Secession states:

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world … a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.”

Perhaps most tellingly of all, is the Confederate Constitution. Section 9 of which states:

(4) No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.

– This shows how little the Confederacy cared about State’s Rights. The State’s have no right to abolish Slavery. No individual State can pass a law impairing the right of property in slaves. The Confederate Federal Government did not care for State’s Rights. They cared only about maintaining and spreading slavery as a system.

So, the South essentially means that it is an ardent defender of States Rights, as long as the Southern States have the Right to demand the Northern States do as the South demands. But not only did the South wish to ensure the North did as it was told, they wished to expand their slave holding empire into different continents.

The American lawyer and journalist William Walker, in 1854, after a failed attempt to set up a Republic of Sonora in Mexico, with the intention of it becoming a State of the Union; invaded Nicaragua for control of a vital trade route between New York and San Francisco. He succeeded in his efforts, and took control of Nicaragua, renaming it “Walkeragua” (seriously, i’m not making this up). In 1856, President Franklin Pierce, officially recognised Walker’s regime in Walkeragua as legitimate. His regime began to Americanise Walkeragua, by instating slavery, using American currency, and making English the official language. He advertised his new Country to American Southern businessmen by advertising the fact that his new quasi-State was pro-slavery and would remain so.
By the time Walker revoked Nicaragua’s 1824 Emancipation Act, the rest of Latin America took note, and invaded. He fled and was bought back to the U.S where he was welcomed as a hero of the South.
He died before the Civil War kicked off, but the South referred to him throughout the Civil War as “General Walker“ and “The grey-eyed man of destiny”. The South did not just fight to preserve the institution of slavery, they wanted to expand it, on a grand scale, to the point where Senator John Crittenden of Kentucky proposed that the 36°30′ parallel north be a line that separates the northern free states, and the southern slave states, all the way down to the tip of South America.

Walker wasn’t the only Southerner with Imperialist ambitions. The Confederate Secretary of State John C. Breckinridge decided that Southern States had the right to invade whomever they wished:

“The Southern states cannot afford to be shut off from all possibility of expansion towards the tropics by the hostile action of the federal government.”

As autonomous “States rights” go, invading another sovereign nation and revoking its anti-slavery laws, in hope of creating a slave owning empire, is about as big and as bad as a Federal Government can get.
So far, that’s State’s Rights to own people as property, and the State’s Rights to invade sovereign countries and force slavery upon them. Let’s also not forget State’s Rights to wander into other countries, and capture locals to be shipped back to Southern lands as slaves, as President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davies suggested when he mentioned reviving the slave trade because there was an abundance of:

“….new acquisitions to be made south of the Rio Grande.”

– The imperialist fantasies that prominent Southern politicians were expressing quickly evaporates the intensely faulty premise that for the South, the Civil War was about State’s Freedoms and Rights. It is therefore absurd to claim the Confederate flag stands for those qualities. It stood in defiance of those qualities.

By flying the Confederate flag, what social system are you showing your support for, or your nostalgic sense of loss for? What economic system? Certainly the civil war pitted the more industrialised and Capitalist Northern economic system, against the more agrarian and slave-holding Southern economic structure. So what are you advocating? Surely not Capitalism, as Capitalism was most certainly considered a great evil in the old South, so much so that George Fitzhugh – a leading Social Theorist of the time, insisted that slavery protected African Americans from the pains of Capitalism, and attacks the idea of “free competition” no less than 42 times in his book ‘Slavery Justified’. On a Social level, Fitzhugh (who went on to work in the Treasury of the Confederacy, as well as counting numerous Confederate politicians among his friends and admirers) says of African Americans:

Half of mankind are but grown up children, and liberty is fatal to them as it is to children.

– The line of reasoning is reasonable when framed in the cold ignorance of the mid-19th century, but is widely unacceptable, and entirely incorrect by 21st century logic. We must remember that Fitzhugh was writing prior to Darwin’s understanding that racial differences were not biological. Fitzhugh would have been influenced by social theorists on racial and cultural differences, culminating in the studies of anthropologists such as Lewis Henry Morgan, who argued in his work ‘Ancient Societies’ that societies and thus peoples could be classed as primitive or civilised, and that the white European civilisation was far more advanced than ‘primitive’ African cultures. Morgan’s work was less based on evolutionary biology, and more on a Euro-centric cultural study, and very little else. His works later influenced Marx in his theory of Historical Materials, thus proving that his writings were widely available and respected.

State’s Right’s. What they mean is, the rich white male’s right to own people as property based on skin tone, without anyone telling them that it’s wrong. The African American had no right to complain, had no right to vote, no right to not be beaten, no right to anything. As the great Senator of the time Charles Sumner stated:

By the licence of slavery, an entire race is delivered over to the prostitution and concubinage without the protection of any law.

– Here Sumner is noting that the South revokes its claims on “Rights” when it imprisons the vast majority of its population in a state of bondage; breaking the ties of family, and brotherhood, of marriage and replacing parent/child relationships (natural relationships) with master/slave. When you appropriate the fruit of labour freely, when you take away their right to active political participation, when you deny education, and when you break natural bonds like that of family; you can no longer claim the defence of ‘State’s rights’, and any future generation flying the flag that represented that putrid system should be ashamed.

Often, I read insistences that the Confederate Flag today means Southern pride, or Southern heritage, or other equally manipulative benign terms. That narrative is misjudged. The Confederate flag was a very specific flag, for a very specific system, at a very specific time. It is a reason. So, if you must insist on ensuring the World knows just how proud you are to be from Southern States, why not have a new flag, predicated on State’s Rights, or Southern Pride? Designed for that purpose. Why use the EXACT same flag that was designed purely for the sake of representing the slave system. It is disingenuous to attempt to suggest the Confederate Flag is anything but a provocative flag of hate.

The Confederacy Flag represents, not States Rights, not Southern heritage or pride, but the following: An Economic and Social system built on slavery. Anti-Capitalism. Anti-liberty. Imperialism. Scientific ignorance. White Supremacy. The Confederate flag represents that system. Nothing else. Certainly not “State’s Rights”. It is very specific as a symbol.

The attempts to pose the Civil War as a State’s Rights issue, is simply to ignore and revise history in an attempt to create a sort of “David V Goliath” narrative in which the South is the victim of the big bad Federal Government. It is ignorant, lazy, and wrong.

To fly the flag of Confederacy today is shameful.


Election Day 2012

November 6, 2012

It is telling, just how desperate Republicans have become at this time, when ex Republican presidential candidate, endorser of Santorum, and ex-Reagan secretary for Planning and Budget in the Department of Education posts an article on his facebook wall accusing Obama of being a Marxist simply for using the term ‘Forward’:


The intense lack of focus on issues, on offering any sort of solutions is telling. Bauer offers nothing. No new ideas, no ingenuity. Simple, and ridiculous weak attacks on wording.
Bauer is a Christian. Deeply Christian. He believes secularism is destroying Christian values. In an article for ‘Campaign for Working Families’ Bauer states:

“The removal of the only reference to God from the Democratic Party platform is telling. Under Barack Obama the Democratic Party has become more secular and more hostile to faith-based voters. On issues ranging from the sanctity of life to traditional marriage, Obama’s Democratic Party has embraced positions contrary to the values of heartland America, values rooted in our Judeo-Christian traditions and expressed in our founding documents. Values voters will respond in November.”

Now, leaving aside the fact that America’s founding documents are a symbol of secularism and the Enlightenment… not Christian values; if we’re judging people by their wording, as Bauer did by posting that article, he must be consistent, here’s a speech from Hitler, in 1933:

“Today they say that Christianity is in danger, that the Catholic faith is threatened. My reply to them is: for the time being, Christians and not international atheists are now standing at Germany’s fore. I am not merely talking about Christianity; I confess that I will never ally myself with the parties which aim to destroy Christianity.”

– Sounds a lot like every speech Bauer ever makes. If he has the nerve to suggest Obama is a Marxist because he used the term ‘forward’ in his campaign, then we must be consistent and say that Gary L Bauer is a Nazi. Probably Hitler himself. See how easy it is? This has been the Republican strategy for about four years.

Onto the main topic of this article.
Today is election day in the US. And whilst most of the World cannot fathom why any reasonable human being would vote for a bigoted and economically illiterate Romney Presidency; the polls are pretty even. I even heard a suggestion that New Hampshire might be the State to play kingmaker.

I laid out in a previous article Why the Romney economic plan based on ‘job creators’ is a manipulation of fact and devoid of all reason. Today i’d quite like to lay out the accomplishments of President Obama. We know he hasn’t always been the President that expectation demanded of him back in 2008, but that’s not to say he hasn’t achieved a heck of a lot of good, and progress in the past four years despite two years of Republican (and right winged Christian) attempts to derail his agenda at every possible opportunity; usually without regard for the national interest.

Obama’s biggest achievement must be the Healthcare Act. Now that the fear has died down… fear created and perpetuated by a Republican Party that consider anything slightly left of Mussolini to be “Socialism”, people seem to be starting to like the idea of ‘Obamacare’. Of course, it isn’t ideal. The ideal is universal healthcare. We can bicker about “Omg it’s socialism!!!” all we want. We can even bicker about if government is capable of providing healthcare, on a very fundamental basis if we want. But we must look at the facts. Here is what the World Health Organisation says about two systems. The American private insurer system (before Obamacare), and the British National Healthcare system.

Life Expectancy M/F
USA: 76/81
UK: 78/82

Distribution of causes of death among children aged <5 years (%)
USA – Injuries: 22
UK – Injuries: 4

Case detection rate for all forms of tuberculosis (%):
UK: 94
USA: 89

Under-five mortality rate (probability of dying by age 5 per 1000 live births):
UK: 5
USA 8

Adult mortality rate (probability of dying between 15 and 60 years per 1000):
UK: 77
USA: 106

Per capita total expenditure on health at average exchange rate (US$):
UK: 3285
USA: 7410

General government expenditure on health as a percentage of total government expenditure:
UK: 15.1%
USA: 18.7%

A quick analysis suggests that the UK pays less per capita, our government spends less on our health system than the US, and yet we have “Socialised” healthcare, we’re living longer, and our children are less likely to die at a young age. And yet, all of this is grossly overlooked in favour of ideological dogma regardless of how backward, and ultimately deadly it is. And it isn’t just the UK, look to Sweden, Norway, and any other industrialised, civil society with a universal healthcare model, and you will see similar results. A private healthcare system is not only horrendously barbaric, it doesn’t work.
Obama has made progress in correcting that problem.
For all their concern about the deficit, Republicans choose to ignore the FACT that the Congressional Budget Office stated that ‘Obamacare’ will reduce the deficit. Here, see for yourself: CBO Report. To repeal it, would cost around $230bn. Another CBO report states that in the next ten years, ‘Obamacare’ will cover a further 33,000,000 Americans who otherwise would have no coverage (the very idea of not being covered for healthcare, baffles and disgusts me). Here, see for yourself CBO Report. NOT ONLY THAT but ‘Obamacare’ incentivises small businesses by offering a 50% tax credit, if they insure their workers.
Republicans adding to the deficit, whilst making life harder for average people, whilst enriching wealthy insurers, whilst ignoring small businesses? SURELY NOT!

Former House of Reps Republican in Delaware, Mike Castle voted to kill the stimulus bill, the health reform bill, financial regulation reform etc etc etc. On the stimulus package, Mike Castle said this:

“We cannot spend our way back to economic prosperity,”

He hates the idea of a stimulating the economy! Doesn’t think government should stimulate the economy. So, obviously he’s going to be consistent in his condemnation, right? Well, no.
… Castle then accepted $5,230,610 of stimulus money, stating:

These grants, totaling more than $5 million, will help the invaluable organizations and programs which are working to help the homeless, hungry, and those facing economic hardship throughout the State.

– Suddenly, government CAN help to eleviate poverty, and hunger, and provide help to the most vulnerable. Republicans oppose programs in order to entice their over privileged support base, and then cowardly support the program when it might win them some votes among the less wealthy in their constituencies.

Every Romney/Republican Speech is a vomit inducing display of feigned patrotism. …. “What would I do?.. Well i’d make America great again!” It seems, if you lack any detailed plan for running the highest office on the planet, then the next best thing is to win over idiots, with sentimental nonsense.

Economically, whilst it’s slow, the US economy is growing. If we contrast that with the austerity lead (Romney-esque) governments across the World, we see a different story. Austerity has failed everywhere. The UK has had to endure three years of it, and so far we’ve had another huge recession (the biggest since the 1950s) no growth over the entire year, and horribly stagnating wages. It fails. The opposite is true of the Obama economy. It is moving in the right direction. If you think slow Keynesian inspired growth is bad, then you’re REALLY going to hate Romney inspired recession.

Taxes too high? Well, if you’re a Republican prone to ‘make shit up’ then yes. But, if you rely on evidence, as the Washington Post did, you will see that:


“A USA Today analysis found last year that if we include everything — federal, state, and local taxes, including income, property, sales, and other taxes — the percentage of personal income that’s paid in taxes is still at its lowest level since 1950.”

And since when has it become acceptable, and in fact, preferable, for a ‘business minded’ person to be a President? Businesses are run for profit. People are very much a secondary concern. Democratic accountability does not exist in a business setting. I cannot vote for who runs the gas and electricity companies. I can move to another. Yet, there are very few, and all of them offer poor service. The object is money. It is profit. People become statistics. The interest of business leaders, is to enrich themselves. They are economically illiterate, and dangerous. Their word, it seems, is taken as gospal. This couldn’t be proven any more than in the UK. In 2010, before the general election, 35 of the Nation’s top business leaders signed a petition in support of the Chancellor George Osborne’s austerity plan. They said, quite amusingly:

There is no reason to think that the pace of consolidation envisaged in the Budget will undermine the recovery. Business is amoral. It is regulated it prevent it becoming immoral. Business minds are self interest. This, of course, is not always a terrible thing. A majority of the time, it works. But at its most fundamental, it is dangerous.

The private sector should be more than capable of generating additional jobs to replace those lost in the public sector, and the redeployment of people to more productive activities will improve economic performance, so generating more employment opportunities.

– Two and a half years later, the ‘pace of consolidation envisaged in the Budget’ has absolutely choked off recovery. The private sector has not generated any additional jobs. We hit another recession. And wages stagnated. This is the legacy of listening to those with a ‘business’ mind when it comes to national governance.

The repealing of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell must rank up there with great liberal policies, alongside civil rights legislation of the 1960s (which of course, conservatives opposed). Obama also admitted, tacitly, that he is no longer opposed to gay marriage. This was a risky move, but showed courage and conviction, when faced with such hostile bigotry. Whilst in Michigan, I saw a Republican billboard with “Obama supports gay marriage, and abortion…. do you?” And I thought…. Yes. I do. Because i’m not a crazed Christian bigoted fundamentalist from the 4th Century. To prevent full rights to loving couples, based soley on a very fundamental and selective view of a Biblical passage is so thoroughly beyond the realm of reason, it should be ridiculed, and argued against, and kept as far away from public policy as possible. If we are to continue to believe that the concept of marriage is based entirely on Biblical principles, then, like with Bauer, we must be consistent:
Republicans must be against marriage, if the woman isn’t a virgin. As advocated in Deuteronomy 22:13-21.
Republicans must support the right for a man to have multiple concubines as justified in 2 Sam 5:13 and
2 Chron 11:21.
Republicans must support the right for a man to marry his kidnapped captive (though, only after shaving her head, obviously) as permitted in Deut. 21:11-13.
Republicans must support the right for a man to trade his wife, as property. As advocated in RUTH 4:5-10.
Republicans must support the right for a man to marry his rape victim, if he pays for her: Deut. 22:28.
Let’s be consistent Republicans!

Gaddafi. Bin Laden. Weakened Mubarak’s position by telling him to reform, or step down. Has not jumped into conflict with Iran, relying instead on diplomacy, but also strong with providing sanctions on Iran by signing into law a bill to punish companies aiding Iran’s petroleum sector.

Between 2010 and 2011, Obama increased Department of Veterans Affairs budget by 26%. Conversely, Paul Ryan suggested cutting aid to Veterans who do not suffer from combat caused medical problems. Essentially, Republicans (strong national defence) are happy to use you to defend the country, and then forget about you when you get home, and paint you as a drain on the economy. Let’s not forget that those cuts to Veterans benefits would be paid for, by a massive tax cut for the wealthiest.

Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act, EPA restrictions on toxic pollution. Omnibus Public Lands Management Act expanding wilderness protection. Cancelled anti-ballistic missile systems set to be placed in Czech and Poland, saving $1.4bn. Kickstarted renewable energy research through stimulus funding on unprecedented scale. Used diplomacy to convince BP to put aside a $20 billion fund for victims of Gulf oil spill, without any power to force them to do so. Children’s Health Insurance Authorization Act provides coverage for 4 million more children by raising taxes on tobacco. And for me, one of the most overlooked and yet most vital advancements the US has to thank President Obama for, is the ending of Bush-era restrictions on stem cell research. This is perhaps the most important scientific area of research at the moment. For Republicans to deny it, is a disgrace.

President Obama has achieved a lot in four years, despite Republicans opposing absolutely everything, and ensuring the word ‘Socialism’ is forever attached to anything Obama says or does. It is of course a basic misunderstanding of what Socialism is. The definition becomes irrelevant because the word is enough to strike irrational fear. The use of terms like ‘Socialism’ or the obsession with dethroning the President by suggesting his isn’t American, or any other empty attack point goes to prove nothing more than the fact that the Republican Party has absolutely no solution for any problem. It just wants power.

I cannot believe a country that has come so far forward in four years, would elect to fall twenty years into the past.
This is why I am certain President Obama should be given four more years.

EDIT: And has now been given four more years. Excellent choice America.


It used to be Patriotism, but now “It’s just my opinion” is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

October 8, 2011

Debate is perhaps the most intrinsically key ingredient of social progression that humanity is blessed with. Rationality is a tool that we have evolved beyond that of any other creature on the planet. We should use it wisely and we should be well informed before we jump to conclusions, especially if we have influence upon others.

I am increasingly finding myself developing opinions that put me at odds with a lot of people. On the Iraq war, I followed the Tariq Ali/Noam Chomsky anti-American stance to every murky corner that it lurked. Vast oil conspiracies, dealings with the Bin Laden family, America as an imperial aggressor against opponents that are just pawns. I still hold many of those views, but they become entwined the more complex certain situations seem to become the more scholars and writers you digest. With Iraq, I soon became very pro-war. I am still pro-war. I am certain that had we listened to the hysterical anti-war left for the past fifty years, the World would not be in a better place. Milosovich would have ethnically cleansed Bosnia, Saddam would be torturing and killing his way across the marshlands of southern Iraq whilst the Kurds similarly are systematically abused. The depth of public opinion seems to be focused more on what is popular to believe, than what is actually going on. It is popular to believe that Bush invaded Iraq for oil. It is popular to believe that immigration is an intense problem that destroys livelihoods of “natives”. It is popular to believe we must deal with the Nation’s debt immediately and that the Welfare State is a great evil. The truth is irrelevant to people who hold and perpetuate these opinions.

Sky News, one of the two key news channels, instead of engaging in thoughtful debate and new and provocative ideas, instead chooses to spend its time focusing a camera on Michael Jackson’s doctor. How uneasy this makes me feel. It’s not a fucking reality TV show. The sensationalism of the opening titles; “THE JACKSON TRIAL! ONLY ON SKY NEWS” as if it’s a movie. What a horrible development.

The weak level of debate, and the social cynicism that accompanies it, inevitably seeps into the political sphere and the democratic process, with debate at its core, becomes a sad reflection of the level of debate that can only be described as manically ill-informed populism. This weak, Labour went on the offensive, attacking the Tories because of who the Defence Secretary is friends with. That is essentially the story. It is a scandal that might last a week, if we’re lucky. It is essentially meaningless. It takes the heat off the fact that the official opposition; Labour, has offered no opposition to the dangerous moves the Coalition government has taken over the past 18 months. As the Governor of the Bank of England said last week, this could be the biggest economic crises Britain has ever faced. Our growth projection has been cut again, output has fallen again, unemployment is rising still, and Neoliberalism has hit such a crises that even the middle classes – whom the political class has attempted to win over for the past thirty years – cannot afford to pay their electricity bills any more. Why aren’t Labour fighting this? why are they focusing on why the Defence Secretary hangs around with? The dying level of debate in this country, and across the World, will only get deeper and more depressing, if the House of Lords is democratised. We should have a chamber of experts, to debate the issues between the most qualified and most informed. This serves two purposes; one.. it is quite obvious that humanity, on an individual level, cannot possibly know everything. This goes for politicians. It is counterproductive for progressivism for an MP like Blunkett to have been at the Home Office, Work and Pensions, and Education. Three different specialties cannot be perfected by one career politician. We need experts. Two… the point of this blog; the raising of the level of debate. Democracy is great, if you have all the information. Quite clearly, we don’t. A debate in the Commons on stem cell research is useless, if there are no experts to provide the information we all need. If we are to democratise the House of Lords, then we must still maintain a level of expertise in our political sphere. A Chamber of experts is my proposition.

I’m pretty sure we can’t rely on Labour to run a successful opposition campaign. They have become too suited, and too “centrist” (another word for ‘right winged’).
Where is the fight against referring to anyone with a supreme amount of money as “job creators”? – If anything we’ve learned that demand creates jobs, not the super rich.
Where is the passion in fighting NHS reform? I hear from doctors and the BMA and others in the profession all the time; yet nothing from the official opposition.
Where is the promise to really hit the banks?
I am bored of politicians treading a careful centre ground. It failed. Whilst the Country burns, Labour just like to say “Bad Tories”. Well, it isn’t good enough. The real opposition comes from the masses, who have had to listen and endure politicians across the spectrum, tell us that we must protect the “job creators”, that the “tough decisions needing to be taken” are the ones that affect those without great wealth only.
It is too much.
All they are doing, is applying a very weakly tied bandage to a system that didn’t work in the first place.
And they all do it, because they’re all funded by the very people they are all now protecting.
And then, they all have the fucking nerve to think that we should accept reform of Parliament, be proposed and implemented…. by Parliament.
We shouldn’t trust politicians, or the very wealthy, with a pair of scissors, let alone the entire World.

Don’t vote. It is the best way to cast a vote.

One of my favourite topics to debate is religion and its power over mankind. As you are all aware, I despise organised religion. Now, this doesn’t mean I despise religious individuals. I genuinely do not care what you believe, or where you choose to believe it. I do not submit to the view that England is a Christian nation. Move to England, believe what you like. I simply despise the concept of religion and the hold it has had over humanity for far too long.

Today, a Facebook friend of mine wrote on her wall, that Richard Dawkins is a Fascist and a Cunt. She is a psuedo-intellectual, who absolutely hates being brought up on anything she says. She expects any sort of provocative statement to be overlooked, and if you dare question her about the ill-informed, manically provocative statement, she’ll take a very passive aggressive stance and try to paint you as a bully, for questioning her. These people are everywhere. They are the Fox News brigade. They exist on the Right and the Left. The EDL is very similar. They make very provocative statements, find themselves unable to back it up because, frankly, their statements are usually ill-informed and dangerous, and then just blame the media for picking on them. They perpetuate a declining level of debate. Today, I questioned why Dawkins is a fascist? I asked if she’d read The Selfish Gene, and then read Fascist literature and to point out where the similarities lie. I pointed out that the true fascists belong almost entirely to those claiming to be fighting a religious cause. That the Abrahamic traditions themselves, are based entirely on Fascists principles. To illustrate this point, I will refer, for lack of a better source, to wikipedia entry on Fascism:

Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood.[3] To achieve this, fascists purge forces, ideas, people, and systems deemed to be the cause of decadence and degeneration.

– You could replace the word “fascists” in that description, with “Islamic/Christian/Jewish fundamentalists” and replace “nation” with “religion”, and it’d make the same point, and be absolutely accurate in doing so. The very basis of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, is exclusive, and around 2000 years ‘purging’ any contrary ideas, people, and systems that it simply didn’t like. Now, it is losing the power that it once had, but not for use of trying. My point had at least an attempt at rational thought, lodged firmly into it.
She said I was being a bully and aggressive and refused to actually discuss the point I made. I then pointed out that she’d still not answered my original point, to which she’d said “It’s just my opinion!”.

It used to be Patriotism, but now I’d say “It’s just my opinion” is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Now, it might just be me. Perhaps i’m the awful one who just doesn’t get it. But I am CERTAIN this is passive aggressive behaviour at its very worst. Putrid and vicious on the surface, but just a way to worm her way out of actually answering my original point. Here is the conversation, after the original argument:
Her:

One of my friends has just unfriended me based on what he read on that thread. So thank you for that. If this is not indicative of how damaging your unprovoked attacks can be I don’t know what is. I now have a tearful man on the phone saying he can’t bear to me on my list because of the unprovoked abuse it puts in his newsfeed and I don’t have sensible answer for him.

I’m really, really disappointed in you. Not just in the way you launched into me, but in the way you are now trying to accuse me of all sorts of things when all I did was express a view. You have me so wrong I don’t even know where to start. You’re way too suspicious. I’m not as complicated as you seem to think. Maybe you have been surrounded by headworkers, and that’s what has given you such a low opinion of people, but I’m not one of them. I speak, then I move on. Nothing more sinister than that. All I have done is be honest about how I feel.

I am baffled as to why you see such nefariousness in my comments. I’m not trying to occupy moral high grounds or anything else, I’m just speaking from the heart as I always do.

I’m not going to lie, I was just letting this all go over my head until Alan got upset. Now I’m going to make my excuses and head off out to cry to myself. I can’t believe your attack has cost ME a fiend. I’m devastated. I think a lot of Alan.

Please just show some respect? Whether you agree or not, whether you think people are idiots or not, it isn’t your place to tell people how to think or to make sarcastic, bombastic remarks to them for not sharing a view you hold.

I have never and will never be personally offensive to you for not agreeing with me. That doesn’t mean my passion is less ardent than yours, it just means I have been surrounded by aggressive, dogmatic people all my life and now most of them are dead I am enjoying the most peaceful existence I never dared ream about. I’m not going to be drawn in to petty rows online, because trust me, nothing you or anyone else here could say could ever come close to making me feel the way people in my ‘previous; life have.

I don’t know what your motivation is for the aggression and personal remarks – and you may say it isn’t intentional, but clearly it is coming across that way to have cost me a dear friend – but please be assured, if the intention is to pull me into a row I don’t want to have, you will never win. I don’t do bad feeling anymore. I’ve had too much of it than I know what to do with. I refuse to fight with people needlessly.

That’s it. That’s my last word. If you wish to believe your own words and think me some kind of warped moral crusader, then so be it. I can’t and won’t tell people how to think. But I’m certainly not going to fall out with anyone on account of a difference of opinion, and I am certainly not going to use my intellect as a weapon the way you have because that is ugly, unnecessary and not part of my arsenal.

This is not the life I live anymore and that extends as far as not allowing myself to have petty ego wars online.

I’m just sad that this has made me lose a certain respect I had for you.

Enjoy your weekend
D

– Now, to me, this starts first with a very passive aggressive paragraph about how I am responsible for the loss of a friend. The guy she refers to, I have never spoken to, I have never seen, I have never encountered in any way. To project this on to me, for simply trying to debate (honestly, I know when I’m being a bit aggressive in the way I argue, and for me, this was very very mild, to the point of me being actually quite half arsed in what I was saying. There was nothing vicious… though obviously, you only have my word on this), is ludicrous. To then tell me she’s “very very disappointed”, as if i’m a 15 year old being spoken to by my mother, is not just passive aggressive, it is condescending and patronising. She then plays the victim card brilliantly. Notice though, still not addressing my original point.

My response:

” If this is not indicative of how damaging your unprovoked attacks can be I don’t know what is. I now have a tearful man on the phone saying he can’t bear to me on my list because of the unprovoked abuse it puts in his newsfeed and I don’t have sensible answer for him.”
– I’m sorry but that is beyond pathetic. You are again taking a very passive aggressive stance.
You cannot sit and claim to be attacked with no provocation, when your initial statement was one of abuse. I simply asked you to quantify your reasoning. Which, you still haven’t done.

I am absolutely sick to death of very very passive aggressive people who publish controversial statements, and then backtrack and refuse to answer for them. The ones who can’t back it up. It is damaging to debate. It is weak minded and it is what leads to dangerous ideas; the idiots who think Bush is responsible for 9/11, the idiots who think Blair should be tried for war crimes, who then get challenged on their bullshit and hide behind “omg, you’re bullying me, it’s just my opinion”. Well it’s too much now. It has to stop because it is pseudo-intellectual bullshit that perpetuates false perceptions.
I genuinely do not care what your opinion of someone like Dawkins is. But if you honestly think you’ve taken a moral high ground, by referring to someone as a cunt and a fascist, and then just blatantly ignoring all arguments to the contrary, AND THEN subtly claiming my points were very EDL like. How is that not an attack on me? I think nationalism is just vicious and vile and insulting as a concept created by humanity, as religion. The people who use EDL tactics are the ones who make outrageous and abusive initial claims, and then refuse to back them up, mainly because they can’t.
This is not what I did. What I did initially was ask you why Dawkins is a Fascist. I asked you to provide me with evidence, to maybe read the Selfish Gene and then read Fascist literature and tell me where the similarities lie. A perfectly reasonable expectation, given the level of abuse and the vicious nature of your original statement. You cannot say irrational and vicious things, and just expect everyone to click “like”.
I refuse to be attacked, with the usual line of attack, which you’ve used, which is simply “I’m so disappointed in you, I thought you were intelligent blah blah …. why aren’t you as great as me?” It is patronising and it is condescending. I will ALWAYS challenge opinions I find to be shockingly irrational, if those opinions are vicious in nature, be it religious, nationalist or any other. There are certainly times I find Dawkins to be overly provocative. But he in no way deserves the title “Fascist”. But if you can substantiate why he’s a Fascist that would be great. I am STILL waiting for your logic.

“I don’t know what your motivation is for the aggression and personal remarks – and you may say it isn’t intentional, but clearly it is coming across that way to have cost me a dear friend – but please be assured, if the intention is to pull me into a row I don’t want to have, you will never win.”
– I am not going to let you blame me for you losing a friend. I actually resent that accusation, and if I were you, I’d tell him to man up, he doesn’t know me, he has never spoken to me, and if he is offended by a debate that absolutely doesn’t involve him, he needs a serious chat with himself. I wont take responsibility, nor apologise for that. And the fact that you’ve tried to pin that on me, is actually an utter disgrace.
It is not aggression. You’re the one who started the entire thing by referring to a man as a cunt and a Fascist. Where I come from, that’s a pretty aggressive line to take. My line is simply; I cannot tolerate stupidity, and I cannot tolerate those who try to worm their way out of a debate (which I started, without being aggressive, I merely asked for your logic) by either trying to paint the other person, as passively aggressive as possible, as some sort of nut job (the anti-war left are great at this tactic, as are the Tories), and then refuse to answer all questions that may compromise their dogmatic bullshit, with “omg it’s just my opinion”. The conversation we had, was basically:
“This man is a fascist and a cunt”
“Explain what you mean….”
“OMG YOU’RE A BULLY, IT’S JUST MY OPINION. YOU’RE LIKE THE EDL.”
What you did, constantly, was say just how much you hate aggression, and then continue to be as passive aggressive as possible. I asked my girlfriend to make sure it wasn’t just me, and she’s in agreement with me. Though she did note that I can come across as a bit intimidating during debates (a flaw I accept – though I still try to present a reasoned argument). My only expectation, is if someone makes a controversial and provocative claim, they should be able to logically back it up, if they can’t, they are simply perpetuating weak minded, useless debate, and that is wrong.

Whether you admit it or not, and whether you want to project a certain image from your past onto me or not, you started this with an aggressive and provocative statement. To claim you hate aggression and provocation is unbelievably hypocritical. My main problem, is the level of debate. The Country seems to be talking about some bloke the Defence Secretary walked through the Defence Department once. And i’m sat here thinking, who gives a fuck? Why is that even important? Why aren’t we all fighting against the destruction of the health service? Likewise, with the anti-atheist thing, what I meant by that is, you did what a lot of liberals do, and I’m starting to despise. They attack people like Dawkins or Hitchens as fascists or dogmatic blah blah, but they absolutely never have a bad word to say about organised religion. As I said in my first post on your page, Dawkins has never written a book that calls for the torture, rape and murder of non-believers. To say Dawkins is inherently fascist, but to ignore the basis of most organised religions; fear and death, is a horribly simplistic liberal technique that is beyond abhorrent. I do not feel me taking this stance is EDL-like. I am an Atheist, an out-spoken Atheist, it is a subject I take great interest in, I studied Theology, I have read the Koran on numerous occassions, I have read the Bible, I have studied Philosophy from Socrates to Sartre. And so I resent being compared to a bunch of racists who just don’t like Islam because people with slightly darker skin are its main followers. If you subtly suggesting I am using EDL tactics, isn’t passive aggressive, I don’t know what is.

“I’m just sad that this has made me lose a certain respect I had for you.”
– Ditto. Especially for accusing me of making you lose a friend. Again, disgusting.

– I don’t think I was overly aggressive or abusive, or intolerant in anything I just said. And so it goes…
Her:

Turn it in, Jamie – you’re just another sad, intolerant militant and everyone that witnessed the way you spoke to me today saw it.

The friend and I have talked it out and we’re fine, stronger than ever thanks to your wild and paranoid accusations, so despite your best efforts you have failed to make a dent in my day.

Go and wiled your quasi-intellect like a weapon over someone who can’t see through your barely concealed hate.

I’m actually laughing now reading your desperate attempts to make me appear to be someone I am clearly not. All you did was exhaust every bit of boring rhetoric in your arsenal. You’re far too arrogant to see your mistakes, because you have genuinely convinced yourself that I’m being ‘passive-aggressive’, which I find hilarious – anyone that knows anything at all about me and the way I operate knows that I have never and will never be that person; if I have a point to make, and I’m not getting through, I’m AGGRESSIVE aggressive.

Of course, you will write this off as whichever adjective you haven’t already overused today but I couldn’t care less. I pity you; you’re the worst kind of extremist. Dishonest, pompous and self-important. You will gradually alienate every person in your life until you are left with a handful of fellow dogmatics and the few of you will spend the rest of your days blowing smoke up each other’s arses. I can’t think of anything sadder. In the meantime, I shall be embracing the people in my life in spite of our differences, and will have a richer, happier life experience as a result.

I only hope that poor girl of yours realises just what a hypocrite you are before she leaves her life behind for you.

Enjoy thinking up warped reasons I have blocked you. I know that you know as well as I do that I simply can’t be bothered to entertain toxic people.

– My personal favourites:
“I have never and will never be personally offensive to you for not agreeing with me. ”

Five minutes later:
” you’re just another sad, intolerant militant”
” I pity you; you’re the worst kind of extremist.”
“I only hope that poor girl of yours realises just what a hypocrite you are before she leaves her life behind for you.”

Brilliant.
The joyful irony of calling me aggressive, and then insisting my girlfriend is making a mistake, and that i’m an intolerant militant and the worst kind of extremist (the WORST kind…. worse than those who fly planes into buildings. I am, according to her, worse than Mohammad Atta. Amazing).

The flaws in her position are vast. She doesn’t elaborate on how i’m being ‘dishonest’ or what it is about me that is ‘extremist’ or why I might be a hypocrite. They are just empty abusive phrases designed for attack. The very thing she is trying to argue against. From her original position that Richard Dawkins is a Fascist cunt, to her ending that I am a militant aggressive extremist dishonest hypocrite, she offers nothing of substance. She is one big logical failure.

But this illustrates my original point. My last message to her, still wanting some form of debate. I still clinged onto the hope that she might present a logical argument. Instead, she chose to get very personal. This is what people tend to do, when they are losing. The EDL do it all the time. Religious nutjobs do it all the time. They get personal or aggressive. They absolutely worm their way around the actual subject of debate and just try to paint you as posing the debate in the ‘wrong’ tone. It is pathetic.

The level of debate in the Country and the World, at the most accessible and popular levels, is weak at best, and viciously ill-informed and dangerous at worst. For the most part, people form opinions through what they see in the most easily accessible parts of the media sphere. If the media support Iraq, the people support Iraq. If the media suggest Blair is a liar, the people believe it must be true. Opinions don’t tend to run too deep, unless you’re aiming at an intellectual level that expands beyond that of the mass media. For example, at the highest levels of debate, we have some great names. Tariq Ali, Christopher Hitchens, Tahereh Saffarzadeh, Chomsky, Krugman among others, are the leaders of the intellectual movement to advance debate and offer unique and exciting ideas. They challenge key perceptions. They always question. They never let a bad argument rest until it is totally destroyed. These are the people the World needs. These are the people we should be learning critical techniques from in order to advance the level of debate to a position that is currently alien to us.

A mad overly liberal calling anyone who disagrees with her a fascist militant dangerous extremist cunt, whilst insisting she’s not aggressive, is absolutely counter productive and should be fought at every opportunity.


Phone Hacking, The BBC, Left Wing Conspiracies and Boris!

July 20, 2011

There are a lot of blogs and articles surrounding the staggering resignations, deaths, arrests and revelations surrounding the Met and its Press Office run almost entirely by ex-News Corp journalists and their incompetent handling of two investigations; the utterly absurd judgement and ignorance of the Prime Minister; the shameful opportunism of Ed Milliband; with regard to the News Corp hacking issue. There are hundreds of articles and new revelations popping up every day. So I wanted to a somewhat different angle to this, and run down a tangent.

Though first, it seems that the Prime Minister is on the very brink of being dragged underwater and his Premiership drowned (I say that, with a lasting smirk on my face) as it emerged that not only was Coulson brought into Tory Party HQ, but also Ex-News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis, who is one of the people who have been arrested so far, was an adviser to Coulson after Coulson began work for the Tories. This is particularly toxic for Number 10, because Wallis has already brought down Met Chief Sir Paul Steve Stephenson and Deputy Met Chief John Yates after it was revealed that the Met had employed Wallis as a PR consultant. This will be worth following, because even Tory blogger Iain Dale makes the extraordinary suggestion that Cameron could be brought down by this scandal. This is echoed with Tory blogger Mark Thompson offering up Theresa May as a replacement for Cameron, after betting agencies were taking 6-1 bets on Cameron being brought down, down from 100-1 two weeks ago.

Anyway. Onto the main point.

At Prime Minister’s questions last week, Tory MP for Beverley and Holderness, Graham Stuart asked the Prime Minister if the police would also be investigating what he refers to as a “criminal conspiracy” at the heart of the previous Labour Government and the Murdoch Empire, into the desire to undermine Tory Peer Lord Ashcroft in the run up to the General Election.

I think it necessary to evaluate the character of Graham Stuart MP directly, as to discern whether his little outburst is worthy of our attention.

When Graham Stuart was at Cambridge, he was the Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association. His term also coincided with a scandal, in which voting for his election was seen as suspicious and irregularities in the outcome meant that eight of his colleagues in the CUCA resigned in protest. Eight!

As well as having a face you just want to slap, and being a little bit untrustworthy at election time, he also managed to acquire the services of the repair men to resurface his private road leading up to his luxury mansion, at a usual cost of £2,500….. for free. There are potholes on the public roads around the town that he lives, but instead the resurfacing was used for his private estate.

But even if he had to pay for the road (which he didn’t), he would be able to, with the money he saves on his fortune, through his expense claims, which he thinks are perfectly legitimate. According to his forms, that I have spent the past couple hours of my apparently boring life reading through, he claimed half the electricity bill, half the rent on the flat which comes to £1400 a month, half the council tax, food, internet, phone, mobile phone, digital camera, tripod, an Egyptian cotton satin sheet worth £40, £240 on bed linen from John Lewis which he says represented “good value for money“, four £86 pillow cases, £8,500 on food between 2005-2009, he claimed £85 from a company called “Freestye Design” whom design company logos. I wondered why he’d be using a company like that. When his expenses were released, he said:

“if anyone has any questions or queries about individual claims they are more than welcome to email me or contact my office and I will do my best to answer them.”

So that’s exactly what I did.
He didn’t reply.

So, given that this man has a bit of a dodgy typical Tory character, one has to examine his question. The point he was trying to raise, was that Tom Baldwin, Head of communications for Ed Miliband, had obtained information about the Tory Lord’s tax affairs illegally. It’s an odd charge to make, given that no one is likely to feel all that sympathetic toward a Lord, worth over £1bn at the heart of a Government (who, indeed, is the largest donor to the Tory government) whose mantra is “save save save!!” Money must be saved everywhere, disabled people must lose out, children must lose out, everyone who isn’t rich must lose out…….. except for Lord Ashcroft, who isn’t contributing to the save save save mantra, because the “illegally obtained information” showed that he is classified as a non-dom, which means he doesn’t pay any UK tax on his fortune made abroad. Yet, he is part of a legislature, that insists the UK is on the “brink of bankruptcy“. He is hardly likely to foster the sympathy of a public, in the same way that the hacking of Millie Dowler’s phone gained. The Tories are actively trying to divert attention away from themselves, because not only did David Cameron appoint Andy Coulson (they clearly want, and desperately need an Alistair Campbell), but Boris Johnson, the Tory Mayor of London referred to the hacking scandal last year, as a Left Wing conspiracy. Whenever a Right Winger uses the term “left wing conspiracy” to refer to something they do not like (it happens alot in America, who, any time a gay guy says he wishes to get married to the love of his life, some lunatic Republican insists it’s all part of the “gay agenda“), I often want to bang my face against a wall and weep for the sanity of that particular section of humanity. Take Janet Daley writing in the Telegraph yesterday:

…..that great edifice of self-regarding, mutually affirming soft-Left orthodoxy which determines the limits of acceptable public discourse – of which the BBC is the indispensable spiritual centre.

Firstly, she does what most right wingers do, and suggests the BBC has a horrid left wing bias. She will no doubt point to some illogical evidence to back up her point, whilst ignoring all evidence to the contrary. The BBC, to me, has no real bias. It is almost impossible for a media organisation to be objective when objectivity itself is impossible with regard to politics. For example, whilst Daley will claim that Euroscepticism doesn’t get treated as a legitimate political view on the BBC, it is equally as important to point out (which she doesn’t) that the BBC personality who presents all their Westminster shows, is Andrew Neil, a man who was in the Conservative Club at the University of Glasgow, was a Conservative Party Research Assistant, and stood side by side with his former boss; Rupert Murdoch at the launch of Sky in the 1980s, before becoming a writer for the Daily Mail. It is almost impossible to become more right winged, before morphing into Margaret Thatcher. And he presents all of the BBCs Westminster coverage. The Daily Politics, sees Andrew Neil flanked by Labour MP for Hackney, Diane Abbott (never been a minister, or taken particularly seriously in politics) and Michael Portillo, a former Tory Defence Secretary, Shadow Chancellor, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Employment, and potential leadership candidate. The balance is tipped very much in the direction of the Right on this one.
The political editor at the BBC is Nick Robinson. One quick google search shows that Robinson, during his time at Oxford, was not just a member, but President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. He was National Chairman of the Young Conservatives. Before the 2010 election he compared Cameron to Disraeli. After the election when the coalition agreements were being debated and drawn up, he referred to a Lib/Lab coalition as a “Coalition of losers“. And contrary to the views of the those of us on the Left, on his blog Robinson says of Cameron:

David Cameron prides himself on being bold when big moments occur – challenging for the Tory leadership in 2005, calling on Gordon Brown to have a snap election in 2007 and that “big, bold and generous” offer to form the Coalition in 2010.

What Robinson has done there, has metaphorically kissed and caressed a photo of David Cameron.

Daley is so blissfully ignorant to the fact that the past two years has seen the political discourse dominated by the desire to see deep public sector cuts rather than tax hikes for the wealthy; it has seen the emergence of the desire to revert back to the Capitalism that indeed failed and brought the World crashing down with it from both Labour and the Tories, and it has seen the discourse in the media and from the mouths of politicians everywhere throw spear after vicious spear at the hearts of anyone on benefits or in a Union. The NHS has been attacked, the Welfare state has been attacked, Universities have been attacked, the public purse has been attacked, and yet the very people who caused the mess in the first place have been given vast pensions and allowed to go free. A Guardian poll yesterday showed the Tories ahead of Labour, which all suggests that the public discourse and its limits are very firmly in the court of the Right Wing. A left wing discourse would, above all, launch a sustained attack on the very need for public sector cuts in the first place, it would be calling for a complete reinvention of the economic system as opposed to ignoring the inherent flaws which WILL lead to another crash, it would be unequivocally supportive of the Unions and public sector workers rather than painting them as out of touch, greedy, and overpaid, it would be constantly presenting the information surrounding Corporate tax avoidance and the obscenely high cost to the taxpayer rather than attacking the single mum who claims a few quid more than she perhaps should. As a left winger, it is an insult to hear the discourse of the political landscape in this country referred to as left wing. But that is the superb nature of right winged discourse, unless we’re throwing anyone with an Asian complexion out of the country, privatising the NHS, and shooting the families of Union leaders in the face, they will insist the Country is too left wing. Boris Johnson did that when he claimed the coverage of Phone hacking was all part of a left wing conspiracy. The same Boris Johnson who will now, in his short term as Mayor of London, see the arrival of the third Met Commissioner on his watch. Not a great record. So that’s Boris, Cameron, The Met, Lord Ashcroft (who we are now supposed to feel sympathetic toward) and Graham Stuart MP, who have not had the greatest of records pertaining to the phone hacking scandal.

Back to Ashcroft. In 2005, he commissioned two polls by YouGov and Populus. The polls were huge, and were set up to help the Tories target marginal seats, therefore it is most certainly in the public interest. He commissioned them and paid for them through his company which is based in Belize, which means he didn’t pay any VAT on them. The Guardian estimated that he owed £40,000 in unpaid VAT. Ironically, Vince Cable, now part of the Tory government funded by Ashcroft, said at the time:

“This is quite serious. We are now not talking just about Ashcroft’s non-dom status, but about systematic tax avoidance in funding Conservative party activities such as polling.”

– So why on Earth should I care that a man who sort to keep his tax details private whilst funding a Party who would almost certainly allow his abuses to continue as they gutted the public purse, had his details extracted illegally? There are levels of poor conduct within the journalist arena, and those conducted by Brooks and Coulson and the Met (the Chief of the Met had a meeting with the Guardian to urge them to drop the phone hacking investigation last year) and in-directly, David Cameron, is far far worse than those by Tom Baldwin.

Graham Stuart MP should quit his ramblings and just go back to his mansion, and lay on his Egyptian Satin tax payer funded sheets.

The saga continues…


A Neoliberal Attack…

July 13, 2011

Religious people are far more likely to engage in conversation about religion with me, after I mention that I have studied Philosophy and take an interest in Theology. I think they presume I will agree with their thoughts and perhaps provide reasoning to their illogical beliefs. I think they imagine that one can only speak with conviction on matters of religion, if one is religious in an academic sense. The same is true of many walks of life, not least the public sector in England. Because Tory MPs are essentially a part of the public sector, they seem to believe they have the right to talk of all public sector workers, as if they’re the official spokespeople for the public sector.

On Question Time last week, John Redwood, Tory MP for Wokingham appeared delighted as he informed the audience that as a public sector worker, he would be working longer and putting more money into his pension pot as a result of his Government’s reforms, and he was proud of it. The reason John Redwood can seem so pleased with himself that he is accepting the changes to his pension and retirement age, is because on top of the £65,000 a year he earns as an MP, he also claimed a hell of a lot of money, that regular public sector workers could only dream of. Yet, Mr Redwood seems to think his claims were perfectly reasonable, as suggested on his own personal blog:

In 2007-8 I claimed a total of £105,917. This made me the 19th cheapest MP, claiming around £40,000 less than the average. One fifth of that claim was the mortgage interest costs, the Council Tax and service charge and maintenance on a bedsit flat in Pimlico. It is entirely used to enable me to work longer days in London when there is important Parliamentary business. During my ownership it has only been slept in by myself. I do not need it for any other purpose. The deposit and repayments of capital are of course paid for out of my taxed income.

– We should be thanking him, for claiming in one year, more than a teacher is likely to earn in five years. We should be happy that tax payers money is going to fund the “maintenance” on his Pimlico flat. We should be grateful that the money spent on his mortgage interest (tax payers money) will go to buying a flat he can then sell when he retires, making a handsome profit, and giving nothing back to the public, whilst his party continue to force harsh austerity. One does wonder what the purpose of his 2004/5 claim of £13,305 for his luxurious house in Berkshire (a £1,000,000 estate which he fully owns), including £168 and £112 for his lawn to be reseeded, and how that is “entirely used to enable me to work longer days in London when there is important Parliamentary business” was needed for, but nevertheless, i’m sure it’s just as noble as the necessity of “maintenance” claims on the MILLIONAIRE’S flat in London. Thank you John “Jesus Christ” Redwood. You are a hero.

A man in the audience pointed out that the Private Sector has forced through harsh pension reforms, and so the Public Sector should do the same and “modernise”. The audience were alive with cheer! But it got me thinking; why is it always the public sector that is made to look as though it is in the wrong, like a Soviet leftover, trailing behind the private sector. People seem happy to accept the notion that if the private sector is screwing people over, then so should the public sector! Why is no one arguing that the private sector should be actively forced to lift itself up to the level of the public sector? As far as I can discern, over the past twenty five years it has been an out of control short-term wealth obsessed private sector that has been so majestically out of control, that when the bubble finally cracked, the public sector had to take the hit.

Let’s look at examples of the private sector providing a “modernising” model that the public sector ought to apparently follow:

Lloyds TSB is currently 43.4% owned by the taxpayer. Yet, its new Chief Executive, Antonio Horta-Osorio received a signing on fee of £4.1mn in shares, £516,000 in money, and an annual salary of £1.6mn with a yearly bonus of £2.5mn.

A wonderful company named Trafigura, in 2010 leased a ship called the Probo Koala to a company called Compagnie Tommy, with the intent to dump toxic waste at a waste disposal sight in Amsterdam. The site raised their prices by 20 times that quoted, because the toxic waste was deemed to be far more dangerous that Compagnie Tommy and Trafigura first suggested. So, a new company set up on the Ivory Coast agreed to take the waste, for a very cheap sum. Trafigura did not investigate just why this new company was offering to take the waste for such a cheap price. After the waste was dumped, ten people died from poisoning, and over 100,000 became ill. Trafigura said they’d tested the waste, and it wasn’t toxic, and that they had no idea why so many people became ill. The Dutch tested the waste and found it contained two tonnes of Hydrogen Sulfide. A killer gas. Trafigura spent three years publicly denying the waste they dumped in a poverty stricken area of Africa, was not enough to kill people. Suddenly, Trafigura offered to pay a massive amount of compensation of Euro152,000,000 to the Ivory Coast (which didn’t go to the victims) with the instruction that on acceptance of the compensation, they couldn’t be prosecuted or causing death in the courts. The reason they did this, is because The Guardian obtained – through Wikileaks – private company emails from Trafigura in which they quite plainly accept, as early as 2006 before they’d even chosen the Ivory Coast to dump the waste, that the waste was indeed dangerous.

According to the Guardian, Diageo PLC, the company that makes Guiness, in 2009 paid as little as 2% tax on its profits, despite racking in £2bn in profits. Diageo pays its Chief Executive £3.6mn salary. To fill this gap, it takes 20,000 ordinary British households per year.

The term “Modernising” has come to mean subtle privatising of key services in recent years. An economic laissez faire that apparently promised to solve all of our problems. The outsourcing of cleaning from NHS to private companies with £94mn worth of contacts, led to such declining standards between ’83-’00, that an extra emergency £31mn was injected into cleaning in the NHS, with the a Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT), set up to visit hospitals to ensure standards were being met; the Private sector had failed. By 2000, only 20% of NHS Trusts had achieved an acceptable level of cleanliness.

The banks aren’t the only sector that have required government bail outs in recent history. In 2002, British Energy (privatised under the Tories) had to approach the government for a £410mn bail out to finance its debts.

News of the World. I believe this doesn’t need elaborating on.

Private sector bonuses and high CEO pay, is more harmful to you and I, than highly paid private sector bosses. When money accumulates in the hands of very few people within the private sector (we spend more in the private sector, than on taxes), the cost gets passed on to us. The Bush tax cuts, along with the deregulation of the financial sector didn’t go toward greater investment, it went to increasing the pay and bonuses of those at the top, and the cost was passed on to us, through the creation of a very easy credit system. We all know how that turned out.

British Airways, under the incompetent management of Willie Walsh faced massive fines (record breaking fine actually) for price fixing, long drawn out industrial disputes with the cabin crew which the media helped by describing the cabin crew as greedy, despite 2000 of their workmates being laid off, the company making huge losses, and Willie Walsh taking in a 6% inflation busting pay rise, taking it to £743,000 and £1.1mn in deferred share bonuses. Enough to keep at least ten people on at BA, who otherwise lost their job. The media will never paint the boss as the greedy incompetent bastard in this kind of dispute. It will always find a child at Heathrow, crying, because the cabin crew strike means he wont see his mummy this Christmas. The media do not tend to side with the unions, they never will, and so neither will the ill-informed public.

Do we need to even mention the banking system? A particularly ironic take on this whole new “private good public bad” era of austerity we are living in.

Thankfully we have the Government’s new corporate team, who will help him “stand up to business”. On the panel, inevitably, is Philip Green, Topshop mogul who owns Taveta Investments, which he put in his wife’s name, who happens to live in Monaco, thus avoiding £285mn in tax. He also paid his family £1.2bn, taken from a loan in the name of his company, thus cutting Corporation tax because the loan’s interest charges were offset against profit. Oh and he also uses sweatshops in Mauritius, whilst claiming his obscene bonuses are justified because he “takes risks”. Another on the panel, is Justin King, Chairman of Sainsbury’s. In his first year, he received free shares worth over £500,000, whilst axing the £120 christmas bonus for his staff. After his staff didn’t receive their christmas bonus, King awarded his wealthy finance director £357,000 worth of shares. King was also offered 1,000,000 free shares, if he met specific targets the year before. He didn’t meet the targets, the company’s profits fell 2.9% and yet he still took home 86% of the promised shares. He will be given the same year on year, on top of his £500,000+ a year salary.

We all know that the private sector has the potential to deliver fantastic opportunities, despite the fact that its raison d’etre is unjustifiable power and wealth in the hands of people who simply injected the first dose of capital required to kick start the specific business, as if that initial injection of capital somehow creates a universal, unbreakable law, like gravity, that requires the majority of the subsequent profit and the decisions required to move the business forward, be placed in the hands of the person who injected that capital. It’s a bit of a flawed and odd concept that people just tend to accept. But, it does create opportunity (though it doesn’t necessarily have to be the only way of creating opportunity). The downside, is unregulated greed. The public sector is a constant target of abuse from the source of that greed, and the politicians that the greed of the private sector can buy. Corportocracy at its finest and most dangerous.

Isn’t it about time a Politician had the balls to stand up and say the Private Sector over the past thirty years has spiraled disastrously out of control, and perhaps needs to be able to pay people a decent living wage, as opposed to bringing the public sector down to the unacceptable level of the private sector?