May 23, 2010

There are a ridiculous amount of Facebook groups (such as this one) and pages dedicated to telling me that the police have banned people from wearing England shirts, and flying England flags, incase it offends foreigners. An example, of one of the comments in that group, shows just how perfectly English and proud of their culture, history, and especially their language, they truly are:
“England till i die… And know 1 will tell me what to do with my flags or tops to wear, fuck the pakiz!!! Dont try and take over OUR country OK.”

“know 1” will tell him what to do with his flag!!! Know 1!!!!

It is obviously bullshit.

Every year, people tend to shout, pathetically; “OMG THE MUSZLIMISTS R TRYNA BAN CHRISTMAS CUS ITZ OFFENCIVESE N STUFF!!!11”. It is rubbish. It always amazes me that the majority of people in those facebook groups who claim to be “standing up for England“, manage to quite effortlessly rape the entire language. Or, of course they claim St Georges day is being banned, because it might offend people who are either gay, muslim, black, or anything that doesn’t fit into their narrow vision of what makes one “English” (which apparently, is simply limited to being racist, angry, ignorant and supremely illiterate). For example, I have decided for the next ten seconds, I will embrace what it means to be English, as perceived by a very select few idiots:
Sadly, ignorance is pretty damn easy. I might get used to it. Let me just let off some steam first.

No one, anywhere, has ever told you that being proud of England, is racist. Never. What I will tell you is, if you claim you’re proud of England because it’s for white people who aren’t muslim, then yes, you’re a racist. I find it ridiculous that people try to define what it means to be an abstract concept. I find it even more ridiculous that people will join groups like the EDL, thinking they are defending their weak and rather ugly version of what it means to be English. I didn’t realise it was “English” to join violent racist groups of hooligans, who threaten Journalists for printing negative columns about them. What amazes me, is that EDL and BNP supporters, can actually read.
The NUJ recently showed that a few journalists received death threats from the EDL. The police are currently investigating it.
One of the EDL’s chief strategists is a man called Alan Lake. He advises the Sweden Democrats on immigration policy. His immigration policy isn’t simply “extremists are evil”, it’s “anyone who isn’t like us, is evil”. Much like the EDL, who claim to be anti-extremist, yet will sit protesting outside mosques, that have no connection to extremism whatsoever. It’s just a group that people can say “LOOK! A SIKH JOINED!!! THAT MEANS WE’RE NOT RACIST!!!”
I don’t particularly care if they suddenly become non-violent (which is impossible, far-right organisations have a bit of a history of violence). They are still vicious, nasty little shits.
It is one of those groups, that appeal to the stupid, by using “clever” language to manipulate political and social discourse, make people feel they are a part of something, and to sustain itself, there must be an “other” an enemy, who they can direct their hate at. Muslim extremists, Christian extremists, and now Nationalist extremists are doing the same thing. And if people fall for it, so be it. I’m proud that i’m not as idiotic as them.

I also notice the BNP put up some wondrous candidates for MP and council elections this year.
Ken Booth, who referred to Auschwitz as a holiday camp for people, much like Disneyland.
Lynne Mozar, who when confronted by someone who simply questioned her economic policy, replied “fat slag”
Mathew Tait, who said that the the Equality and Human Rights Commission court case had forced the BNP to accept “people who we would wish to not have in our country really to be members of our party”. Damn them, for making you accept black people.
Mike Shore, who left the National Front in 2003, to start up a British version of the Ku Klux Klan.
Richard Hamilton, the BNP said they’d suspended him because he is a known Hitler supporter, who hates “niggers“. Apparently they didn’t suspend him for long.
Chris Beverley, refused to condemn Hitler, and said he doesn’t dislike him.
Ian Meller, fined £400 after being caught with a chair leg, threatening a gay guy, simply for being gay.
Barry Bennett, who said recently “I believe in National Socialism, WW2 style, it was best, no other power had anything like it,” ‘he wrote. “The ideology was fantastic. The culture, nothing like it. If it was here now, I’d defect to Germany.
Tess Culnane, was National Front candidate until 2008.
Jeffrey Marshall, when asked about David Cameron’s son who died, said “We live in a country today which is unhealthily dominated by an excess of sentimentality towards the weak and unproductive. No good will come of it.”

The Nation State is very much a part of this whole Nationalist debate, something that goes back over four hundred years.

The Nation State came around about 16/17th Century. It actually evolved through Protestantism. As Henry VIII started to question the legitimacy of the Pope, the Parliament of the day granted full power over the Nation of England, to the King. Something that hadn’t ever been done before. Thomas Cromwell was the key to it all. It was his legislation. He also completely reformed the way politics was conducted, by introducing a sort of bureaucracy and departmental governing and National institutions, which had never been done before. Protestantism was the basis for an emerging Nation State. To build that Nation State among the minds of the Kings subjects, required building a sense of National unity. Which was odd, given that Kings and Queens of Europe were marrying and producing children who were half English, half Spanish. Or Half French, half Italian, and so on. It was also odd, given that whilst the King and the Nobles still lived in luxury, the majority of the people, including the army, lived shit lives of squalor. The King and Court didn’t seem to give much of a shit about their people for most of the time. The problem was, that most people felt a sense of connection with the rest of Europe, due to their Catholic roots. They felt a strong bond with the Papacy. That now needed to change. The King and Court needed to direct that sense of loyalty away from the Pope, and toward the Crown. But the King is simply someone who lives and then dies. So basing a sense of loyalty on something far greater was needed. The State was born. The idea of England as a unified set of principles, was born. The King had to use a psychological weapon of some sort to persuade the people, that when they go to war, they are going to war for the good of England. What difference would it make, who was in control of England? Whether it be a French King, a Scottish King, a Spanish King, or an English King? They were all the same, with the same system. They were merely using the lower classes, to protect themselves and their wealth and status. And so with the onset of Protestantism (which wasn’t down to any religious reason, and was entirely down to a King and his council getting a little too power hungry), the government of the day, now had a complete say over the way their Country was run. Europe was governed by the Papacy in Rome before that. Even England, up until 1534 was pretty much governed by Rome. The Holy Roman Empire stretched across Germany and Austria and Belgium. It was one big nation. And it worked for Centuries. In fact, for the majority of British history, as i’ve stated before, from the year 0 to 2010, we were a strict Catholic country. Catholicism, is our traditional connecting value.

Fast forward 470 years, and America and Britain are now telling their people, especially those in the lower classes that they should put their lives on the line, in a war for the good of England and Britain and the rest of the World. When, on the contrary, those ridiculously brave men and women are dying, for the good of American and British business interests, and in fact, merely perpetuating the problem of Islamic extremism World Wide. I’m only surprised that it’s the extremist Muslims who have been the first to snap. I would have put money on it being the Latin Americans.

National Pride created by an elite set of rulers has never been about celebrating a common ancestry, or a common ethical standard. It has always been about Imperialism, either by force, by economic means, or by a mixture of both.

Nation States evolved during the colonial era, and are simply a left over of the colonial days. We drew straight lines on Africa. Go look at a map of Africa. It is divided almost into perfect squares. Do you think that is biological? It REALLY isn’t. We didn’t care about the tribes and who they identified themselves with. We just needed an easy way to know what land we’d decided were ours, and which were French owned plots of African land, for the purpose of slavery and exploitation.

Thomas Paine writing in section 3 part 2 of “The Rights of Man” over two centuries ago, says of the difference between the old Monarchical past and the new Globalised, democratic future;

“The one encourages national prejudices; the other promotes universal society, as the means of universal commerce.

The Nation States in Europe worked fine when we could strictly regulate trade, and capital and the influx of slaves. When economies were National. It embedded itself into our way of life, pretty quickly. It helped build our economy, so when we eventually became far more capitalist, we had a strong basis to work from, we had a massive advantage. Now, if you want the benefits of a globalised economy; cheap imports etc, then Nation States are hugely contradictory to that aim. If your borders are pretty much fully open to goods and to capital and are not rooted to their Nation of origin, and that capital is always looking for the best return on investment, then saying things like “British jobs for British people” is so unbelievably 17th Century Colonial reasoning, it’s not even worth trying to argue against. If capital and goods are able to flow freely across the World, then it stands to reason that labour should not be chained to it’s nation of ‘origin’, and so with labour comes different philosophies and cultures from Countries that have been colonial and protectionist for centuries. If you are the owner of a company, and you are looking for the best return on investment, and a Pakistani man applies for the same job as a white British man, and the Pakistani man is clearly better at the job, far more likely to raise profits, which in turn helps to create new jobs, why on Earth would you choose the Pakistani man? National identity is not compatible with Capitalism, because building a wall around popultion, is like building a wall around capital. It isn’t compatible with the aims of a globalised economy. It is only going to damage the country in the long run.

Our impact on the World, is quite real. The decisions that are made at the Bank of England, or at Westminster, can and do directly affect people in places like Afghanistan and African Nations. We call them “developing” because we assume that unless they follow our economic structure and accept that our way is the best way, they can never be “developed“, even if they are perfectly happy with the way their World is. We demand that they open their markets by lowing tariffs and removing any support for local farmers. We then flood their markets, and given that they don’t fully understand what a market based economy actually means, they are forced to give up everything they know, and succumb to our ways. We then put their wives and their kids in factories under appalling working conditions, for little or no money, working most of the day and night, so we can buy cheap shit from Primark, and then say “Well at least they’re earning” as if that’s justification. We cannot get away from the fact that we have a huge impact on the “developing” World, for our own benefit, and those people have absolutely no say over it. Illegitimate power. So who are the real victims of some abstract culture war, you dumb xenophobic, racist fucking idiot.

I do think National Identity is a human creation. And so, an abstraction. It isn’t real. We have assigned land masses to groups of people, and are deeply suspicious and unwilling to accept people who were born on other land masses, as being similar to us. We think that others, who were born on the same land mass as us, are the same, share the same beliefs and ideals and that no one else could possibly understand, and so they are “other”. It is nonsense. An abstraction.

The real social connections between people are based on ethical standards, but they are not rooted to a particular land mass indefinitely. Nor is it based on biology. If you identify your ethics, your standards, and your reasoning, to a particular culture, if that particular culture is the way you live your life, then yes, you are apart of that culture.

Pride in your Country, especially at times of international competition like the World Cup is great. I will be wearing my England shirt, for much of it. It is a time when people should indeed feel a real part of society in an increasingly individualist World. However, that sense of shared identity should be open to all who consider themselves a part of it, not just a few who happen to be white, and xenophobic.

There, now that I’ve got that off my chest, back to being an idiot:

We have exiled beauty….

March 2, 2010

“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

A stunningly imaginative and beautiful choice of words, straight from Ecclesiastes. Language that if written today, would become the wasteful mutterings of the unimaginative.
George Orwell took the very same passage from Ecclesiastes, and to prove the point that i’m trying to make, he translated it into Modern English….
“Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

Orwell was Left wing. He was Socialist (although, not in the practical sense, he was a scientific Socialist). He believed, and stated on many occasions in essays, that it is the job of the Left, to question society, to not allow corruption and lies to become common place. That real intellectualism is a product of the Left, because to be “Left” you have to be dissastisfied with the current “systems” and offer change, you have to think, you have to be Utopian and not settle for the notion that reality is unchangeable. Where as the Right, or “Conservativism” is just the opposite, and is what it states, Conservative, no reason to question, no reason to disbelieve what you’re being told. Orwell, was in short, great.

He goes on to state that the modern use of the English language is similar to snow, in that it covers the truth, it blurs the outlines, and so is perfect for political and business talk.
There are two problems I see with this modern use of language.
1) It’s lazy. The quote from Ecclesiastes is a beautiful string of words. The use of metaphorical speech together with ease of flow, is incredible. It’s beautifully thought out and expressed. The point it makes it clear and it makes you want to read it over. The second, and recreated quote, as proven by Orwell, merely opens a book on popular phrases, and shoves them together. For example “element of the unpredictable” and “taken into account“. Simple phrases, we’ve all heard a million times before. Nothing new or provocative in the slightest. And that is exactly the point Orwell was making.

The free market does not allow for such wonders of creativity. Books like Jordan’s autobiography top the charts every year, spilling the beans on her lugubriously uninteresting life. Because as a population is working longer hours, for less pay; the only leisure time we have, we spend on our Xbox’s or reading easy to follow but disastrous excuses for “literature”. It’s easy. We have no time for beauty. Beauty requires thought. Our society doesn’t like thought. It likes blind acquiescence. The plethora of literature that passes by unnoticed, is unnerving. And so where is the incentive to write and to contemplate the beauty of the imagery one can create using words that haven’t already been seen a million times before, why would they want to? Evidently, it is 100 times easier to pick commonly abused phrases out and weld them together. Phrases like “leave no stone unturned” that, when first uttered, were almost ingenius, but using them over and over, is laziness of it’s worse kind. Especially in a Nation growing in it’s sense of Nationalism, it would make sense to utilise the language of the Nation we so candidly defend, in the best way possible, rather than relying on pre-spoken phrases. You’re no longer a citizen of England, you’re a Robot of England. Your voice works, but your brain is disengaged. We could be a Nation of Thomas More, Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Byron. Instead, we’re men in suits rushing to get on the Circle and District line, desperately clinging onto the hope that we wont be late into the Office for the unfathomably boring Powerpoint Presentation the boss is putting on later.

A tirade of idioms like “Take no prisoners” which seemingly posess no determinable meaning whatsoever, suddenly become common place. Because, we’re lazy with language. Language has been a artform of pure beauty for centuries. Existentialist Philosopher Albert Camus notes “We have exiled beauty; the Greeks took up arms for her” before pointing out quite rightly that: “We are ashamed of beauty. Our wretched tragedies have a smell of the office clinging to them, and the blood that trickles from them is the color of printer’s ink.” He’s fantastically right.

2) Political talk manipulates modern language, in order to seem acceptable. When the Chinese robbed hundreds of their homes, in order to build the Olympic Villiage, it wasn’t described as theft, or robbery, it was described as “transfer of population”. Suddenly, theft is almost respectable. No one questioned it. If they’d have said “We’ve just evicted people from their homes, they had no choice, they now have nowhere to live, because, well, WE WANT MEDALS!!!!“, there’d have been outcry and public dismay.

It allows phrases like “freedom” to appear. They never define what they mean by Freedom, similarly, they never define what they mean by Democracy, and yet “transfer of population” is fine when it’s in the pursuit of “freedom” and “democracy“. Freedom, when stripped bare (arrgggh, i did it, a useless common metaphor) , means the freedom to gain unimaginable wealth at the expense of the labour of others.
Perhaps I’m not clear enough. An old couple, not so long ago, died together in their homes during the winter, as a direct result of fuel poverty. Not too long ago, E-On Chief executive was caught saying “Rising fuel costs, means more money for us hahahahaha“. Is that what Politicians mean when they keep repeating “freedom“? Why cloak greed behind a tirade of disingenuous language?
Orwell calls Political Speech “The defence of the indefensible.” He’s right. Political language has to be vague, in order to advance the interests of what Chomsky calls the “two factions of the business party“; be it Democrat or Republicans, Labour or Conservative.

Office talk, similar to political language; people in suits, using deeply clouded language to cover up their true meaning, is quite morbidly institutionalised now. It has embedded itself into the very economic core of society and so is not going to simply float away. You will often hear “We have a strong customer focus” instead of “we’re manipulating your thoughts, for profit“. You’ll hear “Our vision” means “our commitment to greed, is so strong, we’ll even right this clever web of words on business cards“. “Go the extra mile on this one“…. means… “from today, you have no social life, no family, no friends, you’re now utterly dedicated to making me money, I own you, bitch.

The business world has a list. They have four categories, and they pick words from those categories, to make a meaningless bundle of bollocks. You can do this too, i’ll give you all the tools you need. One word from each category, and you are now, a businessman…
Enthusiastically, Completely, Continually, Dramatically, Pro – actively, Assertively, seamlessly.
Build, Enhance, Maintain, Supply, Restore, Create, Utilize, Promote.
World-Class, Multimedia based, Long Term, High Impact, Diverse, Competitive, Cutting Edge, Market-driven, High standards in.
Data, Resources, Leadership Skills, Infrastructures, Materials, Solutions, Benefits for all, Technology.
There you go, congratulations, you’re now a businessman.
If I owned my own Corporation, i’d go with “Dramatically utilise high impact infrastructures.” It’s meaningless, it’s the language of the idiot, but apparently, it means i’m “professional” so it must be right.
The only way to combat such lack of imagination, such laziness is to think. Think about what you’re saying. Yes, in a way, the English language is forever changing. But the English language is also a tool for the individual to utilise, not to simply adhere to whatever the rest of society is doing. Even our Politicians of days past have been masters of language. Elizabeth I once proclaimed “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king”. Our politicians, are simply celebrities with buzz words and spun PR nonsense. Society is growing ever more pretentious with how it uses language.

“Here may we reign secure, and in my choice To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell. Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven. “

It isn’t a case of using the correct grammar. It’s a case of refraining from pulling as many Latin inspired words out of a “How to sound intelligent” book as possible, and utilising the power and the beauty of the English language and it’s capabilities. That’s where the true genius lies. As shown in the quote above, taken from Paradise Lost, by Milton. Two simple sentences, exploding with power, beauty and genius.

You do not need to use archaic lexis in order to combat modern English language laze, you just need to open your mind to the shear weight of words that can be used along side other words to create something as beautiful as…
“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”