The Enlightenment – An overview

The Enlightenment – An overview

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The Enlightenment came about in the 18th century and freed Western civilisation from the stranglehold of religious fundamentalism. It enabled all the progress we now take for granted.

Prior to this time there was a type of extreme fundamentalism that was akin to ISIS. It was illegal to oppose Christian religious belief. Europe was a theocracy. The word of god was the only rule. Heretics, or those the Church/establishment deemed to be heretic could be tortured to death to save their souls. All methods of torture were devised and deployed including the most barbaric that can be imagined.

To even publish the Bible in English was an offence punishable by death. The Church wanted the power and that resided with the clergy. It was not right for ordinary people to have access to the teachings; they could misinterpret the meaning.

It was a regular event to have blasphemers, witches and heretics publicly burnt to death. Science and rationalism were not permitted.

What is obvious is that all this was much more to do with power than religion.

In the 1620s there was a scientific revolution which brought about a wave of rationalism and doubt. The theological certainties of flat earth, earth at the centre of creation and even man in god’s image were brought into question.

In the 18th Century philosophers such as Kant developed the philosophy of rationalism. This grew among the intellectual classes and led to a movement to create a society based on reason. This led to the separation of religion from politics and the formation of a secular culture.

Secular politics was based on tolerance and reason.

The philosopher Locke the radical idea that government should be through the consent of the people and not the imposition of religious dogma.

This led to a flourishing of the Arts and Science which created the greatest impetus of social development in the history of the world. The West flourished.

The enlightenment led to the ethos of the French Revolution – Equality, Liberty and Fraternity.

It separated the state from religion.

It led to the American revolution and the enshrined doctrine of freedom, religious freedom and individuality.

It has enabled the West to create democracy, pluralism, tolerance, freedom, science, liberalisation, the arts and a diverse and vital culture.

If we had not had an enlightenment and reformation we would still be in medieval costume burning Catholics, Muslims and anyone who was different in our public squares.

Long Live the Enlightenment! Something worth fighting for!

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Brexit – Johnson’s Plan to Reduce Worker Rights.

We can only surmise (from the deliberate dropping of the clauses on maintaining workers’ right from the Brexit bill) Johnson is looking to bring worker’s rights in line with much lower USA standards rather than attempt to elevate them to those enjoyed in Scandinavia.

Here is a couple of examples:

Statutory Holiday Rights:

In the UK                   In the USA                      In Sweden

20 days                    10 days                           25 days

 

Maternity/Paternity Rights:

In the UK                In the USA                       In Sweden

Males 

10 days                     60 days                       Share 480 days

Full pay                    Unpaid                          80% pay

Females

130                         60 days                         Share 480 days

Full pay                   Unpaid                           80% pay

This leaves one with a number of questions.

Why are American workers’ conditions so incredibly poor? Is it due to lack of unionisation? Is it due to gross inequality? Why is the richest nation on earth so miserly with its workers?

How can Scandinavia afford to be so generous to its workers?

Why is Johnson so keen to undermine our workers’ rights instead of building on them to get them to Scandinavian levels? Could it be that he is in favour of increasing profits by exploiting workers? Surely not?

But then that is what the Tories consistently do, isn’t it? They put profit for the wealthy above people, don’t they?

At this time, with automation and AI, do we really need to be working so long and hard?

It really is a race to the bottom isn’t it?

Poetry – A history of struggle – a poem about inequality.

Poetry – A history of struggle – a poem about inequality.

Stanzas and Stances cover

A History of Struggle

Within Britain we have achieved a level of social justice. Nobody should starve or go without a roof over their heads, though I’m sure some still do. There is a minimum wage and health and safety to ensure reasonable working conditions. We have education and health care. Even the poorest enjoy a reasonable standard of living.

But I cannot help thinking that we only get the minimum that the establishment think they can get away with. The fat cats at the top scoop off the profits in inordinate amounts.

If we look globally we see an even greater inequality. While the corporations run things for their own ends, to maximize their profits, billions are on the starvation level and the natural world is blitzed.

It is only ever through social struggle, paid for with blood, that we have ever wrested power, better conditions or better pay from the wealthy.

I do not believe the establishment cares a jot. They have no compassion. They will screw you if they can.

 

A History of Struggle

There is a history of struggle

Disguised

By a thin veneer

Of adequacy

That controls everyone

In a web of narrow

Expectation.

 

There’s a small trough of cream

And an endless desert

Of excrement.

As the few wet whiskers drip

While billions of parched throats

Croak

In futile hope.

 

Opher 30.10.2015

Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez and the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s

Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez and the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s.

 

Back in the early 1960s the Civil Rights Movement was picking up momentum. Martin Luther King was organising marches, sit-ins, boycotts and protests. There was a move towards gaining equality for people regardless of creed, race or religion. Segregation was rife and needed to be utterly destroyed.

The Folk Movement had come out of the Left Wing protests of the 1950s with its social messages from the likes of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and the Weavers. It stood for freedom, equality and fairness. It supported the unions, fair pay and social justice.

The songs that came out of the early sixties were termed protest songs. They were songs for human rights and justice.

Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton were at the forefront singing songs that helped rouse the conscience of the world. The white liberals and radicals joined with the blacks to fight for equality.

With songs like ‘Blowing in the Wind’, ‘To Ramona’, ‘The Ballad of Hollis Brown’, ‘The Ballad of Medgar Evans’, ‘Links on the Chain’, Power and the Glory’, ‘Only a Pawn in their Game’, ‘Chimes of Freedom’, ‘We Shall Overcome’, ‘Here to the State of Mississippi’ and hundreds more, the singer/songwriters took a stance, sang their truth, and opposed the Jim Crow laws. They put their bodies on the line. They supported the freedom riders and went on the marches.

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez performed at the great march on Washington that drew a million people in to hear Martin Luther King speak.

Their voice told the black protestors that they were not alone. White supporters went down South to support the protests and were killed by the rabid racist Klu Klux Klan along with the blacks they were supporting.

Martin Luther King – ‘I Have a Dream’ – the greatest oratory of all time. Equality and freedom – a vision for the future.

Martin Luther King – ‘I Have a Dream’ – the greatest oratory of all time. Equality and freedom – a vision for the future.

This was the March on Washington when a million white and black people joined hands and demanded equality.

The establishment was racist; the people were united against it. They demanded action. White and black stood together as equals. Bob Dylan and Joan Baez sang. Martin Luther King delivered the most important speech of modern times.

It was a speech that centred on the injustices but did not invoke hatred. Instead it focussed on a vision for a future in which both black and white would prosper together as equals and be mutually benefitted. It was a world in which racism was seen as the evil it was.

That is the future I want and fight for.

Martin Luther King knew exactly what he was doing; he was putting his life on the line. He knew he would be killed for his eloquent words, passion and hope for the future. It did not deter him. He spoke his mind and the content of his heart.

Without him we would not have the world we have today. There is still racism, poverty and war but there is also a huge improvement, a voice and a hope. It shines. Racism, ignorance, poverty and war will be conquered by non-violent protest.

The creationists, fundamentalists, ISIS, racists, elitists and those who create war, injustice and poverty will be defeated by intelligence, wisdom and love.

Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech August 28 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?”

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our chlidren are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for whites only.”

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exhalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Human Rights – The UN Charter of Human Rights – Article 2

Human Rights – The UN Charter of Human Rights – Article 2

Article 2.

  • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Homo sapiens – the thinking man. We are all one species. Our similarities far exceed our differences. We all have the same rights.

The arbitrary separation into gender, race, culture and nationality is superficial.

We are all free people with rights and freedoms.

We need to work to ensure those rights, freedoms and respect are universally applied!

That is something worth fighting for (in a non-violent manner)!

Let us prove we are worthy of the name – THINKING – and can rise above the indoctrination that restricts our thoughts and actions.

Human Rights – The UN Charter for Human Rights is the only hope for mankind. – Article 1.

Human Rights – The UN Charter for Human Rights is the only hope for mankind. – Article 1.

Article 1.

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

This basically means

– stop indoctrinating the children with religion and politics

– be tolerant to each other

– There is no basis for sexism and racism

– We need greater global equality and justice

– Do not oppress others

– Love each other, help each other, show compassion and friendship

– Stop being greedy and selfish

– Do not impose your religion, politics or views on others

– Stop blowing the hell out of each other, trying to terrorise, intimidate, or murder each other.

– We are all equal, all worthy of respect, all different.

That’s what I believe! That’s the only place I put my faith!

Phil Ochs – Links on the Chain – Lyrics about the Trade Union movement.

Phil Ochs – Links on the Chain – Lyrics about the Trade Union movement.

Phil Ochsttt

Without the Trade Unions organising the bosses abused the working man. Working people were kept in slum housing on poverty wages while the rich creamed off all the wealth and lived in huge mansions with servants.

The Trade Unions fought for a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.

After the Unions came into existence the lot of the ordinary person was greatly improved.

It was a step in the right direction; a step towards equality.

The Trade Unions became too powerful and too silly. The restricted practices to protect their members went too far. Power corrupts.

What we need is a strong &Union Movement and responsibility. At this moment in time the inequality is too great.

Phil Ochs wrote about the rise of the Trade Union movement and how it represented the working people and brought fairness and prosperity. He wrote of how it betrayed the black people by failing to join with the civil rights movement.

We are now in a global battle for fairness and an end to poverty for everyone on the planet. It is only the establishment who want the inequality for cheap labour to boost their profits.

This is the time for a global Trade Union movement – Fairness and Justice for All!!!!

Links on the Chain

Come you ranks of labor, come you union core
And see if you remember the struggles of before
When you were standing helpless on the outside of the door
And you started building links on the chain, on the chain
And you started building links on the chain

When the police on the horses were waitin’ on demand
Ridin’ through the strike with the pistols in their hands
Swingin’ at the skulls of many a union man
As you built one more link on the chain, on the chain
As you built one more link on the chain

Then the army of the fascists tried to put you on the run
But the army of the union, they did what could be done
Oh, the power of the factory was greater than the gun
As you built one more link on the chain, on the chain
As you built one more link on the chain

And then in 1954, decisions finally made
Oh, the black man was a-risin’ fast, racin’ from the shade
And your union took no stand and your union was betrayed
As you lost yourself a link on the chain, on the chain
As you lost yourself a link on the chain

And then there came the boycotts and then the freedom rides
And forgetting what you stood for, you tried to block the tide
Oh, the automation bosses were laughin’ on the side
As they watched you lose your link on the chain, on the chain
As they watched you lose your link on the chain

You know when they block your trucks boys by layin’ on the road
All that they are doin’ is all that you have showed
That you gotta strike, you gotta fight to get what you are owed
When you’re building all your links on the chain, on the chain
When you’re building all your links on the chain

And the man who tries to tell you that they’ll take your job away
He’s the same man who was scabbin’ hard just the other day
And your union’s not a union till he’s thrown out of the way
And he’s chokin’ on your links of the chain, of the chain
And he’s chokin’ on your links of the chain

For now the times are tellin’ you the times are rollin’ on
And you’re fighting for the same thing, the jobs that will be gone
Now it’s only fair to ask your boys, which side are you on?
As you’re buildin’ all your links on the chain, on the chain
As you’re buildin’ all your links on the chain

Tracy Chapman – Talkin’ Bout a Revolution – Lyrics about the underclass rising up and forcefully taking what is rightfully theirs.

Tracy Chapman – Talkin’ Bout a Revolution – Lyrics about the underclass rising up and forcefully taking what is rightfully theirs.

 

This song could have been written about austerity and the unfairness of how it works. The rich get richer and the poor get squashed. Public services get smashed and the rich use their private services to gain even more advantage.

Austerity favours the establishment.

When people are abused so much, when inequality reaches a peak, they spontaneously rise up and smash the system. We nearly saw it with the riots of a few years back.

The Tories and the bankers run a pretty shady business of looking after their rich buddies and toffs. Austerity was a great excuse.

However, this song was about the racial divide in America which has created an underclass of black Americans.

They are beginning to assert themselves but they have a long way to go.

We are all one species. Nobody should have any greater right than anybody else!

A revolution will happen one way or another. I hope for slow gradual change towards greater fairness. Violence is always a loser for everyone!

If austerity and the racial divide continues , if the global poverty levels are allowed to go on, there will be a reckoning

We need to listen to the whispers.

“Talkin’ Bout A Revolution”

Don’t you know
They’re talkin’ bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Don’t you know
They’re talkin’ about a revolution
It sounds like a whisperWhile they’re standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in the unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Poor people gonna rise up
And get their share
Poor people gonna rise up
And take what’s theirs

Don’t you know
You better run, run, run…
Oh I said you better Run, run, run…
Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin’ bout a revolution

Genocide – the Holocaust, Armenians, Pol Pot, Stalin, Sarajevo, Killing Fields, Mao, ISIS, Native American Indians, the Disappeared, now all of Nature

Genocide – the Holocaust, Armenians, Pol Pot, Stalin, Sarajevo, Killing Fields, Mao, ISIS, Native American Indians, the Disappeared, now all of Nature.

Lest we forget

genocide 2 genocide genocide2708_bones_g

We’re very good at it. Throughout history we storm through and kill everyone who is different. It probably started with the Neanderthals – maybe even before that with other species of hominids.

We are xenophobic, racist and have a cruel, barbaric streak.

The Mongols were good at it. Colonists are good at it. We ruthlessly cull the populations we encounter.

In the modern times we have got industrial.

In South America and North America we used germ warfare – smallpox, chicken pox, flu, measles. There were no defences in the indigenous populations.

In Australia you could shoot aboriginals as if they were rabid dogs.

In New Zealand and the Philippines, everywhere we’ve gone.

On the Crusades we slaughtered. On the Jihads we slaughtered.

All races, all places, all times, all people. It is no particular race ; it is all of us.

It’s in our genes!!

Right now we are still doing it!!  These days ISIS is at it.

We use the excuse of religion or politics – even science.

But our viciousness towards each other is not restricted to our own species. We are just as cruel when it comes to everything else. We’ve already wiped out most of the mega fauna and are now working our way through the rest.

We are slaughtering trees, insects and animals, butchering our way around the world.

It’s time we stopped! It’s time we started respecting each other and other forms of life.

It’s time we start to grow up and become intelligent and civilised!