Opher talks to Opher about politics.

‘OK Opher, let’s start with a few easy ones – are you political?’

‘Yes. Ultimately I have come to realise that every aspect of our lives is run by politics. If you are engaged with life then you are political.’

‘So how would you describe your politics.’

‘I’m left of centre. I do not fully subscribe to any political group. Idealistically I would be a communist – but in reality they have a habit of developing totalitarian regimes. So I veer towards socialism – I’m a mixture of Greens and Social Democrat. In Britain I tend to support either Labour or the Greens and oppose the whole basic tenet of the Tory party.’

‘Were you always political?’

‘No – not at all. As a youth I was extremely anti-establishment and aligned with the sixties counterculture. I believed that the establishment runs the world. They are the wealthy elite who via corruption and funding, along with control of the media, control the political parties. I was apolitical in terms of how I saw all political parties as being controlled by that elite and as bad as each other. So I wanted out of society. I wanted to have a life that did not support a world run for greed – a more simple life that I felt was more creative, more meaningful, more fulfilling, less hypocritical and more fulfilling.’

‘I have always believed in fairness. That has led me to place equality at the centre of my thinking. All people are not equal but they are of equal worth. They all deserve a fair share or at least the opportunity. I want a level playing field.’

‘But you changed.’

‘Yes a little. I still believe that though. The wealthy elite control things and are a destructive force exploiting us and the planet, plundering, creating wars and leaving huge poverty and inequality in their wake.’

‘So what is different in your views?’

‘I discovered that you cannot live outside of society. There is no escape – leastways if you want to be in contact with friends and family. You are caught up in the game. Then I became a teacher. I found that there was a big difference between political parties. When the Tories were in power the public services were cut and money given to the wealthy in tax cuts. When Labour were in power the schools, hospitals and youth services were better funded and that made a big difference. They were both still controlled by the same powerful elite (in different ways) but politics made a big difference to those at the bottom.’

‘I also see things on a global scale. The big issues cannot be dealt with locally. The environmental issues, overpopulation, pollution, global warming, poverty, war, tax evasion, crime, racism, multinationals, corruption. They are not restricted by artificial national boundaries. We need a global view to deal with them. That leads me to put my faith in a structure like the UN.’

‘But surely global politics can be exploited by that global elite? You could be giving them total control.’

‘Yes – but I believe we have to find a way of putting in safeguards. We have to foremost protect the environment, tackle overpopulation and poverty and make the world a better place for everyone! That political! I’m still an idealist. I believe we can make things better.’

Music to keep me SANE during Isolation – Leonard Cohen

I really miss him. It is sad to think that there won’t be any more music or poems coming from the man. I miss his humour and insight.

So I shall have to make do with the wonderful body of work he produced in his lifetime.

Today I’ll be playing Leonard Cohen and I shall laugh and sigh.

The poor stay poor the rich get rich.

Everybody knows the captain lied.

Woody Guthrie on Automation and A/I.

The result of automation and artificial intelligence is to put people out of work and concentrate the wealth in a smaller number of hands.

It can end up with a divided nation – the extremely wealthy and the destitute.

However, in the right hands it could end up with a three day week, job sharing, a sharing of the increased wealth and greater leisure and prosperity for all!

I wonder which it will be?

Here’s so Woody Guthrie thoughts on the matter:

‘I went to work in a big steel mill

And I guess I’d have been there still:

But they invented a big machine

And a million men went over the hill

To the poor house – unwanted,

Unneeded, unwelcome guests.’

 

‘I always thought of a big machine

As the way the Lord his people blessed;

But in the hands of the selfish man,

The more you’re blessed, the worse it gets.’

Poetry – Live More Wisely

Live More Wisely

 

It’s not a lack of money.

It’s not a lack of space.

It’s just the way we use it

That’s the tragic disgrace.

 

We need to be less greedy.

We need to live more wisely.

We need to do less harm.

We need much more equality.

 

We’re destroying all the land.

We’re killing everything,

So that a small minority

Can go living like a king.

 

We need much more respect,

Much more humility,

Much more compassion

Far less futility.

 

Opher – 25.5.2020

Put America First and Buy British!

My heart always sinks when I hear these kind of phrases. They are glib, jingoistic and disguise all the real problems behind a mask of nationalistic fervour.

Put America First!

Buy British!

Just political tools used to gain votes.

There are many forces at work to undermine our economies and create joblessness. It is these underlying problems that require fixing. Unfortunately these problems are big and fixing them is not easy, neither do they show results in one or even two terms of office (where China, with its long-term thinking and strategy benefits).

As I see it there are three main problems:

  1. Outsourcing – companies moving abroad or procuring products at cheaper prices from abroad.
  2. Automation and A/I – where machines and robots take on the work of the workforce and displace them.
  3. Old technology that has been superseded by new industries.

Much of the developed world’s manufacturing industry has moved to the developing world where labour is cheap and overheads are much less. It is easier to build/make/produce goods there and ship it, rather than produce it at home.

Increased automation and A/I mean that machines and computers can do the work of many people far more cheaply and efficiently. They displace the workforce. Why use navies with pickaxes and shovels to mine, make roads or dig tunnels when a machine does it in a fraction of time, much cheaper? Why have a receptionist answer a phone when a machine can and you don’t have to pay it? Why drive a truck when a robot can do it cheaper and safer? Increasingly automation and A/I is taking over – stacking shelves, cleaning, even performing operations, flying planes and driving.

Old polluting industries like coal, steel and oil are no longer needed in the modern world. We can use substitutes for steel and machines that run on clean energy.

So the old mills, pits and refineries are shutting down. The new technologies are highly efficient and require few people. The developing world is where we have outsourced our pollution and from where we receive our cheap goods.

Instead of jingoistic slogans – like Make America Great Again we need to deal with the underlying issues.

  1. Raise the standards of the industries in the developing world so that they meet basic health, safety and environmental standards and workers have comparable conditions and pay. Then there will not be the need to outsource!
  2. Find a better way of distributing wealth – increased salaries, shorter working weeks – so that the greater efficiency created by automation and A/I does not merely get funnelled into the pockets of the owners – the elite.
  3. Redeploy people into caring industries and the new technologies with suitable retraining.

We do not have to have a mass of displaced, deprived and desperate people.

That is our choice.

It is the result of the system we have put in place.

We can create a prosperous and responsible world for everyone. We do not need jingoistic, nationalistic slogan. We need to tackle the underlying issues!

Our planet needs protecting! All people are important (not just Americans or British)! The world is interconnected! What happens in India, the Philippines, Africa or China  affects all of us!

The world is small. We cannot afford to waste resources, outsource our pollution, or raise ourselves up at the expense of others (and the environment).

We need to work together!

Despite all the propaganda neither Americans nor British people are worth more than anybody else.

Chuck out the slogans and simplistic nationalism!! Time for a better world for all of us (and nature)!!

The end of Laissez-Faire Capitalism???

Is the Corvid 19 virus putting the final nail in the coffin of laissez-faire capitalism?

As the USA implodes under poor leadership with an economy in tatters, spiralling unemployment, unrest, division and a death-rate that is going berserk, China is quietly preparing to take over as the preeminent power in the world.

While the USA shows no sign of gaining control over the virus China is already getting back to normal.

The cards have long been on the table. Indeed one has to ask how America has maintained its position for so long given the poor education of its general population, the level of superstition, ignorance, racism and violence. It always has been a divided nation. It is becoming more so – encouraged by its own leadership.

The USA is the wealthiest country in the world but you wouldn’t know it when walking through many of its cities. Ghettos of squalor, homelessness and lack of opportunity, rampant racism and crime, gangs, drugs, murder and lawlessness with millions lacking even basic medical care or any safety net.

Laissez-faire capitalism has developed a selfishness and greed that is eating itself. It has created massive inequality. Those that ‘have’ believe they deserve it, while those who ‘have nothing’ deserve to be in the mess they are in. Yet it is obvious that race, privilege and opportunity play their part. The working class, deprived of good education and opportunity, are fed religion, patriotism and the American Dream. The ethic of hard work accrues wealth for the few but does not deliver to the many.

Big Business controls the elections and ensures only candidates supporting the elite can become elected. The propaganda machine feeds out its scare stories – fear of immigrants, fear of terrorists, fear of communism or socialism, fear of minorities. They even convince people that a multibillionaire represents blue-collar workers.

Meanwhile the Wild West ethic still persists as American arm themselves with semiautomatics and walk around intimidating officials and pretending that they are keeping the government in check and could actually take it on if they wanted, a delusion that is widespread. They believe this selfish, me first attitude is freedom. If it is, it is born of paranoia and fear that is more claustrophobic than any prison.

As the world of conspiracy theories devour science and knowledge, undermining the fabric of society and civilisation and replacing it with tribalism, politicians cynically use it for their own ends regardless of outcomes.

The Corona Virus has exposed the worst of this society:

  • Inept leadership
  • Lack of discipline
  • Gross ignorance
  • Blind patriotism
  • Gross inequality
  • Lack of safety nets
  • Lack of health care
  • Belief in religion
  • Belief in conspiracies
  • Gullibility
  • Racism
  • Xenophobia
  • Selfishness
  • Greed
  • Lack of civilised cohesion

Now, under the weight of Covid the system is imploding. Without proper safety nets the desperate are looking for scapegoats. God and country have let them down.

Is it a socialist plot? A hoax? A democratic party ploy? A Chinese weapon?

No. It is the result of the capitalist system that has deprived the majority of the opportunities and education they deserved while lavishing untold wealth on a tiny elite. A system that puts in place poor leaders.

Instead of using wealth to create a fair society whose prosperity is shared by all it has deprived its masses and greedily funnelled the wealth to the top.

Americans has been conditioned to believe that this is the American way, the way that has made the USA the number one power.

Perhaps it is time for a rethink as America is superseded by a power that has been planning and laying down the foundations for world domination for a very long time.

I’m not saying this is good. China, with its propaganda machine, ruthless control, lack of respect for the environment and disdain of human rights is hardly my vision for the future.

As a UK citizen I feel let down. America could have been a beacon of freedom and prosperity. Unfortunately it has not used its power and wealth wisely, and certainly not for the benefit of its own citizens. It has fostered wars, interfered with politics across the globe, kept its own population ignorant and squandered its opportunities.

So while Trump tries to blame China and the WHO for his own stupidity and ineptitude the Covid virus continues to wreak havoc and expose the underlying belly of capitalism.

Are we going to enter into a new age of Compassionate Socialism? Or are we going to find ourselves increasingly controlled by the totalitarianism of China?

My hope is for the former; my fears are for the latter.

Whichever – I think we are seeing the death-throes of Laissez-faire capitalism – and good riddance too!

9/11 Tiles for America – Hope and Love out of barbarity.

While walking around New York in 2010 we went to Ground Zero. The scene of that senseless terrorist attack that has unleashed so much misery all over the world.

We stumbled across this fence adorned with tiles. People could create their own tile to say something about 9/11 and the loss they felt.

I was stuck by the outpouring of love, hope and positivity. People can be so compassionate!!

What should we instill into our children?

For me there is a very fine line between instilling values and indoctrination.

Personally I think that we should be instilling values such as cynicism, respect, tolerance, empathy, respect, responsibility, fairness, justice, compassion, awe and wonder, creativity and love of nature.

For me instilling things such as religion, patriotism and political views is indoctrination.

Those are things that children should come to think about when they are old enough to weigh up the evidence, think and decide for themselves.

What do you think?