No Easy Answers…

It would be nice to believe in easy answers, but I don’t think there are any. The imposition of capitalism on nearly the whole world is at the root of our problems. The idea that money is what the world revolves around is central to how most people live to ay. We have lost sight of so much that is central to making us feel worthwhile, making us feel good about ourselves.

If we were to remove the current government from office, what would they be replaced with? We have seen the disasters that have followed revolutions in the past. And always in violent confrontations the most violent wins out. This is not what we need.

If we were to disband the IMF (oh please, I wish we could) how long would it be before the governments that it has infected with it’s capitalist corporatism realise that it has sent them down the wrong road?

What we need to do is not be violent, nor be passive and accepting, but to educate… to work to get people from as many walks of life as possible to see that there is nothing more valuable than a human life (or any other animal); that we need to value each other for who we are; that economics is just a way of trying to understand the movement of money, not a value system to run the world.

Empathy, kindness, compassion, love and understanding are what we need. The ability to see that people make bad choices, not because they are bad people (most of the time), but because they don’t understand what is happening for others, or why other people are important. They lack the emotional maturity to understand that other people are both real and important, not just tools to be used and the discarded.

We don’t need money to have a good life, an abundant life, full of love and laughter, we need people for that!

Insecurity

In Britain today insecurity is endemic. Our current society promotes it. There is a decrease in job security; the benefit system is now a lottery with claimants waiting for the moment when they will be sanctioned and left with no way of buying food or paying bills; families are split and spread around the country (if not the world); additionally, there is seldom a community that anyone can fall back on.

It has often been the case that governments have viewed insecurity as a useful tool in controlling the general population. This is because of a couple of basic misunderstandings. The truth is that a government’s role should NOT be one of control. Also, insecurity is only effective for control when it can be maintained at a certain level.

Once insecurity reaches a certain point it becomes something else, it becomes hopelessness, total disconnection. People who are either hopeless or disconnected are not easy to control. Governmental response to such people is to marginalise and/or criminalise them. They do this because of the first misunderstanding (the government’s role should NOT be one of control).

Over the generations the role of government has been distorted and twisted. If we look back to Athens we find something very different from “democracy” as we experience it. Not that we could, or even should, replicate it now. It had it’s own flaws and inconsistencies. But it’s intent was different. It was an attempt to make decisions for the whole community without being reliant on a system rooted in “might is right”.

“Might is right” is how you get a monarchy. You maintain your monarchy by adding some mumbo jumbo about the “divine right of kings”, and then prop it up with the “old boy’s club”.

In Britain a version of democracy was grafted on top of that. It’s not surprising that it has become a form of control that works to support those that have at the expense of those that have not.

And we come back again to insecurity. The “haves” know that their position is not secure, so they use their greater access to governmental positions to try to bolster themselves. Their understanding of the world is warped though by their financial privilege, and the belief that some people are more important than others.

At the other end of the scale, that belief is echoed, and those who have little believe they are worth less and gradually move away from mainstream society. Some are very angry, and an angry person who believes they have nothing to lose can become violent very rapidly.

This is a violence that is increasingly near to the surface. It is a violence that is unlikely to be directed to any positive end. It is an unnecessary violence and a violence that will hurt everyone. It is created by “man’s inhumanity to man” as Burns said. I, for one, am looking for a different answer. A way to assuage people’s insecurity, to recreate community, to reconnect individuals with each other and the wider world.

We all need to be more confident in ourselves, we all have something of significance to offer. None of us is worth less that anyone else. We can turn away from the negativity and nihilism of mainstream politics and media. We can invest in ourselves and Transition to a kinder, more supportive world.

Is Violent Revolution Inevitable… And, What Should We Do About it?

I got involved in a discussion yesterday with one of my Facebook friends. He’s of the opinion that Russell Brand is right and voting makes no difference, so you shouldn’t vote. The political system is broken and all we can do is wait until violent revolution breaks out and then we can build a new and better world from the ashes.

I am of a slightly, but only slightly, different opinion. But before I can explain where I’m coming from I have to give a sociology lesson. Some of you won’t need it, but there is so much misinformation out there that I don’t dare continue with out it.

On 5th May 1818 Karl Marx was born in Germany. He grew up to be a economic and political theorist. He worked very closely, so closely that they edited each others work, with another German called Friedrich (or Frederick) Engels. They were of the opinion that society moved through a series of stages based on what they called “the means of production”. The means of production are the processes and technologies used to produce goods and profit. Marx said that each of the stages of history had the seeds of their own destruction within them.

Contrary to popular belief, what is called communism, in both Russia and China has little to do with what Marx saw as being communism, if only because both countries tried to sidestep the current economic stage (capitalism), completely miss out the stage Marx believed would come next (socialism), and go straight for the main prize (communism). Marx would never have used the term communist to describe either country’s political system. His communism could only follow what he called socialism, and was a system where the need for and the power of the state, any form of government, had withered away completely, and everyone had freedom to do as they pleased, as well as having complete responsibility for their own actions.

Marx’s vision of socialism was something akin to the Resource Based Economics that many of my facebook friends (and I) are very keen on. Where the means of production are no longer owned by the few, but are in the hands of the many, who make decisions based on the greatest good. Marx was a very complex thinker and wrote a great deal, as did Engels. They are well worth reading, if only to look for the flaws in their arguments.

Ok, so I’m guessing you can see why that expedition was necessary. I think we are not in a recession. I think that in some ways Marx was right. I think capitalism is starting to run out of possibilities. I think things could all come crashing down some time in the not too distant future. It’s not just climate change (global warming), it’s not just peak oil, there are many things that are changing and the current system, this way of looking at things, this paradigm, is not sustainable.

Our political system is one of the things that is not sustainable. We cannot continue to be governed by people who are in it only for the money. Their corruption and greed only hastens their own downfall. Their assumption that we are all ignorant and stupid only highlights their own arrogant stupidity. They might have broken our not very good education system, but we are neither ignorant nor stupid.

We are the ones who live with the consequences of their short sightedness on a daily basis. Their power over us is neither as long term or as complete as they think. Capitalism is breaking and the cracks are showing, their behaviour is part of that whole process.

I couldn’t say if socialism, in the Marxist sense, will follow capitalism. But, if we put the work in now, there may be something better, more humane and egalitarian, to follow it. There are people trying to build new systems now, so that they will be in place if, or rather when, the old systems fail.

These people are the Transition Network (http://www.transitionnetwork.org/) To quote their own words “What does Transition Network do? Transition Network is a charitable organisation whose role is to inspire, encourage, connect, support and train communities as they self-organise around the Transition model, creating initiatives that rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions.

“Ultimately it’s about creating a healthy human culture, one that meets our needs for community, livelihoods and fun. We’re here to support you.

“We run events, conferences, trainings, blogs, webinars. We produce monthly newsletters, books, films, guides, tweets, and more, all with the intention of best supporting those around the world who are doing Transition.”

And I strongly recommend you check them out. They are flexible, inspiring and intelligent. They are trying to give people proper support networks in their local areas. As much as possible is being kept local, local food, local skills, local community, local help, even possibly local money. All so that there is somewhere to turn when the larger scale systems fall apart.

Modern society is both mentally and physically unhealthy. If we can embrace just some of the actions advocated within the Transition Network, we will all become healthier and stronger.

This possibility of capitalism falling apart and something new taking its place may seem very frightening, but the new things won’t be unfamiliar. They will be a different slant on things that are actually traditional and familiar. It’s as much about taking old values and ways and thinking about them in a slightly different way.

The Green Party are great fans of the Transition Network. There is a significant overlap between the ideas and values of both groups. If we can manoeuvre Green Party politicians into positions of power they will work to support Transition.

This is probably the only way we can avoid violent revolution. We might not be able to avoid it completely, but with transition in place we stand a much better chance of moving away from the wreckage that capitalism (with it’s insistence that money is more important than people) has become without too much devastation.

If we don’t vote, if we don’t stop the main parties from continuing in what has become ruinous insanity, then things will get worse. Our lifestyles will be torn apart and there may be a chance of building something better out of the ashes, but I’m afraid they will be built only after much pain and destruction.

So, in conclusion, I am suggesting that our best route forward is to embrace Transition, and vote Green to keep as much of what is good in our lives alive as we can. I would suggest that if you do not have the option to vote Green you should vote SNP, Plaid Cymru, Mebyon Kernow, Monster Raving Loony, The People’s Assembly, actually any of the small parties who can’t afford to cover the whole country, or even an independent candidate. As far as I can see it is our best hope for peace.

Useful sites:

The Transition Network http://www.transitionnetwork.org/

The Green Party of England and Wales http://www.greenparty.org.uk/

Scottish Greens http://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/

SNP http://www.snp.org/

Plaid Cymru http://www.plaidcymru.org/

Mebyon Kernow https://www.mebyonkernow.org/

The Official Monster Raving Loony Party http://www.omrlp.com/

The People’s Assembly http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/

Taking Control of Our Lives – Part 2

So, we have been lied to and manipulated by the media, corporations, and politicians. So what? What can we do about it?

It’s hard to know what, short of insurrection, can make a difference. And why not insurrection? Well, for me, violence of any sort is an anathema. I will admit there are a few occasions when it is the best option, but those occasions are few and far between. As a general rule I would far rather side step violence and go straight to the negotiations that always have to follow violence.

Too many people get hurt in any insurrection for me to like it as an option. Too often the people who do get hurt are innocents, in one way or another.

But we have a problem if we are going to try negotiation in our current situation. The politicians, and others they have allied themselves with, do not believe that they need to listen to us. And, over time, they have proved repeatedly that they are strangers from the truth. They would say anything to get their own way. They cannot be trusted.

So, what can we do? If we are not to embrace violence and we cannot trust the word of the people whose behaviour is violence by another name?

I think there is something we can do. It is not a solution on it’s own, but it will make us stronger. We can disconnect as far as possible from the mainstream. We can ditch the TV; we can choose not to read newspapers; we can change our buying habits, so that we buy the things we need more than the things we want; we can buy locally grown, and made, food; we can reconnect with cooking and growing our own fruit and vegetables; we can start to believe in ourselves and our abilities again; we can develop our skills and crafts, so that we can make and do things for ourselves and those close to us, rather than being dependent on others who may not have our best interests at heart; we can make good and reliable friends. We can change our behaviour so that we 1) like ourselves, 2) like the things we do in our lives, and 3) we can develop our resources and friendships to help us get through the difficult years ahead… Until we can built a sustainable future together.