Some Recent videos late 2018
If ever there was a figure dedicated to changing the world it is Michael Albert. And other folk on the left doing the same thing would need to wonder what they are doing if they have never heard of him. My own political development has been greatly influenced by Albert’s work. Along with people like Chomsky, Michael Albert has been a go-to when inspiration is low and are great connectors to others doing important and inspirational work. Albert lives for the movement and proves it not just by words but continually doing things. By trying things by developing ideas and if they don’t work trying something else.
His honesty through these endeavours, their effectiveness, trials, errors, successes, failures is the most important part of his contribution to the movement for change. You can almost think you know him because so much of what he speaks about resonates through the experiences that those engaged in grass roots struggle come up against constantly. He does not shy away from failure but uses it to drive coherent points that will strengthen the next part of the struggle. Continue reading “An evening with Michael Albert Wednesday 10 Oct 2018 6:30 PM 8:30 Pearce Institute.”
Failure is one of the most important parts of an activist life. We do not advance very far riding on highs, clutching to our successes. These things are important to have, but what gets us through failures and lifts us up when we are down is the knowledge that failure brings, knowledge that can be used and shaped into new and effective ideas. We do not do Michael Albert’s work a disservice to go on about failure because that is precisely where our strength lies. In learning what we need to do next.
So what do we do next. Do we continue along the same lines to see if something different happens? Continually protest till the government changes? Participatory Economics (Parecon) is part of Michael Albert’s lifework. A challenge to the present economic system. An attempt not to just alter it, to change it, but to replace it.
It would seem like an opportunity in the long term aims of the various struggles around the place to maybe look at some alternative economic ideas. At the end of the day what keeps many of us in constant defence mode no matter what we struggle against is constantly fighting the economic system we struggle under. Albert is one of the few working on economics within grass roots struggle that looks to making real economic change for ordinary people. Read the book, Check him on You tube, Z Mag. Some good listening explaining Parecon here: http://citystrolls.com/parecon-listen/
Another aspect of left activism which Albert speaks to which should interest us all is the lack of vision and hope in many of where we are going collectively.
“I happen to see as part of my daily activity a large proportion of what is written by social change seekers, at least in English. If I actually read it all, every day, I would wind up in an asylum or an early grave. Too much negativity to endure. Too little aspiration to bear. Too little agenda to adopt.”
So much of left energy is used up in mobilisation, speaking truth to power and describing how bad the war is, there is little left for organising, little left for vision. And particularly in taking these ideas into working class communities.
“So what is a society? In the view we are slowly elaborating, a society is the immensely rich and varied combination of a “human center,” which is us with our consciousnesses, capacities, and agendas, plus an “institutional boundary” in the form of the roles that we must fulfill or avoid as a means to gaining various ends in society. Taken this way society is like an incredible mosaic with each multifaceted part affecting and even defining all the other multifaceted parts. And how do we judge a society? We decide on the broad kinds of outcomes and relations that we desire and appreciate, and we then ask: Does society’s human base and institutional boundary, or the base and boundary in each of its social spheres, further those preferred values or violate them? Given these simple insights, a reasonable next step for becoming better able to understand societies is to refine our means for understanding each of the four social spheres as a basis for saying more about how their aspects interrelate and about change and history.” From Practical Utopia: Strategies for a Desired Society.
So what are the social spheres, what are our desires for society. What ideas do we have to share with each other? Join the discussion.
This visit Michael will be talking about his new book Practical Utopia: Strategies for a Desired Society (preface by Noam Chomsky and published by PM Press) and connecting it with what is going on in Scotland.
Tickets https://m.bpt.me/event/3620056 (It’s a pay what you want event or free)
The Billiard Room, Pearce Institute, 1st Floor Rear Staircase Wednesday 10 Oct 2018 6:30 PM 8:30
Michael Albert is an organiser, publisher, teacher, and author of over twenty books and hundreds of articles. He co-founded South End Press, Z Magazine, the Z Media Institute, ZNet, and various other projects, and works full time for Z Communications. He is the author, with Robin Hahnel, of the economic vision named Participatory Economics.
Event Hosted by Centre for Human Ecology
Listen To Albert on Parecon here
Every so often we are, if you even know about it, consulted by Glasgow City Council, about what we want in our public parks. At the last consultation I don’t remember the public agreeing that we should have much more in the way of lock-out festivals and expensive, ticketed, gigs, taking up great swathes of our park space over the summer period when we need the park most. The problem with these consultations is is that they just seem like exercises in get consensus to allow more commercialisation of the park.
The problem is as we see it is. The public do not just need consulted in these matters, we need to be involved in the discussion that leads to decisions. And to be involved in the discussion we need also to be aware of all of the facts relating to not only to the decisions made in our behalf, but also the longer term impact that these decisions will have on our green space.
The value of parks needs to be equated by more than the shallow monetary value put on them and the superficial business orientated consultations which add up to the same thing. The city administration and public need to start taking these thing seriously and understand the real value that is attached to our city parks.
When somebody tells you “Nobody uses it” “The parks have to pay for themselves” along with the sometimes pathetic excuses used to allow building on green space by developers and city administrators alike. We need to, (particularly our young who have most to lose,) be able to give them a cost benefit analysis on our green space and on how parks more than pay for themselves by:
Detoxing the environment
The production of oxygen
The removal of carbon dioxide and other toxins
Creates water drainage and anti-flooding
Wild life habitats.
Benefits for mental health.
The vistas and sense of space as a release from manic traffic.
A space to exist as a family unit. Reduces friction, stress and family break-ups.
Escape from city stress that leads to crime and violence.
Building block for a sense of community
Autonomous space equality for everybody.
Safe for bikes, safe for football, amateur sports, productions, events, physical space
Freedom of speech Speakers Corner. Tradition of protest, Rally’s
Last bastion of space for the poorest in our communities.
The countryside in the city
An excellent recipe for childhood education, physics and science in nature
Stagnant ponds could be rejuvenated by solar power fountains. And introducing the person on the street to science…
The park belongs to no one and to everyone.
Look at just one element of our parks, trees.
Evergreen trees can be used to reduce wind speed (and usefully, loss of heat from your home in the winter by as much as 10 to 50 percent.)
Trees absorb and block noise and reduce glare. A well placed tree can reduce noise by as much as 40 percent.
Fallen tree leaves can reduce soil temperature and soil moisture loss. Decaying leaves promote soil microorganism and provide nutrients for tree growth.
Trees help settle out and trap dust, pollen and smoke from the air. The dust level in the air can be as much as 75 percent lower on the sheltered side of the tree compared to the windward side.
Trees create an ecosystem to provide habitat and food for birds and other animals.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, such as sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, from the air and release oxygen.
One large tree can supply a day’s supply of oxygen for four people.
A healthy tree can store 13 pounds of carbon each year – for an acre of trees that equals to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide.
Each gallon of gasoline burned produces almost 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.
For every 10,000 miles you drive, it takes 7 trees to remove the amount of carbon dioxide produce if your car gets 40 miles per gallon (mpg); it will take 10 trees at 30 mpg; 15 trees at 20 mpg; 20 trees at 15 mpg; and 25 trees at 12 mpg)
Trees help reduce surface water run-off from storms, thus decreasing soil erosion and the accumulation of sediments in streams. They increase ground water recharge and reduce the number of potentially harmful chemicals transported to our streams.
An acre of trees absorb enough carbon dioxide in a year to equal the amount produced when you drive a car 26,000 miles.
Readers of City Strolls will have been listening to this over the last ten years. “The parks are in the process of being privatised” The problem is what citizens are unaware of the business developments that have been been happening over that time, untill they see the barriers going up around their park.
Recently Edinburgh city council deemed the hoardings closing off the view of Princess street gardens for a concert as being inappropriate. The hoardings in question were removed within an hour of the councils edict.
Maybe the start of resistance to the kind of pay per view being enforced on the access of public spaces. Something we have seen increasingly across Glasgow parks and common spaces. With little or no objections that we are hearing about, from the administrators of our commons, parks and particularly in the lack of stewardship of our Common Good Fund.
So the thinking here is that most park users have a general idea of what the park is there for. Because what people use the park for hasn’t changed much over the last hundred years? Why do we need to be convinced “that the parks need to be fixed before they are broken” (Quote from a council parks survey) “The parks need to pay for themselves, and we are helping in this” (From events organiser with vested interests.)
Why are we constantly asked in consultations. “What do we need in our parks?” Most would answer “Access to our culture and heritage, toilets and a few parkies” But the questions are really designed by each preceding city administration to fulfil their own need through our parks. i.e. the quickest way to emptying our wallets to generate commercial profits.
So what we want to look at here is an event that looks at the cause and effect of the commercial developments being rolled out in our parks. How can we better understand how to challenge the inappropriate use of our parks
And Strategies for better stewardship of parks and green spaces to reverse the commercial decline. How to work towards a long term vision for our green space that serves users and can supersede decisions on park use made by short term administrations who may not have the public’s and park users best interests at heart.
This article relates to an event to be held in Kinning Park Complex at “Parks for people” How to become involved in the discussion and understanding the importance of green space in our lives, economically, physiologically, health wise, environmentally, politically, historically and creatively.
Join us for a debate at Kinning Park Complex on what our parks are for. (dates will be poster soon)
Radical Imagination/Common Good Awareness Project/Tardis
Britain will be celebrating 100 years of the RAF in venues all over Britain. One being Glasgow Science Centre.
RAF 10 Website
“On 1 April 2018, the Royal Air Force celebrated its 100th birthday. To mark this occasion, we reflected on our history and our achievements. We also celebrated the work the RAF is currently doing and look forward to the next 100 years.”
To commemorate the achievements of a hundred years of the RAF will be about letting kids play with simulators of RAF warplanes, plus charity balls, flower shows and from the list of activities: “The UK’s biggest gaming convention will have an RAF twist.” War games with drones perhaps?. The technology in games machines and software it needs to be remembered has the same detail and in its portrayal, execution and sophistication and sadistic portrayal of death indistinguishable from the real thing. Kids in there bedrooms fight wars every night on their Xbox and PlayStations. Not much difference the tech shift in directing a lethal drone…
dropping mustard bombs and phosgene in the first world war.
About the bombing of Dresden in the second world war.
About the bombing of Iraq under false pretenses.
About bombing the Balkans under the guise of humanitarian relief.
And countless other atrocities our country, through our Royal Air Force command, has colluded in, with other Western warmongers
So, shortly after the promise of no more arms fairs in Glasgow. The Glasgow Science Centre, will have Meet members of the Royal Air Force in an interactive STEM/Techno Zone and learn more about “how we’re creating the next generation Air Force.”
Why is there never enough money to celebrate a hundred years of social and technological development that actually has the possibility to enhance peoples lives, but plenty to celebrate what we “force” on others, with country wide propaganda events to entice our kids with lethal toys. What’s the RAF doing in the Glasgow Science Centre, not I would guess reminding kids of the very real horror of war that can not be expressed on a plasma screen directing missiles to targets?
Glasgow Science Centre (Our mission)
“Our mission is to be an essential bridge between citizens and science and technology. We inspire people of all ages to explore and understand the world around them, to discover and enjoy science and understand its relevance to their own lives.”
If this is the Science Centres mission, Getting technology and understanding into communities, schools and community groups for the purpose of social development should be part of that. Another should be the use and effects of technology particularly around arms. Just defining science as neutral might be factual but it is a cop-out. And it is a cop-out to educate our children with the toys and technologies of the arms race without teaching along side it the cause and effect of the use of such technologies. Like. How they are used to drop bombs, usually illegally, many people suffer, many people die.
We need a wider debate on technology and a better understanding of what our taxes are supporting. Because the war machine is sucking up funding that that should be available to the developers the innovators particularly among our young who will suffer most from the disasters of the old man’s war machine. So what is to be done? Is the above mentioned STEM the answer on its own? This abbreviation has no relevance to the impact or misuse of science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
Here is an idea. We need STEAM in the STEM (Radical Imagination Project)
Here STEAM culture is a bit different from raw STEM, an emphasis needs to be based on the functions and uses of technology not only the technology itself.
Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics
Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics
The arts bias created in our current project for instance (chose your own, democracy, agency, politics and so on) is to encourage imagineers as well as engineers. Creativity based on human morals rather than just raw statistics. Because the same technology that is capable of enhancing our lives, is also capable of destroying us. A dichotomy that should be a basis for any scientific study in schools or anywhere else.
The difference being we need to understand the use of technology through creativity not just by raw fact and rote learning alone.
The raw facts being for instance: The atomic weight of a particular atom being made up of the weight of its protons, neutrons and electrons, should not only be worked out for the purposes of calculating the yield of a weapon.
But when we understand why these calculations are not only important to arms manufacturers, but also to medical science we are better informed of their uses. And the science bias in a civilised society should, you would think be towards saving lives rather than destroying them.
Cynically we could suggest the only reason to teach kids about strong and weak nuclear forces would be for the intent of insuring that we have a steady stream of weapons developers. Rather than departments of nuclear medicine at the local hospital (Where there is a shortage of doctors in these departments).
And technologies that are sometimes blatantly avoided are those like liquid fuel reactors,(LFR) and such like, because the benefits are generally humanitarian and less commercially profitable. For instance. Why should we be shackled to a debt when energy suppliers bolt solar panels to our roof. People should be able to enjoy the direct benefit of the free energy of solar technology without business converting it to, profit for business and debt for the tenant or home owner. Solar energy should not be about blue sky thinking and profiteering but directed towards answering the pragmatic questions around fuel poverty and the environmental impact.
Science education it would seem to a great extent is only focused on the commercial benefits of the arms race. We can use depleted uranium in bullets bombs and missiles but also in medical equipment and chemo therapy. Who makes these decisions of death over life and why the bias on arms when cancer patients are dying on waiting lists who could be saved by the same technology?
These are the problems we should be focused on and what most folk care about, both here and in the countries that are bomb with our sophisticated technology. We are human beings not cannon fodder for the arms-race-rich. The problems are nothing to do with technology, but with those who control it. And technology will never solve that problem without the democratic will, ideas and people to direct it towards better things.
Only human beings can decide what technology is used for. Most of us want it used for good thing, but think it has nothing to do with them. Half an hour with “The Common Good Awareness” science and tech coach could convince them, that this does not need to be the case.
Radical Imagination Project
The need to reclaim technology
“Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.” Cicero
About the need for grownups to take on some of the responsibility for what is going on around them. We can not leave the understanding of what is going on in the world to the education system.
Children are the flowers. We are the cultivators. We pass on the rich knowledge, the important nutrients, in our mentoring and guidance. Without these nutrients the aspirations of our young will continue to wither on the vine of capitalist indenture.
In our educational institutions we are not training thinkers we are training technicians. Ones that can do the job and get on with it without a question. That is the lucky ones. Young people are leaving university to jobs in coffee shops. Where do those they displace go? We are educating more students than we have ever done and giving them nothing to do. Continue reading “The flowers of Scotland – Tap roots history and education”
Our education system has become one that trains for business and ill prepares students for the world of living. We fill class rooms in schools, colleges and universities with book learning and a promise, that sometime in the future, the learner might get a job. There are no jobs! What we need from our education systems is to train and encourage innovators to look at the work that is needing done. And most of that work should be done in the community not in classrooms. With real problems and real people. How can we expect to progress and challenge that which is destroying us when those in charge of the destruction have such an influence over our education system? We should be encouraging objectivity in education not subservience to career paths.
“Generally, the idea of ‘objectivity’ has to do with carrying out activities such as thinking and writing (activities that are subjective in the sense that they are done by subjects—that is, by humans, who have feelings, attributes, desires and biases) in a manner that is maximally faithful to the external objects with which those activities deal. Objectivity in this sense, is most likely to be achieved when one’s conclusions are based on precise measurements, careful observations, and rigorously logical appraisals of relevant evidence—in short, on a maximally attentive and responsive engagement with the object being investigated” David Detmer
Corporations should have no place within our universities. They are the main reason why so many students feel useless when they leave university particularly if they can not fit into the jobs market nor can find a use for the specialised knowledge they have acquired. There was a time we sent our kids to university in order to find out about the world and become more knowledgeable active and involved citizens. Now our universities are mainly serving business interests. There was a time when business paid for specialised training of their workers, not the education system.
The cynicism that you can meet today as crackpot to have these kind of views on education is proof of how indoctrinated we have become in the ways of the market and how our success is measured only by how well we can survive within market forces. The possibility that our taxes could be directed towards looking at the fundamental flaws in an moribund economic system. That work could be made enjoyable rewarding and creative after what our young sacrifice to “education”. As we sit on the cusp of ecological extinction, at least disaster, we still believe in useless jobs that push us further towards our doom. While our young folk, with so much potential, are made to feel useless.
We need to turn back and see where we went off the rails to get back on them. We need to be doing the work/jobs of drawing us back from the cliff edge from all manner of disasters. Working for ourselves and the sake of humanity. Lemming do not have any prospects apart from following the rest to jump of a cliff. What has happened to our objectivity, when we need it most? Why are so many of our precious flowers withering through a lack of care and attention?
“The natural tendency of children is to solve problems, but we try to indoctrinate them with facts, which they are supposed to feed back, and then we fail them. And that’s child abuse. And you should never raise children that way. You should cultivate and encourage their natural tendencies to create solutions to the problems around them.” Grace Lee Boggs
“It is not good enough to do your community-development work only at the grass roots” He would tell us “So much of the grassroots are just at the level of spectator sport, television, cigarettes, drink and consumer culture. No you have got to get down to the taproots.” Alister Macintosh on Tom Forsyth
After 50 years in the continuous deterioration of our institutions we now live in the myth of a democratic society. At the same time there is so much knowledge in the world about what is happening, so much in terms of intelligent answers, directions we should be taking, alternatives to the hegemony of empire that is consuming us. You need to wonder the addiction that keeps us zombie-like and transfixed to its conditions.
We will protect anything that threatens our indenture to our jobs, no matter how miserable our jobs make us. Even the military industrial complex can be justified and protected as jobs so long as we steer clear of understanding the misery it causes for great swathes of humanity and the billions it removes from the economy in private profits and fraud that could be making life pleasant for so many. Our cynicism towards the idea that life could be more pleasant for folk is only matched by the depth of propaganda that assures us that austerity will need to last forever.
Without even taking Trump into the equation the situation is bad enough. Look at the people who are determining our future. What on earth do ordinary people have in common with them? How common is the house of commons and who’s peers are they, the peers of the rich? Everything that comes out of their mouths is to tell us we are to blame; we have to pay, we have to change, we have to move on? Yet they themselves have not moved an inch for three hundred years in their policy of protecting their own interests at all costs. The wealth of our country was built on empire. Our history is we conquered and colonised nations, robbed them of their natural resources and at present we are still blowing such places up along with our cousins of death in the US administration. Then we are convinced to persecute those fleeing from our carnage arriving on our shores, that they are here to steal our jobs! What happened to class solidarity? Why do so many feel that they have to protect the rich and persecute their own class?
The difference between ourselves and the average asylum seeker is that they have done something about there situation. They have taken the steps any normal human being in their position would take. Why we need to ask are we so insulated on our island from cause and effect. Why does the BBC talk about the asylum problem and ignore the millions in arms and bombs we sell and use that have helped to create it? Why do so many not want to talk about, or understand this. Probably because if frightens us. Probably because we do not want to rub shoulders with those who suffer from our ignorance. We have more in common with those who suffer from the crimes of our master warlords and we should seek solidarity with them against the source of most of our collective problems. Serving US imperialism through our puppet state.
We will not inconvenience ourselves enough to survive but rather entertain ourselves to death. The common dream was about integrity, hard work discretion modesty discipline and how we define ourselves. These things have been replaced by bling, narcism, disconnection, the addiction to the unattainable. The hamster wheel of sameness.
Trump was right when he says “It’s not about me, it’s about you.” Trump didn’t start the melt down of the collective conscience, or the deconstruction of democracy. These things have been happening for a long time. We should be thankful for his wake up call of exposing just how bad things have got.
It is not about the failures of government, it is about the failure of citizenship, responsibility and accountability. It is not about the failures of the present education system it is about our expectations of it and the expectations that are promised whilst it decays like the chances and prospects of our children through our failure to hold society to account.
While the responsibility of the National Health Board and the Department of Work and Pensions, is passed to local authorities, then passed to arms length organisations, then sold in turn to make more profit off those who need these services most. In the U.K. we have in the last financial year exported a record breaking sum of six hundred and eighty billion pounds, in goods and services to the rest of the world. Yet the ruling parties keep telling us we have no money to run our own health and education services. And while the department of work and pensions withdraws support of those unable to work and in a country with a declining population has decided to limit the families of the poor to two children. And where a prominent politician offers a way out of poverty as suicide. That is not about the profiteers it is about ourselves and the many being brainwashed into believing that our situation is hopeless and there is nothing we can do.
Today the UK government has announced the highest Budget Surplus in 18 years, further highlighting the truth of Austerity as Ideological policy and not driven by a “Lack of Money” in the nations finances!
We have contained in our rich cultural tap-roots the evidence that this has always been the case. We were once world renowned in the quality of our education system in a time when there truly was no money. The vision of these tap roots have been obscured by a dysfunctional neoliberal process hell bent on instant gratification, profiteering, lying and no foresight of the future apart from their own. We need to re-connect to the tap roots of our heritage culture and power to get us through the isolation of the fragmented gig economy, And through this re-connection we might find the answer to replacing the institutions that once gave us a sense of power agency and community. And an understanding of who the real fraudsters are. We were once proud of our public institutions that cared for the old, the weak and the poor. When did so many start to blame them for their poverty, while unquestioningly feeding the bloated liars in Westminster and elsewhere with our taxes?
The Radical Imagination Project
The above is not just about the eviction of the vulnerable. This is the neoliberal project ramping up and testing our resistance. This is a message being sent out to all of the vulnerable in our city and in our country. Neoliberalism flexing its muscle, in this particular area, to see how much we will take and what they can get and where they will go next.
It is not only about asylum, but to create fear in all of those in the grip off housing systems run by the psychopaths of business, who should be nowhere near providing social housing. That’s the councils job. But then, it is not a problem of Serco, the council or the government. It is a problem for the people who “make Glasgow” and is a plague on all of our houses. Because if it isn’t Serco, or Carillion, it would be some other parasite. Some other group of business hyenas, nipping at the heals of our public services, pensions, wages, working conditions, environment, education and commons, for a way in, till there are no public services left. When their work is finished after exploiting and wringing dry the safety nets afforded to poor and destitute, then they will come for the middle classes. It needs to be remembered, that middle class aspirations are as meaningless to neoliberalism, as are the mass evictions of poor families. The fight back should not wait till it comes to the doors of out houses but should start at the front end of the wedge with those who suffer most. Continue reading “On the recent threat of eviction for 300 asylum seekers.”
My shame as a Glaswegian, is not caused by Serco. I know what Serco do and their ambitions. My shame lies in the fact that many in our city, who have the power to do otherwise, can stand back and watch these things unfold, then throw their hands up in disbelief, in feigned ignorance. It is the misconceived idea that people might think it will not affect or has nothing to do with them.
Asylum seekers are not weak, people. They are many courageous, strong and not faint of heart. The experience of their journey should tell us that. They are the kind of people whose experience we need on our side. They know what struggle means. They know how the system works, here and from where they have come from. That is why they need to be made weak, through racism, no right to work and scapegoated by Murdock’s press. And of course helped along by the stupidity and deniability of the polity and those who believe that they still have some power over corporations like Serco. This is something the various administrations gave up long ago when they agreed to the neoliberal projects terms. And why many fade into the background, richer, after their term of office.
Unlike short term party politics, neoliberalism, like rust never sleeps and if ignored continues to eat things away in the background throughout multi administrations, till eventually they collapse. Then we are left with the usual party games of “It wasn’t us it was them”. “He said she said” and on and on.
As the cliche goes. You can not keep doing the same thing over and over and expect something different to happen. We do not have any rights, whether you are an asylum seeker or are comfortable off with a job and house. Having and defending rights is an activity not a given. They do not come through protest, prophetic speech, bursts of energy, Facebook, voting, your council, government, or speaking truth to power. These things are helpful to a point, but are just a cop-out if not connected to organising.
Something different is beginning to happen. Many of our young folk are beginning to see through the overgrowth of fakery, the technological overkill that smothers thinking that has been such an influence so far on their lives. The idea that People do make change if they can become involved. And that becoming involved is about face to face communications.
Something different happens through diligent organising. Straight forward communication with those you find around us. Not just speaking to our friends, fellow activists, those you like, agree with, or those who have already been convinced. But to people who can expand and increase activism across the community. Struggle is continuous and there is a need to invest in building the institutions that can sustain the efforts of struggle against the Serco’s of any other name and their apologists. Proper organising, cooperation, and the ability to work together which many find difficult, is the elephant in the room.
The email list needs to get bigger every week as do the amount of people needing to be spoken to. Not just through email, but face to face. Community members need to be invested in personally, they need to be encouraged on board, they need to be encouraged to be the new community leaders. Those that live and work in the communities to be organised. Whoever they may be, locals, unemployed, homeless, asylum seekers and those nearest the destitution line. This has always been the case for organising, since the days of collectively protecting ourselves from the sabre tooth tiger. Today the predator is the warfare state.
One thing the right, the hate speechers, the racists and distributors of fake news understand is that. When ordinary people get organised they are less likely to be lied to. And when they do get organised they soon realise that they have more in common with asylum seekers and all others who suffer through the same generic persecution tactics, of divide and rule, and that the enemy is above us, not below us.
But how do ordinary people progress to something better through the constant and persistent brain scrambling media noise, of junk news, product placement and the advertising industry, rendering their brain only capable of thinking, survival?
How can they organise?
How does the young university trained activist and others, born with a keyboard in their hand, social media savvy, demonstration ready and a degree under their arm, understand about what is happening in a community? (remembering all communities are different, different needs.) How do they organise? The answer should be obvious if we juxtapose this and the last paragraph.
But not on Facebook
Many are realising. Facebook is the disease, not the cure. Which is why the far right like it. How can people organise around something that keeps moving and is designed to do the complete opposite to organisation?
2.2 billion people use Facebook and according to Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy and is probably the worst place to start to understand things.
“Facebook is a terrible place to deliberate about the world. It’s a really effective place if you want to motivate people toward all sorts of ends, like getting out to a rally. But it’s terrible if you actually want to think and discuss and deliberate about the problems in the world. And what the world needs now more than anything are more opportunities to deliberate calmly and effectively and with real information. And Facebook is working completely against that goal.”
Some of us may know all of this. But where do ordinary working people stand? The need for re-humanising and face to face politics has never been greater. The politics of how we communicate ideas, come to decisions and act on them. The idea is not to just defend ourselves when the Serco’s of the world decide to attack. But to build the kind of understanding, awareness and resistance that will deny this kind of tyranny over us and to stop our governments continued reliance on their services. This kind of learning needs proper discussion, not something that passes on a Facebook feed.
We see all around us the efforts of individuals, unions, pressure groups and all kinds of activities. We are ready to go. But we need to go together. The recent action against Serco is heartening and smaller victories can lead to bigger ones, when we understand the important roll solidarity plays in them. We need to each join something, talk to people, enroll a neighbour, get out, show up. It is the only way we have win things before and the way to win things again, if we can build on victories. We do not need to be party reps to knock on doors, talk to folk and find out what they are thinking. This old idea seems to be reinventing itself and should be built upon, like Living Rent, and so on. And while we do this, we need to rethink alternatives to the out sourcing madness and rentier culture that has replaced good governance and the prospect of a decent life for ordinary people. People do make Glasgow. But they need to start believing it and acting accordingly.
The mad people are running out of ideas for containing us. The young are getting smarter. This could be the time
“It may be easier than we think.” Ralph Nader
The Radical Imagination Project
Thoughts on: The reinvigorating of the common dream and the struggle for a broader collective social conscience.
“Enough of the perfection of differences! We ought to be building bridges.” Todd Gitlin
In Gitlin’s book. The Twilight Of The Common Dream he explains this “obsession with group differences” as the (unintended) legacy of the progressive social movements of the 1960’s, which operated on the principle of separate organization on behalf of distinct interests, rather than a universal principle of equality.’ ENotes Continue reading “Where is the left I want to join it?”
There can be no common ground, if nobody can hear.
While all around us we see the PR departments of both, political parties and corporations, the plausibility mechanisms that keep the citizen idle, or the deflection of their energies guided up blind alleys. Meanwhile at the opposite end others are shouting into an empty tube nobody can hear. Folk can’t hear, support, or oppose, the particular issue being projected into a vacuum. A vacuum of isolationist left wing media or the solitary confinement of single issue politics.
Part of the above mentioned unintended legacy, knowingly or unknowingly has developed the overarching idea of divide, sub divide and rule. Creating a movement that sometimes isn’t capable of moving past its own rhetoric, no matter how articulate the arguments or evidence presented to the contrary.
Each group or political persuasion has its own passages, catch words, phrases and style of delivery. When we hear these triggers we learn to process and categorise what we are hearing. A switch in the brain filters and channels information, or not, depending on if the style of delivery appeals to us, not thinking about what we actually hear.
We all do it to a greater or lesser extent. We don’t listen. We have a tendency to pick up or spot our differences, before, or sometimes completely ignore, what we could have in common with others. The reluctance to stand back and allow a uncontroversial good idea to go forward, until we know if we agree with the philosophy and ideological makeup of whoever suggests it.
This is not a great tactic for going forward. We can not all be right all of the time.
To take up a place in the left these days, or what you imagine to be the left, can be a lonely existence, unless one is connected to a club, topical group, or ideologically driven set of tactics and actions. The edges have become so defined and watertight around many groupings, that any idea of overarching principals that could strengthen the structure of a wider and more powerful movement that will be needed to challenge neoliberalism, seems impossible.
Yet the complete opposite is true. It is all possible. But it will take a rewinding of history to unravel the neoliberal project started in the 1960 to Balkanise the left into groups of single issue politics that Gitlin describes in his book. ‘The Twilight of the common dream’. A dream that the inhumanity in the world could be stopped and replace by less harmful human endeavours. As the 60s song goes.
‘C’mon people smile on your brother everybody get together try to love one another right now.’
Love for ones fellow human beings was a strong element of the movement back then. (although we still struggled with the patriarchy ). Love a much derided notion then by the establishment and even now as a flakey hippy thing. like “All you need is love”.
It is not all you need. But what is the point of anything without it?
Look what is happening to our world through the lack of it. That is really what the 60s revolution was founded on. Love for people. And that is what made it so dangerous. A common dream for humanity. A simple basic concept to understand that underpinned a movement and the purpose of its actions. As democracy can not exist under capitalism neither can some kinds of love. Sounds naive, maybe.
It is worth thinking about, that the neoliberal counter revolution, that set out to destroy the 60s outbreak of democracy, was mostly based on the encouragement of love; the love of oneself. The self development of me, upwardly mobil; the entrepreneurial spirit, positive thinking, my body is a temple. The hippies and their counter alternatives were vilified, as unclean, a danger to society, were related more in the corporate media to Charles Manson, weird sects, than the universal call for peace, love and freedom for all.
In the States our love was met by Cointelpro, set into action by the state, fire bombing and murdering, with the objective to destroy any trace of socialist organising across the US. Big money started to infiltrate the environmental movement. Saving the environment became more about greenwash and changing one set of consumables for a more eco friendly set. The movement was broken into more manageable assemblages. We learned or were enticed to become less independent. Corporate money started to drive the movement and guide it away from dangerous paths. Our movement became more about stopping and less about replacing. We became consumed in technology, rather than what it could do to take us forward. Our young activists starts to be consumed by funding managers and conforming to pleasing them. Our organisations became more about the organisation, rather than those they were set out to support. The coming together became the drifting apart, sectarianism, life style, self gratification, careers, individualism and all of the other isms consumed us.
We lost the common dream, the love for all, that kept us on our path. The propaganda that vilified that dream and that love, is because that is what the elites feared most. They worked to transfer our love for other human beings, to the love of things and personalities. And working class solidarity to inward working class competition. At this end of the pond we had Thatcher to thank for delivering the neoliberal project to these shores, which reinvigorated and exposed the latent hate the upper classes always had for ordinary people anyway and helped to spread that hate amongst them. A fact that is patently evident in the right wing policies that have unfolded since, to keep people apart and isolated.
People are sick to their back teeth with it. Sick with consumption; consuming fake news, fake politics, fake economics, terrible jobs, high rents, poison food, trash TV, the advertising industry, war and a planet that is exhausted from the demands we are putting on it. A world slipping away from its humanitarian roots. And we can’t buy our way back into it.
The next revolution as will be about giving up things not acquiring more. A bit in common like the last one. Only this time, even more, we will need to prove our love for human kind by action. But we also will need to listen more before we decide what form that action will take. The 60s revolution was being destroyed before it was fully born. We are in danger of repeating the same mistakes again if the positive energy that is building up around us is destroyed by in-fighting, ego, fake news and the inability to listen in order to find that which connects us.
Remember we were all born of a small group of primates in Africa, and we are all female until hormonal changes in the womb decide on the sex and sexuality to be born. Therefor we are all brothers and sisters, irrespective of faith or origin. As human beings we all have the same communal goals and this is what should connect us, not segregation into isms. Neither are we commodities to be described, ordered and categorised for the sake of political gains or profit margins. We are human beings and that should be our primary concern – Our humanity for each other should be the driver, our love for life and a rebuilding of a common dream, the vehicle to get us out of the madness and the left back on track.
The Radical Imagination Project.
Recreational time particularly in a public park is personal and shouldn’t be defined or dictated by the state or held ransom by profiteering and commercial interests.
Fences have become topical these days from the mighty versions planned in the head of the president of the united states, to the barriers of asylum, the psychological, as well as physical barriers of class, race, gender and commerce. The first thing we should think about in coming across a wall or barrier of any description is what is its purpose? For whose benefit?
The Radical Imagination Project tries to encourage folk to become involved in public life, because we believe it is the only hope we have for stopping the neoliberal project that has infiltrated every aspect of our private and public life. To a point which exposes just how lax our government has been that we now find ourselves subservient to possibly the worst and most dangerous western government administration in history. Continue reading “The last neoliberal frontier of social life”
The above may seem to many a bit OTT with what we want to discuss here. But on the contrary, we need to use local threats on our door steps as lessons of understanding the ways of how the world works and the bigger challenges we will inevitably face now and in the future. Particularly for the benefit of our young and also to reinvigorate our jaded spirits for the rest. If we fail to do this we are dooming our children to the consequences of one generational thinking.
We owe the present generation an opportunity to break with the tyranny and propaganda of an abusive system that processes them through an education ideology in order that they become good servants to that system. And now is attempting to destroy their innovative spirit through debt and even their basic right to the wider commons through commercialisation, particularly of green space. One of the last frontiers of the neoliberal project.
Our city parkland in our dear green place is also the last bastion of a fading communal spirit that is in need of revitalisation. A parklands benefits are based on the value to the whole community not on the cost to the administration as an excuse to privatise them. We have the right to roam and enjoy the quiet with our kids, our friends, our dogs, or our imagination.
When the parks are fully commercialised and turned over to the profiteers by our council, we will never get them back out. Because commerce is about expansion not conservation. There can be no “finding a balance” with aggressive commercial enterprises, who if need be, will criminalise, vilify and litigate against communities to protect “their” parkland developments and the profits gained from them.
Think about it. What has been developing over the last few years in our parks is pretty much intolerable and the parasites (events managers) are only getting started. Bellahouston, Glasgow Green, Kelvingrove, Queens Park and more are now being described by administrators and asset managers as commercial entertainment venues. Ticketed for profits, not for normal use for people.
In protecting our parks for future generations we need to make sacrifices. We need to give up some ruckus pleasures for the common good. Even the young will need to start thinking about where their own children will play and how much it will cost in social impact and financial disadvantages if we continue to give in to promoters of entertainment, alcohol and junk food. Remember the young are not young forever and we can not leave this for our children to sort out.
Example: Since 2011 or so we have had a school built in Kelvingrove park (which is we need to remember is a commercial enterprise) a bandstand that has been commandeered from social use to commercial use, two cafes and recently permission given to events agents by council administrators to invade, colonise and fence great swathes of our parkland throughout the summer. Mostly to sell alcohol and expensive events tickets.
Commercial creep doesn’t take long to establish itself. For instance in the introduction to Hillhead primary, on the school website, the head teacher finds it “very fortunate to be located next to Kelvingrove Park”. But the school is not located next to Kelvingrove park. The school is “in” Kelvingrove park. Our commons and common good fund assets are continuously eroded by these miss-interpretations of geography and public land use. Maybe a future head teacher, if things go on the way they are, will be explaining to the future parents, i.e. those attending the school at present why there is little free un-commercial space in the park for there kids to play.
Parks administration are not facilitating the use of these services, (parks) but dictating how they should be used. What they, wish to see in them. That is not their job, that is our job. Their job is to do what the “public” have asked them to do, not what business suggests. We employ public servants for their skills in first accounting to the public will and using their imagination in promoting ideas that are conducive to and may be of some social and cultural sustainable value.
What is happening in Glasgow’s parks is a microcosm of what is happening all over Scotland. Like the selling off of the shores of Loch Lomond to private investors. (Flamingo Land) According to the academic and land reformer, Jim Hunter, speaking about land sales in Scotland. “this equates to the most concentrated pattern of land ownership in the developed world”. What is the government doing about it? Nothing. As is Glasgow City Council in the privatisation of our commons and commercialisation of our parks.
But as has been said many times from these quarters. It is not the council or parliament or Westminster that is the problem in the inverted colonisation of public space. That’s just what most of these administrators do, make it easier for business to take over, because it makes it easier for them to make us believe that they are doing their job. It is not because we do not have the knowledge of the illegality of the sale of land and the commons, nor the experts who can testify to this, nor enough people complaining. We do. The problem is, for many reasons, is in the frustration of the public to do anything about it. We are still complaining. When we need to be organising. We are still pontificating. When we need to be educating.
There is a hard core of dedicated people in the background who have given up their time and energy and still do to to protecting our commons from investors, to keep our parks user friendly, open and autonomous, for the use of all. We can share in that knowledge and these connections to continue to build a sustainable vision for our parks.
Join us soon for a Parks and the Common Good exposition/workshop. Date, late August to be confirmed.
If you are interested, have something to say/share, want to help organise in any way, or just need some information. Email Bob at: email@example.com
Arms fair what next
Our city administration has just hosted it’s first arms fair. At the protest against it, we meet our comrades, stalwarts of the movement for change and various groups representing those at the sharp end of the conflicts that the arms on offer at this event, massacre and maim.
Protest almost seems the pursuit only for students pensioners and those with time on their hands to spend in the library engrossed in books and newspapers and who have the capacity of building a critical perspective on these things. That is not to decry people who can do this, but to emphasise the importance of extending their knowledge to others in creating engagement for building a broader movement for change. Continue reading “Glasgow Life – Dices in death”
But what do these events mean to ordinary people, who are trying to survive on low incomes, extortionate rents, whose day to day is filled with worries about keeping or finding employment. Peoples lives are fraught and caught up with the immediacy of of their present financial situation. Where is the time in their day to be thinking about the arms industry, let alone protest about it or understand how it affects them.
But it is becoming an imperative that we do. We all do. We need to find ways of broadening activity and unity around our collective interests and taking responsibility, by digging a bit deeper into what we are being told, sold and what we chose to ignore, or is hidden from us.
One thing we are protected against is the is the graphic and utter horrific detail of what these weapons are capable of and are used for in a daily basis. You can not sleep easy with the image of a screaming mother clutching what remains of her child’s body in her arms. The bloated bodies of burned babies, lined up in rows, incinerated by inescapable fire storm bombs and chemical weapons. It becomes impossible not to compare these horrors if they were happening to our own children. The horror for us (and arms manufacturers) is that we should be exposed to these images, these videos, this testimony that lays bare of what is done in our name. That is why the war mongers and the war mongers apologists need to control the media to protect us from such comparisons. Because these bombs and this dirty trade kills many more innocent people including children than they do killing whoever the enemy happens to be.
The reason the elite and their apologists can stand up in parliament and lie to there back teeth of why we need to perpetuate carnage in countries all over the world. These obscenities are matched only by the obscene amounts of money that are made by the investment banks and the companies they own that profit from the death of innocents.
One of the main boasts of the arms industry is that it provides jobs. It seems that any abdominal activity can be justified if it “provides jobs”
So lets look at these jobs factual and imaginary:
For a start most of the high volume manufacturing of anything is done in the far east, China, Taiwan and Longwha, the largest manufacturing site in the world. Who will make anything from a pair of jeans to an ordinance delivery system.
Why would arms companies manufacture these things here with the comparative high wage costs, workers conditions, and lack of keeping secrecy, rather than Taiwan? Where the return on investment capital is greater to commercial interests and profiteering, which is the only thing the arms industry is interested in. So why would you think they would want to manufacture these things here? The only jobs that “would” be produced here are in design and contract management. Both highly specialised highly skilled for the very few. So where are the jobs that would effect the economy for ordinary workers in the arms industry? There would be few and dwindling.
Remember the Rees Mogg’s of this world and arms manufacturers can move their commercial interests to anywhere in the world and it will make not the slightest bit of difference to their profits. But workers and their jobs need to remain in the same place. Apologies for broken promises do not feed their kids. So workers should be more concerned with the protection of unions, rather than the promises of hedge funders, that they themselves know they can not keep, nor would if they could.
Take the job fallacy out of the road. (All ten or so of them). We could look at the inhuman impacts these kinds of developments produce. The arms industry do not specifically make arms to fight armies, but to kill people. Most of their business is with delivery systems, i.e. smart bombs and drones, designed to target populations, not only troops on the ground. There are more civilians killed by smart bomb technology than soldiers. Those who manufacture, control and sell these murder devices are giant international corporations who answer to no individual country, government or democracy, but to shareholders, dividends and paybacks. They have no obligation to any citizen in any country. Their deals are done through enticing political parties and through armies of lobbyists.
There are two things the UK arms industry serves. One is to serve the ego of the British parliament and elites who imagine they still have an empire and still want to feel dominant across the world. The other is profiting off the poor of the above mentioned countries including the desecration of UK workers, pay and conditions. Resulting in less tax revenue from the continuous mass deployment of jobs overseas coupled with the avoidance of corporate taxes. How is this producing jobs?
Our westminster government is made up of the same families who own the corporations, our countryside and the banks who facilitate the international arms trade. What obligates them to respect the values of their workforce or citizens in general? Most of them will be out of political office in four years. No worries and blameless. When was the last banker jailed? When was the last war criminal jailed?
But the poor, and the protesters are constantly vilified and criminalised by the same media that serves the same interests and are owned by the same corporations and families that invested heavily in the arms trade with our money, for their frofit. This is also why we can’t run our hospitals, keep our schools open, feed ourselves, create jobs, afford life, or houses, without mountains of debt.
The arms industry not only ruins the lives of the people in the countries their bombs devastate but also the countries they do business with. You need to ask. With the vast profits made from arms manufacture, where does it reflect on workers conditions or rights in the countries that manufacture their arms, home and abroad?
The reason we will not get jobs in this country in the arms trade or any other for that matter is, even with zero hour contracts and minimum pay, we are still to expensive for the corporate profiteers compared to other countries.
So here we are obliged to look at two things. We can either be enslaved in an abundance of zero hour contract jobs, without prospects or meaning, particularly when thinking about where the next generations prospective employment is coming from. Or we can start to make the connections between protest, progress and democracy. It is not one or the other. The people outside the SEC protesting the arms trade are fighting exactly the same battle as people in Maryhill seeking employment, protecting their community centre, stopping their school from closing, disappearing resources for their kids. The biggest problem is folk are dealing with these things in isolation and failing to understanding the connections between these different efforts in protecting community assets and services, or in building a sustainable economy designed for the welfare of its citizens. If that is what you want to do. Or in building any kind of humanitarian core values to replace the dysfunctional psychotic system we are living under now. A system that looks to rely on the death mongers of the arms trade that will give us nothing of human value but nightmares. Rather than working on the potential for beautiful things to happen with the resources we have at our fingertips.
As Noam Chomsky observes. ‘What is taking place today is reminiscent of Gramsci’s observations about an earlier period, when “the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear”. But also, we may add, signs of hope.’ We need to decide what we wish to be remembered for as Glaswegian’s but more importantly as human beings.
What we are experiencing today is what happens when empires are dying. The morbid symptoms appearing all around us is capitalist imperialism, exposed in all of its raw un-glamorous detail. The veil has been dropped. What we chose to do in the near future will have a massive effect in bringing a new life out of this dark period. And normalising the arms trade as a development prospect, rather than seeing it as the grotesque murder machine that it is, is not forward thinking. And nothing our city council should be medaling with on our behalf.
To note. “Glasgow Life” who hosted the recent UDT arms fair are a registered Scottish charity, whose website states.
“Glasgow Life is a charity that delivers cultural, sporting and learning activities on behalf of Glasgow City Council. In doing so we aim to make a positive impact on individuals, the communities in which they live and the city as a whole.”
Where does the Arms Fair fit into delivering the above?
How much did the arms fair make for Glasgow Life?
Are arms fair’s a good use of the Common Good Fund of the city?
How much did the police operation cost to protect arms parasites from ridicule?
Where are the (manufacturing) jobs these events will create?
Do you wonder why “People make Glasgow” logo was missing from this Glasgow life hosted event?
The last one is probably because, people do make Glasgow, and tend to ere on the side of humanity. I think though we (ordinary citizens) may have forgotten that being on the side of humanity is an active role. We need to turn up, become informed and make a stance – in order to make Glasgow and elsewhere) what we want it to be.
The Radical Imagination Project.