The last neoliberal frontier of social life

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: info@inthecommongood.org

Useful links Parks/Commons
citystrolls.com  Search parks
commongoodwatch.wordpress.com
kelvingrovepark.com
radicalimagination.co.uk/commonweal.html

Glasgow Life – Dices in death

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.

Defining the value of purpose  

Defining the value of purpose

(Text to start recent discussion Kinning Park)

Ever wondered why with all of the activity going on around us nothing much changes apart from rent hikes, more debt, lower wages, bad health and our habit of doing the same things over and over, expecting something different to happen. We need change. But, what do we mean when we say change?

Continue reading “Defining the value of purpose  “

When we at the The Radical Imagination Project say change we mean changing the system. That is, institutional change, not just cultural change, although that is very important in our work.

But before we can make institutional change, that is changing the banks and corporations that control our lives, we first need to understand how the system works – by looking at the whole system. How things connect up relationships between the main agencies in these systems and how they effect us.

But it’s not just about understanding the system, but about how we proceed towards changing it. Wether it be through cultural work, our day job, or however else and by how we live our lives. There is an imperative in building a vision and the conscience to determine a definite purpose towards what we need or are trying to achieve. Otherwise if we do not have this, we will continually fail and our cultural gains, again, will be erased at the next financial crisis.

So how do we engage meaningfully in these things is what we want to look at for this event, in both practical and innovative ways.

For instance how do we look past the mono value of money by embracing and sharing the ethical and moral values we use within our families and relationships. And how can we transfer these values towards others and our community in building an effort towards changing the economic systems that is constructed to oppress us by design.

These values are already expressed in community work, cultural work, anti poverty activities, asylum and many other actions in helping each other to survive as we have done through the mutual aid of the commons for centuries. The question is how do we consolidate these efforts to building a movement strong enough to challenge oppressive elite institutions and replace them with institutions of our own, that better serve our values and needs.

There are local alternatives to our formal banking education, that are more relative to our lives, that have a history, much older than banks and parliaments and in many ways have stood the test of time. We ask. Why are we not using them? The commons, the common good, the open source, place based learning. These are some of the ideas we are explore.

These ideas will not replace capitalism, but might help us to start understand processes, and maybe what needs to be looked at to go towards a much needed vision to do this. And if the change we work for is to be acceptable, relevant and sustainable to folk. It needs to be capable of winning things.

We feel it is urgent to start sharing these ideas and more importantly putting them into practice.

 

If you are interested in this kind of work get in touch.

The murder of Fred Hampton Black Panther

Fred Hampton (August 30, 1948 – December 4, 1969) was an American activist and revolutionary, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP), and deputy chairman of the national BPP. Hampton and fellow Black Panther Mark Clark were killed during a raid by a tactical unit of the Cook County, Illinois

The Dark Ages

Jonathan Cook:Can anyone still doubt that access to a relatively free and open internet is rapidly coming to an end in the west? In China and other autocratic regimes, leaders have simply bent the internet to their will, censoring content that threatens their rule. But in the “democratic” west, it is being done differently. The state does not have to interfere directly – it outsources its dirty work to corporations.trigger more text

As soon as next month, the net could become the exclusive plaything of the biggest such corporations, determined to squeeze as much profit as possible out of bandwidth. Meanwhile, the tools to help us engage in critical thinking, dissent and social mobilisation will be taken away as “net neutrality” becomes a historical footnote, a teething phase, in the “maturing” of the internet.

In December the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to repeal already compromised regulations that are in place to maintain a semblance of “net neutrality”. Its chairman, Ajit Pai, and the corporations that are internet service providers want to sweep away these rules, just like the banking sector got rid of financial regulations so it could inflate our economies into giant ponzi schemes.

That could serve as the final blow to the left and its ability to make its voice heard in the public square.

It was political leaders – aided by the corporate media – who paved the way to this with their fomenting of a self-serving moral panic about “fake news”. Fake news, they argued, appeared only online, not in the pages of the corporate media – the same media that sold us the myth of WMD in Iraq, and has so effectively preserved a single party system with two faces. The public, it seems, needs to be protected only from bloggers and websites.

The social media giants soon responded. It is becoming ever clearer that Facebook is interfering as a platform for the dissemination of information for progressive activists. It is already shutting down  accounts, and limiting their reach. These trends will only accelerate.

Google has changed its algorithms in ways that have ensured the search engine rankings of prominent leftwing sites are falling through the floor. It is becoming harder and harder to find alternative sources of news because they are being actively hidden from view.

Google stepped up that process this week by “deranking” RT and Sputnik, two Russian news sites that provide an important counterweight – even if one skewed in its pro-Russia agenda – to the anti-Russia propaganda spouted by western corporate media. The two sites will be as good as censored on the internet for the vast majority of users.

RT is far from a perfect source of news – no state or corporate media is – but it is a vital voice to have online. It has become a sanctuary for many seeking alternative, and often far more honest, critiques both of western domestic policy and of western interference in far-off lands. It has its own political agenda, of course, but, despite the assumption of many western liberals, it provides a far more accurate picture of the world than the western corporate media on a vast range of issues.

That is for good reason. Western corporate media is there to shore up prejudices that have been inculcated in western audiences over a lifetime – the chief one being that western states rightfully act as well-meaning, if occasionally bumbling, policemen trying to keep order among other, unruly or outright evil states around the globe.

The media and political class can easily tap into these prejudices to persuade us of all sorts of untruths that advance western interests. To take just one example – Iraq. We were told Saddam Hussein had ties to al-Qaeda (he didn’t and could not have had); that Iraq was armed with WMD (it wasn’t, as UN arms inspectors tried to tell us); and that the US and UK wanted to promote democracy in Iraq (but not before they had stolen its oil). There may have been opposition in the west to the invasion of Iraq, but little of it was driven by an appreciation that these elements of the official narrative were all easily verified as lies.

RT and other non-western news sources in English provide a different lens through which we can view such important events, perspectives unclouded by a western patrician agenda.

They and progressive sites are being gradually silenced and blacklisted, herding us back into the arms of the corporate propagandists. Few liberals have been prepared to raise their voices on behalf of RT, forgetting warnings from history, such as Martin Niemoller’s anti-Nazi poem “First they came for the socialists”.

The existing rules of “net neutrality” are already failing progressives and dissidents, as the developments I have outlined above make clear. But without them, things will get even worse. If the changes are approved next month, internet service providers (ISPs), the corporations that plug us into the internet, will also be able to decide what we should see and what will be out of reach.

Much of the debate has focused on the impact of ending the rules on online commercial ventures. That is why Amazon and porn sites like Pornhub have been leading the opposition. But that is overshadowing the more significant threat to progressive sites and already-embattled principles of free speech.

ISPs will be given a much freer hand to determine the content we can can get online. They will be able to slow down the access speeds of sites that are not profitable – which is true for activist sites, by definition. But they may also be empowered to impose Chinese-style censorship, either on their own initiative or under political pressure. The fact that this may be justified on commercial, not political, grounds will offer little succour.

Those committed to finding real news may be able to find workarounds. But this is little consolation. The vast majority of people will use the services they are provided with, and be oblivious to what is no longer available.

If it takes an age to access a website, they will simply click elsewhere. If a Google search shows them only corporately approved results, they will read what is on offer. If their Facebook feed declines to supply them with “non-profitable” or “fake” content, they will be none the wiser. But all of us who care about the future will be the poorer.

Source Znet