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
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.