DISASTER CAPITAL OR SOCIALISM? IT IS UP TO OURSELVES

The present situation we are facing demonstrates why capitalism isn’t working, if it ever has.

From ancient times cultures have been aware of what is happening in the present will have an effect on the future. Whether it was determined through a message from the spirit world or a sage. There had been a general sense of what you sow in the present is what you will reap in the future. Continue reading

Then along came the western colonisers and blew all of this off as superstition. Which it was, part of it. But what was not understood was the underlying structures of these spiritual beliefs, of common sense, ecological development, solidarity and survival, that had been developed over thousands of years. These were also washed over as the plunder of indigenous resources to feed the insatiable greed of the western religion of development, as their grip took hold across continents.

This has all happened in such a small period of time on the clock of the world. The development of the human species living in reasonable harmony with each other over millennia has been reduced in the cycle of a few hundred years back to the so called barbarism, that so called, civilisation, set out to replace. Not only the present situation and the inability or political will to even think about it rationally, never mind coming up with a strategy to deal with it . And if we do, when we do, we will still have the climate apocalypse waiting for us in the wings along with countless imperialist wars, the neoliberal project, reducing our only choice being to survive within its parameters or perish. There will continue to be pandemics by other names if things, as they are, continues.

But as a friend commented. ”My calculations show that our carbon emission targets to save the planet were met yesterday. Tell me why we need to reopen the car factories again?” Good question that could be related to many of the same kind of opportunities that could be met under the present crisis.

At present the elite will be figuring it all out – what will be the end game of this disaster. What will rebound to make the best profit, how many lives will it cost, how many jobs will it cost? And at the end how many evictions? Because that is the day these people will be aiming for. You would have to be naive given the repeating circumstances, to believe there would be any compassion in a business contract, because that is the relationship we have with our government. Why would we be surprised? Saving lives should be what it is about not the predicted death rate in a cost benefit analysis. Somebody’s right to make a profit weighed up with somebody’s right to live.

There is a time (which could potentially be now) when we need to step back. To look in the mirror. To sit in a darkened room and to think and ask the following questions. What am I doing here? What part do I play in the capitalist charade that is unfolding before me? What has happened in the recent past that would encourage me to believe that the government has my interests at heart, in the present, or for the future?

There are no easy answers. But when the dust settles on the Corona virus the choices will be, some kind of “Socialism” or
The Neoliberal Project Part II.” This is the situation that we are in right now and we should start to think about how to make good use of our time spent in isolation.
Remember hedgefunders wont let a crisis go to waste.

 

Social Energy And The Radical Imagination

From Glasgow to LA. In the struggle for decent housing.

Capitalist money making factories like Govanhill generating wealth at the cost of the health of tenants who have a single focus of paying rent to keep a roof over their head at the cost of disengagement from public life and sustainability of their own lives.

These are the abstractions people are living within. There can be no creativity, innovation, sense of agency nor vision of a happy future when being forced to live under the yoke of indentured neoliberal policy. These processes under the neoliberal project become international.

The combined legacy of Reagan and Thatcher has a counter weight in the struggle of those who have been fighting the effects of their  “special relationship” for a long time. The same ‘special relationship” we see in Trump and May. Maybe time to renew our own special relationships with our brothers and sisters abroad in the Struggle for A Just Economy and in creating a wider solidarity.

Andrea Gibbons is a writer, academic and activist, Who has spent many years of activism in Los Angeles, London, Manchester and for a time in Glasgow, around housing campaigns and racism.

As well as her written work she is a full time activist, and has much to say about strategy and organising to win things. What has Glasgow to learn from L.A? Come along and find out. We will have the pleasure of her company and experience in a talk/workshop

‘I lived in Glasgow for a year. I was thinking a focus on the civil rights campaigns and housing struggle would be most useful, drawing out lessons for the UK.”

Kinning Park on Friday May the 3rd at 7:00 – 9:00 Free

An evening with Michael Albert Wednesday 10 Oct 2018 6:30 PM 8:30 Pearce Institute.

 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

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

Book: https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=861

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

Where is the left I want to join it?

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

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.

Peace.

The Radical Imagination Project.

  

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

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.