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Monday, September 24, 2012

Christianity, its Demise in the Muslim World. Lebanon, the Next War

Hezbollah effectively controls Lebanon, if not administratively then by its optional use of terror.  No one dares stand up to the militias and if they do there is always another civil war (1975-1990) to contemplate.

Syrian chaos has led to a loss of control over Lebanon and has opened it up to al-Qaida influence and therefore further competition between Sunni and Shiite militancy.  This will in turn escalate tensions creating a tinderbox that could reignite the Lebanese Civil War. Last time around Lebanon lost at least 150 thousand dead, a further 1 million wounded, some 350 thousand internally displaced and another 1 million people who permanently abandoned their country. When we consider that twenty-two years on from the end of the civil war, Lebanon has only 4 million inhabitants, these statistics represent a monumental tragedy.  Even today the dead represent some 4% of the population. In Britain with 62 million people, that is the equivalent of 2 ½ million dead and 15 million refugees.

At the time of the Syrian invasion of Lebanon, Haffez al-Assad produced a list of 800 Christian leaders that he decided must be ‘brought under Syrian control’. In Lebanon’s ‘Night of the Long Knives’, Assad’s thugs decapitated the Christian political and military leadership of the country with this single act of wholesale murder.  The   UN did not discuss it, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International failed to utter a single word of complaint. The Vatican, The Worldwide Church of England, the Methodist and Episcopal hierarchies; the Global clergy, all in fact remained silent.

Is it any wonder therefore, that then as now, everywhere, terrorism is regarded as a right and a strategic weapon to be employed by the Arab and Islamic faithful?

It has become one of the best known clichés of our time and one of humanity’s most derelict truths:

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”

-         Martin Niemoller

For Israel the choice could eventually be between sharing a border with Pakistan (al-Qaida) or Iran (Hezbollah) in the North and in Gaza.  The fragmentation of the Arab world does not necessarily presage the disintegration of the Arab world but it does mean a long period of violent conflict with the entire region engulfed in crisis. The Arab spring was meant to deliver democracy (at least in our Western dreams it did) but the reality is turning out to be the replacement of dictatorship with (fascist) Islamic theocracies.

Ethnic tensions are now focused on Shiite and Sunni, between heretical sects of Islam and fundamentalist Muslim Nazi bigots; on Christian minorities used to sharing power (as in Syria) and those Christians previously ‘protected’ by sympathetic dictators (as in Egypt, Libya and Iraq).  Other minorities, such as the Kurds, are also experiencing renewed persecution (as in Turkey). Those who would love to live in a democratic country stand naked and defenceless against Islamists whose disgust for democracy is only second to their hatred for those proposing it.

Lebanon is a microcosm of the Islamic world.

A popular Arab expression goes “First comes Saturday and then comes Sunday” (We will ‘deal’ with the Jews first and then we will ‘deal’ with the Christians). Meanwhile the Arab Spring has ruined the strategy in spite of the pragmatic obeisance to authority and hierarchic intolerance that corrupts Christian behaviour in the Arab world.  Christians are no longer a veil to disguise the true intent of Muslim regimes.  As a propaganda vehicle they barely serve the purpose of demonstrating conditional tolerance to the Christian West as attacks against them escalate and increase in ferocity.

If, before the Arab Spring each regime brutalised its own people the difference is that today brutalisation has been privatised. Extremists of all shades reassert a visceral hatred for those with whom they disagree.

You cannot depoliticise conflict when it is predicated on ethnic, ideological and theological differences. Politics is drenched in historic memory, much of it mythic. Faith ignores fact.

News fatigue is the excuse we give to describe an event that is played out on our television screens for longer than is deemed to be worthy of attention. Unfortunately, this can be translated as meaning no more than a journalists boredom with the subject, their cowardice (after the probable targeted killing of two foreign journalists in Syria, in February this year), or their refusal to report the news because it conflicts with their world view.  It has left the Christians of the Islamic world both unprotected and in mortal danger. Just as ethnic cleansing and elimination of the Jewish presence in the Muslim world was theologically and politically inevitable, once Israel came into existence, the empowerment of Islamic fundamentalism has similarly created a momentum for the end of Christianity outside of everywhere except, of course,  Israel.

By advocating its own version of triumphalist identity politics, with all that it entails the Arab Spring is inextricably changing into a Winter of Repression and fundamentalist realignment.  And while Islamists will use the political interregnum as a period of distraction to focus on settling accounts with minimal fuss and press coverage, at this time all Israel can do is to batten down the hatches.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

President Obama Guardian of Freedom

I listened to President Obama on the morning of 19th September and I admit that I am confused.  He stated that the President of the United States is president of all the people, not just Democrats or Republican but both.  This is all well and good but it was a missed opportunity to show that he was more than a politician; perhaps even a global Statesman for the twenty-first century.

And God knows, we sorely need one.

We have had calls for restraint as Muslims riot, burn and kill across 30 nations in protest at what was essentially a set-up by Muslim extremists and we have had threats of retaliation and court cases.  All this is a violation of our right to free speech.

I do not understand our cowardice or the president’s reticence to step up to the plate (or to the crease for those who prefer the cricket metaphor to baseball).

So let us examine what are the issues?

Freedom of expression is one of the pillars of democracy. There are times that we must show restraint – shouting fire in a cinema is one classic example; at other times a lack of restraint is simply bad manners, and perhaps this is one of the terrible things that have accompanied our obsession with individuality that it is at the expense of common decency. We say what we think as if the consequences were unimportant. As movie making has developed since the 1960’s we have seen the boundaries of what is permissible reduced to almost no boundaries either to what we may say or, to what we may view. It is this absence of self-restraint that has spilled over and into society providing reactionary forces everywhere with the evidence (so they believe) that our nations are experiencing their death knell.

Nevertheless, while the time is long overdue for us to examine our laws with respect to communication across the board, the principle that freedom of expression is sacred also means we should be wary of sacrilege. And here’s the rub. If to portray Muhammad as less than an angel is wrong then so is distribution or publication of the Koran, anywhere in the free world.

The Koran is not a book that encourages the faithful to respect their fellow man. It is neither tolerant nor peaceful. But it is conditional, and that qualified tolerance is dependent upon acquiescence to restricted rights. So must we weigh rights against sensitivities? Or is the right to offend conditional?  To the latter question I shout a resounding NO.  Because then it is not what is offensive that we inevitably examine but who we may offend.  And that is a form of fascism.

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “It is easier to live with the no-truth or half-truth, but it is tedious to live with the whole truth.”  Can there be Peace with Islam while their world knows only extremists and purveyors of propaganda; disseminators of lies and hate?  Can we continue to suffer guilt for the colonial policies of former European powers while ignoring the atrocities of Islam?

And while we may think these are isolated and unfortunate occurrences that are not worth the trouble of confronting there are far too many instances of acquiescence to the threat of violence to which our governments have already caved in. Two examples follow:

A couple of weeks ago the first episode of a new TV series on the Prophet Muhammad aired on ITV4, a government/taxpayer funded channel that broadcasts here in the UK.  The series is based on the writings of British author, Tom Holland (in particular his most recent book “In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire”). In it he claims there is no proof that the prophet existed. After receiving 1,200 complaints and threats against the presenters’ life the remainder of the series was shelved.  And then there is the wonderfully imaginative ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy by Philip Pullman.  The first movie ‘The Golden Compass’ was financially successful but the final two instalments were never made. Philip Pullman admitted that the Vatican applied sufficient ‘pressure’ to ensure that censorship won out over entertainment.

Perhaps 33,000 Muslims have been brutally killed in Syria over the last year and a half and the Arab world prevaricates over taking any action to bring it to an end. Maybe I missed the plethora of condemnations in the UN General Assembly, the Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council but a short 15 minute, badly made video on YouTube is the catalyst for global protests.  And to show their respect for the infidel the Egyptian Brotherhood has promised to set up a new movie channel devoted to anti-Christian and anti-Zionist (anti-Semitic) productions. The problem being that this already happens and there are no world wide protests or demands that they cease their obscene fabrications, nor has there been violence or killings. Every year in Islamic Iran a Holocaust denial competition encourages attendees to produce the most abhorrent of anti- Jewish caricatures.

We are the abused partner in this asymmetric relationship, constantly surprised when we are beaten up or molested by our Muslim mate when in fact this is what they know; they expect it to continue and are outraged when it does not. It is a recognized and much documented psychopathology and until we change the dynamic of the relationship the Islamic world will have no reason to even consider its own delinquency.

We live in a world of intellectual cowardice where the global bully can literally, get away with murder and from the leader of the free world, instead of taking the opportunity to call for a global ‘time-out’ on hatred what we receive is a request from the White House to Google to review whether “Innocence of Muslims” has violated YouTube’s’ terms of use.

With respect to the President, a famous Mexican revolutionary leader named Emiliano Zapata Salazar once said “It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees.” I would add that the reason for this is that those that live on their knees are eventually deprived of even that painful right.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Syrian Civil War

There are terrible things happening in Syria.  Not so however, if we believe the BBC’s text service, its pro-Arab propaganda arm, Teletext, which reported today that ‘thousands have been killed since the conflict began in March last year.’ It seems as though we are now minimising the impact of the Syrian Civil War.  This is more than news fatigue.  With the arrogance that only a journalist can display we are witnessing the rewriting of history.

The BBC and Teletext paid homage to Hezbollah’s leader who recently quoted a similar figure.  The number of casualties in the Syrian conflict is between 25,000 and 33,000 dead making it ‘mercifully’ (for its relatively ‘small’ number of victims) the most lethal conflict currently being reported anywhere in the world. It may be difficult to know who to believe and what to believe but it is interesting that the BBC via Teletext tows the Shiite Islamic line.

March 15, 2011 marked the start of the Syrian Civil War. It began with public demonstrations in support of the Arab Spring and in 2012 it degenerated into a Civil War.  News that 200 men and women, children and babies were executed appeared to do nothing to galvanise the international community into action. Does it matter whether the regime or freedom fighters committed the atrocity? In 1982 it was Hama and in 2012 Homs – instant ethnic cleansing by Assad Senior or 17 months of killing by Assad Junior, where is the difference? When Assad Senior levelled the city of Hama to the ground (Homs at that time was the centre of Muslim Brotherhood activity in Syria), he killed tens of thousands of his own people. But it was six months before the news filtered through and then it was covered by a single page in Time Magazine even as this genocidal blitzkrieg was ignored virtually everywhere else.

Since then, not much has changed in Syria.  The impact of mobile communications has certainly had no impact on the grizzly outcome. Everyone discusses Syria but no one does anything to stop the slaughter. The issue for the world is what kind of Syria will we have to deal with in the future?

Mainstream Sunni Muslims regard the Alawite as belonging to a heretic sect, barely Muslim. But by other Shiite Muslims the Alawite are regarded as more like errant or perhaps lapsed brethren in need of a stern push back to legitimacy. This latter view is certainly the Iranian opinion.

Between Sunni backed Riyadh, and Shiite backed Damascus and Tehran, competition for chaos has created subterranean supply routes through Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan and Gaza. No-one can fully control the back channels of global terrorism. A proxy war is now in play with each side funnelling arms to its surrogate. This is not a conflict of good verses evil but one of conflicting evils. A lesson from history which we time and again fail to learn proves that belligerence is not confronted nor liquidated by appeasement.

Dismissing the Alawite minority that has ruled Syria since the 1920’s the Christian minority is so closely associated with the Shiite leadership, their physical survival must surely be in doubt if al-Qaida or Salafists take control of the government.  The Kurds and the Druze support Assad in their dread of Salafist radicalism. But they are also too closely associated with the murderous regime not to fear retribution.

What is the difference between the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafism? Salafists represent the angry and impatient ‘young-bloods’ of intolerant Islam while the Brotherhood does an excellent job of presenting a moderate image in the West while it curses us all and prays in what the Arab world calls the ‘holy language of Arabic’ for our annihilation. But the Muslim Brotherhood is more than a fraternity. It is an international racist, irredentist and colonialist business. We should all be concerned because it recognises no borders and equates success with a bloodied body count.  In a term known as ‘blowback’ the British Jihadists who travelled to Afghanistan to fight the Russians returned to the UK radicalised, trained for mass murder and a security threat to Britain.  Now those Jihadists, so enthusiastic for revolution in Syria will return ‘home’ to the UK with hate in their hearts and the means to express it violently.

The riots after the 2009 elections in Iran showed extremists everywhere, the West’s lack of commitment to helping the oppressed.  And while the US administration has drawn up emergency plans to seize control of any Syrian sites with stores of biological or chemical weapons (no country can afford stockpiles of non-conventional weapons to ‘go missing’) it was a Western failure to support regime change in Iran that created this terrible momentum for backward looking religious fascists across the Near-east.   It emboldened the forces of reactionary Islamism everywhere.

If peace removed Syria from ‘the circle of evil’ as Ben Caspit described it in Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper (28th August 2006) it would be worth returning the Golan Heights to Syria because it would mean “blocking the flow of rockets from Tehran to Baalbek via Damascus, neutralising Hezbollah, paralyzing Hamas and completing the circle of peace around Israel.”  Of course since 2006 the geopolitical situation has changed and not just with reference to Egypt. In 2007 the failed opportunity for peace with Syria was based on the return of the Golan Heights to Syria but Syria wanted all of the Golan including the land that bordered the Kinneret, thus it would have controlled Israel’s water supply. Any claims to the shores of the Kinneret were counter-historic and based on revisionist and colonialist aspirations.  It was in fact at best, a feign intended to distract international attention away from Syria’s secret nuclear programme.

There are fears that Syria with its minorities could become the next Afghanistan.  Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Yair Naveh has said that Syria possesses the largest chemical weapons arsenal in the world so any attempt by al-Qaida to grab some of this stock would be cataclysmic. An aggressive arsenal of both conventional and non-conventional weaponry is a serious escalation of the conflict in terms of identifying the players trying to wrestle control of Syria from the Alawite minority. The first use of IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) occurred in June 2012. It may mark a significant escalation in foreign interference by radicals. In fact Iran has admitted that members of Iran’s elite special operations unit al-Quds force are operating in Syria (as well as Lebanon).

Dr Guy Bechor (Israeli writer) pointed out that the most successful war is a war averted. This may be true but sometimes we bow to the inevitability of conflict in order to save lives. The problem with Syria today is that we have no idea who will rule the country in the future.  The current stable of front-runners is illiterate in terms of human rights and respect for humanity and they are violently, murderously opposed to learning. They are fanatics and the problem is that the fanatic will as easily slit the throat of an Alawi baby as they will a Jewish baby, a Christian baby or even a Sunni baby.  We have witnessed this inhumanity too much already.

Hardened jihadists having cut their teeth in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria will ultimately want to enjoy the corrupt fruits of their long and painful labours but competition will create the kind of turbulence that may, if we are lucky, cause the international movement to cannibalise and ultimately consume itself in an orgy of ethno-religious fratricide (as it did in Algeria) but that is the best case scenario!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Muhammad and the Movies

I am expected to condemn violence and incitement to violence. But I have a problem with chicken and egg scenarios because they represent an insoluble conundrum. What came first?

I have read the Koran on more than one occasion and each time it made me itch.  It is a blue print for conquest, it invites the faithful to commit violence and murder against Christians and Jews, and it is the personification of intolerance.

It scares me like no other book I have ever read.

Page one is an act of supplication and affirmation; page two an affirmation of intolerance and exclusion; by page three we, the disbelievers, are warned and then threatened and by page four the faithful are averred the right to kill those that disbelieve.  Murder as an act of faith is justified in four pages and there are many hundreds more pages through which we must wade to the bitter end. Much of the account is poetic and none of it is time specific. And here is the problem.

The Bible was written over many centuries but it ends, depending upon your faith, at the latest, by the end of the second century of the Common Era.  Few people believe in either the literal meaning of the first or second Testament (The Torah or the Christian Bible).  But the Koran is not time specific so then, as now, in the sixth century of the Common Era and in the 21st Century of the Common Era the narrative and its instructions are neither changed because of circumstances nor alterable for the passage of time. The enemy is the same enemy, destined for turning, or designed for death.

Does this mean that we in the civilised West should keep to our principles and condemn that which offends them as we would expect them to condemn that which offends us?  It was after all Hillel who in the first century before the Common Era proclaimed as the article of Jewish faith, "do not do unto others that which you would not have them do unto you".

When the followers of the Prophet Muhammad will stone the fundamentalist who rapes the child (because it is not his right to take a bride for the sole reason that she is able to menstruate); and will bludgeon to death the cartoonist drawing caricatures of Jewish apes and Christians pigs (because anthropomorphic representations are the way the Koran depicts us in order to ridicule us); and when the burners of Churches and the bombers of Buddha’s are hanged from the tallest of Cranes (and the Episcopal Church demands a boycott of the makers of the cranes), then perhaps we may share our experience of existential pain and discover a collective humanity that demands a mutuality of respect.

But while in Pakistan a developmentally disabled child can be falsely accused of blasphemy as a pretext to the ethnic cleansing of all Christians in the neighbourhood; and while in Dubai (and throughout the rest of the Arab world) human slavery is alive and well because we are all of us inferior and unworthy of anything but penance for the crime of our birth, then please, do not demand of me a respect that you are incapable of reciprocating.

And when the Imams that spew hate from their pulpits with every breath proclaim that we have no right to protest their evil words because they are the words of their god Allah and the writings of the Koran, his writings as delivered by his most holy servant, the Prophet Muhammad, then please do not ask me to condemn a movie that portrays the Prophet in a less than friendly way.

Duplicity demands conditional tolerance, but peace will accompany a narrative that is sincere because from it will emerge mutual respect.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Scandal at London Metropolitan University

Last week, here in the UK, a scandal erupted, like a volcano, and damage done, it just as quickly subsided. Perhaps this is because all the interested parties are desperate for the wreckage to be discretely cleared with as little fuss as possible so that there is no lasting harm to the environment, in this case the higher educational environment.

London Metropolitan University (LMU) had its authority to issue student visas to people outside of the European Community revoked. It means that up to 2,600 students will need to either find a new university willing to take them or be deported, and they have till December this year to do it. Unsurprisingly, the University has cried foul and is suing the customs authority!

Some facts:

  1. The British university industry was worth £40 billion last year. Let me say that again. British universities (not colleges, just universities) did business this last year to the tune of forty thousand million pounds sterling.
  2. Foreign students contributed £13 billion last year to the UK economy.   They paid a minimum of £12,000 each, per year, to study here (English students now pay up to £9,000 per year for the same privilege). But all this is in payment for an inadequate and substantially devalued education, more about that later.
  3. It is a scam which encourages a corrupt education system because the bigger the number of students, the greater the prestige for the UK industry as a whole and the higher the salaries that will be demanded by the professors for their services.
  4. I object to this arrangement because those that can afford to come here are under no obligation to demonstrate tolerance towards the natives with whom they interact nor do they need to leave behind their repugnant prejudices.  And their professors will bow down in worship to anyone who aids them in increasing their prestige and their power.  As a consequence, heightened anti-Jewish radicalism has not been discouraged by universities that view the contribution of their client roster to their wallet or purse as infinitely more important than integrity, or the safety of their fellow citizens.
  5. The London Metropolitan University has objected on the grounds that:
a)     everyone was doing it
b)     the rules changed 14 times over 3 years so they couldn’t ‘cope’
c)  LMU students spoke 100 separate languages, the standards were never standardised, it is therefore ‘impossible’ to deliver a test that is accurate for everyone.

First a reminder.  This is an Institution of Higher Education. The state, your taxes and mine provide hundreds of millions of pounds to each institution because it is understood that they are ALL capable of doing research and coming up with solutions.

The reality is a little more complicated.  I completed a course at my wife’s former college and the lecturer used her own slides, they were grammatically incorrect and some were misspelled.  She gave answers to questions on the test paper because she did not cover the material during the course.  Some 500 colleges have had their licences to sponsor international students removed (because the new rules made it too difficult for them to manage the process ‘safely’).

It would appear that the initial premise of higher education authorities being entrusted with devolved authority to authorise applications by foreign nationals to study in the UK was based on a logically flawed, in fact wildly naïve idea that Universities would behave with legal probity, in contradiction to their own self-interest.  In fact all that happened is that the UK Border Agency was once again scapegoated for what must have been a cynical Foreign Office ploy.

What is the difference between a college and a university? In theory a university carries out research while a college should only teach vocational courses. In practice most colleges offer lots of courses unconnected to vocational training.  The problem becomes focussed when we realise the slight of hand that government carried out some years ago when it reclassified some 200 colleges as universities. They did not seek to demonstrably increase the quality of education provided but for the newly reclassified universities their revenues sky-rocketed. Today there are 147 ‘Universities’ in the UK (that is the number I was able to find listed via web search).  Some of those ‘universities’ are the amalgamation of former geographically unconnected colleges.

The penultimate audit carried out 6 months ago stated that London Metropolitan University had not carried out audits of its own as required: It failed to adequately monitor classroom attendance, barely knew who it had on its classroom registers, did not monitor the level of English knowledge its students had and did not check to see if its students were legally permitted to reside in the UK (many were not). This is incredible because what it means is that the university took students money but:

  1. Did not bother to check that students attended classes (one has to assume that if they were not in receipt of bursaries then they were earning very good money to make up for their annual fees)
  2. Many of LMU’s students had so incomplete a knowledge of the English language it was simply inconceivable that they should be accepted to study a course taught in the English language.
  3. Britain’s Universities are the lungs of Islamic radicalisation. Three heads of University Islamic Societies in London have been convicted of terrorist offences (one tried to blow up a British plane). If they are so irresponsible that they accept people they cannot be bothered to monitor in the way a normal university monitors its ‘real’ students then they become complicit in terrorism and, murder.
Secret files obtained by The Daily Telegraph and Wiki Leaks early in 2011 disclosed that at least 35 terrorists held at Guantánamo Bay were indoctrinated by extremists in Britain.

And now London Metropolitan University is complaining because it may be forced to repay funds provided for fictitious students.

Six months on from the first Border Agency Audit Report they found that none of the faults or criticisms cited had been addressed.  Unsurprisingly, they withdrew their license.

But it gets worse.

A friend’s elder son graduated recently from a three year degree course in Psychology.  He is lucky to have had a steady part time job that (when he completed his degree) has now become his means of making a living. He works as a store-man, check-out jockey and general shop assistant at his local supermarket but he now has a degree to prove he can do it. 

His degree cost £8,500 per year excluding accommodation and living expenses. It started each year at the end of September, in theory going through to mid July the next year (which would be ok because after 2 term-breaks, again in theory this is equal to 8 months study). In practice, excluding term-breaks of over one month, his course ended each year at the Easter break (end of April) so he effectively paid for a degree course that lasted at most 6 months. That is English university education!  What also has to be factored into the overall cost of education is that he will have been paying rent for 12 months and not 6 months.

There is a far more serious issue here as well.

Some 35 years ago a study was commissioned that revealed some surprising results. 80% of all jobs that were filled by university graduates could as easily have been done by those who left school at the end of high-school and did not continue their studies.  But the lobby for the commercial sector vigorously promoted the idea that it was the responsibility of government to prepare the young for the world of work.  Taxation had already paid for this unquantifiable benefit. Education was simply, not their problem. Government failed to argue against this proposition but it could not afford to fund higher education on its own. Hence we created a monster that grows ever more bloated by the year and with increasing corpulence has come greater arrogance and a high-minded self-aggrandizement that disfigures the national economy as it is destroying society.

Those people who want to learn are being failed by an academic education system that has no ethical responsibility towards the society that hosts it.

I feel sure that length of semester (term) and exorbitant pricing of academic study are world-wide phenomena; let us call it a contagion.   Not everyone can be a shelf-filler with a Bachelor of Arts degree (BA) but this is also a worldwide curse.  Similarly, to do a basic secretarial or administrative job with typing, filing and timetable coordination for the boss requires a BA whereas 5-10 years ago an 18 year old could have done it blindfolded. They still could but without a degree they are more likely to now be unemployable.

And that is the tragedy that awaits our youth today.  Too many of them are doomed to drifting and hopelessness.  Democratic Society has betrayed its contract with its citizens.

This is the urgent problem that society is desperately in need of addressing.

We should start by dividing education at aged 14 (or younger) into vocational and scholarly tracks that permit our youth to decide on going forward into a university path or apprenticeship.  The jobs that we may learn via apprenticeship (and most jobs fall into this category) should be returned to industry. If we have to, give them tax breaks.

If society is to be saved we need to approach this subject with brutal honesty, not personal ego and prestige.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


We are all born with labels. Some labels are inherited from our parents (even though not all are genetically forced upon us) and some labels are imposed on us by society.

The labels we are born with denote our genetic disposition: white, black; red-head, blond; blue-eyed, brown eyed; short, tall; fat and thin.  The labels we inherit without any biological markers are the religion of our parents, our prejudices, and more critically, our feelings of self-worth (you’re over-weight, your stupid).

Some are legal and some insidious.  They denote our status in society, for instance, married or divorced, single or spinster. Being a spinster denigrates womanhood and there is no similarly disparaging term for a man in the English language.  We are old and young, a goody-goody or a cad.  Labels are used to reinforce class divisions. And then there are the judgements of society: retarded, slut, lazy and over-sensitive.

As often as not these latter names serve no more than to impose the values or prejudices of one group onto another. Very soon after 9/11 Britain’s Labour government introduced legislation intended to stifle speech that it defined as inflammatory. The Imam of the Central London Mosque stated that if the new law protected Muslims from violence it was ‘acceptable’ as long as it did not impede the Islamic right to free speech.

What he inferred was that religious prejudice was acceptable when it served an Islamic purpose while anything opposing it was incitement. When the head of the extreme British National Party or ‘BNP’ was tried in court for a speech that was deemed to have incited hatred against Muslims he won the case because he proved to the court that he was simply taking quotes from the Koran and pointing out the danger inherent in what Islam itself allows its followers to say and do. After the courts failure to convict, the government responded that it would have to consider ways to tighten up the law. Few supported this Liberal-Left attack on free speech. It implied that Islamic racism and its incitement to violence was acceptable while protesting against it was not. And we have seen this principle used against Israel, here in the UK.

In this case labels have been used to criminalise those who practice free speech and to attempt to assign privileges to one group over another.

But then labels are far too often used to reinforce comfortable prejudices. By their repetition these sound bites serve only to benefit the mentally lazy.  They are a short-hand for those determined to remain ignorant; those to whom ‘thought’ must be served up as a convenience food. One must not disturb that which intolerant people regard as serving a purpose.

When society applies different rules to separate groups it is a form of legalised and intermittent apartheid (another label).  Rape and murder become words with flexible meaning (more labels) because they help to explain justifiable cultural requisites. If some justify this as necessary political correctness in order to actively support minority rights the problem is in the despotic nature of its result. Throughout history the wolf pack has been dominated by the alpha male whose active participation rarely encouraged justice but often rallied support for terror.

More labels.  Football clubs have their supporters, trains their train-spotters, and of course society has its Philo and anti-Semites. Bimbos and Feminists are labels we use to denigrate women or raise them, and Essex girls in England have their equivalent in American princesses.  How many of us know a nerd or an ‘anorak’? Political labels define us as Zionists and anti-Zionists, Liberals and Conservatives, extremists or moderates.

The labels we use define our society and they are necessary because without them we could not maintain a consistent approach.  They are a short-hand which defines our condition.  Democracy is dependent on the transparency of justice but labels define the Law (by which they too often limit justice for the sake of consistency of purpose and incorruptibility) just as labels define the system of government we use. 

All these labels make up our identity. 

Identity was initially defined by tribe, then by religion and then by nationality. In the 20th Century the Nazis attempted to replace German faith with a state religion that it incorporated into the national ethos. In totalitarian societies labels are used not simply to define limits but also to compartmentalise those who are empowered, those who are disenfranchised and the multiplicity of identities in between.

For those who declare ‘their way’ to be the only legitimate form of expression, it makes sense that those who do not follow them are opposed to them.  Dissension becomes illegal and must be obliterated, order is essential, it is linear and hierarchical.  Dictatorship craves order, is all predictable and operates within defined limits.  Identity is us and them, and the ‘them’ are inevitably inferior, demonised and persecuted. There is no grey area in these societies.

There are forces in all societies that will strive for there to be only one way and their calling card is intolerance and fear.  But the failure of democracy may well come about because in trying to be all things to all people we satisfy no one.  A fragmented national identity will disintegrate under the burden of fear and hopelessness which is fed by the collapse of confidence in society.

We need an identity, no matter how complex it may be, to identify the path to travel; we need a road map to arrive at the destination.  We may take various paths to arrive at our destination but without consistent rules our paths will inevitably and violently collide.

If there is one thing that is killing Western Society it is that we have lots of labels, but no depth of vision in which to position our labels onto our road map so that it secures justice for everyone.