Tuesday 31 July 2007

The Tories- Stuck Between Stools

Well, David Cameron's honeymoon period is over.
It has to be said, he's frittered away a fair amount of favourable public opinion.
How he has acheived this, is a mystery.

Or is it?

I don't think it's so much the fact that Gordon is popular, as that less people feel inclined to answer these polls. When Cameron got in as leader, people felt that here maybe was the chance for the sort of opposition they wanted.

It wasn't.
They didn't want Old Tories.
They didn't want Blue Labour.

Up until the last election, the Tories had shown themselves experts at selling their message.
To Tory voters.
But not to many other people. This was a bad habit they picked up during the Thatcher years, when Labour hadn't much sensible to say, but became disastrous during the Major years.
None of us who voted for the first time in 1997 actually remembered rubbish in the streets or 'Labour isn't working' any more than we remembered Dunkirk.

But Cameron forgets what Gordon hasn't.
Most 'One nation' Tories are dieing off. They form the bulk of party membership, and are seen within the party as its moderate wing.
It's moderate in that it doesn't want to privatise everything.
It doesn't realise that what it sees as the extremists, have already won that argument.
Even Labour buys that argument now.

There is a large group of people, in their twenties and thirties, that favour radical, minimalist, economic policy.
Thatcher's Children.
But many of them are uncomfortable supporting the Tories.

To this electorate, who is sick of state interference, but doesn't want to vote for the Hang em and Flog em lobby, won't vote for policies that seem to have a xenophobic tinge to them, Cameron offers nothing.

In fact he doesn't even offer the key points that are attractive about the old Tory way.
He hasn't stood up to the government over its plans to turn this country into a police state, he has defended the burgeoning public sector, he refused to stand up to the bullying of Catholic adoption agencies and he has refused to oppose the smoking ban.
Some defence of liberty.

All this in the name of 'moving to the centre.'

But on everything else they remain very conservative with a small 'c'.

So basically, the only reason to vote for him, is if you think he's more competent to run the country than Gordon.
And he doesn't really carry that clout, does he?
We hate Blair now, but didn't he so much look the leader in 1994?

It's the old patrician Tories that put Thatcher's Children off from voting for the party.
What Cameron has done is make the wrong moves, change the wrong policies.
He has given ground that few wanted to see given, but not moved to sieze the fertile ground unrepresented by the current narrow spectrum of opinion.

Until the Tory party can stand firm as a truly liberal party (the Liberal Democrats are sometimes neither), in the original sense of the word, they will get nowhere.
Maybe they can't. Maybe Thatcher's children will get fed up first.

As it is, a whole generation finds neither side gives it what it wants.

Minimalist state, liberal social policies.

For that is what the country is crying out for.
Policies that are truly liberal.

Monday 30 July 2007

Self Delusion or Dark Side?

Well, the result of last week's poll was inconclusive.
Eleven votes for the corporations.
Eleven votes against.
There were no 'don't know's.

The corporations need to do some marketing, methinks.
OK, this week's issue is very different.

In real life, I'm a bit like the last issue.
Ask someone who knew of me, there would be few don't knows.
There would be strong opinions either way.

One of my main faults is that I seem to hurt people without wanting to.
Obviously nobody wants to hurt people.
The problem is when you can't work out how not to.

The only thing I've ever done in my life is sell. I don't do it because it pays huge amounts of money, it doesn't, but because it's a pleasant way to earn enough to live.
Someone is paying you to chat to people.
But there's also that huge adenalin rush of bringing someone in, that sense of hitting the arrow home. That's why you do it.

And you don't trouble yourself about whether the customer ends up satisfied. That's not your job. You aren't responsible for delivery.
As long as you never made any guarantees the company never said it couldn't deliver, you did your job.
It's about representation.

I do it, because I'm not much use at much else.

The problem is, I never quite move outside that mode. For example, I have absolutely no qualms telling someone what I think they want to hear, to get them to sign on the dotted line. I'll flirt with them shamelessly, if need be.
What's worse, I don't even weigh up the decision. I do it without thinking. It's almost an unconscious action.
It becomes a motivator in itself. You enjoy knowing you are making someone feel good.

And I seem to do this instinctively in my personal life.

The problem in my personal life is not so much I can't find love, as just as have no idea what to do with it when I do.
I'm actually quite a prude in some ways. I don't do one night stands as a rule. I do prefer to have some connection to people I am intimate with.
It is what that connection means that can be confusing.

I enjoy the wining and dining aspect, I enjoy the early phase of pillow talk where you offload your fears and fantasies, the look of love in a woman's eye, the period when you have long in depth conversations about the world.
And in a real sense, I mean everything I say at this point. The sweet nothings I whisper are heartfelt nothings.

And yet I say the same sorts of things everytime.

When the initial fire starts to get more 'steady', I find myself lost. The sale bit is over, and I don't know what to do.
The problem is, what I am really in love with is a stage in the process. I love someone who is falling in love, I find it hard to love someone in love.

With a sale, you can comfort yourself you are not responsible for delivering what you represent, yet in real life relationships you are.
I fail badly here.

It is possible that I know that the product I am marketing in this instance is appallingly shoddy and cannot give customer satisfaction.

It is as if, come a certain point, I feel a peak has been reached and it's time to back out.
Even if it does develop further, my feelings fast change to brother-sister feelings, and I am looking elsewhere for that fire again.

And would I even know if I had fallen in love for real?

This is the problem. Sometimes I think I am in love at the time, then it wears off.
But one day I might think it had worn off once that initial stage was over.
And maybe it would be real.

But we also have the moral issue. Knowing this cycle, isn't entering into it at all, morally reprehensible?
I cannot know for sure that I delude myself this time, but looking at past history, it's the most likely interpretation.
Which makes me negligent.

Which I am most guilty of, self delusion or wilful deception, I'll let you decide.

This weeks poll is on Friday night's issue.
Is Monogamy our natural condition?

Have your say.

Sunday 29 July 2007

Todays Word is..... Schmooze

I'll admit, I wasn't strictly speaking sure what this word meant either, but I had an idea and I think that idea is correct.
So here is a meme for you, but a meme with a little present attached.
This Schmooze Award originates with these two bloggers, and was kindly sent in this direction, by Beatles devotee, Harleyblues

It pupose is to be an 'award to recognize those people that were exceptionally adept at creating relationships with other bloggers by making an effort to be part of a conversation, as opposed to a monologue.'

My interpretation of this meme, is that the five I nominate should exemplify best a positive spirit of blogging.
Not only should they be the sort of bloggers who keep us interested in what they write, but they are bloggers through whom we discover other blogs, good hosts, as well as good guests within the bloggosphere.

Good talkers, but good listeners too.
Interactive bloggers.

So here's my five.

1. Mutley. Mutley's blog is a great place for bloggers to meet. I think a lot of people discover other blogs through Mutley. A certain type of surreal, anarchic humour prevails at Mutley the Dogs Day Out, and Mutley himself is never lax in his social calls.

2. Lord Sraf-Belfast. The ever changing aristocrat of doubtful nationality always seems to have his finger on the pulse in the bloggosphere. I am sure he must have some facility that allows him to beat the laws of time somehow, but there doesn't seem to be a post anywhere that misses him.
He is also a blogger who goes out of his way to promote other blogs and debate rather than state.
Nourishing Obscurity just celebrated its first birthday- and a virgin blogger could do a lot worse than pick up some tips from its author.

3. Colin Campbell is another blogger who seems to have his finger on the pulse, but more importantly is exemplorary at the interpersonal aspects of blogging. Colin is a keen promoter of the little blogger, and again, not much that happens in the bloggosphere escapes him. A master of networking in the most positive of senses, Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe is also a mine of wit and wisdom.

4. Crashdummie puts a lot of effort into her posts and has not to my knowledge ever failed to reply to a comment. She is also a very good visitor- frequently to be found in many diverse comments sections.
More importantly, and it's an interesting point- she blogs in a language which isn't her native language, something I couldn't do. This deserves credit. I know there are other bloggers to whom this applies, but I suspect Crashie will return the favour to the one that most immediately springs to mind.

5. Lastly, but not least, we have the alluring Jenny. With Jenny, what you see is what you get. A genuine person, with a genuine blog. She never takes herself seriously, but is a great host on her own blog and a busy visitor of other peoples.
Without bloggers like Jenny, the Bloggosphere would be a poorer place.

So that's my five.
It was quite hard, because there are people such as Pommygranate, Helen and many others who are just as deserving.
Someone please nominate them!

Rules are simple, if you're one of the five, you are a recipient of the badge below, but obviously, you now to have to find five of your own to nominate.
Remember you should nominate people with a good blogging spirit, not just people who write good blogs.

As for anyone else, if you've not yet introduced yourself to any of the bloggers mentioned above, you are missing out.
Good bloggers to know, all of them.

So I suppose I should say, let's all get schmoozing!

There's a lot of good going round here at the moment.

Friday 27 July 2007

In Defence of Sexual Freedom

It is strange, in a society that thinks it has acheived sexual freedom, that the voices of the Moral Minority (Because they are in fact a minority), are heard the loudest whilst the rest of us never answer back.

We hear politicians banging on about Family values, religous extremists telling us it's dirty and few of us care to stand up and say; 'Er, no. You're talking crap.'

I have yet to hear, in my mind a convincing reason why we force this outdated monogamy ideal as something we should all aspire to, when few of us really want to.

And I'm sure some of you want to say how much you love your partner, and you've never looked at anyone else.
First bit great, Love is beautiful, second part I don't believe for a second.

And most of us have done more than that in at least one relationship where fidelity was expected.
And none of us married our first lover.

So let's be honest, more of you would happy to live a more open sex life, as long at was socially acceptable, no one thought ill of you for it, and your partner was happy with it, and loved you to bits anyway. They did the same.

So why the hell are we all still so hung up on this?

We only hurt ourselves and limit ourselves.

Of course, some will now say, you're a guy, you would say that.
But how many males really want a sexually free society?
They want to be sexually free, but have a partner who isn't.
The current arrangements suit male dignity best.
It is male dignity maintains the myth that a sexually promiscuous male is a man to be looked up to and envied, a sexually promiscuous woman, a woman to be looked down on and pitied.
Women don't really object to Men going elsewhere, but at the hypocrisy concerning their doing the same.
Feminism has meant that men agree to join women in the sexual repression men invented.

There is another way round, of course.
An easier way, and a nicer way.

The reason we had monogamy in the first place was simple; To make sure you know who fathered which children and to stop males fighting over mates.

It's fairly recent. Our real natures are probably a bit like the Bonobo, the so-called 'Make Love, Not war' chimp.

Now we know how to deal with the spread of VD, prevent unwanted pregnancy and know who fathered which child by DNA test, have an advanced social system, why keep forcing something alien to our nature on us?

It is in all of us to love many people at one time, on different levels, Spiritually, Intellectually, Physically.

But just as a mother who has two children doesn't love either any less than if she only had one, we don't need proprietorial rights over someone's body to love them.

Love isn't selfish.

Maybe its time for the third wave of Feminism?
Women reclaimed their bodies, now they can set them free.

Thursday 26 July 2007

Altruism- The Ultimate Self Interest

Whatever, we might think, there is nothing random about the choices we make.
They may be wrong, but we make them for a reason.

The apparently higher sentiments, those which distinguish from the animals, our artistic sense, our love of poetry all serve a survival purpose.
To keep our intelligence and our communication abilities at maximimum fitness.
They are the survival tools of the species.
They just happen to be unique to our species.

But there are those who say that altruism, the putting first of others, the helping of the weak, the dieing to save a friend, can not be explained by the laws of natural selection.
Not in accord with the idea of the 'selfish gene.'


We are a co-operative species. Like many predators, we evolved to adopt the strength in numbers rule. The genes survive and get passed on best, which made this mode of existence work best.
Put simply, the more people survive, the better chance you have of being one of them.
The more people that breed in the future, the better chance your own genes have of being passed on.
Evolution works very simply, but leads to complexity.
The simple bit, is what works best, lasts longest.
The complex bits are the amazingly efficient models of survival that have resulted.

In a non- co-operative species, a gene truly is selfish. It is in competition with all life, barring itself.
But in a species like man, the conflict with his own kind is a secondary one.
Ultimately, the genes in man are there to serve themselves first, but the whole human gene pool best.
Your selfish genes want a nice big future gene pool to cascade through, in the coming millenia.

Your genes don't just choose the partners with the genes you want to procreate with, they look out for other genes that they might want to procreate with down the line, when you yourself are dead and gone.

And so they choose your friends for you.
You make friends who you connect with.
Who think like you.
And your genes think that these might be good parents for the partners of your children.

Why the attraction of arranged marriage?
The genetic attraction of the parents...

And we die for those we emote to, to preserve the genes that one day may preserve our own.

We help the weak to give them another day, to give their genes another chance, to throw more numbers at nature, because survival is a numbers game.
As is evolution itself.

So to be truly self-serving, you need to stop focussing just on number one.
When you feel compassion, pity, the urge to put your arms round a mate, you're meant to.
You evolved those urges for a reason- by the most ruthless of mechanisms.
You were given those feelings by 'nature red in tooth and claw.'

We evolved to Love, because it really IS the best way.

Wednesday 25 July 2007

The Power of Words- Image and Reality

A certain blogger once said, 'I blog because I can, I can therefore I do.'
And yes, it's that simple in principle.
It's our own thoughts we thrust out, without asking permission.

But isn't it a little more complex?
Isn't this an evolving medium?

Two excellent posts I read on blogging recently, here and here.
Both tackle angles of blogging which are on the one hand, pretty obvious, but also a bit more complex.

What exactly IS our relationship to other bloggers? What kind of interaction is this?

In one sense, it's a bit like a Newspaper. Guido for example, sees himself as a citizen journalist. I don't think any of us would aspire to that particularly, but it's worth considering this.

Consider a typical paper for a small provincial town. Twice weekly.
How many readers would read that paper just for one correspondant? Probably as many as read the average blog.
We read blogs for News, Gossip, Social reasons, Opinion.
Especially of the type we don't get elsewhere.

We also find many plus points newspaper columns do not have. They're often just as well written, but we can ask questions of the writer, or just tell him he's plain wrong. And he or she ISN'T up on some pedestal, free from your individual criticism.
Hell, you can even run a post of your own refuting him or her.

All much more satisfying.

But there's another angle. One which is often overlooked. Look at the names in your mobile phone, or wherever you keep important numbers. How many sentences do you exchange per week with all these people? And how many sentences per week do you exchange with the authors of blogs?

Over time we do build up mental images of bloggers. This is inevitable.
Possibly these images are just as real in their own way as the other sides of themselves that they show in the flesh.
And in a sense they are at another level. Many of our real life connections are on a shallower footing than we often realise. Our deepest opinions on most subjects are reserved for those closest to us.
We see the mind in operation, without the form that carries it. The most profound, compassionate blogs we read could be written by someone who has a reputation in the flesh for being superficial and shallow.
Which version is true?

For example, I visualise many male bloggers in a pub setting. I guess thats the sort of place you'd imagine chatting to them. I see James Higham as fast pace, delivering his opinions as he played pool, statement- shot- retort-shot.
Ian Appleby (still being held hostage, I'm afraid) watches and takes everything in, before his considered response.

Electro-Kevin wants to get drunk, whilst Ed needs time to get into his subject, but then he's the life and soul. There is something a little pythonesque about Colin Campbell, you wouldn't know quite what to expect, but if a stripogram showed up, you'd suspect his hand...
At which point you'd have lost Theo Spark...

It's hard to imagine Raffi being anything other than a Stars Wars Stormtrooper. He might look a bit out of place in the pub.

Mutley is an enigma. At first I took him at face value- a dog with quick, barked responses. Now I see him as more than just an irruption of anarchy in a blogging calmness. I am more put in mind of the wise fool in King Lear, who's comments often penetrate deeper than a cursory glance reveals.

And what of the ladies?
I can imagine Welshcakes telling me I smoked too much, drank too much and partied too much, but never really meaning it and laughing as she said it.

I could see myself sitting a cafe with Ruthie discussing the Bush Administration. She'd be very earnest and thoughtful- and she'd probably run rings round any of my arguments.

Phishez would be the sort of female friend who I'd tell my problems to when drunk.

Jenny?- well, we'd have a good time, I'm sure!
And I'll admit, I imagine lying on a beach by moonlight as Calliope reads me her posts.

It stands to reason we create these images. We are used to seeing the people we are talking to. We picture people on the phone. We certainly picture the blogger.

Is it real?
Do we know the blogger at all?
Or do we know them better than the world which sees them in the flesh?

It's a very young phenomenon.
We are in uncharted territory.

Tuesday 24 July 2007

The Greatest Work of all Time

I suppose for everyone there are things they have been introduced to which have changed their lives. Ideas and concepts which have been crucial in forming their outlook.
And for many of us, there are books which have been crucial to forming our worlview.

I suppose most of you would assume I'd be naming Nietzche, Marx, Darwin or St Augustine here. I'm not. Because if it wasn't for one book, I may never have read any of those works.

That book was the Lord of The Rings.
I first read it aged ten. It opened my eyes to a genre. Not just fantasy literature- Tolkien is more than that, he is the creator of a whole mythology. The mythology the Lord of The Rings is built upon, seven thousand years of battle between The Children of Eru and the forces of Melkor, is so intricate and so rich, it took most cultures hundreds of years to build the same.
And the richness of it touched me deeply.

As a teenager I developed a fascination with Greek and Roman Myth, Norse Myth, the Arthurian Legend, Indian Myth, the whole collective subconscious of man's legends.

This is what led to my doing my degree in Literature.
But by then, I myself had moved on. My reading had led to a deep interest in human history per se. By following the whole process from its begining, by getting a depth and perspective to the place we are now, by considering the logic behind viewpoints, I found myself involved in politics on the one hand, and philosophy and theology on the other.

As I got to my mid twenties, many of the philosophical speculations I was encountering in my reading led me to into checking the science behind ideas. This got me into reading people like Hawking, Dawkins, etc.

So I have quite a range of interests. I know a little about a lot, rather than a lot about a little.
But I think you get a better overall that picture that way.

It's still true today however, that I'm unlikely to read a fiction novel NOT in the fantasy or science fiction genre.
I'm currently eagerly awaiting the next installment of Robert Jordan's Wheel Of Time series.

It's also sadly true that I know almost as many words in Sindarin as I do in French.

JRR Tolkien. The giant of man's literary endeavours.
The man who first set my imagination free.

Monday 23 July 2007

Let's Put it to the Vote

It's Monday again.
Goodbye to last week's poll, in with the new.

Your verdict on the future of the Union was in favour of its dissolution, although to be fair this issue didn't really get any of you over-excited.
Seven of you thought it was time the UK passed into history.
Five of you thought it still had a purpose.

My guess is that the Union will pass into history and with relatively little resistance.
I think most of those who don't like the idea of its passing, can still see the writing on the wall.

I think Alex Salmond will get his wish one day.

So, on to this week's issue.

Well, you can guess.
We've been discussing it for the last few days.

Multinational Corporations.
A force for good in the world?
Or a hindrance to progress?

There have been some strong opinions either way, with some good arguments produced by both supporters and opponents of that small, largely anonymous, band of men who own our planet.

Pommygranate has certainly been a robust defender of the wisdom of the market; 'Sure we might not be back on the moon (thank God) but we do now have the internet, fantastic advances in medical technology that has added ten years to life expectancy, no-one in England need go hungry, women have equal status to men for the first time ever, and if we dont like our ruling party we can boot them out.'

Ed too, has concerns about what would take the place of the corporations; 'Would these democratic organisations be willing to take huge risks to create new industries? I doubt it. They might work in stable industries but I can't imagine they would be able to innovate like competitive companies can.'

Not nationalised corporations. Certainly not in my vision.
I've said, I look forward to a TRUE democracy where EVERYTHING is under democratic control.

On the other side, Helen had this to say; 'I think a civilization that sees no alternative to corporate exploitation than primitive, squalid conditions is doomed to fail. In the case of the steelworkers, why would experienced, highly-skilled metallurgists revert to subsistence living? If our future is to be re-written we must admit to failed systems and direct our course to a more egalitarian method of labor management and profit control.'

And Jenny thought this; 'Until we can check our materialistic ways, we will never have any progress! We value money and things over humanity.'

Anyway, I'll be interested to know the general feeling on this.
How do we feel about this?
Are they a force for good or a force for ill?
You decide.

Have your say.

Sunday 22 July 2007

Why It Just Isn't Working Any More

Put simply, our current economic model has outlived it's usefulness.
It's just not taking us forward any more.
It is not up to the challenge of dealing with the real human problems of the twenty first century.

National governments have too narrow a frame of reference, multinational corporations stand in the way.

Once upon time, it worked. Human Progress was a fortunate dividend that came as a byproduct of the Capitalist Economic model. It wasn't bust, there was no need to fix it.

But let's look at the problems we face now.

Firstly, Africa's problems are the problems of all of us. The world is just too small to think otherwise. But aid concerts and famine relief won't deal with the real problems.
The real problems are to do with corruption, civil war and lack of infrastructure.
Those are not insurmountable problems.
But they are if short term self interest rules.
Long term self interest would have those of us with the advantage to be able to do so, to go into Africa and build the railways, road networks, airports, hospitals, schools, universities, everything that we have, so that the whole continent of Africa has everything that Europe and North America have.

It's about resources and Human Expertise.
How is the all wise market going to acheive this?
But when it's done the lives of all of us would be better, because human existence and life on earth will work better.

And what about our own countries?
They all now have a bottom rung, the rejects of the system, a whole class that wasn't there fifty years ago, surviving on the crumbs that fall from above.
Oh sure, we house them and feed them for free.
But we have no use for their energy.
How wasteful is that?
How can any way of life be said to work, that throws away human energy?
That creates a class of people who have nothing to gain from co-operation with the rest of society, that doesn't care if you send them to prison, because prison is no worse than their real lives, that is happy for an early death on heroin?

Working is it?

And what of our future?
We are blind to it.

The population of the Earth isn't going to go down.
And birth control can only ever be a short term solution.
It can slow the growth, it will never stop it.
And if we truly believed in ourselves, why would we want it to?

Practised on a large scale, it's very negative, certainly the way it's practised in the west.
It's foolish to pretend that many characteristics, health, intelligence, understanding, compassion, etc, are not often inherited.
Yet the people with the largest share of these traits to pass on are made the ones who pass on their traits least.

A progressive human society would see the problem, not as one of limiting the number of mouths, but of finding more space for humanity.

Yet the bright hopes of the sixties have faded.
We haven't been back to the Moon in over thirty years.
So little money is put into space research that we can't even send a probe to Mars that works.
This wonderful capitalist system will throw more money at Pokemon than Colin Pillinger.

Let me be clear here. I believe if we can't make it off this rock, if we can't make our neighbouring worlds into homes for our descendants, we are failing in our potential as a species.

We are failing in our potential now.
Because we are wasting our energy.
Most of the products of human energy consist of a pointless musical chairs of assets, the wasteful western game of buying and selling.
A game about short term individual self gratification.
A game we think we enjoy, because it somehow recreates the primtive hunting instincts in us.
Is that all we're good for? Subsitute hunting in suits?
But who are we hunting?

Time to move on.
Time to reach for the stars

Friday 20 July 2007

The Window to Your Soul?

It's Friday night, (or Saturday maybe, by the time you read this), and I think it's a day for light posts. There will be more on the liberty versus materialism issue tomorrow.

This is for those of you who say I never give you anything personal.

I'm supposed to be anonymous!
That's how anonymity works!

But I really don't think anyone is going to come running up to me in the street, shouting 'You're Crushed By Ingsoc!', simply because I post this picture.
In fact, I sincerely doubt that anyone reading this blog, is ever likely to walk past me in the street.

So my anonymity is quite safe, but they say the eyes are the window to the soul, and I guess that's what you really want.
You want to know what type of person I am.

This is the fullest picture of me that will ever appear here.
The rest is entirely up to your own imagination!

I will tell you, I wasn't christened Crushed. I made it up.
Quite like the name now though. It kind of suits me.

Thursday 19 July 2007

Liberty- But Not For the Few

Pommygranate has quite reasonably asked what my gripe with Walmart was.
A just point, and I felt it deserved it's own post.

My problem isn't with Walmart on its own, it is with multinational corporations full stop.

I don't just think that they are a threat to our freedom, I think they make a mockery of the concept.
Yes, I think we have to fight the inching march towards totalitarianism.
But we also need to free ourselves from this conditioned wage slavery too.

Let's get back to basics.
The form of any social structure, is basically geared to human needs.
Our mode of living needs to distribute food, extract raw materials from source, manufacture the material goods we need, distribute them and maintain the necessary infrasctructure our society needs to acheive that.
That's basically what is necessary for our species to survive and develop.

So at this level, it is wise to be Utilitarian.
Utilitarianism has gone out of fashion, which is a pity really. The Works of John Stuart Mill are worth studying, not only because he made one of the first coherant arguments for female equality, but because in works like 'On Representative Government' and 'In Defence of Utilitarianism', he presents a good description of gradual evolution towards true democracy and social equality. He rightly points out that social modes of government are dictated by the level of technological progress acheived.

For example, the Athens of Classical Times was not a democracy in the way we would see it. The majority of the subjects of Athens were slaves, and a minority of the rest were full citizens.
Marx, of course, makes much the same point. He saw no point in trying to overthrow the Capitalist system whilst it was working (His followers must have stopped reading by then), but he pointed out that one day, it MUST run out of steam. Continual Economic growth, like perpetual motion, just isn't feasible.

One day, the economic model we are used to, the financial concepts we are familiar with, must have reached the end of their day.

This shouldn't shock us. The Mercantilist mode of trade that lasted until the advent of Capitalism, depended on Trading Monopolies and Slavery.
These things ended, not because people suddenly became more moral, but because they now hindered human progress, where once they aided it.
Life was just much harsher once.

Morality is a luxury.
But it is the most important luxury.
Technology and Social Progress allowed us to lead a form of existence that was better for all than the previous mode, with slaves, serfs, absolute monarchs, etc.

Technology and Social Progress have now reached the end of another cycle.
It is the Capitalist mode of life that now stands in the way.

It was still on the way up when Marx wrote. He said that himself.
And it was still flourishing in 1917.
But anyway, Soviet Russia was not a Communist state, nor a Democracy.

The point is made here. Collectivisation has been perverted to mean private ownership by the state.
That's not the idea.

Whilst a tiny minority own the entire produce of the world- and thus own our labour- DEMOCRACY IS A SHAM.

Let me put this to you.
Imagine a country where there are two parties, the Black Party and the White Party.
A large corporation- We'll call it Greedycorp- says it will close down all its factories and move them abroad if the Black Party win.
If it employes two hundred thousand people, an announcement like that can give a lot of votes to the White Party.

Whoever wins, Greedycorp will make similar profits. Basically, a few large corporations can decide who governs and what laws are passed, by threatening to throw their rattle out of the pram.
A Greedycorp employee would be stupid not to vote for the White Party. We can't blame him/her.
But doesn't it mean our votes are bought?

To me, true liberty means the entire apparatus of production and distribution should be under democratic control.
Not owned by unaccountable vested interests.
Not owned by an all powerful state.
But under the democratic control of the people.
Run by democratically elected executives.

When all the people have a share in the management of our existence, then the attitude of all to the society we live in will change.

The people themselves will have the power to provide full employment, end poverty and make their own economic decisions.

And I think that you would find, everyone was a lot more involved.
That is my vision of Freedom.
That is my vision of Democracy.

Wednesday 18 July 2007

Where I Stand

An interesting point has come up recently, about whether I am to the left or the right politically.
I prefer the question, do you have faith in man or not?
Do you trust in mankind?

Because if your trust your fellow man, you believe we can make our own decisions responsibly, if you don't, you just need to decide which form of totalitarianism you want.

The choice we tend to get in most western countries seems to be narrow. We can be governed by people who know how to run an economy, make the right diplomatic decisions and keep the state out of our lives, but is committed to preserving the most outdated social attitudes that you can find.
Or we can be governed by interventionist paternalist control freaks who can at least see the problems, even if their solutions tend to make things worse.

This seems to be the choice. The people who who ignore the problems, or the people with the wrong answers.

For example, this New Labour government is quite possibly the worst government we have ever had. It's been useless and has done untold damage to this country. But it has acheived some good- unintentionally.
Social attitudes have definitely changed for the better. The paradigm shift in Tory attitudes has been a pleasure to behold, though for me it's not far enough.

I personally think the people generally are sleepwalking towards totalitarianism. We give our liberties away daily on the slimmest of pretences.
So we veer between cheering the fat cats, or cheering the intrusion of the state yet further into our lives.
Progressive taxation= redistribution of wealth?
Has anyone ever seen this happen?

But don't be fooled into thinking that the interests of political parties and multinational corporations don't march side by side quite a way.
Ten years of New Labour should have shown you that.
A little flagwaving, a good spending spree in the sales, you'll forget how little of your life is really under your control.

And that to me is what it's all about.

Freedom should mean freedom from exploitation too.

Freedom from the few owning the energy and the brainpower of the many, for their own ends, not ours.

Freedom for us to decide that we'd like to use our collective energy for the benefit of the whole species, not those who control the distribution of resources today.

Mankind has grown up. Adulthood means responsibility for all. We're all part of this. That's maximising our potential as a species. Governing the Earth democratically, means it's resources and their distribution too.

Both the Left and the Right offer different forms of Oligarchical Collectivism.
We want neither version.

Here's an amusing test I found at Bag's Rants. Have fun with it!

You are The Hermit

Prudence, Caution, Deliberation.

The Hermit points to all things hidden, such as knowledge and inspiration,hidden enemies. The illumination is from within, and retirement from participation in current events.

The Hermit is a card of introspection, analysis and, well, virginity. You do not desire to socialize; the card indicates, instead, a desire for peace and solitude. You prefer to take the time to think, organize, ruminate, take stock. There may be feelings of frustration and discontent but these feelings eventually lead to enlightenment, illumination, clarity.

The Hermit represents a wise, inspirational person, friend, teacher, therapist. This a person who can shine a light on things that were previously mysterious and confusing.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Have A Look Around...

There's always a lot to see in the bloggosphere and a lot to get involved in. A couple of things are worth mentioning quickly.
Firstly, Pommygranate is interviewing a number of bloggers at the moment, and Yours Truly was first in the hot seat.
Pommygranate is worth checking out generally. A transplanted Brit, Pommy gives both an Aussie view of Britain, and a British view of Aus, but more importantly, its a blog which creates discussion about liberty and its implications.

Nourishing Smuttiness, described as a 'festival of smut' continues, ably organised by Mutley.

Ian Appleby is being held hostage by the Piltdown Man, Lord Straf-Bilderburg/Coventry, and Gracchi.

And Electro-Kevin is back, by popular demand!

Lastly, I can't complain about bloggers who post Nietzche. And there's often much to discuss here too.
Two Wolves is a new BP member worth reading, although leaving a comment can be tricky!
Life on the Far Side is fast becoming a daily read for me, and I've recently discovered Grendel too.
Edland is fast making a claim to serious political punditry.

So many good blogs out there, it's hard to do them all justice, but it's worth finding the time to do so.

Tuesday 17 July 2007

Roll up, Roll up, It Could be You!

Most of you are probably aware by now, there's no escaping memes. If you see one circling, evasion is futile.
This one consists of five facts on five questions.
So, deep dark revelations!
The direct origin in this instance is Harleyblues

The Instructions: Remove the blog from the top, move all blogs up one, and then add yourself to the bottom. (Them that asks no questions, don't get told no lies)
What Floats My Boat, Homespun Honolulu, Who’s Yo Mama and Life in the Fast Lane, Sir Paul McCartney & The Beatles guest band purplemelon, Crushed By Ingsoc

What were you doing 10 years ago (5 Things)
1. Just finished First Year University exams.
2. Working at a hotel, paying off credit card debts
3. Political Activism.
4. Partying
5. Angst.

What were you doing 1 year ago (5 Things):
1. I think the World Cup was still on.
2. Working for a couple of con artists.
3. Regular weekends trips away to see friends.
4. A few women issues on the home front.
5. Attempting to plan where I was going.

Five Snacks You Enjoy:
1. Spicy Chicken Slices.
2. KP Skips.
3. Dairylea Dunkers.
4. Spicy Monster Munch.
5. Mini Pork Pies

Five Songs That You Know The Lyrics To:

1. Enjoy The Silence- Depeche Mode
2. Never Let Me Down- Depeche Mode.
3. Shake The Disease- Depeche Mode
4. New Dress- Depeche Mode.
5. Halo- Depeche Mode.

Five Things You Would Do If You Were A Millionaire
1. Buy a big office block in Birmingham and live off the rent.
2. Travel.
3. Set up a Ten Grand per annum payment to SPUC and Dogs Trust respectively.
4. Get plastic surgery.
5. Give my mates some. (What's the point of me not having to work, if everyone I'd want to spend my free time with, is working?)

Five Bad Habits:
1. I smoke.
2. I put things off.
3. I avoid making decisions.
4. I go on music buying sprees.
5. I never miss CSI

Five Things You Like To Do:
1. Read non-fiction.
2. Spend time with mates.
3. Go to Live Football Matches.
4. Listen to Music.
5. Have intelligent conversation.

Five Things You Would Never Wear Again:
1. A nappy.
2. A polo neck.
3. A tank top.
4. briefs.
5. A baseball cap.

Five Favorite Toys: Not sure I can really remember.
1. Lego (?)
2. Super Soakers.
3. Water Bombs.
4. My toy cars.
5. Transformers.

Five things you hate to do:
1. Paperwork.
2. Food shopping.
3. Give someone bad news.
4. Mornings.
5. Wait for trains.

OK, that's me done. Favour passed on to Mutley, the master of memes, Jenny, because she doesn't get enough of memes, she says, Electro-Kevin, just to celebrate his return, and...
Let me think...
Phishez Rule and Crashdummie.

Have fun!

By the way, if you haven't taken a look already, Mutley is running a festival of Smut at Nourishing Smuttiness. It's worth taking part if you haven't already!

Monday 16 July 2007

Do We Need Time Apart?

This week's poll is about the future of these isles.
I think we have to agree that our current constitutional arrangements are a little uncertain.
Is our future in Europe, or outside?
Are we going to stay British, or return to our older, some would see more natural national identities?

Myself, I think the problem with the UK is in it's history. The concept of Britishness is something that seems irrelevant today.
The main reason for this, I believe, is that it is impossible to separate Britain from the Empire. Those why try will fail.

The whole concept of Britishness only dates to 1707, by which time it already included an Empire. Britain has always effectively been a Euphemism for the English Empire in practice. And bearing that in mind, the Jamaicans are as British as the Scots. Scotland, conquered and pacified in 1745, was really a colony the English treated nicely because the people were white.
Though they didn't try so hard in Ireland.

Yet on the other hand, no matter what the history, the reality today is England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are culturally similar, much like the Scandinavian countries, recognisably distinct from continental countries. There is logic in political co-operation between the home nations.

My own view is this.
Give Scotland independence, Wales too if the people want it.
Try to bring about a united Ireland- hard to see how, but we can hope.

We already see how disillusioned Ireland has become with the federal European dream of late. Eighty five years of independence have brought England and Ireland closer.

I think we need to kill the ghost of Empire, and in time the nation states of these islands will see sense in a political confederation.

But this time, the terms will be different.
And we all need time to ourselves first. To put the Empire behind us and exorcise its demons.

Abolishing Britain.
Should we or shouldn't we?

Have your say.

Saturday 14 July 2007

Naked Women on Horseback

Tomorrow we are all going to the Godiva Festival in Coventry.
To be honest, I know very little about what actually happens, apart from that there will be a naked woman on horseback.
And she presumably rides through Coventry City Centre.

Otherwise, I guess it's like a big fair.
So yes, you've guessed it, fifteen minutes staring at a naked woman on horseback, followed by a few hours alcohol consumption. Kind of predictable really. I wisely took Monday off.

The festival commemorates Lady Godiva, wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia during the reign of Edward the Confessor. Apparently she begged him not to put up taxes and his (somewhat bizarre) response was to promise to do this if she rode through Coventry naked.
If Leofric was alive today, he'd be a regular contributor to reader's wives, I suspect.
Anyway she did, and Leofric didn't put the taxes up.

Apparently everyone stayed in doors and didn't take a look, except for one poor soul called Peeping Tom, who not only had the indignity of having all the middle aged voyeurs in history named after him, he got struck blind too.
I have problems with this bit of the story.

And it's not really a selling point for the festival either. The first spectator was blinded, after all!
Who was brave enough to be the second?
Should we be risking it tomorrow?

Still, the locals need something to cheer them up. Without being disparaging, Coventry is a very dreary place. I go there a lot, my mate The Chimney Sweep is one of the joyous inhabitants, but I often feel like they built the place out of the concrete left over from the middle of Brum and let Damien Hirst loose on the design front. If ever a city was designed to depress, it was Coventry.

On the upside, there are a few nice venues to go out in, and the most attractive woman I ever met, I met in Coventry.

On a serious note, this will be the first time that The Baker and The Chimney Sweep's partner will have met socially since this post. There is always the possibility of things coming out to air, which maybe shouldn't.

But I don't suppose it will. I suspect it will be an interesting experience, different certainly, possibly a little tacky, maybe surreal, but ultimately, all part of life's rich tapestry.

These are the sorts of things you will remember, when you're old.

Friday 13 July 2007

Mightn't it be Quite Simple?

I'm currently reading The Fabric of Reality by David Deutsch. OK, some of you may know, I've been on it for two months, but I've got a bad habit of reading more than one book at a time. There are six by the bedside as we speak.

Anyway, back to Mr Deutsch.

He remains confident that the answers to the last big theoretical questions are in reach.
Soon we will know all the Hows and Whys. From then on, it will be just be about us finding better and cleverer ways to apply this knowledge.
Though of course, discoveries will still be made. Understanding evolution didn't stop us finding undiscovered life forms.

I think he's right.
I don't think there is much mysterious any more.

In fact I am prepared to a hazard a guess as to how simple- and close- the answers might be.

How to finally reconcile Quantum Mechanics and Einsteins Gravitional theory is one problem.

Now a physicist will tell you that one of the unsatisfactory parts of our current worldview, is the plethora of sub atomic particles.
There are about five hundred in theory. It's too complicated a model. Complication is rarely reality.
We are at the same point chemists were a hundred years ago. A hundred elements. What made them different?
The answer was in the way they were built. They all actually consisted of electrons, protons, and neutrons in differing numbers.

In some way, surely, the same must be true of sub atomic partcles. But how?

I would say simply, that we look at the great division in them. Half are massless and travel at 186,000 miles a second. The rest are massed and don't.

Now massed particles have a wave function, just as light particles do. But the frequency is infinitely higher, if we use that term here. It seems reasonable to assume that a particle's form is entirely a product of it's wave function, if you think about it. Maybe above a certain wave function, a particle warps the space around it, as the sun does at a bigger level. This warp, of a particle travelling round in a circle at lightspeed, creates mass.
This is just my musing here, I add.

Looking wider, Stephen Hawking's recent calculations about black hole decay, are a breath of relief for anyone who hoped for reassurance of understanding the universe.
For it meant that the laws of thermodynamics still reign supreme, unchallengeable even a black hole.
These state;
1. In any process, the total energy of the universe remains constant.
2. There is no process that, operating in a cycle, produces no other effect than the subtraction of a positive amount of heat from a reservoir and the production of an equal amount of work
3. As temperature approaches absolute zero, the entropy of a system approaches a constant

And you know what this means, don't you?

It means that the laws of thermodynamics operate even in a singularity.
It means they operated even in the instant of the Big Bang, and would operate identically in ANY universe you chose to postulate.
Alone amongst all the laws of physics.
The rest, as they stand, MIGHT simply be properties of our own.

So, in the instant of creation, we are left with a quanta of energy, and the laws of thermodynamics.

Which means we can confidently say that everything else, the strength of gravity, the strength of nuclear forces, the evolution of life, are all the result of that one variable appearing at a mathematical point, plus the laws of thermodynamics.

And it all eventually leads to heat death.

It does really look that simple.

Thursday 12 July 2007

Whither Middlesex?

Someone unfamilar with England asked me recently where Middlesex was.
It's reasonable if you aren't from England, because you won't find it on any maps later than 1965.

Yet it's probably one of the more familiar English county names. I note looking at the map, that there is a Middlesex county in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia. It's one of the more exported county names.

I suppose the simple answer to 'Where is it?', is that is was the county London was in, now it's in London.

Broadly that's true. In area, it was a small county, and it was swallowed up over the years by London.

But though it has long gone, and is least likely of any deceased county to return, its memory seems stronger than many current counties.

Sometimes people from outside the UK (and some in it) are puzzled by this bizarre loyalty some people have to long gone counties.

I agree in a sense. I can think of more productive things in life than wondering round with a placard saying 'Bring Back Huntingdonshire'.

But its also partly true that English counties are the only generally comprehensible geographical subdivisions you can really think of England.
Most of them were there long before most other European states.
Does abolishing them abolish their geographic identity?

Many during the 1974 reorganisations felt it did. After all, even a county of typical age like Herefordshire is over thousand years old. Some people genuinely felt like they had been invaded.

Middlesex was much older still.
And so it appears on no map, but is home to five million people.
Its name lives on in the highest eschelons of county cricket, in popular memory.

And in Uxbridge and Ruislip the fiction of living in leafy Middlesex, not sprawling London is dutifully maintained.

In fact most people don't know its gone, till they look for it on a map.
So I suppose, really, it IS still there.

With Regard to Central News

I have delayed voting on recent Blogpower internal issues till now, whilst I got a general impression of how this looked to the wider community.

Thanks very much for all the views that came in.

Firstly, less people voted in the poll than commented. But nobody who has voted so far in the poll has voted for expulsion.

There were several comments from BP members.
I think the best point here was made by Liz, who said;

'I agree with you that Blogpower is too right wing and male - but perhaps you weren't saying that but simply stating it as fact. I am totally out of place! Not even political. I visit others and think, 'What am I doing here?!'

But I am disinclined to ban anyone. I simply don't visit those I don't like - and a couple of the newbies I don't think I'll be going to often. But maybe that is against the ethos of Blogpower.

As for the recent polling that caused some disquiet, I would say that it wasn't only the far right that was involved in dodgy goings-on.'

I would agree.
Next year, the sort of anomalies that showed up this time, are unlikely to appear next time. I think there were dodgy voting patterns, but we cannot just throw that at Wayne's door.

Again, whatever existing members may feel, they joined when Central News was already a member, so it is obviously possible for them to co-exist in the way Liz describes with the BNP, much as none of us like their policies.
Welshcakes offered a good middle of the road position;

'I agree with Pommy and "the ego". I have been very unhappy about having a blog which links to BNP ones on my site but, when I read Wayne, I couldn't find anything particularly objectionable, so I didn't do anything about it. But I do think it has put some good bloggers off joining BP and does not do our reputation any good. We are being perceived as totally right-wing. I have a friend in Britain who stopped reading my blog because there was a BNP supporting blog in the roll.'

This leads me to assume that most BP members don't much care for Central News' politics, but are prepared to put up with it.

This being so, what was external opinion? Does the membership of Central News deter others from joining?

In the case of Alexys;
'Yes, it does put me off from joining. I have to respect any group I would join.'

In the case of Helen;
'"Identify, Ostracize, Confiscate, Concentrate, Annihilate" these are identified as the five steps (all accomplished legally) that resulted in the Holocaust. Yes, it would be nice to alienate ourselves from people like Muslim extremists who kill 13 year old girls for attending school (June 12, 2007), but we can't. If we refuse to find solidarity and commonality with one of us we give permission to other forms of oppression. Better to take a stand in the face of racism and say emphatically "you are WRONG" than to ostracize them and wonder how hate breeds.
If a 17 year old kid, alone, dejected and bullied wades into focused hate and finds acceptance and not one voice that cries against it, we have created one more racist. Not they, we.'

And in the case of a commentor by e-mail;

'Not having all "facts" I shall restrict myself to focusing on just two aspects:

1. Studying "Blogpower Ethos" and coming to d)] one does not even need to act as an advocatus diaboli.
d] As a family, it looks after its own but where we differ from a RL family is that we are open and welcoming to new members of any persuasion;
Thus, acting on this maxime per definitionem there exists no right/ no need asking your members for a yes or no.
In case you do it would be wise to soon cancel the superlative.

2. Given a "family-member" were addicted to drugs: Would you not try to convince your "family-member" . . . as long as he/she is willing to listen?'

But one also needs to take into account the opinions of Daily Referendum and others, as expressed elsewhere.
These are people who WOULD be members of Blogpower for sure, if it wasn't for Central News.

But of all the comments so far, Helen's is the one that most resonates with my own feelings. I cannot, as it stands find a compelling reason to vote for Wayne's expulsion, much as I loathe the party he supports.

I'm going out at half nine and will vote just before I go out. I am hoping to leave another post here before I do (on something more interesting), but in the event I don't get a chance, I will have done one for Ian at Imagined Community.

Ian is currently enjoying Glazsnost and Perestroika.

Wednesday 11 July 2007

The Most Intolerent Of Creeds

Ultimately, there is very simple way to categorise faith beliefs.
First is the key question:
Do you know whether or not there is a deity or deities.
If the answer is no, or you aren't sure whether you know, you are an agnostic.
If the answer is yes, you think you do know the answer FOR SURE, you have a definite faith.
Because that's the only way you KNOW the answer.

Now, I'll be honest I have a definite faith, as some of you may be aware.
I don't ram it down people's throats- It's my faith, not yours.
I'm certain in my own mind that I'm right, but I can also see where certain other faiths could equally be right.
Having read the Koran and the teachings of Buddha, I firmly believe both were prophets inspired by God in their own right.

But I also believe- crucially- that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, and that he died to redeem man from sin.
I also believe that he left behind him a body of apostles to carry on his work. Like any body of men over time, not all it's members did good in it's name (Judas Iscariot would be a starting point), but that did not mean that it failed in its mission, a mission that continues today.
I do firmly believe His Holiness Benedict XVI to be the spritual successor of St Peter, and the leader of the 'One Catholic (meaning universal) Apostolic (as in the community of the apostles) Church.

I could be way off the mark. I acknowledge that. Which is why I tend to keep my religion to myself.
I think it's a good idea if people do.

But not all those with faith beliefs feel the same. Muslims get reviled much for that failing, though Fundamentalist Protestants are often as bad.
But worse by far are those who believe as a matter of faith that there ISN'T a God.

Which is equally a matter of faith as saying there is.
Go and ask most physicists. They'll agree.
Empirically both statements are equally provable (or unprovable) scientifically.

I don't mind Atheists, as long they keep their opinions to themselves too.
And as long as they don't treat MY faith with disrespect, simply because there is nothing to disrespect in theirs. It's a low tactic in rational discussion.

Of all creeds, Atheists tend to show most intolerance and least sensitivity. Catholics are an easy target, because no one minds if we get offended. It doesn't have racial associations becuse we're the most global of faiths.
And of course, there's a strong existing cultural slant against Catholicism to tap into anyway.

The Atheist doesn't seek debate with the Catholic, he seeks to belittle him, to insult the things a Catholic holds dear.

Even if you don't happen to believe the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, Fifteen percent of mankind do.
But the Atheist isn't concerned about the feelings of these people.

To me personally, this is almost as offensive as calling my mother a whore.
And then they have the nerve to talk about religous hatred.

Still, perhaps for me the final word was had, many years ago, by a New Testament writer. One of my favorite passages, one especially disliked by Luther, who disliked its Free Will implications.

'What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day,
and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?
So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. '

I think that says it all.