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Saturday, 10 September 2016

America's smackhead crisis

Springsteen's ballads have chronicled the life of America's rustbelt heartland, Deer Hunter country, from Vietnam to today's angry, resentful, dispossessed class that has missed out on all the benefits of globalisation. One of those 'benefits' is the flood of cheap, potent and illegal narcotics organized so efficiently that increased demand in Chicago will have Afghani opium farmers planting extra fields three months later. Mexico is now one huge opium plantation, Afghan production is 36% higher than at 9/11 and the working-class rustbelt lovers of Springsteen's ballads are now comatose in the seats of their Chevy from over-strength smack. I'm expecting any day for heroin deaths in the States to exceed those from gun-shot wounds, though there will be no smack lobby blaming syringes for the deaths. 

I've written before, I loathe the effects of Class As with a visceral hatred. I loathe the slick, glib City culture, coked-up in City pubs, the drug burning them out until they find themselves at the age of forty with their personal stuff in a cardbox box being escorted from the building by security. I loathe the wheedling, desperate immorality of smackheads ready to steal, cheat, lie and betray everything for their next fix. I loathe the blackened putrescent corpses distorted in unhuman rictus is old squats, cheap bedsits, bin stores. It's very hard to square this hatred that wants to see a complete end to these Class As for the misery they cause with a Libertarian approach. 

And there will be middle class apologists for the filth that can manage its use; weekend junk users, using sterile syringes in the comfort of professional and Bohemian middle class homes. A world famous YBA used to bring his smackhead chums into the Colony Room. Wojas lost many friends, including me. Now I see that artist's fat mug in the papers with his wife and lovable kiddies all in Hunter wellies at their Georgian country house celebrating middle aged domesticity. I saw him with his trousers and pants round his ankles and a chicken bone stuffed under his foreskin giggling like a maniac whilst his mate shot-up in the khazi. 

Trump-voting America is in a smack crisis. It's way worse than people realise. Not only the welfare, the futures and the families of the victims - and yes, I actually think the term can be used here - concerns and worries me, but the well-being of our own vast cohort of losers from globalisation, all part of the 17m. We MUST ensure they can see some tangible benefit from Brexit - we MUST give them hope.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Monbiot right on corporatist threats

I recall that I've recommended articles by George Monbiot at least twice before, and do so again today. He's not right all the time, of course, but just occassionally connects nail with hammer. If you haven't already done so, I recommend you read his piece in the Guardian on the successor to TTIP

The innocent seeming Canadian trade deal is nothing of the sort. It opens us to any US headquartered global corporation with an office in Canada riding roughshod over Parliament, democracy and law. It enshrines the legal right of global corporations to make profits anywhere in the EU, blocks national states from measures that prevent this, and hands legal jurisdiction to a new 'international tribunal' - run in effect, no doubt, by those same global corporations.

We must reject it of course - throw it out, renegotiate it, repudiate it, legislate against it. Whatever it takes.  

Monbiot is right in that we will see more and more of this type of trade deal sponsored by the global corporates. They battle for market share and grow by takeovers and mergers across the globe, seeking to establish a hegemony, an oligolopy, that makes slaves of us all. We must fight and we must win. 

As Monbiot writes, "When you are told that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, this is what it means. This struggle will continue throughout your life. We have to succeed every time; they have to succeed only once. Never drop your guard. Never let them win."

Amen to that. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Unelected UN officials get gobby

'Utter fool' Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, an unelected bureaucrat who has never had to ask citizens for their votes ever in his privileged life, has made an utterly foolish speech targeting everything from European nationhood to democracy. Like Anjem Choudhary, now imprisoned for his crimes, Al Hussein encourages European voters to reject electoral democracy - what he calls 'populism' - but in favour of rule by unelected bureaucrats rather than Islamist theocrats. 

It would be easy to ignore Al Hussein as a lone nutter if he had not been appointed to the unelected post of UN Human Rights Commissioner. In a further message branded 'bizarre' he questioned the legitimacy of the free market.

It is unsure whether Al Hussein is suffering some form of mental health crisis or if he actually sanely believes that his guff has some sort of intellectual or moral justification. It has none. Al Hussein calls himself 'Prince' in his home country of Jordan with a claim to the defunct Iraqi throne. Wealthy, privileged and isolated from Western democracy, one can understand why he fears the power of universal suffrage and the secret ballot. Such democratic safeguards prevent these unelected demagogues and fanatics rolling out their ISIS-like domination of Europe. 

Al Hussein is not alone amongst unelected UN officials in holding these bizarre and demagogic views. These snakes at the UN create the environment in which enemies of democracy and civilisation such as ISIS can thrive. We must reject them, throw them out, starve them of funds and publicity, deny them recognition and strangle their wicked subversion of our Western democracies.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The limits of a points system

I must be frank and re-state that I've never personally found a problem with EU immigration to the UK, the Roma excepted, but I am quite aware that there are people and communities who have been swamped by strangers. On sites I've known excellent Portuguese mason-paviors, hard grafting Poles, skilled Balts and even an Ace Albanian drainlayer under God knows what passport. 

Agriculture and horticulture is utterly dependent on EU migrant labour to get strawberries into our dessert bowls and vegetables to the freezer plant. There have been harvest labour schemes long pre-dating freedom of movement from the new accession states. 

None of these would get in under a points system. Nor would young European Erasmus students spending a year in 'intern' type jobs in our hotels and restaurants. Nor would the French Mauritian delivery driver who delivers French goods in London from 'French Click' with care, passion and pleasure. 

The UK is a sort of finishing school for bright, sociable, civilised and well-educated young Kermits, Hermans, Italians and Spaniards. The sight of six or eight young Kermits, not one over twenty, taking over a table in a pub for an extended sociable, animated lunch with an assurance, aplomb and maturity utterly alien to our own youths is a learning experience they could charge to watch. 

So I'm not going to get exited that we're abandoning a points system. We (or at least I) don't want an end to EU immigration or seasonal workers, just a mechanism to allow us to regulate it where it adversely affects other facets of our national life.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Liberal Progressives the enemy of mankind

One of the most frightening sentences ever to be printed appears in the Observer; "Those who live to 100 have around 100,000 extra productive hours than those who live to 70. Undoubtedly, work will take a significant portion of these hours". Whoa. The thought of some 25 year old thruster carrying out an annual performance appraisal on an 80 year old office worker is not comical but frightful. To the question "And what would you like to achieve over the next twelve months?" the most apposite reply would probably be "to continue living".

That's the bloody problem with Liberal progressives. Just because people will remain capable of cogent thought and physical activity well beyond the historic norms, they leap to designing implications for today's world of work - being employed - rather than tomorrow's. They're already suggesting toilets with geriatric aids for the workplace, and bladder-friendly workstations, but being Liberals are blind to the changes now occurring in work and labour.  

The failure of Liberal thought is well detailed by Tim Stanley in the Telegraph. It's the bloody Liberals, of course, who most closely support the global corporates, the ever more savage and ruthless race for multinational greed, resources and dominion, together with their PR agents such as the EU Federasts. Just don't assume their reign will last. Like the Soviet empire, it will prove to be a paper tiger. We need to look at escape routes from corporate serfdom, not to extending sentances.  

Here in Austria the pattern of work-life balance as it's now called was won centuries ago and is resistant to change. All shops are closed on Sundays and holy days, and few are open after 8 in the evening. It's no hardship - one very quickly gets used to buying all one needs in good time. The church bells toll in the valley thrice daily to mark the hours - at seven, noon and seven - to broadcast the limits of the working day. Disruptive noise, from washing machines to construction breakers, is banned on Sundays, weekdays from ten pm to six am and (strangely at first) from noon until three pm. Ho ho, you may chortle, English bosses would soon ride through those restrictions. But no, I don't think they so easily would. 

In the next valley is a mural on the wall of the church dating to 1465. The official description, constructed by the Catholic church and uncritically repeated by local historians and guide books ever since, is that this depicts the activities prohibited by the Church on Sundays and holy days. This just cannot be right. Just look at the thing; the reality *must* be that this was a charter of rights laid out by fifteenth century serfs and set for posterity on the wall of the church. It is in essence a list of every single work task that could not be demanded of them by their Lords and Priests on days of rest; even the clerks are there (pen nib) and military drill (crossbow and halberd) as well as carriage of goods, flax-working, butchery, agriculture, construction, cooperage and others. Every single craftsman and artisan in the village made sure his tool was depicted and was exempt from unwilling labour. 

You see, I'm so sure this was made by the workers and not by the church by what's missing. Drinking, dancing, fornication, sleep, joy and laughter are all thoroughly absent. If this was created by the Priests, they would be depicted. Fifteenth century Lords and Priests were like their twenty-first century Liberal Progressive inheritors, who now need slapping-down with equal vigour. Persons over seventy need the Sun on their face and a glass of wine in their hand, not swipe cards, ID badges, attendance recording and a corporate workstation.