Sunday, 22 September 2019

I am an atheist

I shouldn’t need to say that. Being an atheist should be the default human condition. It would be like announcing constantly that you haven’t got the lurgy. Religion is something you catch. It’s effectively a disease.

By the way, and for the record, i haven’t to my knowledge happen to currently be afflicted by the afore mention lurgy.

If you don’t feel that you can get through life without the crutch that is religion then that’s fine with me. Go ahead, but please keep it to yourself. I don’t need to know about it and please don’t indoctrinate others with your strange ideas.

Now I’m very fond of saying that nothing is ever black and white, which is truly the case, but I will try and keep this as simplistic as I can. Mainly because religion seems to be followed by mostly simplistic people. Okay, when I say ‘there is no god’ the god-botherers normally respond with something along the lines of ‘how do you know there isn’t a god?’ or ‘prove that there isn’t a god’. Why? Why do I have to prove the non-existence of something when there’s clearly no evidence for its existence? That’s like saying, ‘prove that Elvis isn’t alive and living on a double-decker bus on the moon’. The onus is on those who subscribe to the superstition to bring forth the facts. To date there is no evidence.

Beware people who quote the writings of Thomas Acquinas, they are some of the most narrow-minded of them all. They use it as ‘evidence’ to validate their superstitious beliefs. There is no evidence. The same applies to those who quote the bible, et al. The bible is a collection of contradictory writings by any number of ancient people’s trying to either explain their existence and or to keep others in line (oppress). This certainly applies to all other writings connected with the Abrahamic religions.

If there was a god, that god would be able to prove their own existence so that we were all beyond doubt. God hasn’t done that. I and millions of others are living proof of that. If there was a god that god wouldn’t want to be worshipped, that would make it needy. For a god to be needy is a flaw. For a god not to be able to prove its existence is a flaw. A god would be perfect, a god would be infallible. I could go on and on but I won’t. There is no god.

Religion exists to control people. Nothing more, nothing less. It is the opiate of the people.

If you’re happy with following a religion that’s fine but please don’t think it’s a normal thing to do. Question yourself, and I mean genuinely question yourself. Look for evidence. I guarantee you will find none. Have a nice day!


Thursday, 12 September 2019

The Self-Portrait

All works of art from one degree to another are self-portraits even if there is no literal image of the artist to be found in it. The artist will be present in the work. The artist will have put their heart and soul into it.

The literal self-portrait is paradoxically both a lie and the purest truth. The artist will project the image that we want the viewer to see but at the same time will, because we are human, convey our innermost feelings and our vulnerabilities.

Just over a couple of years ago I started a blog, Autoritratto, to showcase my self-portraits (in drawing form, painted form and photographs) when they came along. I do hope you can pay it a visit.

I have a membership subscription to the Art Fund. With it you get a National Art Pass which either gets you into exhibitions for free or at reduced prices. If you gawp a lot at art it’s worth considering joining. I think it offers great value for money. You also get a quarterly magazine which is very informative as well as printing some very interesting stuff. I was very pleased to see that the current issue, Autumn 2019, has an article on the self-portrait. Like a lot of writing about art it’s a bit pretentious but it’s well written. Entitled The Power of the Self-Portrait it says that:
"Artists’ depictions of themselves can be complex expressions of the self. With several upcoming exhibitions featuring self-portraits of prominent artists, Ben Street explores what lies behind their enduring appeal, to both artist and viewer."

They certainly can be 'complex expressions of the self''.

Check out The Art Fund and please check out my art.


Tuesday, 10 September 2019

George Orwell - Notes on Nationalism

Notes on Nationalism by George Orwell (Penguin Modern)

'The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs'
Biting and timeless reflections on patriotism, prejudice and power, from the man who wrote about his nation better than anyone.
MORE



Wednesday, 28 August 2019

I laugh in the face of tragedy - Why we laugh when we know it’s wrong

I wrote this blog post a few years ago about my ability to laugh at inappropriate times:
It's an embarrassing thing to do. But throughout my life, although thankfully not on every occasion, I have sometimes managed to laugh at really bad news. I don't know when it's going to happen and I have no control over it. It just happens. Likewise I will also say inappropriate things on odd occasions. Words will come out of my mouth that either I wouldn't dream of saying ever or would never dream of saying in the particular situation that I find myself in at that time. Often this sort of thing happens at social gatherings. I think because I'm never comfortable in largish social groups its some kind of reaction to the situation in which I find myself. It's probably a nerves thing. The trouble is I will say something that is out of place...
...read more

I have recently discovered an article that goes some way to possibly explain the reasons:

Why we laugh when we know it’s wrong

shutterstock.

For the Batek people of the Malaysian peninsula rainforest, laughter can be dangerous. Within the system of taboos of these egalitarian hunter-gatherers, laughing in certain situations can cause storms, illness or even death. And yet sometimes, Batek people – like anyone else – laugh when they know they shouldn’t. In fact, laughter can be especially pleasurable when it’s forbidden.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Rainbow thinking - the only way ahead

I’ve written on this blog a number of times about nothing ever being black and white. I’m convinced that the western world is in the state that it is because of lazy thinking. Fundamentalism, political or religious, is the greatest philosophical danger to humankind; there are no one-word answers to the problems that beset our world. There are rarely simple solutions. Life is much more complicated than a tabloid headline. Unfortunately ‘public debate’ all too often sinks into polarised, lowest common denominator, narrow mindedness. Creating the Promised Land is not as easy as a political sound-bite or any religious teaching might suggest. Economics and indeed life itself are complicated webs. We are in the state that we are in because too many people think in black and white instead of all the colours of the rainbow.

Okay this one is not for the faint-hearted. This video has been at least a year and a half in the making, with some of the content dating back over the last ten years. It’s a slightly surreal video that I hope encapsulates my philosophy of ‘Nothing is ever black and white’. If you only think in black and white then you won't get this video. Even if you don't think in black and white you still might not get it. I've tried to convey a sense of the complexity of life and our existence. I hope I've at least partially achieved that. But of course it might be a load of old tosh and I'm a complete charlatan. If you're looking for the meaning of life you might find this helpful; I think humankind is a long way off finding a reason for life and I suspect a meaning might not even exist. Doubt is the beginning and not the end of wisdom. Scratch beneath the surface to see further than what you might think of as the obvious. Remove your blinkers!

Friday, 19 July 2019

You can never have equality in a world where competition exists

You can never have equality in a world where competition exists. Any competition is a process of grading people by criteria determined by another person or group of people; a form of segregation, a form of elitism.

Competition is the antithesis of equality. Having winners and losers destroys any pretence of equality. Now I’m not saying that we all have to be considered of equal ability in certain skills or attributes. But we don’t need to shout about it, keep league tables on it, award prizes or suggest that some peoples’ achievement makes them better than others. We need to accept, embrace and celebrate our differences. What I'm saying is we all have equal value, equal worth. Just because you have more money than me, you can kick a bag of wind around or just because you have more qualifications than me it doesn’t make you a better person. Competition has infected our whole social structure. It won't be an easy trait to shake off. It governs commerce, education and leisure. But we can do it differently. We just need to use a little imagination. We need to break free from our conditioning.

I realise that a lot of you will be shouting at me saying, ‘you’ve got to have competition otherwise how can you decide things?’, but I say to you, ‘try thinking out of the box’. It doesn’t have to be that way. Of course there will be areas of life where what could be seen as competition will manifest itself. And if the pedantic amongst you (and I might include myself in that number) want to call it competition well I accept that. In the end much of it is semantics. One of the obvious examples in current life where competition exists and might be hard to change is in the job selection process. But if you think of it more as a jigsaw puzzle rather than a game of snakes and ladders then I think you can eradicate the competitive element from it.

If you really desire equality, and I certainly do, we will need to remove competition from all walks of life. You can't say we are all equal and then start measuring people or groups of people and saying some are better than others. That just creates Animal Farm.


Tuesday, 23 April 2019

St George


I took this photo in the William Morris gallery in Walthamstow last month. I love the work of William and his contemporaries but this is actually a pretty ridiculous image. Whilst I'm not big on realism, this sort of impression paints a very wrong image that simpletons love to feed on.

I'm an atheist so I don't approve of religious symbols either but if you are going to feature a historic figure in a picture then it is quite offensive to change that figure's ethnic identity. The geezer that was George came from the Middle East therefore would have had a much darker complexion. The above Northern European looking person is just plain wrong.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Dosh-hogs

Dosh-hogs are the enemy of the people. They are the 1%, the filthy rich capitalists, the patriarchy that control our lives. We are oppressed by the monied mafioso, there are very few of them in comparison with the rest of us yet we allow them to control us.

A small number of parasites live off the toil of the majority. It needs to change. It's unsustainable and it really can't be right that a few people have vast wealth, have so much and many many more have so little, and too many do not have enough to even survive

Dosh-hogs are greedy, evil, selfish, bastards that have no right to the power that they wield. Neo-liberalism needs to die.

The time has come to push the button.



Tuesday, 9 April 2019

If you fear socialism…

...you don’t really understand it.

I’ve been a socialist all my adult life. For me socialism is the purest form of democracy that any group of people, any collective can have. It is the most equitable form of government you can have.

Just recently the label ‘Marxist’ has been used when referring to Jeremy Corbyn as if it were an insult. The thing is that there is nothing insulting about being a Marxist. I don’t claim to be over knowledgeable about politics but I like to think I know quite a bit more about it than the average person on the Clapham Omnibus.If only we didn’t have a politically illiterate electorate.

To help people out a nice person tweeted a link to a website that houses an explanation of Marxism in 800 words. I read it and thought, ‘yep that pretty much is how I understand it’.

A word of warning if you trot out some tired, worn out old cliche about Socialism and/or Marxism having something to do with deformed one-party states then you’re a complete knob who probably knows fuck all about politics and have no doubt found yourself agreeing with headlines in The Daily Mail (the paper that supported Hitler) on more than one occasion. So do yourself a favour. Educate yourself.




Sunday, 24 March 2019

Taking back control

I thought this seemed appropriate for a #SocialistSunday.

If you really want to take back control there's only one way to do it, and that's to 'get involved’. If you believe in democracy then you need to play your part as best you can. And as best you can isn't just turning up to vote at general elections.

If you really want to take back control you really need to do it through the democratic process. As without the democratic process any control you have will be tenuous and limited.

If Brexit was a protest vote against politicians then it was a spectacularly immature and stupid protest vote. We get the politicians we deserve and if we are ambivalent, ignorant and/or disinterested in politics then we end up with the corrupt, the idiots, the gangsters, the bullies and the inbreds in charge.

Never underestimate the stupidity of the English electorate. They consistently vote in governments that do them harm. Large parts of the electorate would sign their own death warrant if handed to them wrapped in a sugar coated lie.

Sadly we don't yet live in a democracy. There are several things that need to change before we can truly call ourselves a democracy. The obvious thing that needs to change is our way of voting. First past the post is undemocratic and needs to go. Secondly we need to educate people. People need to be capable of critical thinking. They need to understand that “nothing is ever black and white”. If you have a blinkered view of the world how can you make informed choices.

People can't help being stupid. They've been condition to be stupid. The whole system is set up to suppress thinking. They are fed lies in the form of easy to digest bigoted soundbites by the capitalists. They fall for it all.

I was brought up on a council estate. I'm working class. I don't remember a time when I wasn't interested in politics even though I didn't always understand what was going on. I became a socialist at the age of seventeen and have never wavered since. I know that we will never achieve a fair, just and equitable socialist society until the working class have been educated so that they are equipped to make informed choices. The state aren't going to do it so as a movement we should. We will never have a socialist society until that happens.

I rarely apologise for my arrogance in calling stupid people stupid. Sometimes one has to tell it like it is. The trouble with stupid people is they don't realise that they are stupid because, yes you guessed it, they are stupid. The working class will only ever free themselves when they learn how to do so.