Tuesday 24 November 2009

Liberty and freedom

As a libertarian I resent the way that the words ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ have been hijacked by the right and used in a fashion that is opposite to what they actually mean; in true 'Orwellian newspeak' stylee.

In reality there is only one true freedom, and that is the philosophical and political doctrine of anarchy. I’m not an anarchist, I certainly wouldn’t advocate such a philosophy, and I can’t imagine any jumped up little tory would do so either. When the right use these words, what they are really saying is, that they want the freedom to oppress, and be at liberty to exploit others less fortunate than themselves.

As Craig Murray wrote on his blog back in May:

There has been a fashion in the blogosphere which needs to be challenged. Blogs of an extreme right wing cast have started to call themselves "Libertarian".

The peculiar thing is, that these neo-con "Libertarians" have, by and large, little or no concern for civil liberties. Very few of these "Libertarians" blogged about the shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes, against detention without trial for 42 days, about police violence at the G20 summit. These "Libertarians" do not want to see Guantanamo closed, and are quite happy with extraordinary rendition and the use of torture. Not only will you search the large majority of them in vain for any condemnation of the use of torture in the "War on Terror", but some of them - like Charles Crawford, for instance - have actively blogged in favour of the use of torture.

Libertarians in favour of detention without trial? Libertarians for Guantanamo?

Libertarians for Torture?

Sunday 22 November 2009

People in need

I don’t like charity, and even less do I like people who say ‘charity begins at home’.

I don’t like charity because in this day and age there should be no need for it. It is not beyond the wit of mankind to be able to feed, clothe and provide shelter for everyone on this planet. A large proportion of us just need to stop being greedy bastards.

People who say ‘charity begins at home’ tend to use this phrase as a metaphor for ‘I’m a racist bastard, and I don’t want any lazy foreigner to benefit’. You just know that when anyone utters those immortal words that they invariably have a much distorted view of the world monochrome mundi.

Whilst I don’t like charity in principle, and in no way wishing to brag, I do give on a regular basis. I don’t see how any compassionate human, that can afford it, would not do so. Today I’ve realised that I tend to take a ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs‘ approach when deciding which charities to give to. Top of my giving list is Oxfam for the very reason that they provide the basics of life to so many people around the world.

I’m not saying that any cause is more deserving than any other. We should each give according to our own conscience. But by the same token I don’t want people to tell me who I should give to. I choose not to give to children’s charities. Not because I hate children, but because they are the high profile charities that seem to hog the limelight at the expense of other less ‘sexy’ charities. I also don’t give to animal charities for similar reasons. A warped perspective? Possibly!

Tuesday 10 November 2009

The Men Who Stare At Goats

If you read my previous post it will not come as a surprise to learn that in my opinion nothing good ever comes of war. This I believe to be a fact. But war, like so many other terrible events in this world has the ability to ‘inspire’ art. Art invariably warns of and protests against the horror and futility of war. Art is basically the anti-war. Any war that the USA is involved in is always guaranteed to generate protest films. The film I went to the pictures to see the other night was one such film.

The Men Who Stare At Goats is a very funny film, starring Ewan MacGregor, Jeff Bridges, George Clooney and Kevin Spacey. A film about the military, and in particular that well known military oxymoron ‘American intelligence’. The film points out the ridiculous lengths to which military madmen will go to try and get one over on the enemy. The film is based on a book by Ron Jonson, so straight away it has a pedigree, and right from the opening scenes it makes you laugh. It is probably the funniest film I’ve seen this year. It charts the investigation by a journalist of a top secret army corps of ‘psychic soldiers’ and whilst it is utter nonsense at the same time you suspect something like it could well exist or have existed. The title comes from an episode in the film when the most gifted psychic uses his powers for evil and kills a goat by staring at it.

This is a most excellent and funny film on so many levels, with performances from four great actors. It is unquestionably a must watch for all but the moribund!

Sunday 8 November 2009

Give peace a chance

There are never any winners in war. There never has been and there never will be. So why does so much of the world continue to view it as their dispute solving solution of choice?

Political debate and majority consensus are the only way to solve disputes. War has never solved anything, think about it, a war ends and a political solution is sort. If ‘victory’ is imposed it invariably leads to further wars until what is seen as a just solution by both sides is reached. Why not bypass the painful costly bit? Do what Winston Churchill suggested “Jaw, jaw, not war, war”!

Unfortunately until western nations that purport to take the moral high ground on the world stage actually start to practice what they preach we will never have a chance to eradicate war. Those same western nations continue to put profit and vested interest before justice. If only they could invest in a bit of justice today it would no doubt save countless lives tomorrow. Unfortunately they put trade, and the arms trade in particular before peace. They do this because they believe that they are putting self interest first. This is misguided of course because their self interest would be so much better if the world was war free. They would not need large and resource heavy Defence ministries and the military that they currently support and pay.

If you want a typical example of international injustice an obvious example is Palestine. There have been so many chances to create a free Palestinian state and every time it gets close the west seems to lose its nerve. I’m not naive enough to pretend not to understand the reasons for this.

As a pacifist I cannot support war on any level. I get irritated when people talk about a ‘just’ war, or when they associate the word honour with it. I also get irritated by Remembrance Day and the British Legion. Not because I don’t think that it should take place, it is right that we should never forget, but because the abhorrence of war is lost in the medal jangling and military jingoism of the occasion. I expect Daily Mail and Sun readers would find my viewpoint disrespectful but it is they that are disrespectful. Disrespectful to the fallen, because until we can end war those that have died and those about to die will have fallen in vain.

For those of a religious disposition the injuring, maiming or taking of a human life would seem to be the ultimate blasphemy. Why do religious people tolerate and even advocate something that is so at odds with their beliefs?

“War is over, if you want it.”

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Socks and drugs and rock and roll

Well, actually, just socks.
Why is it that once socks are washed that one half of the pair comes out of the machine inside out whilst the other is the right way around?
There is clearly some powerful force, or perhaps a sock-fairy that makes sure that this universal law is adhered to.

Monday 2 November 2009

Religious schools - licensed child abuse

Whilst I abhor physical abuse, messing with people’s minds is equally abhorrent. ‘Brainwashing’ is evil, inexcusable and surely has no place in modern society. I’m quite firmly of the belief that there is no god, although I do accept that it should be a basic human right to be able to practice the religion of your choice. Equally it should be a right not to practice a religion if you so choose. It should be down to the individual,  a matter of personal choice.

Selfish parents are those who choose indoctrination instead of education for their children. Sending a child to a religious school is barbaric and really has no place in the twenty-first century. Teach children about the religions of the world by all means, but imposing a religion upon them is an act of fascism. Religion is something for adults to follow through their own volition. Children’s minds are not sufficiently mature to be able to make choices of this kind. How any self-respecting government could permit religious schools is really beyond comprehension.