Sunday 14 October 2018

I don’t like flag waving...

...I consider it jingoistic and neanderthal; the territory of the fascist. It’s a practice encouraged by the elite to help keep the plebs in their place. It’s a badge of tribalism. Tribalism is what holds the human race back. Tribalism is why we are oppressed. Tribalism suppresses intellectual thinking. I’ve always distrusted nationalism for similar reasons. Along with it’s bastard son patriotism, nationalism too is the last refuge of the scoundrel. It’s saying ‘hey look at me, I’m great because of where I was born’, which is nonsense because it’s something that is serendipitous and something none of us had any control over.

I like to think of myself as an international socialist. We humans are all equal in my eyes. Countries are a human construct. A way of dividing and ruling. Having said that countries can be an efficient way of organising government or collectivism. A country that is truly democratic and open can be a force for good. Countries go wrong when an elite take charge and a fortress mentality is adopted. Isolationism will destroy us. In this world we are witnessing the beginning of the last days of the human race because of our selfishness and our inability to co-operate with each other. The planet isn’t in imminent danger but all of the people are. People are an endangered species.

Nationalism is something that I don’t think I could ever subscribe too. It’s too dangerous. Like fascism it devours even the most loyal supporters. Recently I have learned that there are two types of nationalism, civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism. I understand what this means and in terms of civic nationalism yes I sort of buy it. Sort of, but not quite. To fully accept it would be no different to suggesting that there was such a thing as benign fascism.
Don’t get me wrong I have no desire to stand in the way of self-determination for people. I certainly believe that Catalonia, Kurdistan, Palestine and Scotland, to name but a few, should have the right to decide how they are governed. If I lived in Scotland (which I would quite like to do) I would certainly vote for independence if given the chance. For too long, so many of us living in these islands have suffered from Westminster’s oppression. An oppression orchestrated by vast wealth. I don’t blame anyone for wanting to break free. I really hope I see Scottish independence in my lifetime. Scottish independence would be a good thing, but it doesn’t need nationalism to achieve it. Civic collectivism might perhaps be the better way forward?

Saturday 11 August 2018

My top three

I was weaned on music. I am a child of rock and roll. Music has always been with me. I couldn’t imagine not being able to listen to music. I could give up most things but music is certainly not one of them. And unlike so many of my contemporaries and even those younger than me I’m not stuck in a time warp. I’m always looking for that next great song. Always searching for the next interesting performer.

Having said that when it comes to picking a top x list of songs it tends to be the older ones that make it to the top. I’m guessing that the thing with all time favourites is that they have to stand the test of time and therefore by their very nature are not going to be riding high in the current hit parade as it were.

A top three has long featured in my thoughts. I’m not sure why three and why the concept of a top anything should appeal as it’s all a bit anal and blokish. Okay, perhaps I’m anal but you could rarely accuse me of displaying bloke-like tendencies. In my book to be called a bloke would be highly insulting. Anyway I digress. Back to the music. It’s hard to whittle down the countless number of great songs that there are out there, and with such a short list, there are those that almost make it but don’t quite. Those bubbling under include Hurt by Johnny Cash, Take The Skinheads Bowling by Camper Van Beethoven, Where’s Me Jumper by The Sultans of Ping FC and the evocative Radio Sweethearts by Kate Rusby. I could go on but i’ll cut to the chase and give you what are my all time top three. They are chosen specifically for the music qualities I see in them and not because of any emotional attachment. A list of songs that evoke deep emotions would be a totally different one. So without further adieu my top three:

  1. Another Girl, Another Planet by The Only Ones
  2. Do You Dream In Colour by Bill Nelson
  3. Criminal World by Metro*

*The original and so much better than the insipid David Bowie cover

Sunday 15 July 2018

Don't follow leaders, watch the parkin' meters

I've been a socialist since the age of 17 when I went to work as a bank clerk. It opened my eyes in so many ways. I saw the vast difference between rich and poor. I also saw how people toadied up to those with money, and more so if they had a title. I concluded that such differences in wealth were unjust and the unfairness and snobbery that went with it was all just morally wrong. I’m now 63, the divide has become even greater, my politics have become if anything more left-wing and I do believe (although this could just be the old bloke in me) that the vast majority of the population are less well educated than they were fifty years ago.

I like people, I believe in them, but at the same time I loathe people and rather arrogantly consider many to be utterly stupid. I become very frustrated at times because of people’s stupidity. I’m no fan of leaders either. In a true democracy we would be an autonomous collective although it would require a highly intelligent population to even contemplate that notion let alone put it into practice. We therefore end up with leaders. Leaders we can either love or loathe. A third party we can either blame or praise; someone we can abdicate our responsibilities to.

In reality leadership should be about facilitating the requirements of their electorate. Leadership should never be dictatorial. In fact it can’t be as telling people what to do is not leadership at all. Therefore whilst it’s important to protest about evil people like Trump we should never forget that the reason why the evil fascist bastards of this ilk worm their way into power is because of the stupidity of the population who didn’t oppose them. It really is that simple. The difficult bit is enabling the education of the masses. Many don’t realise that they’re in need of education. Education should be about enabling people to think for themselves, to question and to formulate opinions based on sound arguments of economic and philosophical reasoning.

Unfortunately if you're an idiot you probably don’t realise that you are an idiot. Perhaps I’m an idiot? Perhaps everything really is black and white? Perhaps there is a god and he is white? I somehow doubt it but I might be wrong.

Wednesday 20 June 2018

Compass point musings

Where the hell are we?

I didn't do geography at school. I couldn't find the classroom!

Boom, boom!

I'm not even going to pretend to try and define where the border between north and south is. It's far too controversial. Anyway I'm not really a greater one for borders; fortress mentality is for knobheads quite frankly. But it's useful to know where you are and it's useful to know where other places are in case you need to visit them. It's also useful to know a bit of geography when listening to the weather forecast.

I shout at weather forecasts; mostly because of the geography. Although I also shout when Aberdeen is going to be warmer than Norwich, which are more days than you would imagine. I know the meteorologists can't help that but it makes me feel better to vent my anger that way. I live in East Anglia. East Anglia is most definitely not the south. It's east. We have the most easterly point on the British mainland. There's a clue in the title of East Anglia. Nowhere does it say south on the label. I sympathise with those that think of themselves as northerners* when the weather forecasters (and media in general) approach everything in such a London centric/southern sort of way. There are more parts to the country than the south**. I also get angry when they refer to 'West Wales' when what they really mean is 'The West of Wales'. West Wales is now called Cornwall. It is not what we now know as Wales. The border varied but it was known as West Wales from around the 5th to 9th centuries and possibly before that. Sloppiness on the part of media types prevails.

*Special note to those that call themselves Northerners. As a Scots person said to me once, "you English are all Southerners!".

**We have such economic regional divides in this country because of government policy. We have a London centric economy and media because government sits in Westminster. It would be far better to permanently move parliament to a more economically deprived centre and spread government departments around the country. If the centre of power was moved the money would start to follow. Housing might become more affordable in London, job would be created in places that have suffered from unemployment and infrastructure investment would shift to more places that needed it. There would be so many benefits. It would also alleviate the need to build extra runways at either Heathrow or Gatwick. Just think how that would boost the overall economy.

But, we continue to live in blinkered Britain.

Saturday 21 April 2018

For the many not the few

"Rise, like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you:
Ye are many—they are few!"

A verse from the poem, 'The Masque of Anarchy' written in 1819 by Percy Bysshe Shelley following the Peterloo massacre of that year. It is a call for freedom, and possibly the first modern statement of the principle of nonviolent resistance.

The market along with its champion, the warped political doctrine of neo-liberalism, has failed all but the super-rich. Equality is slipping further and further away. Economies should be run for the benefit of all. If they are not we are on a drastic slide back to serfdom. Do we really want that? I don't believe so. You'd have to be an idiot to want that. But then you have to be an idiot, or super-rich, or both to vote Tory.

'Thee are the many, they are the few' is a powerful statement. The derivation of several similar oft used political statements including the current rather catchy Labour slogan 'For the many not the few'. It is the essence of what true democracy should be about; power to the people.

Please feel free to use, distribute and print this poster. It can be freely used as long as it agrees with the terms of this licence and if used for political purposes it is used for those that are broadly in agreement with the left-wing spirit of the poster. For free PDF versions please click here.

Now, listen to the music:

Sunday 4 March 2018

Digital art

One thing that a lot of people can't get their head around with digital art is that there is no such thing as what might be thought of as an original. They seemed to be conditioned to think that visual art has to be a solid thing that you can touch. They also tend to think that if you have that digital art printed out then it's somehow not proper, just a copy. Which in reality it is. Just a copy.

It freaks people out that with something digital you can only print it out and that there is no limit on how often this happens. Art can be mass-produced. Fantastic! Obviously those that have a vested interest in perpetuating the notion that art is an investment commodity wouldn't care for. But bollocks to them.

When I first started advertising/exhibiting my digital art I had the idea that I should only offer it as limited edition fine art prints. I now realise I was probably wrong to do so. It goes a bit against the grain of what I believe. So I've decided to honour the limited edition pictures that I'm already committed to but going forward I intend to put no limit on the number of prints of anything new that I produce. I also plan to offer pictures as cheaply as I can. Watch this space.

Friday 2 March 2018

Why women are better than men!

One of the many tools that the few use to control the many is to invent and reinforce the artificial attributes of gender roles and stereotypes that riddle societies throughout the world. Conditioning starts from the day we are born. They are the foundation on which divide and rule is built. It's how rich men in suits control us. The patriarchy is the only true enemy of the people, and the biggest obstacle to equality.

I have a great deal of sympathy with the feminist cause. I try to empathise as best I can. I say as best as I can because I don't know what it's like to be a woman. I have in a small way experienced discrimination in my life and it is terribly draining, demotivating and not easy to rebel against. I believe that as humans we are all equal regardless of gender, sexual orientation physical or mental ability etc etc. I find all forms of discrimination abhorrent. As a consequence I struggle with so called positive discrimination. I recognise that it's a possible means to an end but I still sit uneasy with it. Until the vast majority of people are able to cope with the concept that all humans are equal we will never truly make progress.

Whilst men might control the world it is only a few rich ones that hold the power, the rest of us are in need of emancipation. Yes men need emancipation. We need saving from ourselves as well as from our masters. If men can grasp that equality benefits everyone we will make a start on the road to addressing the problem. Society's concept of masculinity needs to be challenged and changed at every opportunity.

  • "In 2015 there were 6,639 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
  • 6,188 suicides were registered in the UK and 451 in the Republic of Ireland.
  • The highest suicide rate in the UK was for men aged 40–44.
  • Male rates remain consistently higher than female suicide rates across the UK and Republic of Ireland – most notably 5 times higher in Republic of Ireland and around 3 times in the UK."

These are scary statistics. Having suffered with mental illness and come close-ish to suicide on a couple of occasions I feel for the pain that people go through. Why do we allow this to go on? Why do we allow modern life to put us under such pressure, to cause us such stress? It doesn't have to be like this. So much stress could be eradicated if we lived in a caring and compassionate society. One where everybody is valued. The fact that in the UK men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women is not surprising. Men are expected to be rough, tough stiff upper lip types. Men aren't men if they show they have feelings, and shame is wrought upon them if they show weakness by crying. This needs to change. It should be acceptable to air your true feelings. It should be acceptable to ask for help. And help should be there for all that need it. Mental health is one of the biggest issues facing society today. If we can address mental health properly so many other issues will cured at the same time.

We're not going to change society until we challenge perceptions about what it is to be a man; men’s body image/ a certain sort of physique, male aggression, clothing, different kinds of addiction, the cult of masculinity, man as the bread-winner, and acknowledging that things need to change. We need to debunk the myth that physical strength is important and somehow in need of celebrating. Testosterone exuberance needs to be channelled into creative areas that are away from the more competitive aspects of life. Religion, sport and workplace culture are the biggest obstacles to changing men's attitudes. Competition and outdated religious based ideas of the male role in society are what are holding us back. The term 'man up' epitomises everything that is wrong with an overtly male culture.

We need to accept that gender is not binary; it's a spectrum that we all blend into. There are no neat little pigeon holes. People should not be measured or classified by their gender or their sexuality. I've never felt comfortable about being a 'man', doing 'manly things' as prescribed by society. If I want to do what society currently dictates are 'feminine' things then why shouldn't I? I have always considered myself to be mostly heterosexual, perhaps with a bit of bi-curiousness, like a nice frilly lace, around the edges but being heterosexual that doesn't mean I have to behave like some grotesque male chauvinist action man. I mostly find women to be more interesting and attractive than men. Mostly. I make no apologies for finding people attractive. I think it is possible to find people aesthetically pleasing to look at without objectifying them. There is beauty in all life. Like it or not we are all sexual objects, our raison d'être is to procreate, to keep the species going. It's hardwired into our make up as it is with every living thing on the planet. We just need to get over that hang up, whilst not acting inappropriately towards each other. I see nothing wrong with finding people attractive as long as we respect them for the people they are and treat them no differently to those we don't find quite so attractive.

Equality of the sexes is really just about true equality. Equality for all people. One of the biggest barriers to achieving equality is competition. Competition is seen as something healthy. I believe it to be the opposite. It's divisive and destructive. Society would be much improved if cooperation was the dominant trait.

I felt I was getting somewhere with my thoughts on this whole subject when along came this article on The Norwich Radical site: Platonic Polyamory: A 2018 Valentine’s Conclusion
"If you know me, you know I always encourage a certain degree of emotional intimacy within both my female and male friendships, and...
...the resolve to foster psychological well-being and bonds over prescribed societal boundaries. Especially now, given the ambiguous socio-political climate."
I'm not sure that I agree with all aspects of what the writer is saying. In fact alarm bells rang because I could see that it could encourage some rather unacceptable behaviour of the 'me too' variety, but as long as its behaviour that all parties involved are comfortable with then I'm all for it.

I often feel quite sad that men of my generation rarely hug other men. Younger men seem to be much more at ease with it. We old gits need to lighten up. I quite like to be tactile but rarely get the opportunity. One of my most favourite things is holding hands. In some parts of the world men hold hands with other men. It's part of their culture. It doesn't signify any sexual activity, just friendship. In fact why shouldn't men and women in whatever combination hold hands when they are out together regardless of any relationship? And yes I do believe that friendships can exist across the genders without the need for sex. I have friendships with women that are just that, platonic friendships. And another thing, why don't straight men socially kiss other straight men? I'm up for it. Come on lads, let's pucker up! And don't get me started on make-up. But seriously we need to work towards being more comfortable with our friendships of all persuasions. It should be acceptable to tell people that you love them in a way that doesn't say 'I Love you' or 'I LOVE YOU'. After all "what's so funny about peace, love and understanding?"

I make no apology for the title of this post. I wanted to attract the attention of both the enlightened and the bigot alike. Some will criticise me for using a provocative or unhelpful title which is a valid point, but I felt I needed to be heard on this subject. It is the only way forward. Equality is not a pick and mix issue. We are either all equal or we are not. We cannot be considered civilised until we are all equal.

I've been trying to write this post for around two years. In that time my ideas have been evolving, they are still quite fluid and subject to change, which is why it might seem a little disjointed, but I got to the point where I thought it needs a public airing. Consider it work in progress. I would welcome any comments/discussion around them. I would also appreciate it if you could share this post as widely as you can. If we are to one day achieve an equal society ideas like these need to be discussed as widely as possible.

n.b. obviously I don't really think that women are better than men and I'm certainly not in favour of some kind of sexual free for all either.