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Solidarity is not reprisal.

img_6200Very few things make me stop and think quite the same way that the video of looters in the US attacking a shop owner who pleaded with them to stop did so on Monday.

Yes, we can all understand how angry and frustrated normal Americans feel after seeing the way that George Floyd was treated by Police. But crowds making themselves judge, jury and potentially executioner over the proxy offenders they have appointed help no one, least of all themselves.

Nothing justifies an aggressive and violent response. No matter how bad in one particular moment of time those who feel they are being oppressed or mistreated as if they were the victim themselves might feel about what they have heard about or seen on TV.

Fear drove the actions of the Police. Fear drives the actions of those rioting and looting.

The reason that Government systems around the world aren’t working and people of all backgrounds feel injustices like they do is that the politicians in charge are driven by Fear too.

Put yourself in the shoes of a leader for a moment. If your aim is to maintain the appearance of control, which scenario is more likely to unsettle your mind, question your resolve and really make you think twice before you act next?:

  1. Rioters across the US burning cars in showrooms, attacking police and shopkeepers, causing as much damage as they possibly can
  2. Hong Kong residents continuing many months of protest against a regime set on removing their freedom without damaging anything
  3. Thousands of Colorado protesters lying face down on the floor with their hands behind their backs for 9 minutes simply saying ‘I can’t breathe’.

Those that have taken the law into their own hands in the US have handed the initiative straight back to Donald Trump – who had until this week been on the back foot because of his handling of Covid-19.

No matter how broken the system might be, physical reprisal or retaliation at any level simply returns the power to those who appeared to have it all at the start.

Through reprisal, you simply hand your power back to them as you crash to the level below.

The alternative is genuine solidarity. But genuine solidarity is a thinking mans game.

Solidarity is not reprisal.

Solidarity is being the voice and the peaceful action that makes a statement without inflicting any kind of material or physical cost.

In Colorado what do you think the authorities who were in fear of a mob reaction were thinking when the violent protest they expected never came and they instead found themselves observing a peaceful protest that marched straight into their minds instead?

Solidarity has the power to make the perpetrators of injustice and oppression know that they are wrong.

Reprisal against them just gives them the opportunity to demonstrate to everyone else that they were right and you were wrong all along.

The World today is a fragile place. Peace, whether between communities, people and authorities or between whole Countries themselves is no longer a given – if indeed it ever really was.

The Coronavirus Pandemic is changing the field of play around us whilst we stand upon it. We must all start to think differently about what is happening and the roles we can and should play. 

 

China: The war we must win without ever fighting

May 31, 2020 1 comment

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If speculators could bet on future world events like they play stocks and shares, there is little doubt there would be more focus on the dick swinging and pumping rhetoric against China that has been underway since before the Covid-19 Pandemic began.

That the origins of Coronavirus has given the likes of Donald Trump an excuse to point the finger at the Chinese and use it as a call to action for all the usual suspects is clear.

Trump’s callouts to the US domestic marketplace over trade restrictions were, after all, never going to reach quite as far – given the reality that the worldwide consumer culture pays humble deference to the Country where most cheap goods are made.

Regrettably, that deference isn’t really to China. It is to the god which is money.

Governments have become beholden to the Chinese State, whilst China continues to spread its tentacles across the world using Western capitalism and economic thinking against the very people who invented and became dependent upon it.

China is playing the game so well, they are surreptitiously reinventing the rules.

Activity in the South China Sea region strongly suggests that should hostilities between the West and China break into the open, this will be the theatre where a military campaign would be fought, lost or won.

Yet this would only ever be a proxy war.

Our cultural mindset revolving around money should shout loudly to anyone with ears to hear that we are already engaged in an economic war with China. One that can only be turned around if we completely change the way that we think.

Sadly for Trump, the aim of this battle is not as simple as freezing China out so that US  dominance of all markets can be resumed.

Meanwhile, ongoing negotiations have provided the opportunity for us to observe the true nature of the EU.

We would do well to remember that we had genuine, democratic reasons for Brexit.

Now that we are extricating ourselves from the EU monolith, we really do not want to knowingly throw ourselves straight into the lap of the US or be subjugated via the back door by China – both of whom want to exert monetary and therefore political influence over us – simply wrapped up in alternative forms.

Six months ago, it was near impossible to see where the opportunity would come from to address the disease of corporate greed. Its symptom is the golden age of internet consumerism, underpinned by farming of the masses for interest that can be earned from lending money created from nothing whilst shackling us all to a life burdened by debt.

Coronavirus, or rather the Government response to it – implementing a Lockdown that is going to inflict pain on many millions more than it will ever help – does have a positive flip-side.

The opportunity will come to use the significant financial depression is creating to our advantage by rewriting the rules, the role of money and how money drives so much of what as a society we do.

When our politicians can see beyond a life that can only be written in terms of cost, saving or spending, then morality, ethics and doing what is right can be the priority in public policy once more.

We will then be able to close the trap door that China has set us and reject all other unwanted influences that have, are and continue to wreak havoc in our day to day lives whilst they square up for a war where we will have a lot more than the lives of military personnel to lose.

The War on Social Media: Is Trump the biggest Social Justice Warrior of them all?

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Fake news is a phrase that we have come to associate with Donald Trump in the same way that we do a machine that Hoovers with Dyson. I’ll bet you can hear him saying it right now.

With the news that Trump is about to take the Social Media Companies to task – now that Twitter has created a button to flag fake news, the threat that the President of the United States could pull the rug from under the new media age is something that should concern us all.

Fake news remains a major problem on streams such as Facebook and Twitter. But fake news is now a constituent part of what Mainstream Media and Governments actively create when they publish or broadcast subjective opinion or personal views, then frame it as being objective or factual content.

We have seen this process in action just this week, with Emily Maitlis editorialising what should have been a journalistic intro to the BBC’s Newsnight Programme on Tuesday evening, giving what was an opinion on the Cummings saga whilst dressing it up as clear fact.

Emily is thankfully a relative minnow in comparison to the World’s heavyweight opinionator Donald Trump. What they share between them is the misuse of a public platform to project the correctness of their own views – or who they represent, clearly opposing alternative points of view, not to mention playing hard and loose with any countering truths.

A wholly objective Trump might have a point about easy ‘reporting’ on Twitter being a retrograde step. Teaching and promoting the art of critical thinking in Schools, Colleges and Universities would be a much more appropriate and reasoned action for any Government to take.

Regrettably, the subjective and Donald first at any cost Trump that we know simply hates the prospect of it being easy and straightforward for any normal person to call him out.

Trump heads towards a late Autumn Election in which he intends to secure a second term. Shutting down Companies like Twitter and Facebook now would simply be with the intent of furthering his own political cause. It is a step that is unlikely to pay the dividends that he intends or would like.

Social Media has been very kind to Trump for as many wrong reasons as there have been right. Trump would do well to remember that now.

Whilst 2020 began with his re-election looking like it was in the bag, his handling of the Coronavirus Pandemic and the rise of Joe Biden make it look anything but certain that he will win.

The difference between now and 2016 is the rules have changed. Social Media has matured. More and more of us know and understand what it is all about.

Yes there are many echo chambers that exist and confirmation bias does have an unkind habit of doing its absolute worst.

But for all the trolling and negativity of this parallel universe that the Internet and Social Media provides us, the positives and the opportunities they offer far outweigh the negatives. That’s as long as our freedom of use is maintained universally, as it was intended and our communication is not censored, coerced or controlled.

Trump is possibly the worst offender when it comes to being the archetypal angry control freak attempting to influence and dictate what others are in his view always supposed to think. The parallels with Social Justice Warriors who visit destruction on the livelihoods and reputations of whoever gets in the way of their agendas are quite startling and we have to wonder if Donald Trump is the biggest SJW of them all? 

image thanks to newyorker.com 

Trump & Farage: The heralds of change, a final warning or an opportunity to put things right?

December 18, 2016 Leave a comment

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2016 will surely be remembered for the watershed electoral events which have taken place on both sides of the Atlantic. But can we really say for certain just how people will view the impact of these historical moments, perhaps in just a few years time?

Churchill once said that ‘History is written by the victors’. Many of us would agree that such sentiment is true. But a problem arises with our view of 2016 when we look upon the British European Referendum in June and the US General Election in November and try to identify who, or perhaps more accurately what it was that actually won.

Yes, it is easy to look back at recent weeks and conclude that Trump won in the States – even if there does remain a question mark over Clinton’s result in terms of the popular vote. But if we look closer to home and back to what has become known colloquially as ‘Brexit’, such definition is far from easy – if indeed possible at all.

The figurehead whom most would recognise as having been the defining leader or agent of change which led us to ‘Brexit’ is Nigel Farage. However, the reality that key individuals such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove played highly significant parts too, surely attests to the reality that this seminal moment was about far more than the impact of just one person or three, and was in fact about a significant and great many more.

It sounds simple. But people and even the politicians who apparently lead them have a habit of hanging results or actions around the necks of the one person they identify as being responsible for something, rather than recognising the many contributing events, factors and the influence of any number of different people which may have contributed.

Whether the circumstances be good or bad, there simply is no difference. Change must have a face, and therefore a name.

We cannot take away from him the impact that Farage has clearly had on the rise of whatever this evolving collective is that won the European Referendum. It is almost certainly fair to say that the Prime Minister may regret not ennobling him far sooner than she might comfortably think.

However, the face and focal point that Farage has provided this otherwise undecipherable ‘movement’ for change, is also one which has multiple personalities. And it is perhaps this imaginary friend in which a truly diverse, yet massively significant range of choices for both the public and those in power now really lies.

People have responded to Farage because he has spoken with a voice which has sounded different to the political establishment, using language which has made people feel it is ok to have the feelings about the world around them that they do. He has dared speak terms loudly which we have all quietly become afraid to use, and demonstrated that a choice to what a silent majority have been quietly coerced to accept, does in fact exist.

Indeed, Farage and a growing number of key influencers from across the political spectrum are now providing a voice which is in varying ways representative of the anger and frustration which so many people feel.

He has elucidated his message well. However, while they may be late to the game, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and many others in politics are regurgitating a range of these specific truths.

They are doing so simply because the frustration and anger we are now experiencing after years of willful indifference and political neglect are now touching the lives of everyone, whether they would ‘naturally’ vote Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat or UKIP.

But there is a problem with this too. Placing our faith in people who may be seen to be the heralds of change when they do not represent real change itself is very dangerous indeed. Many of these same faces have not only been present, but have also provided a voice for the very establishment which created those difficulties for us in the first place.

It is surely the case that those who are responsible for leading the change that will make our lives better, should fully understand and appreciate the complexity, nature and impact of the problems that must as such be left behind. Otherwise, it might only been seen as natural for them to reject everything associated with the period before, whether good or bad, simply because it represents the time when they didn’t possess the level of power which they have now come to cherish and enjoy.

We only need look at the last Century to recognise the warnings from history of how dark our lives could quickly become under the leadership of people who say much, but are completely out of touch when it comes to the world outside of the bubble that surrounds them.

In the UK, the chances of Farage having his hands on the levers of government do as such seem as remote as the possibility that Theresa May will steer us through the entire Brexit process trouble-free. On the other side of the Atlantic however, Trump may already be placed perfectly well to assume powers which he sees as being perfectly justified to prevent a return to the bad days of old. He does after all have a mandate to do so, based upon all of the truths that have been told – doesn’t he?

Nonetheless, to award Trump and Farage the status of demagogues as some have already tried, would be insulting to the realities and hardships of people that have for too long been openly denied.

Rejection of the status quo is after all no less populist than the election wins that facilitated their legitimate arrival via the policies of governments that came before and led to it.

And so, it is arguably the case that Trump, Farage and May are all riding a wave that they simply do not understand. But it is the direction and the choices that they make next that will decide the fate of all us when this ‘new tide’ really begins to break upon the shore.

The evidence may not look too promising so far, but let us hope that any power or responsibility that these three or any like them who follow will have over us from now onwards, will be exercised with a level of care and consideration which is ultimately beneficial to us all. For it is here that the true opportunity to address the problems which society faces truly lies.

images thanks to http://www.businessinsider.com, http://www.independent.co.uk, http://www.thetimes.co.uk

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