Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Monday, 25 July 2011

Do we really want to risk another media mogul running the country?

If there is one thing that the Murdoch affair has confirmed it is that politician's lust for power knows no bounds. The acquisition of power has been likened to a heroin rush and judging by the extent that Blair, Brown and Cameron, particularly, have been prepared to jump to Murdoch's commands - we must believe this to be true.

Although it is likely that an attempt to clean up politics will take place over the next few years, now that it has been made so clear that a media giant can have such an impact on the government of an influential nation, surely it is the height of niavite to believe that another global media mogal will not start plotting to replace Murdoch - assuming he does not recover his position - albeit by more sophisticated means.

Whereas before globalisation, the funds available to the most powerful commercial organisations where limited, now that we have many global giants to whom the funds available for bribery and corruption are so vast, even the most honest politician, policeman or official might be corrupted in increasingly material world.

In the past there has been a clear reluctance by the political class to trust the common view of the people with regard to the administration of the nation. There has been a strongly held belief that the politicians know best and it is for them to decide how the nation should progress, even if these goals are against the will of the people. However, few can argue that the common view of the people is inferior to that of a media mogul who is a foreign national and whose primary goal is the acquisition of wealth.

If it is accepted that, under the present rules and any that can be devised, it will be impossible to prevent another media baron, with immense wealth, from assuming Murdoch's role, surely the only group who can provide adequate control are the people themselves and who also have the most legitimacy.

This could be achieved through the introduction of a developing form of direct democracy that would, eventually, cover all aspects of government activity - both central and local. As first steps the House of Lords could be given the power to call a referendum on any proposed change by the government that they could not wholly support and a guarantee that any petition that gained 100,000 signature would become the subject of a referendum.

Clearly the first steps on this course would not be wholly successful, but they would ensure that the appalling state of an immensely wealthy foreign national governing the nation from the comfort of his luxury penthouse suite in New York would never reoccur. Also given that the best known nation governed by a system of direct democracy, Switzerland, is recognised as one of the best run nations - a move to direct democracy can only provide real hope for the future compared to the bleakness the current system offers.

The trivial nature of the e-petitions arrangements, yet again, demonstrates that our administrators do not want the people interfering in the self-interested preferences of the leaders of the two, alternating, tribes that run the nation.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

A bleak future ahead.

It takes a while for Wednesday's remarkable Parliamentary session to be fully absorbed. However, what did ring loud and clear was that our administrators are not overly concerned with the well-being of the people - although our concerns will, occasionally, be brought into a debate if it helps to reinforce an argument, even though our concerns will generally be misinterpreted.

It has been said that Murdoch's close relationship with Lady Thatcher stemmed from their common belief in man's ability to change the world by an act of will. This is of course true as records of the most ruthless dictators throughout history demonstrate. However, those changes that do not accord with the collected will are unlikely to last long in a democracy. What has lasted, to this day, from the collaboration of these two along with Ronald Regan, is that 'greed is good' which seems to have been indoctrinated into the generations that have followed their time in power.

So much that happens today is taken for granted because 'getting and spending' has been accepted as the raison d'etre by so many and it was this belief, or more precisely the consequences of this belief, that explains so much of Wednesday's exchanges. Once wealth becomes the most important aspect of life, for so many, it becomes more certain that each person will have his or her price. It then follows that the many cannot be trusted - but we do not know who they are, because they look no different from those who can be trusted.

Having immense wealth might now be considered as 'heaven' for many and it is little wonder that so many are prepared to commit dark and, once considered evil, deeds in order to achieve this 'divine' state. It can be compared to the willingness of a Muslim man being prepared to commit suicide to defend the Prophet's teachings, because he is convinced that in so doing, he will go straight to heaven to be greeted by 72 virgins.

Having reached a point where we do not know who we can trust - life becomes extremely threatening. Was Ed Milliband trying to convince us that Cameron was a virtual agent for Murdoch because he wanted to expose corruption at the heart of government or was he doing so to advance Labour's cause so that they could return to a position where they could, once again, enjoy the pleasures of being corrupted? Does the BBC report and analyze the exchanges in order to inform the public or to weaken Murdoch's grip on the delivery of News?

Do the other newspaper groups devote so much space to the apparent corruption so that they can ensure that is weeded out or are they doing it to reduce the circulation of the Murdoch titles so that they might increase theirs? Will the police dispose of or ignore evidence because they are paid by Murdoch or will they behave in a non partisan fashion? Will the courts provide fair trials or has Murdoch got embarrassing information on key players who will err on his side rather than be exposed? Once it is recognised that corruption has gone so deep into the ranks of those who rule us - we do not know and cannot know the motives of these individuals and why they act as they do.

Although the majority living in the UK claim to be Christians, it is clear that its teachings hold little importance for Christianity teaches that 'it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God'. Clearly the acquisition of, non essential, consumer products and the pleasures of the flesh are held in much higher regard than 'entering the kingdom of God' by the vast majority. For most, 'being a Christian' is reserved for the ceremonies provided at birth, death and marriage. Presently the average age of those who attend church regularly is 61 - it seems pretty obvious that, unless there is some fundamental shift in the peoples belief system, the vast majority of Christian churches will have closed within a generation.

As a non Christian, I think it is fair to say that a bleak future is ahead for us and our children if materialism remains the primary cult of the nation. It could be that, as the frequency and depth of these dark and, once considered, evil acts increases there will be a return to Christianity or some other faith will become increasingly popular. This may be so for most informed predictions do envisage an ever increasing state of poverty in the land and it appears to be the case that those who live in the greatest poverty are the most ardent followers of a religion.

Unfortunately, in that state, couples either try to have as many children as possible, so that there is someone to look after them in old age, or their faith demands or obliges them to have large families - this helps to explain the ever growing population of our planet along with some of the greatest suffering.

Without doubt, the future looks extremely bleak for the majority and their children. A relatively few of these global corporation employees and the politicians and officials that serve them can anticipate very comfortable lives ahead and an even fewer, those who own these monsters, will have untold wealth impressive homes and yachts from which to view the misery of their fellow human beings.

Those who do not share the belief that 'greed is good', but want to see a far more even distribution of wealth, will have to work extremely long and hard to reverse this trend - which has become endemic.

Friday, 1 July 2011

In accordance with the will of Heaven

Since there seems little doubt that, over the coming decades, China will be the dominant world power, it might be an idea if we, in the West, started to understand some of their - and the Far East's generally - basic philosophy so that we may serve our new masters adequately. Also so that we might understand some of the secrets of their success and how it is they are such high achievers.

Most of the concepts are difficult for Westerners to understand, for, in the first place, it demands the acceptance that there are laws operating within the Cosmos which affect each individual in their daily lives. The concept, basically, believes that in every circumstance and in every action there is a 'right' way, which is in accordance with the will of Heaven, by acting in accordance with this law [the Tao] whatever we do succeeds - whereas by not acting correctly we fail or do not completely succeed.

Western religions do have similar concepts 'as we sow so we shall reap' being the most obvious, but generally Christianity, Islam and Judaism view acts against God's law as being accounted for on the Day of Judgment. Whereas the Eastern approach would probably see this aspect played out in the way that we die - whether this is a long drawn out painful affair or over and done with fairly quickly.

Perhaps, more to the point is that, although most indigenous English would view themselves as Christians and mostly Protestants, their religion plays very little part in their daily lives. Whereas the Chinese way demands constant attention to an inner guide who knows what and how we should act at any given time and in any given circumstance.

In the West, the work of Carl Jung, the psychologist, is probably the easiest route for Westerners to understand the philosophy of the East with his shadow, anima & animus, the process of 'individuation' and a guiding 'Self', since he did use scientific method when developing his theories. The views of scientists are held in much higher esteem than the views of religious leaders here. However, he believed that Westerners were too lazy to struggle with the demands of his work and thought it would only be applied by the few.

Perhaps it is this blind acceptance of scientific view and the practitioners of these arts that has brought us, as a nation, to such a hopeless state. The process of individuation and the Eastern way both demand that we listen to what is going on deep inside our minds and to take our dreams and fantasies seriously. Although it cannot be denied that science and Western medicine has enabled great advances in the treatment of physical ailments, the illnesses of the mind are beyond most Western practitioners.

Their approach to the basic emotions of anxiety and depression is to fend them away by the use chemicals which act on the brain. Anxiety is seen as something that should be suppressed rather than allowed to play on the mind in order that some unpleasant truth should be acknowledged and acted upon. This is also the case for depression, which is likely to follow the acknowledgement of this truth, until the truth has been fully accepted. These are messages from Jung's concept of 'Self' buried deep in the unconscious.

So Western medicine, generally, suspends its patients in a state of permanent or drawn out state of anxiety or depression rather than allowing this natural process to take place so that the individual can mature through having to deal with reality. This approach is feasted upon by the global pharmaceutical corporations for it allows them to regularly invent new mental conditions for which they, of course, have developed a new [and expensive] drug. If memory serves, this accounts for some £8 billion of the NHS budget - potentially a valuable saving in these austere times.

These pharmaceutical companies have also managed to convince us that we can expect to live until we are one hundred - quite why this is viewed as such a triumph in a world with an ever increasing and unsustainable population is difficult to understand. However, this is likely to be because we have hidden death away so that it is something not to be accepted. Like our other anxieties, this must be suppressed by drugs, not a feature of life with which we must come to terms.

Unlike the Chinese we put our old into homes, probably so we are not continually reminded of the eventuality of death, whereas the Chinese honour their parents and the old and would condemn this practice. Surely we know that, generally speaking, most humans will not be able to live active lives beyond their mid eighties and although modern medicine can make less onerous many of the ills of later life they cannot change the natural span of life. At least if they can, it can only be done at the expense of the new born or young - surely it is better to simply accept death when ones natural term ends!

Oddly, if the English who are so much against their being absorbed by the EU, being inundated by immigrants and denied their parliament would accept the reality that virtually all those who hold these views must work together - it might still be possible to avoid these outcomes and possibly the dominance of China in the years ahead. However encouraged and aided not to accept reality, as it is so often the case with such matters, this will be realised too late and, as a result, we are destined for the role of subordination.