Comes Samhain

Comes the New Year
Soul at the unveiled
Threshold, honour
The eternal thread
That weaves
All space and time
In loop and line

Comes new tread
Bearing yesterday’s
Lessons as gifts
Innumerable
To wisdom’s forward
Shining light.

Comes fresh resolve
And sacrifice anew
Death is but a comma
For, by inward,
Inextinguishable Lamp
Is all creation born
Again and yet, again

Comes one contained
Within the other
Seed and fruit
Desire and form
Transmute
In constant endings
And beginnings

Comes the turning
Raise the cup
You filled this year
For Samhain
Bids you all:
Drink up!

* ~ * ~ *

Happy New Year!
May you be bathed in love and light
May you feel warm and full
May you find strength and joy
May you know peace of mind

Apathy and Revolution: High Risk Strategies

Indifference is as dangerous as desperation.

Apathy: lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern:
Origin: early 17th century: from French apathie, via Latin from Greek apatheia, from apathēs ‘without feeling’, from a- ‘without’ + pathos ‘suffering’

Is apathy the right word for the public’s attitude to politics and the democratic process?

Is there really a lack of interest? Perhaps, in the current focus spewing from certain mouths but this is not the same as a lack of interest in the issues.

Is there really a lack of enthusiasm? Perhaps for the direction in which said spew wants to take us. Perhaps for some matters: immigration gets some people very heated, for instance, whereas others refuse to see it as worthy of so much time.

Is there really a lack of concern? I should bloody well hope not! Considering the political and the personal are irrevocably intertwined, how can one not be concerned? – Unless one has managed to completely detach from all national/global systems by living free in the woods or on another planet, never needing any assistance from anyone for anything. Ever.

Modern Politics, like religion used to be, is a vehicle by which a Society constructs itself. How can any individual or group maintain a lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern for the very processes which determine and govern with so much inescapable relevance and influence? To sustain that level of detachment beyond a temporary knee-jerk reaction, surely takes some ignorance or selfishness? It is a myth to assume that individual or collective apathy can either be sustained or helpful except to the interests of the most powerful. Apart from pleasing the most libertarian, anti-government types, all it does is leave far too much to chance and the presumption of or dependency on the goodwill of others. Abstention from voting, especially continual abstention, is about as conducive to progress as a toddler stamping his foot. Do people really think that not voting will bring forth the altruistic service of our politicos; that they will correct themselves in the face of such meaningless punishment? No one in secure authority gives much of a shit. They don’t need to.

Far better, I think, to turn out to vote and spoil one’s ballot in the absence of a palatable choice. At least spoiled ballots show you’ve noticed and care. And they are counted. After all, it is one of the few official platforms we have through which to exercise choice and show our consent or disapproval. If those who currently subscribe to the apathy label were to turn up and spoil their ballots, would this not go further towards speeding up politicians’ incentive to do more than pay lip-service and start to take us seriously? They could not so easily use the ‘disenfranchised’ argument with such carelessness nor inflict the response of using their grassroots as an apologetic excuse buffer because it would already have been made clear that their manifestos didn’t cut the mustard. Imagine if the spoiled ballots in a General Election outnumbered the ticked boxes? Besides, it’s hardly as though it excludes us from organising other platforms simultaneously. I’m pretty sure we can multitask.

Revolution:
1, a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system:
2, an instance of revolving: revolution about the axis of rotation
Origin: late ME, from Old French, or late Latin revolutio(n-), from revolvere ‘roll back’

Is revolution the best or only response to our malaise?

Maybe, but it is also like rolling dice. Revolution is another one of those generalising, shorthand words we throw around with casual ease. I have. This is because I hate what our present government is doing and also what other governments and the corporatocracy are doing all over the world. But I could have said the same thing about the Labour Administration in its last years as well as the Tory one before that. And probably, those older, would cite an earlier regime. But that’s because since, well, forever, it has always been that the solutions to the reasons for our discontent have been piecemeal and hard won. So, ‘roll back’ to what? To when? The golden age when we all thrived?

Rotate until we’re back where we started? Revolution usually comes when the causes of frustration reach a critical mass, something snaps and along comes momentum. This invariably makes for an indeterminate period of deadly uncertainty and violence. The initial gratification is short-lived and it usually chews up and spits out those who start it and theirs is rarely the enacted vision when it is all ‘over’. The leaders of the new epoch are usually those who had the power and/or opportunity to fill a vacuum. That does not guarantee a successful outcome for everyone else. I’m not saying no hard revolution under any circumstances. More that we should be careful what we wish for because this sort of revolution is a risk of unknowable proportions, the kind of which should be a last resort.

Some people talk about a revolution in terms of ‘evolution’ but this is much more akin to natural adaptation. In this context it involves a shifting of the psyche; an altered perspective because of changes in thinking and/or direct experience. Truly progressive shifts in consciousness come about organically over time and tend to rest more within the domain of the spiritual. It is the sort of shift that is seen as revolutionary in hindsight. It cannot and should not be commanded or forced: to do so is to manipulate Free Will and that is an unsustainable and grey magic.

As I’ve said elsewhere: it took us a very long time to get into this mess so ‘fixing’ things will certainly not be a quick affair (with or without a revolution). Plus, one person’s version of fixed is going to be another’s vision of a nightmare and, whatever my politics or my view of progress, I don’t want it to be at the cost of causing misery to another. I know what that’s like. I’ve also no time for the notion of a utopian view. It’s a romantic sounding synonym for dictatorship unless everyone shares exactly the same vision and how often does that happen? If there is a utopia in our earthly destiny – and there may be – I believe we might be looking in the hundreds or even thousands of years, for it must create itself organically and our species is nowhere near sufficiently evolved.

That doesn’t mean we don’t need leaders. We do. Not the my way or the highway types or would-be messiahs to follow blindly and who do our thinking for us. That would just be another form of abdication or surrender; a choosing to be children that takes us right back to chance on another’s utopia. We need leadership that comes more in the form of inspirational thinkers and creative visionaries. We need the voices of practical wisdom and emotional intelligence which connect the small and large picture and the short-term with the long. Leadership of the kind that facilitates joined-up thinking about the connectedness of the problems we face and is willing and able to honestly explain them so that more appropriate questions are asked and the solutions, therefore, more likely to be obvious, of better quality and embraced. We also need to remember, in our justifiable fury, that not everything needs to be razed as violent revolutions are wont to do: some old scaffolding is as essential as a keystone. Baby and bath water, so to speak.

Sometimes changes, both good and bad, happen with tsunami speed but mostly they come by increments of evidence, experience and persuasive argument until the tide turns. That is what normally forces the reluctant political will. That may not seem very satisfactory but Democracy is messy and a constant work in progress and it won’t happen at all if the people for whom democracy is supposed to exist – us – are reluctant to first fully engage their own political will.

“Before enlightenment: chopping wood; carrying water. After enlightenment: chopping wood; carrying water.” ~ Zen proverb

Sing a Song of Serfdom

Sing a song of serfdom,
A sprocket ’til you die,
People in all nations
Servicing a lie!

When the lie was found out,
The serfs began to yell,
“Isn’t this a crock of shit
That’s taking us to Hell?”

The spin was in its weaving-house
Pushing bling and bubble.
The mean was in the open
Smiling at the rubble.

The Handmaids in the middle,
Making it all work.
Suddenly the People,
Rose up and went berserk.

😉

Dance, Monkey, Dance

Can you smell the opportunity
For effortless despair?
Dance, monkey, dance
For serfdom’s in the air

And the neoliberal crazy
Isn’t going anywhere.

Squeeze the pips
Fill the coffers
Get on board
Join the race
Make an offer
To the bottom

Going long on
Platitude

Get up on those
Bleeding toes

Now perform in
Pirouettes

How the wretches dance
The song of servitude.

Oh, make a little effort to
Appreciate the debt
We brought about.

The stage is set
From above
Now twist and shout
For Daddy’s profit
Like you really love it.

Unfair to Middling

What is this obsession with the concept of ‘middle class’? I find it peculiar and I’m really not enamoured of the applications. It’s looking a bit like a cult with all its do the right thing, work hard, rung on the ladder aspiration. I don’t like the fact that, despite its pedestal placement, it’s still below another set of tiers and I despair of the opposite implication that those who are not middle class are somehow less worthy, less intelligent, less capable, less decent – less everything.

I should say quickly that I’m not making a personal attack on any individual or profession which currently falls into this category of human status. What makes me upset is the fact that this concept, this economic hierarchy of human value exists in any official capacity at all; that it is offered as a symbol of meritocracy; that it is the main concern of politicos looking for votes; that it is the measurement of a patriotic life; that it is the standard sold to the lower strata as the correct and proper conduct of decent people; that to get on requires faith in and obedience to false premises.

‘Middle’, without the garnish, is something existing at equal distance from its extremities, one end being the relegated working class, the other, the highest echelons of absolute privilege. With a range from lower to upper, the middle can be a very wide space, indeed. As an entity, it gravitates towards a notional centre ground and is viewed and promoted as the very linchpin of society; the aspirational goal for right-thinking persons. It could also be said to be representing the status quo and a barrier to change.

‘Class’ is a rating: the taxonomy of social status, widely recognised and commonly accepted as alive and well. Its divisions have been blurred by middling expansion over numerous generations which, contrary to predictions that this would render class obsolete, has actually produced ever more pernicious levels of have and have-not relativity. This is the essence of the ladder: there is always another rung looming, to induce some sense of dissatisfaction and inadequacy – a manufactured rubbish which has found extraordinary purchase on our psyches.

Myself, I prefer that other definition of class: being one of character and style – and you can’t really buy that.

It’s always amused me how the term Middle Class conveys a sense of distance between itself and the plain ‘ole working class as though it meant a life of leisure. They are just the better paid working class, assigned professional as some escape label designed to look like socio-economic progress. They’re ultimately still subordinate to the same neoliberal forces, whatever the colour of their collars. And the poor lower middle? They have worked hard and yet they are running to stand still in a climate which threatens what they believe about a meritocratic society and the supposed natural order of things. Indeed, they are rapidly joining the lower ranks of the working poor and will be wondering what happened to that social security net they assumed was too benevolent.

However, blaming those at the bottom, who are struggling to get literally, from one day to the next because they are unemployed, underemployed, disabled, young or old is neither justified nor bright. They did not cause our ills: they are the tragic consequence of failed economic philosophy and, if a middle class education and/or upbringing is so damned fine, this economic fact should be clear enough. If blame is justified, it should be directed more accurately: that is, towards the politicos, academic theorists, economists, media et al, who championed, built and continue to fight to uphold the shoddy system we endure.

Most people want a decent education, a nice home, a good job, livable wage. Most people want a fulfilling, productive and creative life. Most people want a supportive, loving network of family/friends in their lives. Everyone knows that poverty, like illness or bereavement, can put all this under immense and even unbearable pressure but, add to that the deliberate stripping away of respect, dignity, trust and hope as is currently occurring and how, pray, are the poor meant to see ideological policies and attitudes as anything other than an intent to punish? To expect the State not to deliberately hinder entire demographics’ pursuit of normal, basic human desires is not unreasonable and yet these very desires are being re-created as the image of middle class reward and success.

Cameron is rightly concerned, along with a lot of the world, about the first generation to be less likely to improve on their parents’ lives. But when it comes to addressing the issues involved, he has the nerve to say he’s focused too much on the poorest – and we all know how detrimental that focus has been. When he says he wants to do something for hardworking people he means the shrinking middle class. Call-me-Dave expresses anxiety about these children having massive student debt and no one to help them onto the housing ladder. He should be anxious, of course, but what does he think the really poor will do? Keep settling for the scraps? He seems more worried about maintaining those who have already achieved a societal status worthy of his time and interest and lacks the will or capacity to see the poor as equally deserving beings. Labour is concerned about the poor’s prognosis but too panicked by the predicted loss of comfortable voters to speak unapologetically. The fact that the party felt it necessary to publicly proclaim they’d be tougher than the Tories on benefits says it all. If they truly believed in We, the People and in their own governing ability, they would have said, correctly, I believe, that there would be no need to get tough because actually poor people are intelligent enough to know a good opportunity when they see it and would be only too happy to grab it because Labour would have made sure there were plenty of good jobs with livable wages available. But Labour did not say this.

The Middle is sold as a route to independence, freedom, security and autonomy. It is seen as the backbone of a successful, prosperous society but it is being achieved at the cost of our social fabric and on the backs of the poor, the vulnerable and singularly powerless. Keeping up with the Joneses is no way to live. It’s a plastic and passive-aggressive form of petty feudalism that relies on debt and exploitation in the service of continual material growth for short periods of meaningless status upgrade. We can either be socio-economically class-ridden, class-driven and class-riven or we can aim for a genuinely inclusive state in which each citizen is automatically viewed as equal and treated as valuable just because they are a human being. We could start by not giving the special title of Middle Class to what is essentially a comfortable life. And a comfortable life should be a basic standard in the 21st Century: readily accessible and easily achievable.

Lotus-eating Twerps

See that neoliberal attitude – that crazy
Scam you all insist on ramming down
Our throats? Well, you can shove your
Bloated nonsense up your crumbling
Ivory towers now you’ve proved it only
Works for you, you selfish little jerks.

That’s right, you lotus-eating twerps –
You heard: you had your chance and
All you’ve done is polish turds. You know
Your ideology is totally absurd. If you had
Half a spark of common sense and interest
In the World beyond your sickly precious
Selves, you’d die of shame for all you’ve
Stolen and the gaping holes you’ve opened
For the myriad of golems you invented to
Command.

You know damned well your neocon will
Not survive without a constant raising of
The upper hand. So there you stand,
Outrageously self-righteous and parental
With demands upon your fellow humans’
Rights. Why, yes, you bozos: we are equal.
You’ve no moral jurisdiction over any People.
Everything you own or claim you have has
Been inherited and plundered through some
Self-awarding privilege which doesn’t count
For much when it amounts to crony farce:
You wouldn’t know hard working if it rose and
Bit you on your pampered arse.

You know the nepotism cannot last unless you
Up the petty despotism, heat the rhetoric and
Stoke the fires of irrational fear. This recipe for
Your success: how many years can it have left
And do you think it will be pretty?
No.
So go.

Get off your fabricated perch before you’re
Knocked from it; the planet lurches into
Irretrievable catastrophe. Stand down your mad
Kleptocracy and false superiority. Let loose your
Deathly grip upon the Spirit of Humanity and give
The sane world back some room to breathe. For
We’d be better off without your dictatorial largesse
And your incompetent persistence based on little
More than paranoia, greed and self-entitlement.
Your best has been the monumental failure of a
Wishful guess. Get out and give the world a well-
Earned rest.

Progress Builds in Bridges

Larceny by trope.
So many ropes and
Strangulating threads
Weave opportunity
For me-first desperation.

Who is hung?
Who hogs the rungs?

Why climb?
The uncivilising mass
Hit critical way back.
Grime makes it fit for
Neither Path nor pack.

Pull the ladder up.
No, really –
Keep it: who needs
The Company that tilts
The World to asset strip
And eat its riches?

Progress builds in bridges.

Take Socialism…

Ideological/theoretical political labelling are two-edged swords. They are both convenient shorthand, for the purposes of making generalised points and poisonous straitjackets, wielded as weapons of deliberate insult. It’s politics at its most futile and simplistic, really.

Before Twitter politically ideological labels weren’t part of my conscious, daily vocabulary, despite the nature and topics of my conversations being similar. Not because I didn’t know what the terms meant in all their various definitions and their myriad interpretations – just that I feel they are more a key to understanding political theory and application of the past than lexically necessary to present solutions and future sustainability. Also, I’m not much of an ideologue.

After a while on Twitter, I, too, have found myself bandying some of these terms around along with the rest of the media. I joined in, not because I’ve changed my mind, particularly (though Twitter is a natural shorthand enforcer, so to that extent, generalisations are often the simplest form of communication, albeit potentially distorting), but mostly because the same old labels are again saturating mainstream consciousness as the rubric within which most debate is sadly constructed: it requires a shared vocabulary. All it reveals, however, is that few have ever moved away from the emotional knee-jerkery of old, pre-conceived, received and doggedly fixed propaganda. It’s of no more practical help than it ever was, unless you like popping human nature into simple boxes.

Take Socialism. This is described as Anarchism, Communism, Libertarian, Democratic, Marxist, Religious, etc, etc. (Not forgetting, of course, that Anarchy, Libertarianism and Religion function equally well under fascistic systems.) Socialism is touted as a 19th Century concept – by virtue of a bloke adding ism to a previously perfectly understood word. Social: from Middle English which is from Old French, which is from the Latin: socialis, meaning ‘allied’ and socius, meaning ‘friend’. We all know what it means to be ‘social’ – to engage, participate, accommodate, include, share… It is a concept which is at once, both commonly understood and subjectively experienced.

Opponents to socialism are rabidly irrational in their disdain: to even the most benign and rational form, they having nothing but sneers and smears. They have strongly seeded notions of a totalitarian community in which every one stays at the same level of banality and that the price for this is the sacrifice of a person’s individuality. This is amusing when you think of how the last few decades have shown that socialism is not the culprit in this – unless, of course you count the welfare of self-preservation in the upper tiers but that is a satirical distraction from the world of the masses in spite of its ironic reality. Rabid advocates of markets (free or manipulated) and private money as the answer to all our ills hold the idea of ‘big’ government in contempt and yet, has any government ever been so nannying, moralising and prescriptive as this one? This is something they conveniently overlook as they insult our intelligence.

Big government is a bullshit red herring. What size determines too big or too large? Its number of functions, number of representatives, range of responsibilities? The size of the State should be relative to the nature of its function. It’s function is to represent and serve a 60 million-plus population in a complex, dynamic world. The State is us – why the bloody hell should shrinking it be part of the equation? Necessity, efficiency and competency are the instruments by which it should be measured.

When I think of socialism, I don’t assume authoritarianism, race to the bottom, death of innovation. Hell, I don’t even think death to the markets. What I envisage is a place where the State is the People; where the people are beneficiaries in common; where the land that should be, infrastructure, public services and resources are of the people, by the people and for the people as much as is practically possible. That’s it. It doesn’t have to negate a free market, private wealth, personal assets, creativity, entrepreneurialism, innovation, culture, progress or individuality. And it certainly doesn’t destroy liberty. On the contrary: it frees us. I can be both an individual and a citizen participant in a socially conscious country and world just as easily as I can be English, British and European. Personally, though I have a big problem with profiteering, I’ve no issue with the profit-seeking private sector, so long as it is incapable of undermining the collectively common and basic good. Both private and public serve a social purpose and so both have their economic places. What we have now, however, is a form of anarchy; economic and social nihilism, even. The consensus is growing that we should collectively own, control and maintain the essentials upon which we all depend, as a matter of economic and social common sense. Let the rest (the capitalist/private sphere) purchase its place in the gaps if it is sufficiently viable to do so. And it will. For that, we need a State which serves our best and vested interests not vested interests which serve themselves best and leave us in a state. Whether this view has a label or even ten labels; whether it is called Socialism or something else, I really do not care.

Daily Mail – Junk Mail

It is because I love this land that I despise
Your dirty rag. It is because I love this planet
And humanity in all its hues that I have never
Purchased you. And yet your reputation,
So preceding is it, that I’ve never needed to,
For what you do and say is parroted from every
Right-wing quarter every day and poured into my
Eyes and ears by all your corporate, mainstream
Peers as though your narrow, xenophobic tract
Did constitute empirically known fact.

But you are everything you claim to hate –
So rabid in your enmity of citizens and State.
You make your living sieving any information
That ingratiates you to the racists, homophobes,
Misogynists, elitists and the nationalists who’d
Have us in our places. You are bigots with a
Passion for a petty use of microscopic focus;
You are locusts to the fields of understanding,
Tolerance, compassion and perspective; an
Invective to goodwill and unity and common
Decency.

You are the dumbest form of patriot, besotted
By false flags, nametags and high-horse myths
With which to moralise. It might be funny if your
Preaching wasn’t reaching the messiahs set on
Profitable power and the happy-to-be vacuous,
Enthralled and tooled up with perceived consent.
Yes, you’re a self-important vent to fundamental
Imprecision and pernicious propaganda for a
Willing and uncivil baying mob that sees a virtue in
The seizing of some value from your puritanic gob.

David Cameron, Soothsayer

Three and a half years into this thing and I think you’ll agree, we’re beginning to see all that profit we need. And in fact I am proud to announce – thank you George – that the surplus this year will see us well rewarded for all of the difficult, painful decisions we’ve taken from our non-mandated position. Our mission is right on track; you’re in the black and though it wasn’t easy, we fixed the economy. 

We have rescued our agenda and austerity is helpfully supporting our recovery – I told you fiscal discipline would save our pampered skin and constant repetition of the mess that Labour left – don’t you just love that word ‘inherit’..? So much merit in it, gentlemen.

(Cripes! Not that many women in the hall, at all..)

Well, anyway, what was I saying…

Oh.. we’ve turned hard working people into symbols of The British Dream. The beauty of it is, is that the moral duty, so integral to our bold regime, is built into our aspiration model as oppressive guilt. Yes, we are turning things around and so, to show you that I’ve listened to the hedge funds and back benches, I will regulate the foodbanks; cap the spending on the trenches. They will thank us in the end, make no mistake. We, happy band of brothers – are there any mothers here and did I say, the other day I met one..? Gosh! Small island, eh?

Well, anyway, we have a natural mandate; we’re the landlords, after all. It’s not the small this Party needs but corporate community that feeds our private wealth – this is our septic isle: our freehold in The Land of Opportunity. 

We’ll fight this war on poverty from everywhere – no matter what the cost may be. And bless you, Iain, yes: of course we’ll fight it on the beaches, in the fields and in the streets. Their shameful and ungrateful feet won’t touch the ground with you around to champion lost causes. But we also have to get our claws in at a younger age, to set the stage, so thank you, Michael. Oh, and Boris: on your bicycle. My nepotism, sorry, my Compassionate Conservatism only goes so far you know, old boy. You clown! The only Baker in this town is me and I will not stand idly by.

No, gentlemen – (Theresa! Didn’t see you! Oh thank God! Compose and wait for camera, Dave..)

Though I may be a small island in the rough ocean of life, I have the history and the body and the heart of – (Look! My wife! That’s two. Take that Farage!)

I know we can outsmart that UPIK bastard but it’s hard to juggle what we are with what I had to say to get us here. However, if we exercise our blue-veined grip, the prodigals may yet return. It’s clear: we are the true Establishment round here. No, it is Labour we must really fear and so we’ll asset strip before the evil would-be socialists can stop us. With our brand of propaganda

– thank you, Daily Mail

and repetition: “Red Ed! Red Ed! Red!”

we’ll recycle every loony superstition. We will build – no, no, not houses! Please don’t panic: your gross income’s safe in our rent-loving hands – this is our ‘Land of Opportunity’ remember? We are better than them all.

Never surrender! We are Rich; we are Righteous. We are Right: it’s our island to inherit! We’re Conservatives, God Damn it!