Nelly has been a teacher for over twenty years, working in a variety of settings across Primary, Secondary and Higher Education. She is passionate about education for all, with a specific interest in SEN.
Hailing from Liverpool, in the shadow of Aintree Racecourse, she is proud of her socialist roots. One of her favourite memories consists of her Nan, wearing Spitting Image slippers of Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock, staging a mock fight between the two to entertain her gang of grandchildren (Thatcher always came off worst). Socialism is in her blood and she is proud to have passed on the lefty, ranty genes to her two children.
Laura Lundahl holds an American passport, but her heart belongs with the UK and Europe. She has a master’s degree from King’s College London in European politics, and hopes to return to the country she loves once the Tories and their immigration policies have gone.
The stereotypical youth voter in 2008, Laura nearly had to drop out of university because she was so involved with the Obama campaign. She has since managed campaigns against the immoral American healthcare system, as well as against the Capitalist greed that forces American university students to take on impossible amounts of debt. Most recently, she has focused her energy on immigrant rights on both sides of the Atlantic following several very personal experiences with the consequences of strict immigration policies.
Laura also believes in the importance of travel, having been to all fifty American states and nearly forty countries before the age of 30. She has also lived in four states, and four countries, and speaks three languages (one of which is a West African language). Her favorite place she has lived is London, as the diversity of that city allows a person to travel the world without leaving their street. Though rural Alaska is a close second – the mountains are stunning.
In her downtime, Laura is always on the lookout for a pub quiz or a new hiking spot, and she’d like to say a good read from her local library but as the Millennial she is, the phone screen tends to be too much of a distraction. Her guilty pleasures are “The Bachelor” and Taco Bell, or when she is in the UK, “First Dates” and Greggs.
Mhairi has been a councillor in Glasgow since 2012, representing Southside Central Ward which comprises Queen’s Park, Crosshill, Govanhill, Laurieston, Gorbals and Oatlands.
A self-confessed SNP hack, she worked in SNP HQ between 1997-2007 before working as Nicola Surgeon’s constituency manager until 2016. In 2017 the SNP were elected to run Glasgow City Council and Mhairi was apply he’d City Convener for Health and Social Integration.
She is the organiser for Glasgow Southside SNP and was a local YES co-ordinator during the referendum.
Born and brought up in London, Mhairi first political involvement was joining the Anti-Nazi League when she was 13. Opposing Nazis remains a firm priority.
Mhairi is a carer for her elderly father, and also for her increasingly elderly dog, Charlie. She has very little spare time and what time she has she likes to waste on Twitter or binge-watching Netflix instead of doing housework or other useful activities.
Philip Richard (P. Ric., or “Prick”) Knobinson-Canute is a journalist best known for his weekly column, “Last Orders,” in the high end magazine, “Fox and Turf,” and also notorious for a feckless and chaotic career and life of alcohol abuse.
He became associated with the louche and bohemian atmosphere that existed in London’s Soho district, Glasgow’s Merchant City, and Milton Keynes, “Cock and Bull Bar,” the hang out for the new city’s literati, in the early seventies.
Early Life to Present:
Knobinson’s father, Lord Freire Knobinson-Canute was the hereditary Lord traditionally tasked to clear animal excrement from path the Monarch of the United Kingdom if they had to walk on public paths. This role was made largely symbolic in the late 20th century , though was more recently reinstated for Prince Philip’s 1998 visit to Liverpool. This reinstatement of the role (taken up by P. Ric’s older brother Arthur), led to the resignation of the Prince’s advisor for insensitivity after riots and Liverpool temporarily leaving the Commonwealth. This led to the famous Tony Blair brokered Liverpool Peace Deal on Ash Wednesday that year.
Knobinson’s mother was the Opera Singer, Dame Ethel Appleby, who famously said about the Beatles in the early sixties, “They are common Cockroaches for plebs.” Appleby left her husband in the late sixties, and joined the famous Andy Warhol led Operatic Society, “Quod Fabrication,” had an affair with Lou Reed, the singer with The Velvet Underground, and was found dead in Hotel Chelsea, New York, lobby after a session of snorting cognac with William Burroughs.
Knobinson attended Abbotts Chalmsley school for Boys in Chelmsford, for two and a half weeks, but the Principal ordered him onto a train back to London as he was, “Quite simply, uneducatable.” His mother home tutored him until he attended Cambridge, majoring in the Literature of Henry Miller, Anais Nin and William Wordsworth.
When he left University, he was given a job on The Times, through a contact of his Father’s. He reported mainly on Debutante events and Public School sporting events for around a year before, as he put it in one of his later columns for “Fox and Turf;”
“I discovered jazz, women, gin, hashish, vodka, wine, my penis and that my father had a huge stash of bonds lying around his study he didn’t even know were fucking there.”
He asked his editor if he could change the nature of his column to one of reporting on his Soho adventures. This was granted after money changed hands, according to his ex wife, the classic knitter, Estelle Lauder (an allegation he has always denied). Part of the alleged deal was that he use his Royal contacts to report on Royal events.
After his infamous interview with the estranged wife of Prince Charles, Diana Princess of Wales in which he caused her to cry and then slap him after he asked her why she “hated Britain,” he was sacked.
This led to him being hospitalised after what he described as,
“Six months of living in clubs, pubs and sleeping in the bedrooms, cars and wardrobes of rich and famous celebrity wives.”
Knobinson joined Alcoholics Anonymous, and then successfully sued them for a reportedly £1m for refusing him entrance to their groups after some of the meetings he was involved with transformed into riots.
Knobinson by chance, met Prince Philip, an old family friend, in a drinks reception at a polo match in Argentina (“I have no fucking recollection of how I managed to be in South America,” he wrote in 1992) who arranged a column in The Guadrion, which along with his “”Fox and Turf” columns formed the basis of a west end play based on his life, starring the TV actor Don Estelle in the leading role.
His new found fame earned him a late night TV chat show, “Jazz with Prick,” in which he interviewed famous jazz, pop, rock and blues artists over the course of a six hour drinking session. After three episodes, one in which he and the pop star Peter Andre drank seven bottles of champagne and a bottle of brandy, then drove a golf cart through a Tescos window to, “give access to the homeless” the TV company, “Shit-stir Productions,” went into liquidation.
Knobinson made a return to writing columns about the seedier side of life in the late nineties Lads Magazine, “Gonads,” while reporting on Royalty for Steve Wright in the Afternoon for Radio 2, then in 2008, The Sunday World.
He was absolved after accusations of phone tapping for the News of the World, when it was found that everything he wrote about Jeremy Clarkson, Prince Andrew and the Irish girl group B*witched was verifiable and in actual fact, had been videoed.
Knobinson has recently been employed by online magazine, Ungagged.
On the 13th April the High Court in England and Wales ruled on two legal actions brought against Google for failing to remove search results relating to the historical criminal convictions of two businessmen. The case of NT1 & NT2 vs Google is described as a landmark ruling being the first time that the English Courts have tested the principles of the ‘right to be forgotten’.
The decision of Justice Warby is controversial and re-ignites the debate about the purposes of the ‘right to be forgotten’. The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in May 2014 that data appearing in online search results which were inadequate, irrelevant, excessive or outdated be subject to erasure upon request to the search engine operator. This ‘right to be forgotten’ is underpinned by our fundamental Charter rights of data protection and our human right to privacy.
The CJEU ruled that the ‘right to be forgotten’ is not absolute and can be denied when the request conflicts with other rights (like speech) and interests (accessing accurate information). There is much concern over whether the High Court struck an appropriate balance between the fundamental rights of the businessmen, the interests of Google, and the wider public interest.
Internet search engines play a key role in the dissemination of information and facilitating communication. The ability to request erasure of data can be seen as impeding the critical function of search engines whilst unduly impacting our fundamental right to freedom of expression. Despite accusations to the contrary, the ‘right to be forgotten’ does not enable individuals to “re-write history”, it only enables individual to request their data be de-listed or hidden from search engine results. The information itself remained both on the Web, in Google’s index, and is available via the many other possible searches. Google also have an economic interest in maintaining complete search engine results. If the press had discovered that a private search engine operator had removed details of criminal convictions, there would be public outcry and backlash.
The businessmen’s data protection and privacy rights were also considered. The anonymous businessmen, NT1 and NT2argued that the search results were inaccurate and outdated contrary to data protection principles and disproportionately impacting on their ability to develop personal and business relations which are protected under the fundamental right of privacy.
Public interest considerations are vital when ruling whether the ‘right to be forgotten’ should be granted. Justice Warby afforded significant deliberation to the nature and scope of the public interest in having access to search results on the criminal convictions of the businessmen. NT1 and NT2 had been convicted of criminal offences over a decade ago and their convictions had been considered as “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
Despite the purposes of criminal law being served, does there remain a public interest in the Google search results? Justice Warby believed so. The judge suggested that the public interest was heightened as NT1 failed to accept his guilt and show remorse in relation to his convictions. This reasoning undermines the purposes of criminal law and is unfair as both NT1 and NT2 were accepted as being rehabilitated. The existence of the search results subjected the businessmen to some form of additional punishment not prescribed by the State.
But some will point to the heinous crimes committed by individuals and argue that they deserve all forms of punishment and should not be afforded to hide their criminality. Rightly so, and the ‘right to be forgotten’ accepts that the public interest in maintaining search results fluctuates depending upon a variety of factors. The ‘right to be forgotten’ requires a case-by-case assessment of the public interest, allowing for the peculiarities and nature of crime to be considered. In this case, both businessmen had committed generally low level crime and cannot be considered as dangerous individuals. NT1 was convicted of conspiracy to account falsely whereas NT2 was convicted for conspiracy to intercept communications. The majority of requests are made in relation to low level crime committed by individuals in their youth.
Others have argued that by virtue of breaking the law, individuals should carry all the consequences of their misdeeds. Why should offenders be afforded the same rights and liberties as upstanding citizens? The reality is that criminal activity is inextricably linked with social depravation. Blanket denial of all ‘right to be forgotten’ requests of offenders, will disproportionately impact the lower class who make up the majority of requests for criminal convictions to be removed. Public policy and social justice considerations must be taken into account when individuals argue for blanket denial of this right to all offenders. Although these circumstances do not relate to NT1 and NT2 who can afford to challenge Google anonymously, denying the ‘right to be forgotten’ to all offenders who have spent their convictions will not only undermine the purposes of criminal law and affect the purposes of rehabilitation but would also disproportionately impact the poor.
NT2 won his legal action against Google with the High Court accepting that his data protection and privacy rights trumped competing interests. NT1 was denied his ‘right to be forgotten’ as his crime was regarded as “more serious” with his failure to show remorse amplified the public interest against de-linking the search results. The application of the ‘right to be forgotten’ to criminal convictions remains controversial. It requires much more than balancing freedom of expression, the right to privacy and data protection, and the public interest (which will always be difficult to identify). The case of NT1 and NT2 also engages public policy concerns and requires consideration of the underpinning purposes of criminal law when deciding whether an ex-criminal should be afforded ‘the right to be forgotten’.
Current PhD Candidate at the University of Strathclyde, specialising in data protection, privacy and workplace surveillance. My research focuses on whether the modern worker can be adequately protected from surveillance by data protection, privacy and the implied term of trust and confidence. I also lecture and tutor on various internet law, information technology law, and intellectual property courses at Strathclyde.
As the British Queen hits 92, Prick Knobinson introduces himself and his remit in this article.
Welcome to my Royal column. That’s what I say regularly at night to the wife. She hates that. The feeling is mutual.
Anyway, enough about me, I’m going to drink my daily bottle of London Gin while I talk to you about my favourite fetish, the British Royal Family, all of whom I have intimate relations with. Well, I report on them. Which is hard work. Its like, “here we go again, another plaque unveiling, or another royal baby has been dropped,” one day, and, “fuck me if its not another affair we cant report on because Prince fucking Duke of York or Wessex will sue us if we publish the awkward pictures,” sort of thing.
I was delighted to see my old drinking partner, Prince Charles, voted in as the next leader of the Commonwealth. His story, one of adversity and humble beginnings, is one that shows anyone can become what they want to be.
Charles, brought up in a council house, and who ran away to the Navy after he was given a boat, had no ambition beyond talking to plants. It’s a testament to his determination in later life that he has at last, toppled his mother from the position she has held most of her life in the unanimous decision made by despots, puppet Presidents and dodgy “Royalty” across the Empire.
Its all go.
369 years ago, the British abolished the Royal family. After a dreadful few months or so, the Royal Head was stuck back on (not literally, as the axe had fallen on his neck and lopped it off… metaphorically, as we found a new person to brighten up the pages of Ye Olde checkout magazines.)
How miserable we would all be if we didn’t have the Royal’s to brighten our lives here in Britain, and now hopefully soon in the new series of “Suits?” Megan Markle will no longer be worrying about who her next series affair is, as the spoilers are out. She is to marry the Prince with the wonderfully colourful Celtic hair colour. If you aren’t interested in all of that shit, and hate them, you are just a miserable old bastard who has no sense of decorum, or are a democrat or some stupid thing that has no place in Britain.
So, some of my favourite facts about the Windsors…
1. Prince Charles has got a huge collection of medals. These range from doing things like not sinking the unsinkable boat he was given by his mum’s pals to stay away from wars on during the seventies, and for adding capital letters to stuff what he wrote for the first time when he was in Year 6. He is also a General in the Army, an Admiral in the Navy (its nice he kept his navy career going , even when his only ambition was to be tampon for his now related wife) and he is a Chief Marshall in the RAF. His other medals are really those coins you buy for Queen’s Jubilees and Coronations and shit like that because he bravely attended those ceremonies.
2. The Queen chose Harold Macmillan over Rab Butler as Prime Minister in the 1950’s and then Alec Douglas Home over Butler in 1963. This was for two reasons. One she didn’t really like Butler and two, she thought the Tories actually really had put forward a real butler as a candidate, and those are really just for lifting the corgi poo from the carpet. She also chose to rid Australia of an elected representative, and Government, in the seventies. Such is her prerogative, and that’s what a Monarchy is for, so fuck you, right? Well, sometimes that is the attitude a leader needs to take.
3. The Royal Family are Britishness all in one family. They are us. We are them. Except they have big houses, yachts, the freedom to go wherever they want to without a passport and never have to spend money. And none of them are yet black, beige, catholic, muslim, jewish, or anything else that is supposed to be British. We all aspire to their clean living Protestantism. All religions and colours in Britain should. Being British is eating when the Queen eats and setting down your fork when she does. When I was last at a royal banquet, I made sure I got all my food (literally, when she stops eating, the plates are cleared!) as soon as she started eating, I belted that food into me. When it looked like she was stopping, I stuffed the roast potatoes and the meat they’d shot specially for the guests the week before with a fuck off big machine gun in their private shooting place in Scotland, into my pockets. I was the only one out of 200 people who managed to eat every bite, albeit eating the stuff in my pockets when fucking Prince someone or other was being verbally wanked over by some Masterbator of Ceremonies, or whatever his title was. Poor Nicolas Witchell only had half a starter, a nibble of grouse and a floret of broccoli. He’s a cunt anyway. And the Royals fucking hate him. Charles cant bear the awful man. Anyway, meals with the Queen sum up the class divide. The poor just aren’t that quick in grabbing stuff.
4. The Christmas message and her speech to Parliament. The Queen drafts her own speeches. While she does, she serves us the necessary bland platitudes and the hit with the poor – the usual, “I kind of love you, but don’t touch,” stuff. Then comes the hard hitting message she reads out from her chosen Tory Government, which shows she is no push over and wants to get that austerity out there. Its like, “I love you, you fucking trilobites, go beg in a food bank, I love my family and yours.” If you think the Queen is all about family around a Christmas tree, well fuck you. She can do politics like the rest of them and impose the bedroom tax on greedy poor people with too many rooms in their council houses, but loves them all the same, but don’t touch.
5. The Royal Houses, with all those lovely spare rooms to walk the dogs. Paid for by a grateful British people.
6. Our democracy. Without the Queen, we would not be able to compare our democracy with others like Saudi Arabia or Swaziland. We can do that and say how shit they are, as she kindly asks their despot leaders and Royals over for tea, and a right old Royal drink now and again, just so the Socialists and that lot can protest outside. That’s really considerate of her… because the people in Swaziland and Saudi Arabia would be put to death or something for doing those things in their own countries. Its protest by proxy. Expect Mr Assad for a banquet in the coming years, well, after he has completely crushed those who asked peacefully in 2011 for an election… and let’s see who on the left will protest that nice ophthalmologist. They certainly don’t want to do that at the moment, eh?
7. Equality. The Queen sees all her subjects as her equals. She regularly says in privy council meetings with her government, “I’m the top socialist in the country!” We can’t report that, so I’m going to add, “allegedly” to that previous statement, because it is illegal to report or talk about any of her opinions and of course, she is exempt from the Freedom of Information Legislation. She thinks everyone will eventually have the same dole money as her. But I can’t say that. So I won’t.
8. She strikes agreements with Parliament about her income. There is no longer a Civil List of those who get our money, she now gets a “Sovereign Support Grant,” which means she gets more money. Not her fault, of course… it’s just the way things worked out with her relatives, the Tories. She is allowed to choose how much tax she pays. Charlie’s Duchy company doesn’t pay corporation tax, because if it did, it would go bust. I mean, who would give that idiot anything to run with the same rules as the rest of us? The man, for all his wonderfulness and regality couldn’t grow cress without giving the seeds a fucking speech and relying on the Royal fucking arse wiper to water the bloody things.
9. The BBC. The BBC, and the ITV channels love to report on the Royal family, as it isn’t real work. Really, it isn’t, and a good Royal colour parade or sprog drop can help when we don’t want to shop on our tory friends for incompetency, scandal or thievery. Best of all is when they cark it at 120 years old – then the whole country seemingly comes to a halt. Well, so it seems if you aren’t in the know. All sorts of illegal shit goes down when a Royal Highness hits the floor.
10. They’ve stopped marrying their cousins to have children. They marry outside Royalty, have children, dump the spouse and go back to shagging each other once the bloodline has a few different strands of DNA.
Let’s hope she gets a new Royal Yacht.
So, I hope you absolutely loved this piece of important stuff about the Royals as much as I enjoyed my bottle of juniper. All stuff about the Royals is important. I mean, if you don’t like having a hereditary head of state, why the fuck are you in our country?
We are all British now.
Except those who thought they were.
Until next time, God Save Her and all the rest of the Royals across the world, except those from Royal families not related to and shagging each other and each other’s spouses.
Growing up American feels like the old metaphor of a fish being removed from the river. The fish has no concept of water itself because the liquid home is all it has ever known. Once it is yanked from the stream, its worldview is shattered. A new world has been discovered and the fish returns to the stream knowing the water is not the only plane of existence in the world. We can never interview the fish to understand how its perspective evolves in the time to come (if fish have a concept of a worldview at all), but the scenario feels appropriate for describing my American coming of age.
Citizens of the United States are surrounded by luxury relative to the rest of the planet and we have little direct contact with outside environments and societies in our youth. Skirmishes over food, potable water, and territory may exist in the United States, but they are not negotiated at the tip of an AK-47. The most modern technology dominates our everyday life and allows us to view the cruel side of humanity from a safe distance. We can watch videos of so-called “primitive” chiefdoms in rural Africa or Australia and express wonder at how humanity can still exist in such a state in the new millennium. It is a sheltered existence, ideal for raising a child but not for grasping the realities of billions of people on this earth.
With this naiveite, Americans craft an elite outlook of their own society. Whether through human ingenuity or blessings from the gods above, the United States of America is bestowed with certain unalienable rights not afforded to our counterparts across the ponds. Our successes can be attributed to ingrained superiority while our failures are the result of isolated poor decisions or external events beyond our leaders’ control. This is one form of the infamous American Exceptionalism, another being our mandate to commit unforgivable crimes in the interests of our own unique ventures.
When does this façade crumble? Some pull back the curtain during their university years when they meet people from all over the globe and hear of experiences they never could comprehend at home. Many more never buy the hype in the first place being the children of oppressed groups or having immigrated from their own havens that aren’t as much of a shithole as dear old Donny Tinyhands would like to believe. But this illusion is never dashed for many Americans. The United States is the forever undefeated boxer who built a career on starching tomato cans on its own terms, and this contingent of society that lives in denial will never take a closer look at the padded record.
Could this paradigm be changing in the 21st century? The U.S. empire declines despite its desperate attempts to retain control of its territories through the outdated use of military force while emerging nations like China and India continue to develop new tactics of expansion through economic negotiation and the establishment of unprecedented multi-lateral trade agreements. 2018 is predicted to be the first year when Chinese retail sales surpass those of the U.S., creating widespread potential for new markets in China and subsequent investment from gigantic multi-national corporations. Capitalism is in the process of travelling back along the old Silk Road to spur the rise of the Asian nations while its victims are left flailing in the West, confused and angered by their stagnant wages and deteriorating living conditions while lacking any sensible discussion of a replacement system. I grew up learning about America as the end of history, the pinnacle of human achievement, and the envy of even our comparable neighbors in North America and Europe. It seems the history book has a few blank pages we missed because they were stuck together with jizz from all the shotgun barrel masturbation on confederate flag shoestrings.
Understanding this shift and its potential to damage the American psyche involves examining two major factors: the rise of China specifically among the surging middle-class economies, and the importance of American Exceptionalism in masking the country’s long slow descent into third world status.
Travel back to the 1950s for a moment, when McDonalds could be found on a single street corner and preppies and greasers stood and banged every weekend. China was an international laughingstock. This gigantic nation got its ass handed to it by the neighboring Japanese in humiliating fashion and was now trying this new bright red Communist economic plan. Its people were starving, its leaders were delusional bums who knew nothing of golden Western democracy, and its place as a veto power on the United Nations Security Council was extended out of pure sympathy for its hopeless populace. This was China through the cat eye sunglasses of the U.S.’s booming decade. The image stuck around long after rockabilly and doo-wop fell out of the mainstream. After all, reasoned the typical American worker, China sends all its students to our universities; it purchases American products; it has no military might to speak of and wouldn’t last two seconds in an international rumble. These things may have been true, but old John Smith only scratched the surface. These perceived inadequacies in China’s global standing turned out to be long-term investments into the country’s future, a future now being shaped by innovative economic approaches and strategic enhancement of domestic infrastructure.
2018 may be an unprecedented year for Chinese consumer activity, but it is not the first year that China will beat out the United States in particular markets. A record-breaking 18.4 million motor vehicles were sold in the United States in 2016. It’s a cute number compared to China’s more than 28 million motor vehicle sales that same year. Construction of China’s first foreign military base began in 2016, prompting a major shift of U.S. forces to Africa with the creation of AFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command). The Chinese economy is so convoluted and unpredictable that economists have coined a new term to describe its structure: socio-capitalism. Yet this complicated model has exceeded many expectations in the financial sphere and has laid the groundwork for future economic planning for many nations around the world such as the up-and-coming India. Discussions to change the global reserve currency from the U.S. dollar to the Chinese yuan have floated around international financial spheres for years, and the case to make such a shift grows with each passing financial quarter.
What does this mean to the average American whose identity hinges on breathing their first air on this patch of soil? Not much to a large chunk of the country, as they are probably not interested in such developments. For those nationalists paying attention, however, such developments represent encroachment on what has always been the U.S.’s game. Foreign expansion of armed forces?Economic innovation? Booming consumer culture? That’s our thing goddamnit! Ain’t no backwards slanty-eyed Chinaman taking our world champion belt from us! Worse than that realization is the next revelation that the U.S. is powerless to halt this growth. Chinese capital is the largest collective owner of property in the United States, and U.S. debt to Chinese firms exceeded one trillion dollars in the last financial quarter of 2017. The U.S.’s leverage around the world hinges entirely on brute military strength, a game China has no interest in playing. We can wave our chrome around and scream wide-eyed with crank pulsing through our veins that It’s On Motherfucker all we want, but this isn’t the first time China has looked down the barrel of a .45, and it means jack shit when they could call in that one trillion and blow the kneecaps off the U.S. economy overnight. Donny Tinyhands seems not to understand this, as his proposed trade war with China is a suicide mission according to all reliable financial reporting. The relationship between the two countries may not be that straight-forward or one-sided, but the best the U.S. can hope for is a stalemate, and that does nothing to restore the economic dominance the U.S. dollar once enjoyed in the global economy.
Back to Johnny American, who’s been taught since he no longer shit himself that he is something to behold simply for living in the U.S. His existence is validated primarily through the arbitrary “American” label afforded to him through a history removed from his influence. This affords him validity not just as a civic patriot, but as a human, and thus his entire sense of self-worth hinges on factors divorced from individual achievement. American empire, the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency, the titanic might of the American armed forces; old Johnny has never done anything to influence these things, yet he lives his life obsessed with these products of history and attaches his worth to them on an unconscious level. As history shows, however, such courses can change for arbitrary and unpredictable reasons as quickly as a Muay Thai elbow colliding with a glass jaw shuts the lights off in the brain. When the American empire folds, the U.S. military is no longer looked to with honor and respect abroad, Chinese markets become better at what the U.S. does best, and Johnny’s worth begins to deteriorate because he believes his merit as a human being to be attached to the overall state and health of the country. If being an American carries no honor or prestige, his existence holds no meaning. He is dead as a respectable member of the world (I use the male pronoun because so much of his anger can also be attached to patriarchal conditioning that creates a lifetime of toxic outlook on what the loss of masculinity means, but it does not mean that people of other genders cannot experience these feelings to the same degree. More than half of white women who participated in the 2016 presidential election voted for Donald Trump after all).
Without a mindful reassessment of what worth means to a human being, the frustrations surrounding this loss of identity and worth manifest in all sorts of toxic ways. It becomes proletarian rage over stagnant wages and the misfortune of unemployment. Men who are taught from the playground on up that they must surpass women in income and career achievement feel a loss of worth in their gender identity and harbor a lethal combination of deep hatred and aggrieved entitlement. In its worst form, this hatred manifests as outright violence. White males top the charts in mass shootings committed in the United States, and intimate partner violence ending with a corpse involve a disproportionate number of male perpetrators regardless of the victim’s gender. There are more factors influencing motivations behind these attacks of course, but American society does little to allow for nonviolent expressions of masculinity beyond achievements in the workplace or the sports arena. Remove the potential for those achievements and the absurd validation of national pride and most men see no other way to validate their existence. At the ballot box, this loss of national identity and attached self-worth becomes support for antiestablishment candidates like Trump that reinvigorate that primal sense of pride through punching down at outgroups, a classic tactic of schoolyard bullies suffering from feelings of inadequacy. It is a way to punish society at large for their own misfortune and loss of humanity. Fascistic religious movements such as dominionism also prey on these insecurities, and their influence manifests in hatred of homosexuals, restrictions of women’s rights, and censorship of media.
It is no surprise that these manifestations of the loss of American dominance in the world have become more frequent as other countries arise to top the U.S. at its own game. To be fair, observant world news consumers could point out similar trends in Europe with the surge of right-wing nationalist movements in Greece, Hungary, Poland, France, Italy and other countries. True enough, such trends are not relegated to the amber waves of grain. However, I can’t help but wonder how Europe’s longer history and past experience with losing its various empires mitigates the domestic impacts of such rises. Another aspect of growing up American is the constant shock of remembering how young the country is relative to world history. Take any of the major European economic powers with a history of empire, and they’ve seen it all. Innovations in technology that shaped the world to come, intense rivalry with neighbors of similar standing, colonialism and the construction of a global sphere of influence, the fall of that influence, and the years to heal from the loss of pride and return as stronger economic forces in a new world of countries instead of vassals. The United States has lived through most of that list, but the last two components, arguably the most difficult phases, have yet to hit home. If the U.K., the Netherlands, France, and the rest of the former empire states are experienced boxers who know how to dig deep after emptying the gas tank because they’ve been in 12-round wars many times, America is the boxer getting lit up with his hands on his hips in the championship bout after going ham in the first round and failing to score that highlight reel knockout that earned him the title shot. My mother keeps a book of the entire history of the royal leadership of England and I once saw it perched on the living room coffee table next to a book of the entire history of U.S. presidents. The difference in thickness said it all, and it is the clearest model of America’s relative youth and inexperience in the ways of the world I have ever seen.
My Ungagged colleagues across the pond can speak to this better than I can, but I have always perceived a maturity among European residents not found among American nationalists when broaching the subject of national identity. Many people in the U.S. still use the American Revolution defeat of the British as an example of American superiority over Britain and a reason why British citizens have no place to criticize American society. Aside from the 1690 crowd in the second Trainspotting film, I have yet to hear anyone in the U.K. assign their self-worth to a result of warfare or diplomacy that was decided hundreds of years ago. Such people must exist across the pond, but comparing their numbers to the aforementioned revolutionary war enthusiasts or Confederate apologists could reveal some shocking disparities.
Where do we go from here? What is the United States to do in the face of a changing world that may not value its presence in the way Johnny American has always wanted to believe. The author Cormac McCarthy wrote that this world is hard on people, you can’t stop what’s coming, and it ain’t all waiting on you, and that seems to be the U.S.’s current course. We would do well to shed our blinding nationalism and hubris in favor of greater integration into world innovations. Rather than starting hopeless trade wars with China that could destroy our own economy, negotiate fair trade agreements with China that set precedence for balanced international commerce. Instead of looking at the achievements of Europe with a smug sense of superiority and treating our closest allies like children, we could learn from these nations and improve our domestic strength through innovative competition and shared learning. How many opportunities for growth and development have we as a country cost ourselves in our refusal to admit when we are wrong? Such admissions and concessions may seem uncomfortable at first, but the best lessons in life are often the hardest ones to learn.
On the domestic front, we as ordinary citizens can begin to change the culture of hubris and toxicity that plagues the proletariat. Encouraging nonviolent expressions of masculinity is a tremendous start. Support your male peers in expressing their emotions and redefine masculinity as something that can be achieved outside the workplace and football field. Engage in dialogue with what you perceive to be the most reprehensible racists among us. As white people especially, we possess access to a unique window of opportunity to be taken seriously by such groups. Work to remove the influence of big money from politics at the state level through organizations like Wolf-PAC, which have already succeeded in persuading a growing number of states to call for a constitutional amendment to prohibit such bribes. This will restore our constitutional republic and ensure our representatives answer to nobody but their constituents again, ending the trend of honest working class folks fighting the rich man’s battle for profits they will never see.
One of our own, Abraham Lincoln, once said that it is the measure of a person to admit when they are wrong. Let us apply these principles to our country and mature through our ability to humble ourselves before the rest of the world. There are genuine reasons to be proud of what the United States purports to stand for, and with hard work and a dash of modesty, we can again become a country that leads by example, not by force.