On this episode of Ungagged, themed around “the luxury gap”, we’ll be giving you two separate interviews for your political fix: Sandra Webster and Neil Anderson interview Mhairi Black MP at her Paisley constituency office. Mhairi gives us insights to the House of Commons and some of its characters, why she entered politics, along with her views on Donald Trump and Jacob Rees Mogg, and we’ll also have a listen in on a chat with Neil Scott and Scottish Independence campaigner and artist,”Wee Skribbles” (Michael Larkin), who talks about his work and how he became an activist for independence.
As well as those, we’ll hear from Debra Torrance on Food Luxury, specifically about food production in the Netherlands, the second largest food producer in the world, Victoria Pearson ponders the psychological damage of poverty on children and why short breaks should be on the NHS, George Collins will be examining the conundrum of combating global economic injustice from an environmentalist standpoint, and the necessity of interdisciplinary thought among progressives, and Chuck Hamilton muses about the American white middle class and their view of the rest of humanity and Sandra Webster return to talk about how she was transported back in time by the title The Luxury Gap, reminiscing about Heaven 17 and The Clockwork Orange before discussing poverty and having enough food to eat.
Nelly Neal asks whether the evils of want and ignorance seen by Dickens and quoted in the 1942 Beverage report are still here now and if they’ve ever gone away, Laura Lundahl tells us we are ALL immigrants, and says we can help immigrants by changing the way we talk about them, and the possibilities of food shortages after Brexit is discussed by Red Raiph, who has been practising his bartering skills so he can trade for food.
Ungagged is a not for profit voluntary collective, and we rely on the generosity of our listeners to help fund our solidarity and grassroots charity campaigns, and meet hosting, equipment and advertising costs. If you love what we do and can spare some change, our collection tin is at PayPal.me/ungaggedleft
In his 1999 show Bigger and Blacker, Chris Rock explained white privilege this way: “There ain’t a white man in this room that would change places with me. None of you. None of you would change places with me, and I’m rich! That’s how good it is to be white.”
There’s a line from the Bruce Hornsby song The Way It Is that describes perfectly the interplay, internal if not verbal, between the privileged and the un- and underprivileged. “Man in the silk suit hurries by; as he catches the poor old lady’s eyes, just for fun he says, ‘Get a job’.”
Privilege is Israeli Jews sitting on a hillside in lounge chairs and couches to spectate over the bombing of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Ghetto and cheering each explosion.
Privilege is serving the greed of the few to the detriment of the needs of the many.
Privilege is the white liberal who, in the words of Dr. King, “…is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers the absence of tension to the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season’”.
Privilege is white liberals and older Afro-Americans who say the same things to the Movement for Black Lives and their allies about their civil disobedience in the response to massive and growing police brutality and murders by police.
Privilege is Madelaine Albright telling us that there is a special place in hell for women who don’t support each other in reference to Hillary Clinton in 2016 when she herself supported Edmund Muskie in the 1972 Democratic primaries, the same in which Shirley Chisholm and Patsy Mink were also running. Of course, those two contenders were Afro-American and Japanese-American, respectively, so perhaps for Albright they don’t count.
Privilege is Gloria Steinem and others like her campaigning to shame sex workers in order to cover up the fact that their brand of feminism is mostly for affluent white women.
Privilege is Noam Chomsky condemning the antifascist movement known as antifa in language that validates their equation with Nazi thugs by Trump, aka Agent Orange.
Privilege is when someone uses phrases like “look at the big picture”, ‘be a team player”, and “accept things the way they are” to bully, manipulate, and shame you into belaying or putting aside your own needs in deference to their desires.
Privilege is when lesser mortals clear the streets of Windsor and Maidenhead of their homeless to make everything pretty for a royal wedding.
Privilege is waxing eloquent about global overpopulation and how people need to have fewer children shortly after the birth of your third child in a country where the poor on benefits are penalized for the same thing.
Privilege is when an all-male panel pontificates on women’s issues, whether they happen to be U.S. Congressmen or Scottish champagne socialists.
Privilege is the often patronizing and paternalistic manner with which the middle class treats the working and pauper classes.
In truth, what we today call the middle class is nothing other than an upper working class that is desperate to distinguish itself from the lower working class and to maintain that distinction by any means necessary. Oblivious to the fact that being a house slave makes them no more free and no less exploited than the others in the fields, they carry out almost by instinct the will of their masters of the 1% and their overseers of the 10%.
Privilege is when Yanks, Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, Canucks, and other white westerners travel to or live in foreign countries belonging to brown people and treat their hosts as lesser beings, committing social incest in their golden ghettoes. Of course, this same principle operates in their own countries between classes and even in those afore-mentioned non-white majority countries.
When I with the Navy at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, there was this lower enlisted guy in our unit who often had to do escort duty with local, uncleared contractors, meeting them at the gate to the compound and then sitting watching them work all day. Often he would spend the time reading, pretty sure none of the workers were equivalent to the Vietcong.
After about a week, the Air Force security police at the gate began wanding the work crew for weapons. At first, they began to refuse, until our enlisted guy told the guards to do him first, to show it was okay. In fact, he did so for the next few days until the guards got tired of or too embarrassed about subjecting one of their own to the same treatment inflicted on the locals.
In many ways, the middle class, the upper working class rather, is the biggest obstacle to the general welfare of the working, or lower working, and pauper classes. Mostly because those in it go along to get along. Its members don’t even think of being afraid of rocking the boat because doing anything that might alter their fortunes is beyond conception. So they assuage their consciences with thoughts of the rewards for their complacency and their complicity. And continue to do so even when that course will bite themselves in their own arse.
Something antagonist Lindsey McDonald said to protagonist Angel in the episode “Underneath” paints a good picture of this: “Every day you sit in your big chair behind your big desk, and you sign your big checks, and you learn a little more how to accept the world for the way it is. Well, here’s the rub: good people don’t do that. Good people don’t accept the world the way it is. They fight it.”
So stand up. Fight. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Live as if the world is as it should be to show it how it can be, and remember that the smallest act of kindness can be the greatest gift in the world.
Fight in ways against which there is no defense but which do no harm. Be the darkness that illuminate. Be the silence that resonates. Be the stillness that agitates.
I am a Terran, a citizen of Earth. The whole world is my home, and all its people my brothers, sisters, and cousins, regardless of synthetic or organic origin. Like our distant cousins on other planets across space and throughout time, we are all children of the universe
After Tom Perez’s “Night of the Long Knives” purge of progressives and entrenchment of centrists at the Democratic National Committee, no self-respecting leftist can hold anything for the Democratic Party but contempt. A thoroughly corrupt organization cannot be reformed, period. Capitalism cannot be reformed. Neoliberal bodies such as the EU or the UK of GB and NI, and the US of A for that matter, cannot be reformed. The U.S. Democratic Party cannot be reformed. With the direction of the Democratic Party now locked in with a jammed autopilot headed for the same neoliberal destination to which it was been turned since the late 1970s, it’s time for any true leftist remaining in the party under delusions of changing its nature to say “No!”, or rather, “No more!” to the Scorpion and to abandon ship. In the second decade of the 21st century, a vote for a Democrat is a vote for Trump just as much as a vote for a Republican. Resistance is not futile, but hoping for change from an establishment whose foundation is the status quo is.
Speaking of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, which has been a topic of much discussion this year, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that in the 20th century there was just not one major workers’ revolution on the planet but two. The revolutions in China, Cuba, Viet Nam, Nicaragua, etc., were anti-colonial more than proletarian and tainted by the fact they followed the post-Revolution Comintern doctrine, which is why I don’t include them. The other revolution I’m talking about is the Iranian Revolution, the one which eventually overthrew the Shah and actually began in the summer of 1977.
In June 1977, after a long train of abuses and usurpations inflicted by the imperial government returned to power by the mullahs in 1953, the police were sent into South Tehran to clear the slums for Pahlavi-style gentrification. Thousands fought back and continued to do so throughout the summer. On 27 August that summer, the Shah’s police finally gave up and left. During this time, other forces began to stir. Mosaddegh’s National Front woke up, the Bazaar Association of small businesses reorganized, and the Writers Guild began to call for radical change.
Later in the fall, the student movement for democracy was born and the Khomeinist mullahs organized into the Combatant Clergy Association. On this latter, it’s important to recognize that in Iran at the time, there were two strains of Islamism, the Black Islamism of Khomeini which was fundmentalist, reactionary, and clericalist, and the red Islamism of Ali Shariati, which was more of a Muslim form of Christian Liberation Theology and progressive, popularist, and democratic. One was for the benefit of the few, the other was for the benefit of the many.
By December 1977, the National Front and the Freedom Movement, an organization which represented a point between its secular partner and the Red Islamists, announced the the Iranian Committee for the Defense of Freedom and Human Rights, brainchild of Red Islamist Ayatollah Abolfazl Zanjani and Fatollah Banisadr, brother of the later president Abolhassan Banisadr.
Though students, bazaaris, and clergy led and participated in many of the demonstrations that began in January 1978, it was the repeated massive local and national strikes by workers throughout the country which brought down the government. Though such actions began in 1977, they did not begin in earnest until a year later in the fall of 1978. Strikes shut down the country, particularly after oil industry workers joined the struggle and began to issue political as well as industrial demands. Strikes of workers were invariably supported by sympathy strikes by bazaaris and students. The economy of the country all but froze solid. Workers took over factories and plants and refineries and ran them through shoras, which translated into Russian is soviets. Community governance and order was maintained through komitehs, or committees, mostly controlled by workers, peasants, or other people’s groups, at least at first.
By the end of 1978, the Khomeinists had adopted much of the rhetoric of its Red Islamist counterparts following the tenets of Ali Shariati, which is when they began to talk about raising the fortunes of the Mostazafin, the Dispossessed.
The Iranian Revolution ended with the Ten Days of February, just as the Russian Revolution ended with Ten Days in October.
Almost immediately after the victory on 11 February, Khomeini, whose full name and title at the time was Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Mostafavi Moussavi Khomeini, organized forces to usurp control of the people, the workers, the bazaaris, the peasants, and the poor and place it in the hands of his own close acolytes.
On 12 February, he announced to formation of the Central Revolutionary Komiteh to take control of all the local komitehs.
On 24 February, he established the Central Revolutionary Court, which began executions on 5 March.
On 26 February, he repealed the progressive Family Protection Acts which provided legal protection for the rights of women in marriage.
On 7 March, Khomeini dismissed all female judges and imposed compulsory hijab on women entering government buildings, though was forced to back down temporarily on the latter by the enormous turnout in opposition the next day, International Women’s Day.
At the end of March, the population voted in a referendum in which the two options were the constitution drafted ostensibly by the Provisional Revolutionary Government but actual following explicit dictates of the Council of Islamic Revolution, or a return to constitutional monarchy under the Shah. The additional feature of the ballot not being secret ensured a 98% approval, and the Islamic Republic of Iran was proclaimed on April Fools Day.
On May Day that year, the march of 1.5 million workers through the streets of Tehran, plus countless others across the nation, signalled the beginning of a general strike against the changes being made against the will of the people. Six days later, Khomeini established the Army of the Guardians of the Revolution, or Revolutionary Guards (known in Farsi as Sepahi), to put down the general strike, rid the komitehs of secular elements, and destroy the proletarian shoras and replace them with Islamist versions. Even these latter were eventually crushed when they began to follow their own interests rather than that of the central cabal.
A year later, Khomeini went after the universities, closing them down for the Iranian Cultural Revolution carried out by the Basij-e Mostazafin, or Basiji, under the auspices of the Cultural Revolution Headquarters led by Ali Khamenei and its subordinate Islamic Holy Councils of Reconstruction. The Sepahi and the Basiji did not originate as instruments of national defense against US-instigated Iraqi aggression but as instruments of oppression.
The Iranian Revolution of 1979 bears striking resemblance on many points to the Russian Revolution of 1917: both usurped revolutions from broad-based coalitions of disparate forces led by workers; both had significant 10-day periods, “Ten Days that Shook the World” vs. “Ten Days that Changed Iran”; both imposed constitutions on their respective countries without any debate; both turned on and slaughtered allies that had helped them come to power; both faced invasion and war almost immediately after coming to power; both used those wars as an excuse to eliminate dissidents in mass numbers; both carried out mass purges and executions a decade after their assumption of power; both became one party states – the Communist Party in the USSR and the Party of God in the IRI; and both were led by bitter, vindictive, unscrupulous long-term exiles who lied about their intentions, gave lip service to the goals of the true left, and pursued absolute power in the name of ideology and the establishment of a totalitarian state.
Tune in next time for a short critique of ideological Leninism and brief details of what a truly Cooperative Commonwealth would look like.
Many of you may not be aware that the current wave of people standing up to struggle against the forces envincing to enslave them under absolute despotism and establish a system that serves the needs of the many rather than the greed of the few began not in the West, nor in North Africa, nor in the Levant, but in Iran.
Before the rise of the Corbynistas, before the Berniecrats, before the Occupy movements, before the indignados, before the Israeli social justice movement, before the Arab Spring, there was the Green Movement of Iran, which at the time the Arab Spring began was still ongoing, though winding down, even as the people of countries from the western end of the Maghreb to the eastern borders of the Levant began to stir. It was the movement which for a little while gave us the phrase “Going Iranian” to standing up to our oppressors and saying to them, “No more!”.
This is an abbreviated version of something I wrote back in December 2009 at the most intense period of the Green Movement.
At the time of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, I had been aware of events there on and off for the previous couple of years since I have always been an avid consumer of news. I watched the events of the revolution and its aftermath unfold, then like all Americans found myself riveted to the Hostage Crisis.
During this time, I got my first job, at Ponderosa Steakhouse on Brainerd Road. I was the dishwasher in the restaurant’s scullery, and was partnered with an Iranian college student from the city of Babol in the province of Mazandaran, who was the steak cook; every shift I worked he worked also. Even though most Americans were gleefully singing “Bomb bomb bomb, Bomb bomb Iran” to the tune of “Barbara Ann”, I went out of my way to reach out to him.
Upon learning he was unable to return home due to the hostage crisis, I got him to teach me a few words of Farsi so that maybe hearing them would make him a little less homesick. Since we were working most of the time, the conversations were limited to just a few words but I always liked to see his face light up.
Of course, there were also the few occasions when he called me up drunk and depressed, speaking rapidly in Farsi. It was somewhat amusing but mostly heartbeaking. The friendship, by the way, was two-way; it was my first job and he went out of his way to make me feel welcome.
After he graduated from the community college in June, he moved away to continue his education and I never saw him again. Seven months later, the hostages were released, and I hoped he got to go home at least for a visit to see his family.
In the years that followed, hearing news about the Iranian Cultural Revolution, the harsh repression of dissent, the crushing of the Left, the imposition of sharia, the Iran-Iraq War, the Iran-Contra Affair, and the student movement of 1999, I often worried about my friend and hoped that he had managed to remain in the States.
I kept up casually with news from Iran in those and later years, the mass murder of the Tudeh, the Mojahedin-e Khalq, and other leftists, the displacement of Ayatollah Montazeri, the rise of Ayatollah Rafsanjani, and other events. But Iran did not really come back into focus for me until the events of 9/11.
Like many, I stayed glued to the TV for weeks. One report that stood out vividly for me was about one million people holding a vigil in Tehran in support of the victims and their families. I felt pride in the citizens of my friend’s homeland.
Then came Bush’s State of the Union address in January, and I was shocked and appalled to hear Iran named as one the the three members of the “axis of evil”. That was the beginning of the belligerent propaganda coming out the neocon White House that helped put the final nails in the coffin of President Khatami’s reform program and bring to office Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad with the illegal assistance of the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij in his first stolen election.
In 2006, I joined the now defunct Yahoo360. After not doing much with it at all, I logged on one day to find a comment left by Sarah, a college student in Iran. With an exchange of comments and mails on the Yahoo360 system, I’d made my first Iranian friend in over 25 years. Through her, more followed, never more than 25 on Yahoo360, all Iranian except two. With my new friends I discussed history, Iranian poetry, even facts about Shia Islam, but never politics. All were reluctant to discuss their daily lives. I could sense, however, their frustration, their isolation, their loneliness. It made me think of the words in the first stanza of Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”–You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much ’til you spend half your life just covering up. A sentiment all the Daniel Blakes of the world can relate to.
In the spring of 2009, most of them began expressing optimism, many being involved with Mir Hossein Moussavi’s campaign for president. I felt a sense of hope for change, a hope which they all expressed. With them I eagerly anticipated the outcome.
Watching the election be stolen on 12 June, I felt depressed and robbed. When media commentators, unaware of the deep levels of discontent across all levels of society in Iran, expressed surprise at the enormous number of demonstrators pouring out into the streets across the country that evening, my reaction was to shrug my shoulders as if to say, “What did you expect?”. Then came the harsh crackdowns on the night of 13 June and it was more like, “Holy shit…those are my friends! Oh my God…”.
For the next several weeks, my TV stayed tuned to CNN as I sat at the computer sending out messages of support to a growing number of connections and frantically searching out all across the internet for news and information. In addition to activities on Yahoo360, I emailed all the information I could to every Iranian contact in my address book. Upon learning that Yahoo360 would go ahead with its planned closure, I repeatedly warned and gave notice to all my friends on the network and told them to spread the word so that everyone could stay in contact with the outside world. The rest of the summer, I followed events all day long on a variety of sources including Youtube and Twitter. Once Yahoo360 shut down, I began posting to Facebook.
Regarding the nuclear issue, as much anti-nuke as I am, I couldn’t care less about it in the situation with Iran. It is a chimera, a façade, a St. Elmo’s Fire, shiny car keys jingled to distract the masses, the masses of every country involved. How about we deal with huge stockpile of nukes possessed by the State of Israel first? I don’t care about Iran for the sake of the U.S., or for the sake of the world; I only care about Iran for the sake of Iran, for the sake of its people.
Seven and a half years ago, I wrote, “Iranians need to know that they are not alone, that the world is paying attention. They need information about what is going on in their own country because they can’t get true information in their totalitarian regime. They need to know that the rest of us humans support them.” That goes for the Iranians then and now, and for the people in every country of the world suffering under plutocrats who look at them as if they are food and the oligarchs who enable their kleptocracy.
Since writing this back in December 2009, by the way, I discovered that my friend Mehdi, now using his first name Daniel, is alive and well, and living in the United States.
Why did I do it? Why was I so involved in the Iranian Green Movement? Because people should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people. I did it because I am a Terran, a citizen of Earth, and Iran is part of my home, and all Iranians are my brothers, sisters, and cousins.
Esteghlal! Azadi! Jomhuri-e Irani! Esteghlal! Azadi! Edalat-e Ejtemae-e! Rooz-e ma khahad amad, omidvaram. Our day will come, inshallah. Keep the faith. Peace out.
“Every generation must fight the same battles again and again and again,” said Tony Benn in one of his more memorable speeches. “There is no final victory, and there is no final defeat.”
Those who buy into what those trying to shift power from the ballot box to the market-place with austerity, balanced budgets, so-called free trade, and socially liberal fiscal conservatism repeat as a mantra like cult members on a mission from their God remind me of this story.
Scorpion comes to the edge of a creek he needs to cross to get to where he’s going, and wonders how he’s going to accomplish that.
“Hey, Frog,” he says to Frog, whom he sees resting by the creek-side, “how about giving me a lift across the water?”
“No way, Scorpion,” said Frog. “If I put you on my back, you’ll sting me as we cross the water, and I’ll drown.”
“Do you think I’m an idiot?” asked Scorpion. “If I do that, I’ll die too.”
Frog thought for a minute. “Ok,” he said, “I guess that makes sense”.
So Scorpion climbed on Frog’s back and they began swimming across the creek.
At about the halfway point, Scorpion’s stinger whips forward and sticks Frog in the back of his neck.
“But Scorpion,” Frog said miserably as he began to weaken and sink, “why? Now you’ll die too.”
Scorpion smiled sadly. “It’s in my nature.”
There is no god but Profit, and Ayn Rand is its Prophet. Or so say the 1% and their minions in the governments of UK, Republic of Ireland, USA, European Union, France, Germany, and even those which claim to hate all things Western, like that of Turkey. All of them have these words written in their hearts, and teach them diligently to their children, talking of them while sitting in their house and walking down the street, when they lie down, and when they rise up. They bind them as a sign on their hand and wear them as a frontlet between their eyes, writing them on their doorposts and on their gates.
Whatever name it wears, be it pragmatic progressivism, neoliberalism, supply-side, objectivism, trickle-down, horse-and-sparrow economics, it amounts to the same thing: telling us that if we feed their horse enough oats some will eventually pass through to be shit out onto the road for us sparrows to eat. We are living in a theocracy, a theocracy in which the greed of the few outweighs the needs of the many, in which avarice for excessive wealthy and ambitious lust for ever more power through robbery, slaughter, and plunder are elevated to the level of supreme virtue. By comparison, practicing Satanists have more morality.
Whenever anyone in government, any government, speaks to you of realism and pragmatism while calling for austerity, balanced budgets, cutting taxes, “job-creators”, globalization, privatization, pay caps, cutting costs, free trade, free markets, deregulation, corporations as persons, market-based solutions, personal responsibility, the value of work as an ethic, benefits earned rather than human rights deserved, how an individual’s sole worth is their ability to create profit, you are listening to a sermon. As a religion, it is evil, it is psychopathic, it is inhuman. Because as an ideology, it is indeed a religion, one which worships at the temple of the Invisible Hand of the Market-place, the Church of the god Profit.
Perhaps I shouldn’t call it evil, though, since psychopaths lack a conscience. They are like predators in the jungle. Why do Theresa May, Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Malcolm Turnbull, Boris Johnson, Nikki Haley, Michael Gove, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Tony Blair, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Tony Abbot, David Cameron, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and their ilk look at us the way they do? Because to them we are food, morsels at a banquet of excess. And yet they themselves are not even the masters; they are instead the house slaves, their masters’ pets.
Atop the pyramid of humanity our global economic system allows eight gods incarnate to take up as much as 3.72 BILLION other individuals humans or 465,250,000 (nearly half a billion) each. The same system allows the lesser gods and demigods below them to likewise use and waste huge amounts of the resources that are left, so that humanity’s wealthiest 1% take up as much as the other 99% of humanity. That 1% is 73 million individuals total, and if you take out the eight gods incarnate, it leaves 72,999,992 individuals who collectively take up as much resources as 364,927,000 other humans, for an average of 50 other individual human beings combined each. When I look around and see what that does to my brothers, sisters, and cousins around me and across the planet, I get bothered. I get angry. I get enraged.
Our so-called leaders, the enablers of the 1%, tell us to be rational, be reasonable, to accept life the way it is. Mostly because life the way it is put them and their patrons where they are. They make it seem sensible. They make selfishness and greed sound pragmatic. They make it seem as if willingly acquiesing to their manipulation, subjugation, and dehumanization will make us part of the in-crowd, that if we resist, if we fight, if we protest, if we ask questions, if we look around and say “Why?”, then we won’t be one of the cool kids, one of the “fiscally conservative, socially liberal”, one of the “pragmatic progressives”, one of the “progressives who get things done”, one of the soulless minions of their orthodoxy who accepts things the way they are, eating the sugar-covered shit they offer with a smile as if it were a brownie.
But good people don’t do that. Not if they are awake. Not if they are not numb, but bothered, angry, and enraged. They see the world as it is and refuse to accept it. They fight it, or at least begin to look for a way to fight it. Like Banksy wrote, “If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, we don’t remain neutral, we side with the powerful”.
So, to paraphrase Tony Benn, pick up the torch of anger against injustice in one hand and the torch of hope for a better world in the other and use them to fight for for us all.
As Bobby wrote on the 14th day of his hunger strike, “Everyone has his or her particular part to play. No part is too great or too small. No one is too old or too young to do something”.
At my junior high, there was a small group of friends who got picked on a lot. Then one day they were standing around and decided, “Hey, an injury to one of us is an injury to all of us”. So, when one of them got picked on, they all would go meet the bully and tell him would have to fight each of them one at at time, or he could quit. That started when they were in 7th grade, and by 9th grade there were several scores of them. They never picked fights or pushed anyone around, but they did stand up for each other, and even kids outside their group. And they never had to fight, not even once. They were the runts, but not even the biggest bully wants to fight 50 runts, even one at a time.
Our fight is not to win, because if we fight to win, to overcome, to rise above, then we are like the slaves who never become really free because they dream of becoming masters. The only way to win the game is not to play.
On this Pre-Election special, we’ll have Derek Stewart Macpherson with the first part of his Spin Cycle series, John McHarg talking about voter choice, Richie Venton on the choices socialists are facing in this election, and we’ll be hearing from Nick Durie about how this election proves the YES parties have failed to integrate movementism into their political practice.
We’ll have a magical poem called Invocation from Steve McAuliffe,Debra Torrance will be talking politics and football, Fuad Alakbarov will be talking about the election and ex Derry British Army Commander Eric Joyce will be talking about Corbyn, the IRA, Martin Mcguiness, Trident and Iraq.
Yes, that’s a reference to Joss Wheddon’s space western Firefly.
Under Ireland’s 2009 Defamation Act, “A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €25,000.” Seriously, Dail Eireann, what the fuck? Have you even HEARD of the 21st century? And if there were a God or Gods, he/she/it/they sure as hell wouldn’t need you to stick up for him/her/it/them.
“Man is an animal,” wrote anthropologist Clifford Geertz, “suspended in a web of significance he himself has spun”.
On Planet Terra (Earth) of the Solar Planetary System in Orion’s Spur of the Milky Way Galaxy in the Local Galaxy Group of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster in the Laniakea Supercluster of the Universe, during the Anthropocene Chron of the Subtlantic Stage of the Holocene Epoch of the Quartenary Period in the Cenozoic Era of the Phanerozoic Eon of the Current Supereon in Galactic Year (GY) 20, Jews believe that Adonai speaks Hebrew, Muslims that Allah speaks Arabic, American evangelicals that Almighty God speaks Elizabethan English, Roman Catholics that Dominus Dei speaks Latin, Eastern Orthodox that Kyrios speaks Greek, Hindus that Brahman speaks Sanskrit, Zoroastrians that Ormazd speaks Avestan, Buddhists that Adibuddha speaks Pali, Shintoists that Amaterasu speaks Japanese, religious Daoists that Tai Di speaks Mandarin Chinese, and Sikhs that Vahiguru speaks Punjabi.
Each of these groups, and each subgroup and splinter and cult and sect within each of them, believes they are the Chosen People from which will come the Anointed One to assert their rightful dominion over all Creation for all Eternity.
That belief is absurd. In fact, all “belief” is absurd.
* * * * *
To believe is to define. To define is to limit. To limit is to control. To control is to corrupt.
Belief is not humble; it is aggressive. Belief is not a sign of submission; it is an assertion of domination. Belief makes itself superior to that in which it claims to believe by controlling it through the very act of belief. Thus, belief is blasphemy. Belief is vanity. Belief is futility. Belief is the very antithesis of faith. At the opposite end, disbelief affirms belief by that very negation, which is another attempt at control.
To have faith, one must surrender control. To surrender control, one must abandon limitation. To abandon limitation, one must give up definition. To give up definition, one must let go of belief. To have faith, one must neither believe nor disbelieve; one must unbelieve.
* * * * *
There is no Higher Power in the ‘Verse, no Supreme Being, no Divine Creator-Redeemer- Transformer, especially not an anthropomorphic and anthropopathic God such as humans repeatedly create in their own image with whom to have an illusory personal relationship, an illusion of an illusion with an illusion.
Every form of Ultimate Reality conceived and believed by human religion and philosophy, each of which is geocentric and anthropofocal, is too small for our Universe. Even in the very rare instances in which humans have perceived an Ultimate Reality as something genuinely Other, they have then proceeded to append to that insight intermediary realities to connect it to our own in order to believe, define, limit, and control, reducing fairly advanced intellectual and spiritual concepts to mere ideological dogma. As the Hymn of Creation in the Rig Veda admits, “The gods themselves are later than creation”.
To state categorically that there is absolutely nothing beyond what we can see with our five physical senses, however, is as unscientific as religion. For all we know, that Something may be so far outside our ken that it is as invisible to us as the tall sailing ships of invading Europeans initially were to the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere whom their passengers were about to conquer, kill, rape, and plunder.
In Somerset Maughm’s The Razor’s Edge, protagonist Larry Darrell said, “A God that can be understood is no God”.
So, if there is Something that was before all Time, is now, and will be even after the end of Time, with Time here being defined as the lifespan of the current universe, it is beyond personhood, beyond being, beyond effability.
If there is Something, it produces yet claims no possession; it redeems yet requires no gratitude; it sustains yet exercises no authority. It has no need of obedience, worship, prayer, praise, adoration, supplication, benediction, love, or even respect. It just is.
If there is Something, it is both perpetual and ever-changing, flowing through and animating all that is throughout spacetime and beyond, transcendent yet immanent, metacosmic yet omnipresent, eternal yet omnitemporal.
If there is Something, it has no name. It has no need of a name. Since it is the one and only Something, there is no other Something from which it needs distinguish itself.
If there is Something, it is the Source of all that is, the Course shaping its formation, and the Force energizing its manifestation. From our perspective, these are different things, but in reality they are One.
If there is Something, it is neither male nor female. It does not take sides, nor have sides. From it emanate both light and dark, good and evil, order and chaos, yin and yang, life and death, integrity and entropy, creation and destruction, everything and nothing. Each of those antitheses is defined by its opposite. Without their counterpoints, none of them can exist, and the fact that those opposites exist in competition with each other is what give us choice, the choice which is the definition of freedom. And without death, life has no meaning.
The essence of life, of all existence, is change and evolution. The nature of time is this: The future has already happened and the past is yet to be, and the moment where we are now is the beginning, and the end, and every moment in between.
Tune in next time for, “The Meaning of Life, Part 3: No Gods, No Masters”.
This trilogy is not like the Monty Python version, there will actually be more parts.
Lots of folks say we need to abandon American exceptionalism. Some, like my Dear Uncle Napoleon, prattle on about British exceptionalism. Today, rather than taking on either of those two comparitively minor annoyances, I hope to kick the shit out of both Homo sapiens sapiens and Planet Earth exceptionalisms.
A single member of the H. sapiens sapiens race is, on average, 664 billionths (10-9) km3 in volume, with an average lifespan of 67.2 years. There are currently 7.3 billion (109) individuals of that race on Earth, or Terra.
Earth, or Terra, is 1.12 trillion (1012) km3 by 4.54 billion years. It rotates on its axis at a speed of 1674.4 km/h while revolving around Sol at 108 thousand (103) km/h.
Sol, our system’s star, is 1.4 quintillion (1018) km3 by 4.56 billion years. The Solar Planetary System is 1.7 duodecillion (1039) km3 by the same 4.56 billion years.
The Milky Way Galaxy is 8 sedecillion (1051) km3 by 13.2 billion years. Of its 200 billion stars, 40 billion support Class-M planets, with 8-10 billion of these hosting life-forms analogous to Humans, making some 61.6 quintillion (1018) sapient beings in our galaxy.
There are 2 trillion (1012) galaxies in the Universe with 80 sextillion (1021) Class-M planets hosting 123 nonillion (1030) sapient beings in the Universe at any one time.
The Universe, the ‘Verse for short, is 213 duovigintillion (1069) km3 by 13.8 billion (109) years. It is expanding outward at a rate increased by the like-polarity of the electromagnetic fields of different galaxy groups. And it is just one of innumerable such cosmic bodies making up the Omniverse (aka Multiverse), and is currently the only one we can measure.
* * * * *
The Universe is formed of a single matrix called spacetime.
Everything in the ‘Verse not of the matrix of spacetime is composed of energy. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed but only change forms. All matter that exists is but alternate forms of energy.
Spacetime and energy are thus the fundamental building blocks of the ‘Verse and everything in it, the emanations from which all that is evolves.
There are four basic dimensions—height, length, width, time—which define the point in the spacetime matrix at which we are at any given moment. Energy flows to and from that single point in spacetime—forward and backward, up and down, left and right, past and future—along each of these dimensions.
The force of gravity provides the cohesion for the ‘Verse in a relationship with the dimension of time that is correlative if not causal. Without gravity, there would be no time; without time, there would be no gravity.
* * * * *
Life is a function of energy, of thermodynamics. Given appropriate conditions, life is inevitable, because energy in the form of matter will spontaneously self-organize through abiogenesis.
Once manifest, life evolves into more complex forms which themselves evolve further, with those most adaptable being the best able to survive, reproduce, and flourish.
Life has existed on Terra for 4.1 billion years, and in the Universe since 10-17 million years after the Big Bang.
The essence of life is change and evolution, growth and decay. For individual organisms, birth and death define the boundaries of life. Without death, life has no meaning.
Whether or not there is another form of existence once the organic shell has been shed in death and life on this plane ends does not matter; Humans debating those questions are like fetuses discussing questions on life after birth.
* * * * *
In 5 million years, the H. sapiens sapiens race, and along with it the H. sapiens species and the Homo genus, will be extinct due to degradation of the Y-chromosome, if we have not already destroyed ourselves and/or our biosphere or suffered a mass extinction we don’t cause.
In 800 million years, multi-cellular lifeforms will have vanished from Terra.
In 1.3 billion years, eukaryotes will be extinct and life on Terra reduced to prokaryotes due to CO2 starvation caused by chemical disruption from Sol’s increasing luminescence.
In 2.4 billion years, the Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy will collide and merge into one Milkomeda Galaxy, altering the structure of everything in them, though most stars and planetary systems will remain intact.
In 5.4 billion years, Sol will enter its red giant phase, incinerating Mercury, Venus, and possibly Terra, destroying any remaining life on Terra if not. The habitable zone will move out to Mars, and Saturn’s moon Titan may become habitable.
In 8 billion years, Sol will collapse into a white dwarf, expelling half its mass into the interstellar medium, making elements available for nucleosynthesis and forming an emission nebula. Any remaining planetary bodies will be stolen by passing stars, leaving the Solar Nebula.
In 14.4 billion years, Sol will be a totally dead black dwarf star.
The Universe will eventually end in the next Big Bounce (a Big Crunch facilitating another Big Bang) in around 60 trillion years, dying so another can be born anew as it was formed before.
All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again, and again, and again.
Jesus Christ did not come to rescue Wall Street like President Obama. He did not come to save the American Chamber of Commerce. He did not come to free corporations, regardless of how many courts claim that they are, contrary to all rational thought, “persons”. And he would not have agreed with that money is speech.
Jesus Christ did not promote austerity, balanced budgets, or privatization and dissolution of government services. He did not means test or drug screen those coming to him in desperation seeking mercy. He did not hide the homeless from the sight of the affluent. He did not gentrify cities with wholesale destruction of public and otherwise affordable housing in order to clear space to build apartments and condominiums for the wealthy. He did not come to preach Third Way, supply-side, trickle-down, horse-and-sparrow neoliberal capitalist economics that make poor and working people pay for the lifestyles of the rich and shameless.
Jesus Christ did not support White Supremacism or Christian Triumphalism. He did not build at great expense graven images in the form of gigantic crosses and statues of the Ten so-called Commandments. He did not call for public prayer in town councils or at football games, or for God to be thanked by celebrities at awards shows.
Jesus Christ did not extol American or Israeli exceptionalism. He did not support the original illegal immigrants to the Americas seeking a better quality of life at the expense of that of the native peoples, nor their descendants facing later illegal immigrants seeking the same.
Jesus Christ did not promote Open Carry. He did not preach Stand Your Ground. He did not even advocate Self Defense.
Jesus Christ did not condemn birth control or abortion. He did not come to save zygotes or nonviable fetuses, or for that matter fetuses of any viability, especially not at the risk of the mother’s health against her will. He did not teach that a woman’s only place is in the home and that her only purpose in life is to be a housewife and mother.
If you believe Jesus Christ supported or would support any single one of those things, you are not following the real Jesus Christ. You are following Ayn Rand in a White Jesus mask riding a red-white-and-blue horse shooting fire from its nostrils, lightning from its eyes, and oats from its arse onto the road behind it for the peasants to consume.
The real Jesus Christ, by the way, was not really Jesus Christ. In the early Christian era, he was more often referred to as Isho Nasraya in in his native Galilean Aramaic, Yeshu ha-Notzri in Hebrew, and Iesous [Ee-soos] Nazoraios [Nad-zo-rah’-yos] in Greek, all of which translate to “Jesus the Nazorean”, not “Jesus of Nazareth”.
Jesus the Nazorean was not a 21st century American with blonde hair, blue eyes, European features, and an aquiline nose. He was a 1st century Galilean with dark skin, dark hair, dark eyes, and a big nose. In other words, he looked more like the humans America has been bombing since 2001, as well as the humans against whom bigots in Texas and other states of the Southwest are building fences and patrolling borders, than he did any White, American, Suburban, Professional.
Jesus the Nazorean did not hang out with sanctimonius saints, billionaires, celebrities, lords of Wall Street, masters of industry, land-owners, TV preachers, colonials, the popular, the chic, the cultured, the socially acceptable. He hung out with righteous sinners, deplorables, basement-dwellers, workers, tenants, prostitutes, thieves, collaborators, aliens, indigenous people, refugees, addicts, the poor, the outcast, the socially undesirable. He was in the lower class, of the criminal element, and as unfree as the prisoners of mass incarceration under the empire.
Jesus the Nazorean did not deny to anyone food, shelter, clothing, or healthcare because they were the wrong race, the wrong nationality, the wrong ethnicity, the wrong social class, the wrong religion, the wrong gender, the wrong sexual orientation, felons, addicts, too poor, not sufficiently poor, or able-bodied enough to slave for pittance wages or in makeworkfare-for-welfare programs.
Jesus the Nazorean was neither a capitalist nor a supporter of capital. He did not teach that a person’s only worth derives solely from their ability to produce profits. He frequently advocated social justice and redistribution of wealth, even invading the Wall Street of 1st century Palestine to chase out with a whip the brokers, bankers, financiers, and other swindlers who had taken up residence in what was supposed to be the sanctuary of the people.
Jesus the Nazorean was an outlaw who was executed as a terrorist by the Roman empire. And of that charge there is no question that he was guilty under imperial law. Make no mistake; his trial and execution has fuck all to do with jealousy from the elders and religious elites. Their sole participation, if in fact they participated at all, was as agents and clients of the state.
Jesus the Nazorean was crucified for an act of rebellion against the state. In his time, the Temple precinct, where the oligarchs of Judea held court, their money-changers defrauded, and the sellers of death profited, fell under the administrative supervision of the Roman prefect, so an attack on it was, legally, an attack against the empire. The insurrection that took place in Jerusalem at the same festival over Pilate’s use of Temple money for building an aqueduct into the city made the outcome of Jesus’ trial inevitable. Which shows that the law is not about justice, morality, or equity, but first and foremost about protecting the elite.
And “if the real Jesus Christ were to come back today,” as the 1980s song by the English punk band The The goes, “he’d be gunned down cold by the CIA”. Maybe. More likely, he’d be sent to Camp X-ray at Gitmo, or extraordinarily rendered to a black site in Poland or Romania, or turned over to be tortured by the secret police of Egypt or Azerbaijan or Saudi Arabia.
If his itinerant preaching brought him into America from Mexico, he might find himself in a detention camp as an illegal alien. Or should he somehow make it past the border patrol and vigilante militias, he would doubtless find himself on a no-fly list.
In some states, he and his entourage would find themselves driven out of town or sent as vagrants to private prisons with forced labor for private profits. Certain municipalities would have him arrested for feeding the poor and homeless in public. Other communities would keep him and his crew from sleeping with spikes driven into the ground of every possible shelter and place of rest.
Here in America, he would not die on a cross. He would die frozen under a railroad bridge, or in a booby trap at the border, or at the hands of a suburban middle-class white ammosexual wearing fear goggles “afraid for his life”, or beaten and choked to death by cops with the words, “I can’t breathe” on his lips instead of “It is finished”.
And if he were in his homeland today, he would probably die from American drones. Or from Israeli bombs. Or from gasoline ignited after being forced down his throat.
Bisexuality is not a point on a spectrum that has heterosexuality on one end and homosexuality at the other. It’s more like the flip-side of a coin with monosexuality on its reverse. Monosexuality includes both of those other sexual orientations, heterosexuality and homosexuality, that in truth have more in common with each other than either do with bisexuality. Yes, heterosexuals who only have sexual attraction toward the individuals of the opposite sex and homosexuals who only have sexual attraction toward individuals of the same sex share many characteristics, but less so in both cases with bisexuals.
The idea of bisexuals flitting back and forth between partners of both sexes is, in virtually all cases, a myth. The overwhelming majority of bisexuals, male and female, are predominantly either mostly androphiliac (attracted to men) or mostly gynephiliac (attracted to women). Bisexuals such as Freddie Mercury who alternate with ease across the gender lines, true biphiliacs, are a rare exception. In Freddie’s case, he had more opportunity.
Although sexual attraction may be slightly influenced by culture, society, and advertising, sexual attraction itself occurs due to biochemical physiology that is beyond the control of the individual caught in its throws. This is true whether you’re straight, gay, or bi. For bisexuals either predominantly gynephiliac or androphiliac, an intense attraction toward someone of the other gender often comes by surprise and sometimes at the most inconvenient of times. I’ve known I’m bisexual at least since I was fifteen years old. But I lean so heavily gynephiliac that it makes that easy to forget frequently, believe it or not.
Bisexuality is misunderstood and often ridiculed not only among straights but among gays (male and female) as well. Many straights thinks of us as crypto-gays and many gays think of us as cowards passing as wannabe-straights the way many light-skinned blacks once often passed as white to avoid legal or extralegal discrimination, and as some still do. If it were a choice, I would choose to be monosexual of either variety, straight or gay. But it’s not.
When I first became aware of my occasional sexual attraction toward males at fifteen, I was really confused because, like most adolescents (and adults), I was caught up in the dichotomy of straight versus gay and had not ceased being intensely attracted to girls and women (still haven’t, in case you’re wondering), so I was just confused and decided to put off dealing with it till later. As if normal teenage angst weren’t enough to worry about.
Fortunately at the time, I was just getting involved in the youth activities of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Tennessee. We had a very active chapter at our parish and I got very involved at the diocesan level also. The atmosphere was very open and egalitarian and non-judgmental. Boys and girls were equal, no one was bullied, outsiders were accepted as they came, and if they chose to remain the same, still accepted. Outside of official activities, we smoked, drank, toked, and had sex like any other teenage group.
Then came university, where I joined a fraternity. The culture of the Greek system was radically different, more traditional, with rigidly defined roles. The second-class status to which women were relegated within the system overall disturbed me. I felt like there was something wrong with me because I actually liked women. Saw them as something other than to fuck or help out with bake sales. To be fair, not all frat guys are like that, but, at least at the time, that view dominated. And nearly all the Greek women, sorority girls and fraternity little sisters, accepted their role as second-class members of Greek society.
I should note, by the way, that I’m talking about “Greek” as in the collegiate fraternities and sororities in Neverland that identify themselves with Greek letters. Like Delta Tau Xi in the 1978 movie Animal House, only with better grades (usually) and not as much fun (usually). Absolutely no relation to the country of Greece.
To add to my sense of psychological dislocation, those drives I’d first experienced in adolescence burst forth shouting to be heard. They weren’t in response to any one person in particular, and may have risen because of the repressive nature of the Greek subculture. The fact that I also became even more attracted towards women made it even worse.
Things reached a crisis point spring semester that year, after the expectation of being an associate member had ended and initiation finished. I underwent severe emotional turmoil and would have killed myself were it not for my best friend in the fraternity. Even though I was still attracted to women, those other feelings made me afraid I was gay. I almost killed myself because if I were gay I couldn’t go out with women anymore.
Yes, I know how stupid that sounds. When I told that to my friend at the time, he laughed his ass off, and after being offended for a moment, I started laughing too.
I made it through university in four years, though I ceased being active in the fraternity after my sophomore year. Six months after graduating, I enlisted in the Navy the very day the USS Challenger blew up shortly after take-off.
When I got to my duty-station in the Philippines, I began having lots of casual sex with lots of women with whom I had little emotional connection and those bi urges appeared again. I never followed through on them due to the military prohibition against same-sex sex at the time, but the more random fucking I did, the stronger they got.
During the NIS investigation of me on suspicion of espionage, one of the issues was whether or not I was homosexual or had any sexual experiences with other males. Lengthy sessions with the base psychologist and a battery of psychological tests showed I wasn’t, and the polygraph didn’t even blink when the question came up. When my CO was explaining why he was going to classify me RE-4, barring me from re-enlisting, on the grounds that I was gay, I opened my mouth to object, but then he added, “or bisexual”, and I couldn’t say anything, because I knew that was true.
By that time, I was dating the woman who would become my second fiancée, whom I later married. I never got those other urges with either her or my previous fiancée. Nor, I should add, during my relationship with my girlfriend in Paris.
My ex-wife and divorced six years later, and after lots more random fucking, sometimes even with married women, I quit having sex. About a year later, in my mid-30s, I finally tried sex with men, a few times anyway. Maybe it was because the sex was casual, but emotionally I felt nothing. That doesn’t mean I got no physical pleasure from it; I did. But I knew that continuing to have sex with other guys knowing that I could never have the kind of emotional connection that I could achieve with a woman was not good for me and unfair to them. Of course, looking back on my life, I’ve also worried about being able to have a quality emotional connection with a woman too.
So, I’m bisexual. But I’m also monogamous. I will not get involved sexually with anyone with whom I do not have a solid connection emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually as well as physically. If that were to happen with a man, it would be by accident over a long period of time, but then that would probably be the same case with a woman (isn’t falling in love always an accident?). This is the case, I believe, with most bisexuals, at least after they have adjusted to what they have either discovered or can no longer deny about themselves.
For me, that has to be the case, because without an intense emotional connection, the alternative for me—casual sex with many people of both genders—is not something the structure of our societies or the emotional make-up of most of us humans is ready for.
In truth, labels such as “heterosexual”, “homosexual”, “bisexual”, “androphiliac”, “gynephiliac”, etc., should be stricken from our language. Labels are not about accuracy, they’re about definition, and definition in this case is about limitations and control, or rather hate, just as much as it is in the case of defining God, where the first step in trying to dominate God is belief.
If someone is anti-gay, anti-lesbian, anti-bi, even anti-straight, what you are really is anti-human, and as a human, I object to that, no matter how human your anti-human feeling is. If someone has found another human to share their life with, ideally for a lifetime but in the absence of the ideal at least for a long time, who the hell is anyone outside of that relationship to do anything but be happy for and envy them? Certainly not I.