Saturday, 31 October 2009

The FSA, with both guns blazing!!!

       The current scandal on insider trading on Wall St. with regards the Galleon hedge fund and some other big guns in the rip-off money club seems to have come to court because of the authorities using wire tapping and other forms of surveillance. It is not unusual in the US to see these sort of affairs hit the headlines and the courts, after all there is plenty of that sort of thing about, it is the way big business works, but not here in the UK, we are a bit more refined. You see here in the UK financial world it is gentlemen that you’re dealing with. If you need proof of this then the outcome of the UK Financial Services Authority “investigation” into insider trading should be proof enough. When the British Financial Services Authority thought that there might be some dirty dealings, sorry, insider trading, they became utterly ruthless and sent a letter to all the UK financial institutions asking if they knew of any evidence of insider trading. Naturally nobody seems to have had any knowledge of this sort of thing, after all, this the UK, we would never dream of indulging in such grubby events. You might make a lot of money, but would you be able to sleep at night?


       “New Labour’s new benefit regulations could be used, and I have no doubt that they will be used, to break any strike. The new regulations in trying to force people back to work, even where there is no work, state that after 13 weeks of receiving unemployment benefit and you are still unemployed but do not want your benefit to be cut, then you must accept a job interview allocated to you by your Job Centre liaison person.
       Sitting across the desk from your Job Centre liaison person this is the sort of thing you might hear, “It would appear that there doesn’t seem to be any jobs in your field of engineering, construction or even driving, however I have arranged an interview for you for one of those temporary jobs going at Royal Mail.” Of course if you refuse the job offered, you also lose the right to unemployment benefit. This is where the reserve army of unemployed can be called upon by any organisation that is facing strike action by its employees. I am sure this is how Royal Mail is attempting to break this strike and other employers will follow suit. This is also how a group of worried, vulnerable people in some degree of poverty, will be forced to scab on there fellow workers, not because they wish to scab or have no solidarity with the strikers but because it could mean extreme poverty for them and their families.
        This is just another example of how the state always works hand in hand with big business against the interests of the people of this country. And anther reason why all communities should fall in behind striking workers and give them unconditional support. Perhaps demonstrating outside job centres that use this bureaucratic fiddle to crush workers struggling to hold onto what meager conditions they might have, could be a start.


     One of the “shortcomings” with surveillance cameras is that there is an overwhelming volume of information and not enough people to watch and analyse the data. That problem might now be at an end. A company has recently developed an artificial intelligence system that can detect aberrant behaviour. This new system opens up the surveillance to the general public with you and I expected to be BIG BROTHER, and earn cash prizes for those of us who catch the most crooks, or could that eventually be, catch the most activists, or the most benefit cheats?? 
      The system is about to go live next month in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, UK. You are being sucked in to watch your neighbour. Or it could be a new way to occupy that ever increasing army of unemployed, keeping them busy watching cameras in the hope of earning a few bob.

Read more of the article here.

ann arky's home.

Thursday, 29 October 2009


     It is difficult to know where to start when looking at the effects of global capitalism but I suppose we could start with the fact that almost 1/5 of the world’s population lives in squalid unhealthy areas without water, sanitation or public services, and in one of the richest countries in the world, USA, its literacy ranks 10th out of 17 industrialised nations.
       When it comes to distribution of wealth the Guardian Weekly’s figures (2003) tell their own story. In 1970 the average American CEO made 40 times the average worker’s salary. By 1998 that had changed to 1,000 times the average worker’s salary. Another display of capitalism’s glaring inequalities could be the fact that in 1999 and 2000 the Carnival Cruise Line created profits of approximately $1 billion but paid virtually no corporate income tax while at the same time in 2000, a janitor employed by Carnival Cruise Lines maked less than $1:55 an hour. Another example of the system’s exploitation, if we really needed one could be the fact that in 2000 Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney maked $9,783 an hour compared with a Haitian worker who stitches Disney products for 28 cents an hour. Where is all this wealth that capitalism claims to be creating? An interesting fact tells us, 52 of the world’s largest economies are corporate economies. What do they do with some of this great wealth? In 1993 tobacco maker Phillip Morris decided to create a grassroots citizens group called “The Advancement of Sound Science” to fight regulation of the tobacco industry and to portray the dangers of smoking as unfounded. Another use the corporate world puts some its wealth to would be the example of ExxonMobil, one of the world’s most profitable corporations with sales of more than $1 billion a day. ExxonMobil used some of its money to fund some 124 organisations that deny climate change. In 2002, the US granted Poland, one of the poorer nations in Europe, an interest-free loan of $4 billion, what for, to purchase fighter jets.
      This reads like an indictment, when will the people come to a guilty verdict and pass sentence of banishment from the planet, on this vicious exploitive system.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


     Capitalism has always meant the workers have to continually struggle to maintain their standard of living let alone improve that standard. Nothing has been handed to the workers by capitalism, it has always had to be taken bit by bit and that struggle still goes on. The struggle will end when we finally get rid of the yoke of capitalism.
      In 1874 during one of the many of capitalism’s depressions, unemployed workers were demonstrating in Tompkins Square Park, New York, When for reasons best known to the authorities a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd indiscriminately beating hundreds of men women and children with their batons. Abram Duryee, New York’s Commissioner of Police is on record as having stated ”It was the most glorious sight I ever saw---”
      London 1888 saw, women and teenage girls that worked in the match making industry, the matchgirls, strike. The strike was against the poor pay, dreadful working conditions and the 14 hour working day. They were also striking against the working conditions which brought about “phossy jaw” a severe medical condition caused by phosphorous being deposited in the jaw bone resulting in toothache, swelling of the gums, and abscesses. It was a disfiguring and painful, foul smelling condition with the jaw bones eventually rotting turning greenish white and would glow in the dark. The jaw bone could be removed or it would gradually cause death.
     Strong public support for the girls and an outcry at the methods used in the factories forced the manufacturers to change these methods so as to eliminate “phossy jaw” After three weeks of strike action the London match makers capitulated. Though in some other countries manufacturers persisted in the old methods until legislation forced them to change.
      That’s capitalism, we know there is a better way.
     Read some of Glasgow's workingclass history HERE.
     ann arky's home.

Monday, 26 October 2009

BNP-KKK-Nazi fascist, all the same type of vermin.

So the arsehole Nick Griffin thinks his appearance on Question Time was like facing a lynch mob. In spite of his mates being Klu Klux Klan he doesn't seem to know what a lynch mob is. Well blob brain, take a good look at the picture, this is what a lynch mob looks like and for any more of the sordid details speak to you buddies from the KKK, they are experts in that particular field, they have along history of that type of vicious racism. But then I'm sure you know their history, that's why you signed up with them, just as you know the history of the nazi Hitler and you honour him. You are no friend of the working class, you and your bed-partners, KKK/Nazi types are leftovers from a dirty past and I'm sure the working class of this country will eventually dump you in the dustbin of history where you belong.

Sunday, 25 October 2009



      Austerity, cuts in social spending, benefit cuts, well that’s for you and me but not for those in the big club at the Westminster House of Corruption. It seems that one noble lady, no less than the Baroness Goudie has screwed the British tax payer for £230,000. How did she manage it, it’s easy. Live in London, buy a wee £200,000 pad in Glasgow and claim that as your main residence.
      Baroness Goudie, a personal friend of the Prime Minister, lives with her husband in a nice little £1.5 million shack in London. It would appear that she has lived practically all her life in London, brought her two kids up in London and her husband is a leading barrister in London but claims that her main home is Glasgow. This little arrangement has allowed the noble Baroness to claim £150,000 in accommodation expenses plus an estimated £80,000 for travel expenses between Glasgow and London.
       Now week in and week out some poor individual gets done for claiming a couple of quid above what our masters say they are allowed, and they get done. The mistake they are making is the piffling little amount they are doing, it seems that to get off with it you have to think big, screw them for hundreds of thousands and you will probably get a severe finger wagging.

Friday, 23 October 2009


      The Israeli state with its spin, complicity of other imperialist states and the world-wide Zionist lobby has succeeded in convincing world public opinion that it is a poor small state, an innocent victim merely trying to protect itself. As a victim it can avoid responsibility, a victim cannot be held accountable. However, the facts don’t convey that picture, Israel is the world’s fourth largest nuclear power, but still spouts the image of the poor little kid in what Netanyahu refers to as a “neighbourhood of bullies.”
      Israel produces 10% of the world’s arms and is the largest recipient of arms the US distributes to malevolent regimes around the world, yet still maintains the stance of the poor little victim in its conflict with the Palestinian people. Israel is an imperialist occupying power, that since 1967 has expropriated hundreds of thousands of acres of Palestinian land for its own illegal settlements, demolished over 11,000 Palestinian homes, has repeatedly attacked densely populated cities such as Hebron, Bethlehem, Jenin, Ramallah, Nablus and Rafah with artillery, bombs, laser-guided missiles and snipers. Yet the Israeli state still escapes accountability for this state terrorism, still crying “poor victim.”
      Israel has an economy three times larger than Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine put together. It has created a situation where 70% of the Palestinian people live on less than $2 a day and still escapes any responsibility towards the innocent people it rules.
      Not so long ago the military might of the Israeli state, with the financial support and blessing of the US, deliberately killed an innocent civilian population and wreaked havoc on the infra structure of another country, Lebanon. More recently the “poor little kid on the block” was ripping Gaza apart and slaughtering its people, a third of those killed were children, and it does it with complete impunity, while the other imperialist states make rumbling noises about a peace keeping force to protect poor little Israel.
      Who will rebuke the Israeli state, who will hold it responsible? Certainly not the other world imperialist states, Israel is a member of the powerful imperialist club and as such can carry out these barbaric acts and expect no more than a few platitudes and some insincere finger wagging. Only the people can call a halt to this barbaric system of state terrorism and only when we join hands across borders as brothers and sister and create a world of communities based on mutual aid, labeling the state system and its bed partner, corporate capitalism, as “man’s darkest hour” and throwing it into the dustbin of history.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Banker's bonuses or heated homes??

       As the bankers and hedge fund managers recovery from their pause in the greed feast and start to gallop away again with their stratospheric bonuses the rest of us can look forward to a cold winter.
       The latest government figures show that the number of families in the UK affected by fuel poverty has risen from 2.4 million in 2006 to 3.25 million in 2007. As fuel prices soared through 2008 the projected figures for England alone are expected to reach 3.6 million for 2008 and 4.6 million for 2009. Add to this the rest of the UK and you have a shocking and unacceptable level of homes living in fuel poverty in a country that has just handed the bankers billions of our money.
        These figures came as Citizens Advice announced the number of people falling behind with fuel bills had increased by nearly 50% in the past six months, and by more than 80% over the past three years. Between April and September Citizens Advice bureau in England and Wales saw a 46% increase in the number of people coming forward with fuel debts compared with the same period last year. The majority of people seeking help over debts to energy companies were of working age; 5% were over 65 years old, while 25% had a disability. We are in a society where the weakest and the most vulnerable suffer the most.
        It is obvious that the government targets to end fuel poverty among vulnerable households by 2010 and among all households by 2016 is just so much “hot” air, as are their targets to end child poverty and all the other election propaganda. As unemployment soars and all the parties are showing an eagerness to wield the axe at the social services it should be obvious to all that this system is not for the benefit of the ordinary people.
        We acquiesce to a system of privilege for the parasites and watch our children, elderly, and poor suffer the indignity of poverty at the same time as we watch the bloated parasites frolicking around in yachts and on sun drenched islands sipping the favourite Champagne. Is this the best we can do for ourselves and the rest of humanity? Surely we can devise a fairer system, we have the resources to see to the needs of all, all we need is the will to destroy this man made system of greed and create a society based on mutual aid and sustainability. A fairer system that sees to the needs of all those in that society based on free association, voluntary co-operation and is free from the profit motive.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


    The following is a short e-mail from ann arky to Willie Bain the Labour candidate for the coming Glasgow North East by-election.
      received your propaganda through my letterbox and feel that you are somehow assuming that the people of the area are rather simple and have short memories. You continually go on about the SNP ripping off Glasgow, and in doing so place the blame for the state of the area on the SNP, but seem to overlook the fact that this area has had a Labour MP for 74 years and for the last 12 years, a Labour government at Westminster. Are we to take it that the previous labour MPs were worthless, plain stupid or worse and somehow you are going to ride in on your white charger and save the area? Tell us how, if you are elected and end up down in the Westminster House of Corruption among the 600 odd other political careerists, you will make an impact that will benefit the people of Springburn.
      You state that you will clean up the shopping malls and streets by clearing them of drunks and drug addicts, where will you put them, somewhere that will cost no money and need no infrastructure? Can you tell us why we have so many drunks and drug addicts in the area and what you will do to stem the flow of young lives being destroyed in this manner? Of course bearing in mind that the previous 74 years of Labour MPs and 12 years of Labour government have seen the area continue to tailspin down the tubes of poverty and deprivation.
       You ignore the history of your own Party and the way it has treated the people of this area and to believe that you will move the Party machinery to act differently from its long past is somewhat naive and little arrogant to say the least.


       When the powers that be start telling us to save the planet, they are talking to you and me, the guys at the bottom of the ladder. We have to turn the heating down 1 or 2 degrees, just boil enough water for one cup of tea, have a quick shower rather than a nice deep bath. You should walk or get on your bike rather than the car, take the bus not the car. All very well, but while you’re sitting in front of the tele with the lights out and a tea-cosy on your head to keep you warm, just think on these few things.
         At the beginning of next year Russian oligarch Roman Abromovich will take delivery of his new yacht, it will be the biggest private owned yacht in the world. The 557 footer Eclipse is estimated to have cost £300 million. It comes equipped with its own private submarine that doubles as an escape vehicle. Among its other little extras are a military grade missile detection system, armour plating around his own master suite, bullet proof windows, two heli-pads, swimming pool, luxury spa and an anti digital camera device to stop people photographing his frolicking.
        You see he needs this one as his other three have specific uses. His Pelorus, (377ft.) room for 22 guests and 40 staff, that’s a nice ratio, is for entertaining and has two heli-pads. His Ecstasea, (282ft.) Chinese themed interior, is for cruising. While is dinky little Sussorro a mere 161ft, is for short journeys and loaning out to friends. You could ask??
         The annual overhead cost for his little fleet is more than £15 million and the cost of filling the fuel tanks on his Pelorus is a fiddling loose change of £73,000.
        You see, less energy for you, more energy for them. We could of course get rid of his type and that would mean we could boil a wee bit more in the kettle, keep the heating comfortable and have a nice long relaxing shower, now that’s not too much to ask, is it?

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


The following is a letter taken from the July issue of an underground paper called “The Street” published in Iran. The issue can be download from here:

         Thirty days have passed since what they called the presidential elections. Thirty compact days, during which in tandem with the terror, the bullets, tortures and the regime’s lies, the collective con- sciousness and awareness of the people have developed and morphed. The true nature of the Islamic Republic and its anti-human laws and regulations has been exposed to all, and people have discovered the power of their numbers and their togetherness.
         Those wisps of illusion that had forced many into sweet thoughts of step-by-step change have been blown away, and the flames of awakening have spread across the rooftops in the country. In their fight against the coup regime, people have come to see the deep contradiction between a system based on velayat-e faqih [guardianship/rule of religious jurist] and a popular system based on people’s will. When their singing throats became the targets of the regime’s bullets, the people saw the anti-human nature of the Sepaah [Revolutionary Guards] and the Basij. People found out all about the regime’s daily, hidden crimes, when it became apparent to all that their social wealth had been spent to procure the latest and most sophisticated instruments of police oppression, and the most technologically advanced know-how at the service of spying and controlling the citizens. Kamenei issued the command for the killings, and every day since a new corpse is handed to still another grieving, yet rage filled, family opposing them. That inept clown, Ahmadinejad, talked of freedom, while thousands of the country’s youth were lined up in death camps, awaiting to receive their daily dose of torture. This regime wrote illusory letters to their promised Mehdi the messiah, while the nation’s mothers in search of their disappeared children were insulted in the corridors of the Islamic halls of justice, and saw the catastrophe of the events in their shaken hopes.
         This consciousness has grown and a collectivity has made it impossible to breath the suffocating air any more. To make the passage from consciousness to proactive action, to go from understanding the oppressive, unjust and corrupt social relations to changing those relations and building a just, free and equal society, this passage is dependent on organization. Let them speak of easy solutions for change, those who are horrified of the people’s power, and those who have tied their hopes to the replacement of a layer of today’s rulers with a layer of tomorrow’s rulers. Leave them with their dreams and ideas such as a Green TV station that would remote control the people from afar, and render them into political observers, not actors. However, the people, who did not remain mere observers of the coup and intervened in their fate with their own lives if need be, are marching far ahead of the coloured dreams of that crowd. The people have realized that to overthrow this organized injustice, they need their own organization. An organization that, unlike the party suggested by Moussavi, will not submit to an existence in the poisoned crevices of the coup regime’s laws, an organization that will grow in order to smash open the cracks in the system and reach to the air of freedom.
          A large people’s organization is an association of small organizations, which sprout and gather strength from within the heart of the struggle against the coup, and which will guarantee the people’s rule by defeating this anti-human system.


Now that the blood and the dust is beginning to settle in Iraq, the real reason for the illegal invasion of that country is now becoming clear. We were told all sorts of fairy tales to justify the slaughter, to get rid of non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Then it was to get rid of that wicked, nasty, nasty Saddam. Now that the contracts are being signed, as Iraq’s oil fields are privatised against the wishes of the Iraqi people and against the wishes of the Iraqi oil industry unions, it is difficult to conceal the truth.

BP has just agreed the details of its contract to develop a vast oil field in the Basra area and other companies are lining up to gobble up the rest of Iraqi oil. A blood curling slaughter of innocents to open up the Iraqi oil fields to the big corporate world, as they make sideway glances in the direction of Iran.

Sunday, 18 October 2009


       As November 11th., Remembrance Day approaches the heads of state with bowed heads and solemn faces will make their usual vacuous platitudes in honour of all those who have been killed in the catalogue of state sponsored wars. Lest we forget, wars are the states’ method of survival and enlargement, it is not workers wishing to kill workers, they are the tools used by the state on its war pilgrimage.
      The solemnity displayed by statesmen/women at these occasions is meant to convey the impression that it is all different now and lessons have been learnt. However nothing has changed, the brutal saga rumbles on and on. After two world wars we moved to a variety of more local wars, remember Suez, then Korea, let’s not forget Vietnam, then fast forward to Afghanistan and Iraq with our states eyes on Iran. In between times our state and some of our “allies” after condemning the nazis, went on to build their own concentration camps in places like Kenya, Malaya and Algeria, to mention just a few. Then of course the states colluded with each other as millions were shipped from German concentration camps to Soviet camps. During the war, even although the Jews were a target of the Nazi German state, our own state locked up hundreds of German Jews. We should also remember that during the second world war strikers in the north of Italy were bombed be both sides. Remembrance Day should stamp upon our minds that the power mongers of one state have more in common with the power mongers of another state than they have with the ordinary people of any country.
       As the heads of state and their generals appear for their photo opportunities on Remembrance Day and speak those words “Lest we forget”, who will raise a voice for those 1 million+ Iraqis killed in the imperialist blood bath for oil, or the thousands of Afghan civilians slaughtered for who knows what. Who will raise their voice as the slaughter goes on week in week out to call, enough is enough, the state must go so the wars can end.
     Lest we forget, all wars are products of the state and until we get rid of this insane state system we will continue to see our young men and women being sacrificed at the alter of state power with our “allies” becoming our new “enemies” and our old “enemies” becoming our new “allies.” In the State/capitalist world, war is always good for business.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Help the needy and get shut down!!

A COMMUNITY law centre that provides free legal advice in Glasgow to more than 3000 people each year is to close. Lawyers at the East End Community Law Centre are mounting a legal challenge over the loss of £250,000 council funding. The centre, which was set up 12 years ago and has seven full-time staff, including two lawyers and a legal trainee, will shut next year. It follows a shake-up of advice services by Glasgow City Council.
It has awarded a £2.4million contract to a new consortium of services, East Glasgow Advice, which is made up of Citizens Advice Bureau, the Greater Easterhouse Money Advice Project and Govan Law Centre. Hundreds of people in the East End have signed a petition opposing the law centre closure, which is in the Ladywell centre in Duke Street. Its lawyers are mounting a legal challenge of the loss of funding, arguing the £2.4m contract was the highest value of nine the council advertised in September 2008. Marcus Parham, a solicitor at the centre, said: "We deal with more than 3000 clients each year and bring in well over £3million to the community.
"A lot of our cases deal with employment tribunals and benefit claims. It is a lot of money for the most vulnerable people in the area. About 70% of our clients are disabled."
"We will try to deal with as many cases are possible, but we are now having to turn people away."
"There is also ongoing litigation over the loss of funding."
Glasgow East MP John Mason said: "I am concerned there will be a reduction in the provision of legal advice in the East End. The centre deals with around 3000 cases each year and it is my understanding the new service will have the capacity to deal with only 250."
A council spokesman said: "In the past, the 27 organisations that made up Glasgow's Advice Network had been developed without any over-arching clear strategic framework, resulting in fragmented service provision across the city. "The way money advice, welfare rights, housing and employment and legal advice services were provided required modernisation." "We moved to a commissioning approach, which saw a consortium called East Glasgow Advice be awarded the contract in this area of the city." "Changing the way we fund these advice services will mean improved service provision across the city, in addition to providing a fair and transparent allocation of resources."

Publication date 15/10/09   Thanks Caroline Wilson.

ann arky's home.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


The Tory cronies plans for you and I have been spouted at the recent Tory conference. One Tory millionaire, man of the people, actually stated that cutting your benefit will improve your quality of life. Another stated that we are too generous because some families receive benefit that is more than the minimum wage. If benefit is the minimum that the government thinks you can live on, where does that leave the minimum wage? Shouldn’t they be talking about raising the minimum wage? Other ideas they have to help us all, is to make you work longer before you get your miserly pension and when you do get it, it will be less. Then of course there is the plan for the sick on incapacity benefit, they will all be tested to see if some bureaucrat thinks your sick enough to resist their coercion to get you into some crap job with even more crappy wages.
Of course Labour are no different, they just plan different cuts, and while the Tories catch phrase is “We are all in this together” Labour keep saying “To encourage growth”. The reason for all these “necessary” cuts is the massive debt “we” have. What debt you might ask, why the billions we gave to the banks and other large businesses. Having saved “them” and their greed driven shareholders, we now have to pay the price with wage cuts, wage freezes, massive unemployment, and cuts in social services. Why wait until the pain really hurts before asking, “Was it worth it?”. We all know it was not worth it to us the ordinary people, all we have done is save a lot of very wealth parasites from going down the tubes. We have hawked ourselves up to our necks, so the really wealthy can continue to milk us.
In any sane society based on social justice this would never arise. Production would be based on the needs of those in that society, not on the greed of sweaty handed shareholders, there would be no profit driven large corporations riding roughshod over the planet and its people. Capitalism is not an inevitable natural structure, it is a greed driven man made system that benefits the very few at the expense of the many. It is no more than a social system that can be destroyed and sent to the dustbin of history. We have the ability and the resources to create a new system, one based on the needs of the people and sustainability. The longer the delay in the change from the destructive capitalist system to a sustainable social system the greater the risk to all life and the planet itself.

Monday, 5 October 2009

What's your problem man?

 A diagnosis from The Agonist,
       "The greatest flaw in patriarchal civilisation has been the over-emphasis on the masculine archetype (identified with spirit) and the devaluation of the feminine one (identified with nature). This has been reflected in the fact that the god-head has no feminine dimension, in the neglect of the soul and in the misogyny responsible for the repression and suffering of women. The history of the last 4000 years has been forged by men, determined by male perspectives and directed towards goals defined by men - principally the goal of conquest. (this is no sense intended as a criticism; in the context of prevailing belief systems and general level of consciousness, things could not have been different).
However, because of the powerful influence of this long formative experience on the development of religion and science as well as our cultural ideas and patterns of behaviour - civilisation has been built on this unbalanced foundation.
Where there is no relationship and balance between the masculine and feminine principles, the masculine principle becomes pathologically exaggerated, inflated; the feminine pathologically diminished, inarticulate, ineffective. The symptoms of a pathological masculine are rigidity, dogmatic inflexibility, omnipotence, and an obsession with or addiction to power and control. There will be a clear definition of goals but no receptivity to ideas and values which conflict with these goals. The horizon of the human imagination will be restricted by an overt or subtle censorship.

We can see this pathology reflected today in the ruthless values which govern the media, politics, and the technological drive of the modern world. We can see the predatory impulse to acquire or to conquer new territory in the drive for global control of world markets, in the ideology of perpetual growth, in new technologies such as the genetic modification of food. We see exaggerated competitiveness - the drive to go further, grow faster, achieve more, acquire more, elevated to the status of a cult. There is contempt for the feeling values grounded in the experience of relationship with others, with other species, and with the environment. There is a predatory and compulsive sexuality in both men and women who increasingly lose the capacity for relationship. There is continuous expansion in a linear sense but no expansion in depth, in insight. The pressure of things to do constantly accelerates.

The result? Exhaustion, anxiety, depression, illness which afflict more and more people. There is no time or place for human relationships. Above all, there is no time for relationship with the dimension of spirit. The water of life no longer flows. Men and women and, above all, children, become the victims of this harsh, competitive, uncaring ethos:

women, in their desire to be accepted in a world ruled by men, and because the feminine value has no clear definition or recognition in our culture, are drawn to copy the pathological image of the masculine which itself incorporates fear of the feminine."

Friday, 2 October 2009

Is technology making us stupid?

Although I am against any form of pariamentary politics and against the party system I believe the following article from the SPGB is worth debating

"Do you ever wonder whether the smarter technology becomes, the dumber and lazier we become? At one level, of course, this can’t be true. Literacy rates in almost all countries are in the high nineties, and the information revolution can scarcely be said to have rendered people more ignorant than they were hundreds of years ago. Advanced capitalism needs workers skilled in the ‘knowledge economy’, and can scarcely afford for its school indoctrination centres to turn out workers who aren’t up to the job. But still, when you try to have a conversation in a pub with a group of people who are simultaneously writing phone texts, checking their email, Facebook, Twitter accounts and RSS feeds, and looking over your shoulder at the cricket scores on the giant TV screen, while humming along to the rock tune on the in-house speakers, you might be forgiven for thinking that less is sometimes more. It seems as if people don’t discuss, think, concentrate, criticise, evaluate. All they’re doing is time-slicing in a perpetual multi-tasking environment. What you are dealing with is, arguably, a case of social attention deficit hyperactive disorder. An entire society in need of ritalin. The world is drowning in an ocean of data, but data is not information and information is not knowledge. Data consists of bytes or small packets, which must be compiled into some kind of order so as to provide meaningful information. Thus the words ‘lion’, ‘fish’ and ‘eats’ are data, while ‘lion eats fish’ or ‘fish eats lion’ or ‘lionfish eats’ are alternative forms of information. There is a similar difference between ‘information’ and ‘knowledge’. For knowledge to exist, small pieces of information must be collected and processed into some meaningful agglomeration, like molecules building into more complex organic systems. Knowledge is thus a construct which it takes time, patience, communication and experience to build. In the Dark Ages, knowledge was a treasure locked up behind monastic walls. In the Middle Ages, it was still the preserve of princes. With the dissolution of the monasteries in Britain knowledge began to be secularised, and the invention of printing revolutionised its spread. The information revolution which began with printing and has lately accelerated geometrically with the internet has certainly involved a knowledge revolution but the two are not the same and the one does not necessarily entail the other. From a world subdued in ignorance modern workers now face a perpetual storm of information from which it is perhaps becoming harder, not easier, to extract meaningful knowledge. It is not only the speed and intensity of this ‘data rain’ which swamps the mind. It is the fact that it is being broken down into smaller and smaller packets, knowledge being deconstructed, digitised, quantised and miniaturised for faster transmission. And to cope with this onslaught, the mind becomes less reflective and more selective, picking and choosing what it will process according to its preset value judgments, making it less rather than more likely that new ideas will be adopted. Time too is at a premium, and technology is taking knowledge away from the library and the desktop towards the e-reader and the smartphone, from email to Twitter, from debate to mere chat. Some futurists, like Ray Kursweil, have been predicting the advent of the Singularity, a technological point beyond which it is not possible to make any predictions at all. The nature of the Singularity is popularly supposed to be the development or evolution of true machine intelligence, but could it be that instead of machine intelligence rising to meet us, we simply sink until we pass it on the way down? Some say it’s Google making us ga-ga, others that it’s screen-burn to the brain. But where most such concerns are merely the same old bourgeois snootiness against youth or the lower orders, socialists have got legitimate reason to worry, because this could all play into the hands of capitalism. The ruling class loves to  infantilise us, making us think we’re too dumb and childlike to take responsibility for ourselves without their ‘guiding’ authority. It would be scary to think that this might come to be true. Our best hope is for a political Singularity, something no techie is predicting. The Zeitgeist Movement appears to be making huge strides in popularising non-market production for use, and another group is calling for a World Strike against money in 2012. These might grow or they might fizzle out, like the anti-capitalist movement. But for such a post-capitalist society to succeed it cannot be imposed from above or gifted to the world by one or two visionaries. Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere  are all useful means of communicating ideas, but they’re not oriented towards what is also necessary: focussed reflection and critical debate. It’s not that people are incapable of these abilities, but if they are not accustomed to them they may try to avoid them. The danger is the spread of soundbite socialism at the expense of depth."

Feedback, however critical, will be appreciated.
Yours for a world without wages (money, poverty and war),

Robert Stafford

Internet Department

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