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An Erratic Orbit

A bipolar perspective on the 3rd planet

Essentially Human

“It either is or it isn’t” they said, fingering the holes between stitches in the murderer’s cardigan. Of course it never was. Although, if it ever had been, there was not nor could there be ‘essence of murderer’ upon it. But could you get one person to put on that cardigan? No you could not.

Humans not only are confused by false essences, this way of looking at the world is central to our psychology. That is, not looking at what IS but in terms of persistent, even transferable, features that we logically know are not real let alone persistent. At best we simultaneously hold Einstein’s pen knowing it cannot make us smarter yet at the same time feeling it must. You’ll note we could not have magic without this phony essentialist psychology and if we could not have magic we could not have religion.

Perhaps we could not have complex social behaviour. Our friend Julia must persist, we must have a narrative of her, even though each moment in its coming into being is a death, a negation of what came before.

It may even be that there can be no consciousness without psychological essentialism, for consciousness is the ultimate persistence at odds with material facts.

In a universe that constantly bifurcates, if that is so, psychological essentialism is being and becoming, the mystical bond between worlds. Yet from this view, the real question becomes an unanswerable chicken and egg. Do we choose freely or are all choices caused? In other words, does Will have some ontological reality that brings our world into being, an imposition upon discrete material? Or, is Will the illusion, the essentialism that makes stories, somehow arising from the fully conditioned material phenomena that constitute a thinking entity?

All this abstraction is only my way of coping with the ugliness of those who, angrily, insistently, want to decide who is in and who is out based on notions of race, womanhood, or sexuality that have nothing to do with anything but crude stories of those concepts, and snap judgements as to who are the acceptable characters in those stories.

“It either is or it isn’t” he/she said, fingering the holes between stitches in the murderer’s cardigan. Every storyteller must embrace duality, and every good storyteller must unpick it.

The anger is blood rising into the face. That I see, the hateful face. All the different expressions of anger. There is no discussion here. Had I not been lulled by alcohol, I would have been able to continue to sidestep a pointless topic. There was never any hope of persuasion or understanding. I’m disappointed that I allowed myself to get dragged down even in the slightest.

They make various attempts to explain, essentially, why flight is required of birds. As the good professor said, you don’t get to use biology to justify bigotry, it’s far too weird for that.

Now, the chemical cocktails, those I don’t see. If I had taken myself away and thought of the beauty of the chemistry of anger, all that makes the head go purple, I would have been fine. Yet how do you transport away from the insistent narrative of those people, nominally friendly acquaintances, who are furious, every single one?

You break it down, break the world down, accept that threats are perceived where there are none, and, simply, that you don’t ever have to listen to a single minute of that ever again.

“No, that is not what I mean!”. That is to be human but you don’t have to drown in anyone else’s shit. People disappoint. The number of friends you have depends on how you look at it. Unpicking the holes between stitches, it’s a constant.

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Party Politics

Party politics is millionaire MPs justifying why they voted to deny disabled people a reasonable quality of life. Party politics is “I know the country isn’t a meritocracy but” where what follows is the unconscious belief in why you deserve the property portfolio, the large salary, to be wined and dined, the expensive clothes, the restaurants several times a week… while making up excuses for “pragmatism” that are entirely down to your own mindset, that ole middle class self interest.

Party politics is smiling politely and using the right knife. It’s where our status quo is better than their status quo. It’s where those who have the least are accused of tyranny, ill discipline, and unfairness against high earning owners of prime real estate. It’s where white middle class sticklers in tiny secretive committees replicate society by dispensing “discipline” to outspoken black women and the wrong sort of Jew.

Party politics is where minority interest groups shut down the interests of minorities.

Party politics is being told to play nice with the friends of proto-Fascists because “We Are All The Party”.

Party politics is a wheedling ghost in my ear using every dirty trick to protest against my part in its downfall. Yet it was not me who killed the comfortable life for the middle. I’m just here with a mirror. And a knife which could never entirely be to your liking.

Party politics is a swelling mass movement, a new broom, bright light on the cobwebs, the release of steam, the new found confidence of the left, seeing through the games, dragging the leviathan screaming, half a million scalpels, the collective drive to a new universalism that is the only efficient future that doesn’t require the subjugation of the masses.

Pull Up The Roots?

Athenian Democracy was, on a modern understanding, an elitist system, excluding women, immigrants, and slaves. Less than a third of the people of the city were empowered with voting rights. British Democracy, an ongoing tussle to disperse the undue power of a very few centralised around, even today, the monarchy and the church, could not be said to be less exclusive until the 20th Century reached maturity. Universal voting rights (suffrage), at least for unimprisoned adults, might be younger, and are unlikely to be very much older, than your oldest family member.

There’s no sensible argument to be made from this to abandon the entire project, yet if we’re talking about feminism or the civil rights movement the global political atmosphere has emboldened some to denounce those movements wholesale. On the left, this attitude comports with the mistaken belief that class conscious politics naturally overcomes all other discrimination, despite much evidence to the contrary. It is in itself a form of entitlement, and more than a lack of awareness: in fact, a lack of awareness of a lack of awareness.

Fortunately, this retrogressive and naive idea of “One size fits all” Socialism is not driving the mass left movement focused around Jeremy Corbyn, its prime movers either steeped in 70s/80s progressive Labour politics exemplified by the GLC or from a young metropolitan base who have absorbed its legacy. The message is straightforward: The battle for a diverse agenda has been won. To try to counter this, however well intentioned, is to only get in the way of the genuine struggle towards Universality.

Brexit Means Ubik

Brexit: The universal salve? The universal corrosive? The universal package of all desires, all hopes, and all nightmares?

Its meaning changes constantly, the slipperiest of eels, because

–  “We” do not have control

–  “We” will not have control

–  No-one yet knows what it will look like

–  It will be hard on some

–  It will be soft on others 

–  It is hope of freedom but it will not give the ordinary people who voted (for or against it) any more power

– The UK could end up with a relationship like Norway (outside the EU but access to the single market)  or like Kenya

– It’s partly a rejection of Thatcherism by people who have admiration, or at least respect, for Thatcher

– It’s the face of an ideology almost everyone wants to escape from, but most people don’t know what that is. And Brexit might make us *more* vulnerable to its vicissitudes

– The referendum result broadly expressed two contradictory desires:  Nationalism and Anarchy

– The PLP are hung up on scapegoating

– The PCP are hung up on power

Brexit. Available Now! A Fantastic Opportunity! The Rejuvenation Or Death Of Neoliberalism.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkLtuz34L_g&t=0m53s

Racism, censorship, exclusion, and The Labour Party

Until we stop ‘hunting for bigots’ and can start to have proper discussions of the institutional nature of racism and its relation to power, and especially the primary props of State power and inequities of capital, actions taken will be ineffective and in fact will contribute to oppression, in UK cities to the USA to Palestine and beyond.

The supposedly liberal outrage at inherent “racists” as if we have to find only those pure souls for The Labour Party without a ‘racist bone’ is ascientific and privileges the white liberally educated. Ultimately, it is itself racist. 

We see few better illustrations of the centrist and right tendency to enable fascism by perpetuating oppression than the bull-in-a-china-shop approach to anti-Semitism of the supporters of the Labour Party organisations where the current Israel government has most influence. 

If you want to find bigotry and prejudice, and you are capable of questioning yourself, you’ll find it within you and without you. It’s probably there in your perception of white van man, your views on benefits, your most laissez faire attitudes to redistribution of wealth, the demographics of your friends, and those implicit attitudes you’ve never bothered to uncover about the minorities you have least interest in finding out about.

What do we hope to find? The racism gene?! Education not witch-hunts and education for YOU (me) first of all.

It’s huge now: Katie Hopkins and left-right tensions

The stakes are so high now. For example, many European countries might make it clear that someone expressing Nazi hate speech, as Katie Hopkins did, is a security risk and is not welcome. This would serve to heighten the contrasts between the inclusive, multicultural, fully internationalist vision of Corbyn -supported by the youth and popular in most of our cities- and the insular, ultimately fascistic, perspective of the right. The question is, are liberals who see themselves as progressive capable of finally fully recognising the twin threats of a runaway right wing media and a tendency in the current Conservative Party towards isolationism? If so, they would pull out of Labour marginals, recognising the crucial importance of a Labour government that can work with Europe as well as clamping down on the excesses of the Press. 

The Labour Party and the Dumbed Down Discourse on Racism

We are still a long way away from sensible discussion about racism across the Labour Party. Racism in the modern sense as understood by those who take the most trouble to examine it as methodically as possible is not just the evolutionarily ingrained (and most probably adaptive before civilisation) distrust of people recognisable as “strangers” by appearance, and neither is it the bigotry of individuals (presumably acting from some nineteenth century notion of sinful free will). It is most certainly not an excuse for the categorization of individuals based on isolated statements or Facebook posts. It is trivial to demonstrate prejudice on such a basis in almost any adult, particularly public figures. Harvard University have tests that will show anyone at least some of the implicit prejudices that are prone to sway our opinions, often unconsciously: racist, sexist, and homophobic.

Racism word cloud
Image: http://www.kharmasworld.com

Modern racism has the distinguishing feature of virulence. That is, both in the sense of a hostility to ethic minorities unknown in the ancient world and in terms of pervasiveness and harmfulness. The isolation of left wing individuals does practically nothing to combat racism in The Labour Party, although it might make some of us feel better that ‘something is being done’ about racism. This is of course an illusion. You and I are far from immune from its influence. In fact, it is striking that the most high profile recent cases of suspensions involve long-time anti-racism campaigners, almost all women, and almost all from ethnic minorities. This should cause consternation and discomfort to anyone who wants to inoculate themselves from white supremacy.

Modern racism has its roots in, especially, Elizabethan England’s uneasy relationship with Spain, Spain’s own power battles, and the greed of Europeans who saw profit in free African labour. To make it all about individuals is  superficial analysis, conservative commentary, and plays into the hands of reactionary forces.

Towards a kinder politics

My emotional resilience, ‘bouncebackability’ and capability to ride a storm serenely, is low. The majority of Labour Party members have relatively very high emotional resilience. This is a great asset.

Now, there has been much talk of kinder politics but you can’t have an effective kinder politics when there is a political class. Middle and upper class people, mainly white, on a conveyor belt from Oxbridge into Westminster.

The obsession with politeness amongst many of the Labour Left is naive, it is manipulated by the right, it shuts down diverse voices (and especially the oppressed) and it’s horribly bourgeois. Yes there are public messages to get out that should be positive. No I will not and should not pretend to be nice to everyone in politics about everything. And neither should anyone on the genuine left.

If you ultimately want a kinder politics, use the resilience you have to be unrelenting in the fight for diversity of membership and MPs. Empower.

Fight for quotas for BAME and disabled people, for all internal positions especially. Fight for ease of access to participation. That means not only physical access but online participation and varying meeting days and times. 

Fight for transparency. Fight to change the overbureaucratic structures. 

Accept that your prejudices exist and bring in measures at local level to tackle unconscious bias. Learn from Korean airlines and transform the culture. Accept your imperfections and mistakes. You are human and your status should not depend on impossible standards.

Don’t police language or tone.

Insist on the resignation of those who are deliberately failing to recruit members or to inform Corbynite members. Don’t be kind about it and don’t let up on them. They are cheating and being unethical. Let them know constantly their behaviour is unacceptable. Don’t be polite. Be a thorn in their self-interested sides. 

Most importantly, always speak up and never censor yourself for a phony unity. Dissent is a responsibility and it is transformative.

On Ken Livingstone and Zionism

When a disciplinary hearing requires experts to discuss the finer points of whether signing an agreement negotiated with Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland – and other activities in support of self-described Zionists- constitutes support for Zionism, we’re going way beyond meaningful attempts to tackle bigotry in the Labour Party. The best you could call it is a step towards a dangerously authoritarian insistence on impossible standards of ideological purity of individuals, which is of course a vainglorious pursuit, and all the more distasteful when one considers that the loudest voices calling for this within the Party use what they call ‘ideological purity’ to denigrate both founding principles and Socialist aspirations.

I find the notion that such esoteric and subtle nuances of truth as this could be grounds for permanent expulsion from the Labour Party extremely worrying. Totalitarianism and anti-intellectualism aren’t deliberate directions for most people to move towards but I feel we should be very concerned when the Party is thinking of expelling a member for statements which even IF not strictly true fall under a category more akin to “Broadly true but it’s more nuanced than that, and there are these pitfalls we might avoid, these are considerations an expert historian takes note of…” and so on, as opposed to obvious falsehoods. 

Going down this road, then beware all members who don’t have at least a History degree in this Party for the working people. 

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