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An Erratic Orbit

A bipolar perspective on the 3rd planet

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Politics

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. 

The Legend Of 28c – Prologue

Prologue.

The universe computes. The solar system is a computer. The Earth is a computer. I am a computer. You are a computer.

Our great central databases are at Facebook and Google. Facebook Research is the locus of  Psychology research on a scale hitherto unknown. The research is flawed, due to the nature of the data collection and a well documented  phenomenon in the field of Anthropology which I shall call the missionary’s curse. Nonetheless, a powerful entity emerges in the field of Psychology. I wonder if one day it will give itself a personal name.

The genie will not go back in the bottle. Two billion wishers rub its lamp constantly, and it rubs them, and they rub back. This is the positive feedback of addiction. So let me use it to at least tell a story of a little consequence. One of those little myth books, in fact, that will have a life of its own while the breeze barely rustles the long grass that brushes the headstone of the mister man who originated it.

On the day a gofer with a handicap you might think barely worthy of the name hit towards a location well to the left of the fairway, a brown envelope came through the door of 28C. The gofer himself was well used to receiving envelopes, bursting with Nazi bullion or Middle Eastern promise, it was all the same to him, so of course the brown DWP variety were not of much concern to him, and in his mind this was as it should be, for he saw himself as a very deserving type, and indeed he could not help himself deserving and deserving and helping himself to another serving of what he rightfully deserved, and this was his handicap. Anyhow, this envelope was not for him and he wouldn’t have wanted it.

The story begins on Christmas Day, a cheerful time of goodwill and family when two brothers with severe mental health issues living in an overcrowded flat each had a good miserable sleep through the whole thing. One brother did at least get out to meet a friend for a little dinner and a couple of drinks before the year had given up entirely on its brief, blighted existence. This being some relief from the isolation, the brother had a few more drinks after the friend went home.

I am distracted by a Ladybird.

Photo: pthompson500 at http://www.panoramio.com

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A Game Of Chess

“I don’t care where the pieces are.” I said.

Of course, this cannot be true. I meant to imply I don’t care where he is, as long as he doesn’t try to pin me. 

Later, he said “If you think I am some king-”

I could have stopped him there. A clumsy knight on a small board, only a monopoly property, a collection of listed buildings, front line of one battle between rich and poor, connected and disenfranchised, and inside an entire swirling life of privileges and disappointments, of failing to live up to expectations, of making it and not making it, of opening  letters to see your grades, the judgement upon you, the codes of conduct, Les regles de jeu, the crimson rising to the cheeks of the transgressor, the urgency of the moment behind the chip shop, the flat cap, the outsider looking in, the streets paved with gold, the relatively comfortable childhood home, coins in the fountain, Dickensian Christmas days, the peeling of an orange…

And beyond the window, a snowstorm.

If the desired outcome were an easier time, to keep me hence, for a little while, then wrong move. I burn brightly , too brightly some say, and my attention focuses on those who cause ripples within and around me. This is my meagre gift and curse: I feel as waves the ripples others ride. My board unbalanced, into the black water I go. Big fish, little fish swimming in the water. (Come back here man and give me my daughter). 

In the Samuel Lewis Buildings on Liverpool Road, the neatly composed Scot, each movement quietly thoughtful, her posture well aligned, “We have been engaged in navel gazing.”

Omphalos. I am not supine on the New River, the tendrils of my flower 

sleeping,  the skin of the green algae

bathing, the early evening sunlight

splashing, coins on the glass table

dancing, discarded cans of lager

rattling,  the clatter of the pieces

swimming, in my enamel coffin

growing. 

I come up for air. The bishop bobs by, mocked by the great blue sky and the deep green sea. 

“Yes, you are entirely correct. Homosexuality is not a sin.” she does not say. She hides behind her castle, welcoming, inclusive, and other decorous adjectives. Coward and dissembler.

Every action is power, every actor a metonym. I am a lighthouse. Batten down the hatches and lash yourself to the mast, we are steering hard to port.

Auditions at Kennedy’s Bar

​- I know what happens at their dinner parties. I know what they talk about. And I know your life.

Josh Brolin as GW swigs JD from bottle/horizontal 'bum'
Dubya/street drinker

– You do !NOT! know my life.
– So true. I misspoke. I only know how you appear to spend your days. 

Unconscious. I assess who, from appearances, may likely betray who at which point. I do not know the intricacies of past moments and future scenes that will make heroes and villains. 

Peter Capaldi, TARDIS, St Stephen's Tower
Image: http://www.echoba.se

Three shrink away from the door and another does not. Who though? Depends on the door. My mind… full of doors. And doors within doors. Doors in the ceiling. Doors in the floor. Anyone could open a door and you never quite know just who might walk in. Horror of horrors… are they dressed for the occasion?

Moss, awkward geek from the IT Crowd
Photo: http://www.channel4.com

Compassion is not enough. Psychology is not enough. Not even the finest politics. And religion? Least of all. But myth! Myth is transformative, in the right hands. 

Who would give themselves to make the future better? Heroic sacrifice could come from anyone, perhaps. What does it mean, though, to sacrifice? It may be bravery or cowardice to give up one’s life. Jesus was, after all, an ape. What example do we mimics set? 

I know this. That the least gave up what they found to be most precious. I poured and drank. How much ritual, reciprocity, and desire? 

Jesus
Image: http://www.allchristiannews.com

Time is precious too. I thank you. There is much to speak of regarding Time and tension, if only we-

Inside the tardis, pandora's box, the past

Word of the day

Brussels, 1948.

Schrödinger awoke, feeling somewhat precarious, an unease emanating from deep within, radiating skittishly through his body, registering as a trembling of his limbs. Somehow he had become entangled with the cat. It stretched out inside him, its forelimbs and claws an elusive but real presence inside the canals of his arms. Man and feline were not harmonically resonant. A tuneless, wary, nervous wail. A caterwaul. A hell of a hangover. A katzenjammer. Just thinking of the word made him-

He stretched his body over the warm naked back and rump of his lover, who made a small noise of protest, his head over the side, reaching underneath, crossing the channel in truculent weather to meet her in England, waves meeting waves, and threw up into the bedpan.

katzenjammer: Word of the Day from Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/wordoftheday/2017/01/18

The Box: A parable about control

Picture a polished wooden floor, dark as mahogany, absent of furniture, in a large room with a bay window. You begin to look at the thick, imperfect glass, when a white door opens at the far side of the room. The man entering the room has a name. We’ll call him Michael. Michael closes the door and sees a large plain-looking box on the floor. He approaches it, noticing now an ever so faint humming sound. He puts his ear to the box. A quiet but harsh buzzing behind the hum, as if the box contains a billion furious generals. Straining to pick out more, he eventually discerns the unpatterned clashing of what could be swords on shields or tuneless cymbals. 
Michael presses his ear to the box, a finger in the other ear. A barely audible succession of  high pitched short shrieks. He pulls back instinctively. He sees for the first time that the sides of the box do not meet perfectly, and from thin spaces between uneven joins.. the faint glow of a smoky red light. There are now clear cries of distress from inside. 

Michael decides this is a very dangerous box and he should sit on it to prevent any of its terrible contents from escaping. When he has been sitting on the box for a good hour, a small demon nonetheless wriggles free. It flies around his head mischievously, poking him with its tiny but sharp trident, evading his attempts to catch it or swat it away. After one fruitless lunge, he hears the demon deep inside his ear, loud and true. 

“You are the box” it says. The terrors that Michael feared swarm around his head, mocking, hissing, howling at him. Hideously aged and scarred faces; bloodthirsty battalions of the disaffected, in black uniforms, scything down homely couples and drifters alike; a girl begging him desperately to rescue her. When the bullet strikes, her face disappears and for a frozen moment a miraculous crested wave of dark liquid hangs in the air, then time returns with a sickening splash upon the pavement. He sees a hungry man eating from a day old dog corpse with his bare hands. He sees wretches flayed alive on the orders of a holy man. He sees and he sees, countless images of death. And he hears every sound. Worst of all, his own face before him, screaming wildly, although he himself can only watch, his lips unparted. 

Hieronymous Bosch - The Garden Of Earthly Delights
Hieronymous Bosch – The Garden Of Earthly Delights

The box was an illusion. All the evils of the world are unrestrained, dancing before him, and he cannot look away.  His visions coalesce; they whirl about him and, then, they enter him through his ears, eyes, nose, and mouth. Soon, the man conquered,all is still, and there is no longer anything  of note in the room. 
A white door opens, and Gabriel enters the room. He sees a plain-looking box. As he walks across the polished wooden floor he can make out  a faint hum… 

If you were Gabriel, would you sit on the box?

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