All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Creepy Agendas

2015 11 03  olice

Do Corbyn and Cameron agree on Policing the human mind?

Did anyone notice that we now have a shadow minister for mental health? Until recently we just had ministers for health concerned with the provision of medical services and social welfare. Indeed Labour's new allegedly anti-establishment leader chose to use his limited time at Prime Minister's Questions to address the perceived shortage of mental health services in the NHS. If you substitute the word psychiatry for mental health, you will soon understand where I'm coming from. Let's be under no illusions, when awareness-raising lobbyists talk of mental health (theoretically a positive term as we all aspire to good health in all aspects of our lives), they mean psychiatry, the notion that any deviation from some arbitrary definition of sanity merits medical treatment, intrusive monitoring and potentially hospitalisation. Indeed Mr Corbyn specifically bemoaned the lack of hospital beds for mental health patients, when in reality NHS spending on so-called mental health services has continued to rise year on year, with direct state intervention supplemented by a growing third sector. The problem is increased spending fails to meet spiralling demand, so the real question is why do so many people fail to cope emotionally?

Jeremy Corbyn comes across as extremely sincere. I shared many of his views 30 years ago and still agree with his consistent opposition to neo-imperialist faux-humanitarian wars. I rejoiced as Labour activists voted against the careerist heirs to Tony Blair and endorsed a rebel MP. Should Jeremy Corbyn wear a neatly ironed tailored suit or sing a national anthem that hails from Great Britain's colonial past? Should he acquire a modish sense of humour or feign interest in popular spectator sports? Personally, I like his apparent authenticity and prefer people to be themselves rather than try to emulate media personalities, which leads me back to the creepy mental health agenda.

This subject seems to find its way into speeches and stage-managed debates in all mainstream political parties from the Liberal Democrats to the Tories, from New Labour to the SNP, now the governing party in Scotland. Concern about mental health services is always billed as progressive and caring, yet few question the underlying authoritarian roots of the latest attempt to rebrand psychiatry.

Define Irrationality!

Many human behaviours seem irrational and some are either evil or simply self-destructive. In antiquity, long before modern medicine and social welfare, dysfunctional behaviour would be rewarded only with social exclusion and procreational failure. By definition functional behaviour serves the best interests of oneself and one's immediate family and community, while dysfunctional behaviour may satisfy temporary desires, but destroys livelihoods. However, who may define insanity and gain the right to intervene in the lives of those who exhibit signs of madness? The answer to this question goes to the very heart of our concept of personal freedom and collective responsibility. If I want to run around naked in my back garden, do I not have the freedom to do so? Some would consider this an obscene act of madness and others a harmless and perfectly natural pastime on a sunny afternoon. The apparent insanity of such an act depends very much on its social acceptability. Not all actions are entirely logical. Many serve functions other than mere physical survival. We need to nurture not only our body, but also our soul and social bonds. We gain pleasure not just from essential life-sustaining deeds such as breathing, drinking, eating and keeping fit, but from our relentless quest for greater connectedness with the outside world and above all with other human beings. We live not just for the sake of life itself, but to play, learn, communicate, explore and experience. Over the millennia we have developed an almost endless variety of rituals and pursuits to fulfil our emotional or spiritual needs. Sometimes such adventurous creativity led us to discover new techniques and thus allow our species to colonise new habitats and dedicate more time to leisure and learning than mundane survival tasks. However, we have always grappled with two competing impulses. On the one hand we may seek greater social approval and integration, a tendency we call conformism. On the other, we have a natural drive to learn new tricks and engage in new experiences. We may call this latter inquisitive impulse, non-conformism, or when expressed as a rebellion against orthodoxy, as anti-conformism.

Is Society Insane?

As a rule illogical, non-productive and/or dysfunctional behaviours are fine as long they meet social approval. In modern Britain, all sorts of very antisocial destructive antics are justified as mere drunken larks. Many seemingly irrational deeds are not just socially acceptable, but are actively promoted by advertising and social media. Obsessive gambling, intensive video-gaming and all night drug-addled raves are now fairly mainstream, advertised in digital media and glorified by celebrities. Such activities carry mere warnings, yet have the power to blind us to reality or prevent us from leading productive lives. We have become obsessed with fame and publicity. If rock stars can lead lavish lifestyles high on heroin or crack cocaine, why should I not emulate them?

By contrast many harmless non-conformist acts are simply judged mad, or in modern parlance, mental health issues. If you have just re-mortgaged your house to bet on a horse who may not win, that may be slightly unwise, but just the kind of wild things people do these days. However, if you are fixated with media lies and refuse to believe hijacked jet planes could cause the collapse of New York's famous Twin Towers in 2001, many will consider you a conspiracy theorist. It doesn't matter that historically governments have repeatedly lied to their people. If you doubt your mainstream media today, you are probably afflicted by some sort of paranoid delusion.

Shifting Goalposts

Mental ill-health criteria depend not so much on illogical dysfunctional behaviour, but on people management and social integration. If someone deviates from societal norms and behaves in a challenging way that affects social order, it is much easier for myriad social workers and psychologists to view the problem as a neurological disorder rather than a wider societal problem. While we all like to pretend we care about each other, all too often we seize on some of other people's most superficial imperfections to justify exclusion and discriminatory treatment. More investment in the mental health sector inevitably leads more people to be diagnosed with spurious personality disorders. Once labelled, a person begins to view life's challenges mainly in terms of their new psychiatric identity rather than as a complex set of psychological reactions to a divisive social rat race. The more we diagnose people with one mental health condition or another, the more we need to invest in treatment for such conditions. Worse still such conditions are increasingly seen as natural genetic variations that have always existed.

The powerful pro-psychiatry lobby has meanwhile coopted the language of the radical left. People diagnosed with personality disorders are now seen as victims of stigma against their labels, rather than victims of psychiatry and of a wider society unwilling to understand why they behave as they do. They claim to defend the rights of the vulnerable, yet absolve the society that caused their emotional problems.

By equating physical health with mental health, we reduce complex human thoughts and feelings to mere physiological organs that respond to medical treatment. Some people do have genuine neurological deficits or brain damage. Our brains are amazingly versatile and adaptive. Some have coped incredibly well even after losing half their brain. These conditions are rightly the realm of neurologists, but most sufferers of depression, OCD, anorexia or psychosis do not have any discernible neurological defects that predate their first exposure to psychoactive drugs and a very large proportion of those who suffered psychosis had been regular users of recreational drugs, even of allegedly soft drugs like cannabis.

Awareness raisers will endlessly recycle the statistic that 1 in 4 adults will suffer a mental health issue. In Jeremy Corbyn's words this means everyone has a close friend or relative who has experienced a mental health crisis (which we used to call a nervous breakdown). The corollary is we need to invest in public healthcare and welfare to help such people. In other words we need more psychiatrists, social workers and welfare dependence rather than more tolerant and accommodating workplaces and less insane social competition. If someone finds it hard to meet and keep friends, is it necessarily their fault? Do we only act if social exclusion can be attributed to racism, sexism or homophobia? Why the hell do we all have to act cool and feign interest in shallow junk culture just to be popular among our peers? Why do we measure ourselves against movie stars, rather just look after our natural bodies? Can we not just be ourselves?

Lastly where do we draw the line between normality and mental ill-health, between sadness and depression or between audacity and insanity? These lines have been steadily blurring for over 20 years to encompass a widening cross-section of society. By normalising mental health labels, we're walking down a slippery slope to a Brave New World, in which everyone is classified by their neurological traits and all aspects of our lives are monitored for the greater social good.

The only irony is the media has already begun to explain away Corbyn's views on foreign affairs, wars and monarchy in condescending psychiatric terms. Yet expanding the surveillance state has been as much part of the elite agenda as waging destabilising wars in the Middle East. Corbyn will have little impact on any policies that are effectively devolved to NATO, the EU or global banks, but on mental health he is at one with Cameron.

Power Dynamics

Confusing arguments about Refugees


Some of us are fully aware of the semantic differences between refugees and migrants. A migrant is anyone who moves from one region to another. All people classed as refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants, emigrants, settlers, travellers or nomads are migrants. Migration is a wholly neutral term that implies nothing about our motivations or plans or indeed whether we are moving to another continent, country or just another region of the same country. By contrast a refugee is a special category of migrant fleeing persecution, war and/or environmental calamities. A refugee has little choice but to move to a place of safety. Helping refugees is an act of human solidarity, not a business transaction. You don't help refugees to boost your economy, provide a convenient source of cheap labour or transform your country into a dynamic multicultural mosaic of ethnically diverse communities. You help refugees because you can and because you hope one day your act of human solidarity will be repaid in kind. Yet the mass-migration lobby recycle many of the same arguments used for increased economic migration. Indeed I agree in some circumstances economic migration can benefit the native population, but that has nothing to do with refugees, unless you are prepared only to help those who can enrich you and not those who need your help most.

More important, refugees do not choose to abandon their homeland for selfish economic betterment, but to seek safety until they can return to their homeland. Sometimes this may not be easy, but good samaritans help others to help themselves.

In 1973 Ugandan dictator Idi Amin expelled Indians as part of his Africanisation programme. Indian Ugandans formed a distinctive business community who did not fully integrate with African Ugandans and were often seen as lackeys of British colonialism. They were caught in a limbo between Britain, whose language they spoke fluently, and India where most had never lived. Some moved to India, but the UK accepted some 30,000 as many recognised the British Empire's primary responsibility for their plight. This is often cited as an example of successful accommodation of refugees, largely because they were relatively well-educated and had a strong entrepreneurial spirit. However, in most emergencies wealthy Western countries do little to help. Compare and contrast the way the British government welcomed 30,000 Asian Ugandans to the way only a few years earlier it resettled around 2000 Chagos islanders to temporary camps in Mauritius at the behest of the US State Department so they could build a strategic airbase there. To military planners the Chagossians represented little more than an inconvenience that had to be dealt with in the name of progress, a little like rehousing the residents of dwellings demolished to make way for a new motorway. British colonial history is littered with examples of resettlements and ethnic cleansing. Concern about refugees beyond one's immediate border zones is a very modern phenomenon, facilitated by 24/7 news and easy long-distance travel.

Now the mass-migration lobby have decided to exploit the very real Syrian refugee crisis. The 4 way civil war was caused largely by US and UK military intervention and funding of opposition militias, who later split and joined ISIS. Before the war most Syrians wanted to remain in their home country. Now over half the population has fled. Yet many of the same globalist forces that supported intervention first against the Assad regime and then against ISIS, also want European countries to welcome more refugees. The same is true for Libya. Before the overthrow of Colonel Gadafi, migratory flows from North Africa to Europe were relatively small, because for all his faults Gadafi stemmed the tide by accepting a fair number of Sub-Sarahan African immigrants to work in his oil-rich republic. After his regime fell and rival militias took over, the country has descended into chaos allowing a huge rise in people trafficking.

Migration is all about checks and balances

Until recently we talked mainly in terms of immigrants and emigrants, because before the age of cheap long distance travel such movements tended to be permanent. Europeans would emigrate to the Americas to start a new life and we would assimilate immigrants from other countries, often former colonies. However, many birds regularly migrate, a natural adaptation to seasonal and climatic variations. Common starlings will winter in Iberia or North Africa, but fly north to the British Isles in summer. We call this migration because it involves periodic round trips. We may assume if the Ice Age returned starlings would adapt their migratory patterns accordingly. Likewise some human communities still lead a nomadic lifestyle, especially in sparsely populated regions with inhospitable climates for much of the year. For most of humanity's existence, we were hunter gatherers organised into tribes who would regularly move within their known habitats. We lived more at one with nature. Our movements would adapt to natural ecological changes, but would usually lead us to familiar territory, unless overriding environmental vicissitudes motivated us to risk life and limb in search of new lands, which often meant traversing hundreds of miles of unchartered territory before discovering a new hospitable habitat. Again this process is correctly called migration because we had no foreknowledge of any human communities that might live in our new homeland. We did not migrate to colonise other people, but to find a new home for our community. Then around fifteen thousand years ago the agrarian revolution led more of us to abandon our nomadic lifestyle in favour of more permanent settlements that would become fiefdoms with armies and eventually lead to the first city states and expansionist empires. When you move from one country to another, you shift your allegiance and adapt to a different set of customs. That's why we talked of immigration and emigration.

By stressing migration rather than immigration, opinion leaders hoped to shift public perception away from the social and environmental challenges of accommodating more people with different cultural backgrounds into their neighbourhoods to the normalisation of free movement as a fact of post-modern 21st century life. Just as British people holiday in Spain or Turkey and even buy second homes there, others choose to move here for work. This seems fine as long as it's balanced and, dare I say, sustainable. Unfortunately, opinion leaders have only succeeded in persuading us to say migrants rather than immigrants. They have failed dismally in persuading us that mass movements of people and transient communities with rapidly changing ethnic compositions benefit longstanding native communities. They have merely impoverished the English language by removing important semantic distinctions.

Now the mass-migration lobby wants us to call all migrants refugees. Not only is this factually incorrect, it does a disservice to genuine refugees, who have to compete with economic migrants for access to the more prosperous safe havens.

Power Dynamics

Imagine there’s no countries…

Utopia or dystopia

Reflections on Global Convergence

As an idealist teenager John Lennon's Imagine became my anthem. I yearned for a future devoid of the seemingly pointless nationalist rivalry and imperialism that had fuelled two world wars and enslaved millions in the colonial era. I dreamed innocently of a world where different peoples would learn from each other, share their experiences and cultures altruistically and fairly. Yet as I travelled around Europe, South America, Southern Africa and India, another reality emerged. Far from converging on a new environmentally sustainable and egalitarian world order with genuine cultural exchange, the world was converging rapidly on a new model of hyper-consumerism based on the North American dream. As the increasingly globalised world media, albeit localised in a multitude of idioms, spread awareness of the 2-car suburban family with all mod cons, traditional alternatives lost their appeal. Suddenly everyone wanted a washing machine, fridge, car, TV and holidays in the sun. Anything less might now be viewed as some kind of denial of human rights. If you enjoy these luxuries you may reasonably wonder why you should deny them to those who through no fault of their own were born in a low-wage country, where with a lower purchasing power people may not afford all the gizmos of early 21st century life that many of us take for granted. This begs the question, can we ratchet up global consumption to sustain 8 billion people (the world population is forecast to peak at between 10 and 11 billion sometime mid century) with a Western European lifestyle? That would require 4 billion motor vehicles, millions more miles of multilane highways and high-speed railways, a huge rise in air traffic, and four to five-fold rise in electricity consumption, even taking into account improvements in energy efficiency. Even if we could convert our entire car fleet to electric power, we'd still need billions of tonnes of steel, aluminium and plastics as well as copious supplies of lithium for mission-critical batteries. Yet some wishful thinkers would rather believe the only reason we have not yet refined technology to accommodate 10 billion happy consumers in perfect harmony with our ecosystem is because of a combination of evil capitalism, repressive regimes and remnant border controls that prevent people from escaping third world hell holes.

An apparently well-meaning group of left-branded activists have recently staged protests under the No Borders banner in Calais. As their name suggests they want the complete abolition of border controls. If corporations can operate globally without restrictions, then why can't human beings? Their demands stand in stark contrast to widespread opposition among millions of ordinary Europeans to growing levels of immigration. Then Germany's business-friendly government announced they would accept as many as 800,000 refugees (and other migrants) this year. As migrants continued to flow through Southern and Eastern Europe to reach the more generous welfare states of Sweden, Germany and the UK, incessant media pressure mounted for more countries to take their fair share. The stage is set for the perfect storm in the next phase of globalisation, as ethnically diverse groups of natives and newcomers compete to gain access to higher pay and living standards. Newcomers fail to understand why they cannot enjoy the fruits of what is by any measure a globally integrated economy, while natives all too often remain not just sceptical of the alleged benefits of mass immigration, but see their wages compressed as the practical cost of living keeps rising.

Global Village

For the sake of argument let us just indulge the universalist fantasy, prevalent in much of the allegedly green left, that as we are all human beings in an increasingly interconnected world, we may as well just abolish all borders and let people move freely wherever they see fit.

If your ideal society is some sort of post-modern metrosexual vegetarian hippie commune where everyone shares a worldview broadly based on the 1969 Woodstock festival but with state-of-the-art smartphones and designer-label fashion accessories resembling a typical London advertising agency, borders would be pointless. Everyone would share the same godless politically correct mindset, speak the same language, watch the same movies and worship one or more global brands, a jetsetting, peace-loving generation eager to explore the world. Except they'd all be fairly rich and would only travel to embellish their facebook profile and boost their CV.

I agree borders are a major inconvenience for globetrotters. I've had a few unpleasant exchanges with border guards myself. In 1990 I was refused entry into Argentina on a British passport while my Italian partner was welcome to enter the country visa-free. After waiting 2 hours, I was granted a temporary 10 day visa. In 1999 I had my backpack humiliatingly ransacked (exposing two rolls of film in the process) by a Kalashnikov-wielding Namibian border guard. In the early 80s I can recall being detained by a Dutch border guard because my garishly dyed hair and earring did not match my 2 year-old passport photo. But by far the most awkward border crossings I endured were between West and East Berlin. On one occasion I sported a red SWP fist badge. The East German border guard was not amused as I explained it stood for International Socialism and then discovered a crumpled copy of the magazine of the SWP's tiny West German sister organisation. Just 6 years later jubilant crowds knocked the infamous Berlin Wall down. Later as the Schengen Zone expanded to include Poland and Baltic states, one could travel from Portugal through Spain, France, Germany and Poland without ever having one's documents checked. Just 30 years ago longstanding communities were torn apart by arbitrary borders imposed by superpowers. Now not only is Europe largely borderless, but the ruling elites plan to open the continent's doors to millions of economic migrants and refugees. Many cities and suburbs have already been transformed from mildly cosmopolitan urban districts that still reflected the cultural traditions of their provincial hinterlands to microcosms of a rapidly converging global village of diverse transient communities. Cities have come to resemble airport terminals populated by a motley crew of international commuters frequenting localised variants of the same global brand stores and restaurants.

I should admit a selfish personal interest in maintaining regional cultural diversity. For me part of the joy of visiting another locale is to experience different customs, ways of life, philosophical outlooks, expressions of humanity, belief systems, cuisines and languages. I admit such differences are not always convenient. I once had trouble ordering a meal with a monoglot Czech waitress in the pre-Internet era before I had a chance to buy a phrase book. During a four week exchange with an Indian family on the outskirts of Delhi my stomach took two weeks to adapt to Uttar Pradesh cooking, bucket showers and squat toilets. I was the only non-Indian in the neighbourhood. Now these differences are either commoditised as regionally branded dishes and fashion accessories available worldwide or are submerged by a global lifestyle. Cultural diversity in Europe's metropolises is just a temporary illusion as different ethnic communities adapt to a bland new superculture, often at odds with most of the world's traditional cultures.

However, many radical universalists view real cultural diversity as an anachronism. We may celebrate our differences and share recipes, but national cultures may soon become mere historical artefacts of interest largely to ethnologists, preserved only in vestigial formats for tourists, a little like Maori Dances of Life performed at New Zealand's All Blacks national rugby team matches or quaint signs in Manx or Cornish, now defunct languages resurrected only by local enthusiasts.

Global Fantasy

So what would happen if all border checks disappeared? 30 years ago most people in Africa, Southern and Eastern Asia would have simply been too poor to take advantage of their new travel freedoms. Even today many would rather stay within their native communities than risk uncertainty in foreign lands. Yet the world today is a radically different place as hundreds of millions have already abandoned their ancestral rural homelands for large conurbations. Moreover, we live in an unprecedented era of instant telecommunication, peak population and, more disturbingly, peak consumption. Never have so many wanted to consume so much and so rapidly. So now with the consumerist genie of out of the proverbial bottle, it seems only logical for millions more young people to migrate to where the best economic opportunities present themselves. I've experienced this myself as an IT contractor. “Would you move to Dubai as an Oracle database administratorâ€, enquires an IT recruiter, “Surely many locals would like such an opportunity†I reply. It seems all countries experience both high youth unemployment and a skills shortage.

As long as migration is controlled, substantial differences can remain in welfare provision, workers' rights, environmental protection, tax regimes and salaries. The UK's population has risen by nearly 7 million in just 15 years, its fastest rate ever since the early 19th century, almost entirely due to record levels of net migration. Yet seven million extra human beings are a mere drop in the ocean compared to 6 billion human beings who do not yet enjoy Western European living standards. Some have argued the free movement of labour enshrined in the 1993 Maastricht Treaty worked well when the EU only had 15 member states with fairly comparable living standards. However, without overriding economic motives, inter-EU migration remained relatively balanced. By contrast when countries have huge differences in wealth, migratory flows tend to become unbalanced. We see that both within countries and internationally. For much of the 20th century the British Isles saw a steady drift of best and brightest from the North of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland to the Southeast of England. Likewise Southern Italians would migrate to the industrial North. However, governments would intervene to redress the imbalance. In the 1990s many Northern Italians grew tired of subsidising the South and supported the Lega Nord, who wanted to secede from the rest of Italy. Little did they know that their taxes would soon not only subsidise Sicily, Campania and Calabria, but much of Eastern Europe and a growing influx of migrants from Africa and Middle East too.

Life as an Emigré

Fed up with life at home, I migrated myself to Italy at a time when just as many Italians were in the UK. I belonged to a tiny minority that felt a little disillusioned with British cultural decadence in the mid 80s and relished the opportunity to learn Italian, a different outlook on life and new ways of doing things. Cultural change catches your attention much more when you return to a place after a lengthy interlude. After 13 years away from the UK, I returned in 1997 feeling rather alienated, but for the first few years I failed to grasp the true scale of cultural change as we moved to the relative backwater of Fife, Scotland, but within easy commuting distance of more cosmopolitan Edinburgh. Only when I moved back down to London in 2006 did I begin to realise that the gradual cultural changes of my youth had given way to a new era of rapid global cultural convergence. Whereas once I would worry that 90% of movies in Italian cinemas were American or continental Europeans unduly worshipped English rockstars, the England that I knew as a child was fast fading into a distant recent past. Its capital city has become a global hub unhinged from its geo-cultural setting. Indeed while I may have once worried that Spanish waiters would reply to my Spanish in English, I would often struggle to make myself understood in the heart of England's capital. What we are witnessing is not, as I previously thought, Anglo-American cultural imperialism (as Robert Phillipson theorised in his seminal book on Linguistic Imperialism), but full-blown Global imperialism. This may sound oxymoronic. How can the world colonise itself, but a global superculture is rapidly superimposing itself on all autochthonous cultures everywhere.

Global Justice

As the global juggernaut seems unstoppable, despite our undeniable environmental challenges, let us briefly evaluate the feasibility of this borderless fantasy. If transnational corporations exploit people and resources globally, how can we expect them to subsidise welfare and higher pay only in Europe and North America? Abolishing borders would surely require us to get rid of different tax regimes, salary levels and environmental standards. The European Union is well its on its way to harmonising tax systems and welfare provision across the continent. If a Federalist EU merged with NAFTA, MercoSur and other regional trading blocs, some idealists believe global corporations would pay global taxes to be redistributed fairly to anyone in need wherever they may live. Global justice warriors imagine they can welcome the mass exodus of people from low wage regions and simultaneously defend welfare provision in high-wage regions. They imagine resources are extracted merely to boost corporate profits, but not to meet an insatiable demand for more and more consumer goodies.

Democracy and Human Nature

Lower living standards are not great vote winners, yet as wealthy countries lose their exclusive right to a larger share of global resources, that is precisely what we may soon have to accept.

Should the economies of Northern Europe, North America and Australia (the most popular destinations of the current exodus from developing countries) decline, you can be sure migratory pressure will subside too. However, business elites have found a clever way to grow the economy by promoting a huge oversupply of low-skilled labour servicing the affluent professional classes alongside cheap manufactured goods keeping the consumer classes happy. This growth is both illusory and ultimately counterproductive as it relies on importing more and more waves of compliant workers to replace home-grown workers with higher material expectations. Worse still unbalanced migration in an unequal society tends to erode social cohesion and trust. However much we may pretend to care for the rest of humanity and embrace new cuisines or music, the system induces us act selfishly as self-marketing players in an economic rat race. In this context the prospect of a better paid job in Australia or Norway is simply an opportunity.

Reality Check

Historically, the higher living standards of ordinary workers in wealthier countries like Sweden, Canada, Germany or the UK were built on a high-skilled and dedicated workforce, subservient to a rapacious ruling class eager to gain access to plentiful supplies of raw materials. I very much doubt Britain's industrial revolution would have given the country such a vast technological lead over its main imperialist rivals in the 18th and 19th centuries without immense coal reserves, and shortened lives of hundreds of thousands in miners, powering its shipping and steel industries. Likewise Britain would not have conquered a quarter of the world's landmass without a sizeable navy. UK-based corporations built the nation's subsequent wealth on the back of its mercantile empire with the blood of its native workers and colonial subjects. As industrial automation and outsourcing took hold, people became less aware of the complex processes involved in the production and distribution of their beloved consumer products and began to value them only for their utility and prestige. We take many consumer products for granted and have redefined poverty to mean a relative lack of the kind of devices considered essential for our modern lifestyle. Just 20 years ago, most of us could manage without a mobile phone. Just 60 years ago most Europeans did not have a car. Now anyone unable to afford these technological marvels is considered poor.

Alternative Futures

Global idealists envisage the only way to tackle global inequality is to abolish nation states altogether, so in effect the whole world becomes one country. If we simply enforced a global average on everyone, living standards would plummet in wealthy countries, so global justice warriors believe rapid technological change will enable us to elevate everyone to Scandinavian levels of welfare provision while reducing consumption. They seem to believe solar panel and wind turbine technologies are progressing so fast that massive efficiency gains will enable all 7-8 billion human beings alive today to escape poverty in a nice cuddly tree-hugging eco-friendly way. The problem is while the current phase of intensive globalisation has certainly seen rapid rises in wealth in countries once considered poor and a shift of global power away from Europe and North America to Asia, Africa and South America, it has destabilised whole regions and continued to fuel proxy resource wars. The Euro project, far from creating a level playing field among its member countries, has led to record youth unemployment in much of Southern Europe, unable to compete with cheap imports from the Far East. Meanwhile we see extreme concentrations of profligate wealth in the Middle East, China, India, Africa and Latin America. How can we build a global utopia if Nigerian billionaires squander the proceeds of their country's oil bonanza on Ferraris, private jets and marble palaces? Why should working class Europeans compete with refugees and economic migrants from the Middle East for social housing and healthcare provision, if Arab billionaires build fortress city states that refuse to accept any refugees at all?

I've long argued that mass migration is not the answer, but merely a symptom of a grotesquely unequal world. The only sustainable solution that accords with human nature is to roll back corporate globalisation and build a new multipolar world order of independent countries that live within their means and only trade fairly. We would still pool some sovereignty on global environmental issues and we would still have some balanced migratory exchanges. To me it seems perfectly fair to ban imports reliant on cheap labour or to give preferential treatment to local lads and lasses for local jobs. We must become more aware of global issues, but seek local solutions to our immediate problems.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one