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All in the Mind Power Dynamics War Crimes

The Abolition of Britain and the rise of Global Governance

How the quest for greater independence is being usurped by power-hungry control freaks

I make no bets on the outcome of the snap General Election scheduled for 12th December. Last time a healthy Tory majority seemed almost certain until a couple of weeks before polling and after a disastrous Conservative election campaign. For the first time in recent history Labour did much better than expected. My hunch is Boris Johnson's party will win a comfortable majority of seats because the core working class electorate have lost all faith in Labour, but I doubt the resulting managerial team will do much to protect British workers from the excesses of globalism. I hope the government's ineptitude may oddly strengthen the resilience of ambitious youngsters as they realise the state will not help them fulfil their dreams and thus avoid succumbing to a prevailing culture of victimhood and entitlement.

We may well see another shift among the affluent managerial and business classes from the Tories to the misnamed Liberal Democrats (or the illiberal unDemocrats as I call them), while many traditional Labour voters either sit at home, strategically vote Conservative or flirt with the Brexit Party to keep out Labour, whom they now see as the party of unlimited mass migration, toxic identity politics and undeliverable spending commitments. However, in Scotland Labour will lose out not only to the Conservatives, but to a resurgent SNP capitalising on fashionable anti-English sentiment. They see Brexit as the brainchild of English Tories eager to resurrect the British Empire. If we assume current polling is correct, the political map of mainland Britain will be split into four. The Tories will dominate English shires and towns, the Liberal Democrats will do well in the most affluent neighbourhoods, while Labour will keep most of its metropolitan strongholds among its special victim groups, welfare-dependents, social engineers and trendy students. By contrast, owing to the vagaries of the First Past the Post system, Nicola Sturgeon's cult movement look set to snap up most Scottish seats, as the anti-SNP vote is too evenly split. The Brexit Party will be lucky to gain 1 or 2 seats in former UKIP strongholds, but they may succeed only in letting Labour hold on to a few more marginals.

The ongoing Brexit saga amid yet another General Election with very uninspiring choices has revealed two unwelcome realities. First most nation states have limited independence from global banks and corporations, supranational institutions and a well-funded network of nominally independent non-governmental organisations (NGOs) posing as humanitarian charities. Second, and perhaps more important, it has exposed what our ruling classes really think about democracy. If they cannot persuade the great unwashed masses to endorse their social engineering plans by electing a bunch of middle managers who will cooperate with the agents of change, they will destabilise your country and have you begging for their intervention.

Whatever the relative merits of the European Union may be, the outcome represented a huge kick in the backside for the metropolitan elite, who for decades have presided over the steady transfer of power from time-honoured local institutions to more remote international entities in the name of progress. Let us be under no illusions the EU is only a means to an end, not the end itself. There are many good reasons to welcome close cooperation among Europe's disparate peoples to protect our cultural heritage and defend us against the worst excesses of what we once viewed as neoliberal globalism, especially as a counterbalance to the North American and Chinese models with their extreme forms of plutocracy. Just 15 years ago in the aftermath of the joint US and UK occupation of Iraq, many of us wanted to distance ourselves from the British and American foreign policy establishment. Many of us hoped a Europe Community of independent peace-loving and democratic nation states with strong protections both for personal freedom and social justice could offer an alternative to Anglo-American capitalism.

While many other countries appeared insecure and in imminent danger of fragmentation, civil war and greater subjugation to imperial forces, Britain seemed impervious. Only the Northern Irish conflict ever posed a security threat, although behind the scenes the British Civil Service has long viewed the province as more of a burden than a strategic asset. Scottish and Welsh nationalism remained relatively tame disputes, quibbling mainly about the extent of autonomy within the United Kingdom. Few thought any major part of the UK would join another major superstate. The Republic of Ireland has since its inception remained steadfastly neutral, so even if Northern Ireland voted to join the Republic, there would be no fundamental shift in the balance of power. Leaving aside widespread opposition to the deployment of the Trident nuclear missiles in Faslane just northwest of Glasgow, Scotland has long been way too reliant on tight integration with the British military industrial complex for mainstream politicians to advocate military independence from the rest of the UK and from NATO, although this was the official SNP position until 2012.

Sea Change

Before around 2012 the European issue seemed very much off the radar. Transnational bodies like the EU, NATO and the UN were just facts of our increasingly internationalised lives, but not things we felt affected our everyday lives. Broadly speaking most Europeans opposed further centralisation preferring to keep control of economic, social and military policy at a more accountable national level, but many still believed our politicians somehow represented our interests at various international gatherings. We saw this in referendums in Ireland, France, the Netherlands and Denmark where voters rejected new treaties (respectively of Nice and Lisbon) only to see their votes either ignored or to be forced to vote again after cosmetic changes. However, we could also argue that the public have grown so disillusioned with the sorry state of national politics that they'd rather place their trust in shiny new progressive institutions that transcend traditional boundaries. For decades the establishment media has tried to persuade Europeans that they can trust the EU and NATO more than their local regimes with their chequered history of corruption and despotism. In the early 1970s not only was most of Eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain, but Greece, Spain and Portugal still had military dictatorships appealing to traditional Christian values to ward off the dual dangers of Eastern communism and Western decadence. Not surprisingly millions of younger Europeans welcomed the fall of these paternalistic regimes and embraced a new era of mass consumerism combined with a comfortable social safety net. While millions of Greeks, Spaniards and Portuguese may be critical of the budgetary constraints imposed on their governments to keep alive the Euro, they still tend to associate the EU with the greater prosperity they've enjoyed since the 1980s. The situation in Britain is very different. The golden era of the British working classes was the 1950s and 60s. Sure we lacked many of the modern conveniences made more affordable by recent technological progress, e.g. many had outside toilets, coal fires instead of central heating and cars were still a luxury for many, but what mattered most is that the relative quality of life was steadily improving with a high level of upwards social mobility. A typical school leaver could aspire to getting a decent skilled job as an apprentice and earn enough to be able to marry, buy a house and start a family by his or her mid to late twenties, all without welfare handouts. We hoped progress would empower families to lead more independent lives while still enjoying the fruits of a civil society with a high degree of social trust and mutual respect. Little did we know that many of our mission-critical jobs would be first outsourced and then automated as big business had to rein in the collective bargaining power of trade unions. The long-drawn-out demise of British industry, kept on life support during the 1970s, weakened the resolve and resilience of the working classes, blamed for demanding unmerited pay rises, being too lazy and lacking the industriousness of their European and Japanese colleagues. Yet to this day, many observers simply blame Thatcher for turning off the life support machine that squandered countless billions on trying to save outdated industries that could not survive the challenge of global competition able not only to tap into a seemingly limitless supply of cheap labour, but to quickly close or retool outdated manufacturing facilities with little regard to job security.

I noticed even as long ago as the 1979 General Election that saw Margaret Thatcher's Tories win a healthy majority of seats, Labour had begun to shift its focus from standing up for workers' rights to championing welfare and public services. Thatcher managed to appeal to the aspirational working classes, the kind of people who wanted to own a house, drive a car, holiday in Spain and earn a decent living through a career in the growing service sector. While some workers adapted and some new light manufacturing outfits took the place of heavy industry, many youngsters in Labour's working class heartlands outside the more prosperous South East of England inherited the helplessness of their parents who had failed to adapt and thus became trapped on welfare or short-term jobs in call centres leading inevitably to dysfunctional households and social dislocation. Nonetheless a major rebranding effort saved the Labour Party as it embraced Thatcherite reforms, the information revolution and pop culture while promising not to raise taxes. I was an early sceptic of Blairite Magic. Somehow his soundbites lacked substance or analytical integrity, but one slogan stuck in my mind "Education, Education, Education". If you believed the hype, we were on the verge of a quantum leap in scientific excellence. The next generation would become talented doctors, inventors, bioscientists, software developers and robotics engineers. Alas very few did, but many more became recruiters, public relations officers, graphic designers, creative directors or worked on the peripheries of emerging high-tech industries in new-fangled specialisations such as forensic science or environmental science, learning how to engage with technologies that someone else developed to monitor other people's behaviour, market goods or ensure minimum healthy and safety standards. With such a dearth of tech-savvy innovators and entrepreneurs, British professionals have focused mainly on people management and persuasion, a sector encompassing not only advertising, public relations and entertainment, but behaviour and attitude modification through charities and education. For every engineer developing new technology to help us solve practical environmental challenges, there are many more climate change awareness officers or busy bodies lecturing parents on how to deal with tantrums without smacking. The net result is a dual culture of dependence, either on state handouts or on corporate largesse, and greatly reduced personal resilience. The first Blair government famously rebranded Britain as Cool Britannia, more about rock stars than scientific pioneers. Now the last gasp of British cultural innovation has been co-opted by the multibillion dollar entertainment industry and blended into a global culture disconnected from the specific locales of post-imperial suburban Britain. In the same period Global English has begun its shift from a high-status international language modelled on standard British or American English to a rapidly mutating form of NewSpeak inspired by a worldwide intelligentsia with little reference to the speech patterns of the transient residents of London or New York City. Native speakers have thus lost the relative advantage they once had over those who acquired the language later in life.

As a historical paradox the country that has given the world its dominant lingua franca now suffers from an acute identity crisis as progressive opinion leaders attempt to deny there is such a thing as a native English person. This mirrors trends in other European countries with almost identical claims going mainstream in Germany and Sweden too. National identity for many in cosmopolitan areas has been reduced to mere temporary allegiance to your country of residence in occasional sporting events.

What's left of Britishness anyway?

Many Ulster unionists are none too happy about Boris Johnson's deal to keep their province in regulatory alignment with the EU's Customs Union and Single Market with customs checks in the Irish Sea rather than along the meandering border with the Republic of Ireland. Increasingly only the Democratic Unionist Party defend traditional values, while Sinn Fein, claiming to represent the Catholic community, has recently endorsed positions on gay marriage, LGBTQ-friendly sex education and abortion perfectly aligned with the cultural left, but at variance with Catholic teachings. However, a growing proportion of the younger generation identify neither with Protestantism nor Catholicism and are very open to unification with what has become a secular Ireland. The British Deep State seems more concerned about the perceived Russian threat than subsidising Northern Ireland.

The begs the question whether the CEOs of UK PLC really care that much about the constitutional status of Scotland, now they know a nominally independent Scotland would both stay in NATO and join the new European Defence Union. Universalist media outlets treat Nicola Sturgeon's SNP much more favourably than the Brexit Party or even the Tory Party.

However, I sense a split between the Atlanticist and Europhile wings of British intelligentsia. Recent statements from Emanuel Macron, Guy Verhofstadt and the EU's new President Ursula von der Leyen have revealed a gradual shift from a unified European military command working within NATO alongside the USA to a European Army taking over from the USA in global policing operations in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. More disturbing is the growing hostility among the Western European elites towards Russia. In just a few years neo-conservative war hawks have shifted their lobbying operations from Washington DC to Brussels. To match US military spending, the Europe Union would have to double spending, something that would be very unpopular at a national level, but could only be justified by the spectre of a Russian and/or Chinese threat. Even if Trump is re-elected in 2020, US military adventurism has peaked. The federal government can no longer justify such a massive defence budget when they have bigger challenges at home with rapidly changing demographics. It's only a matter of time before someone like Tulsi Gabbard or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez becomes the president of a debt-ridden federation in a post-dollar world order, dominated by the Chinese and Indian economies.

Without Scotland and Ulster, England and Wales would be a very disunited place with London behaving more and more like a city state divorced from its geographic hinterland and parallel communities in many other towns and cities.

In all likelihood Boris Johnson's BRINO or Brexit In Name Only will avert Scottish Independence for a few years before other events overshadow it, Ulster quietly merges with a post-Christian Eire and the Scots turn against the SNP. Meanwhile continental Europe will struggle to cope with the fast pace of cultural and demographic metamorphosis, a looming banking crisis and an escalation of the civil unrest that has spread across France over the last year. We may just be able to salvage a federation of the British Isles, but with waning faith in traditional British institutions such as Monarchy (and far be it from me to comment on Prince Andrew's close friendship with American sex predator Jeffrey Epstein) this island seems ripe for Balkan-style destabilisation with the people's splat over Brexit serving as a trial run for a much deeper conflict over culture, identity and power.

Categories
Power Dynamics

Extinguishing Open Debate and Personal Freedom

In the age of narcissism, mass-consumerism and hyper-dependence

All of a sudden, the streets of major European cities are full of impressionable virtue-signallers demanding immediate action against our modern way of life to save the planet from the spectre of man-made climate change. I instinctively sympathise with rebels, even if I don't always share either their analysis or priorities, but are these latter-day hippies really rebelling against the system or are they simply being used to soften public opposition to unpopular policies that could empower global corporations to limit the personal freedom of all but the privileged few? Moreover, why has the British media remained almost silent about ongoing yellow vests protests in France as it champions climate activists and their celebrity spokespeople?

If we are to begin to tackle the very real environmental and human challenges of the new millennium to help us regain our sense of purpose in life and restore our symbiotic relationship with the rest of our wider community and mother nature, we must be prepared not just to sacrifice some of the ephemeral luxuries of our era, but also to critically examine the long-term human implications of the technological solutions we put in place.

There we go, I said it. There's much more to life than abstract money and economic growth, but does that mean we should suddenly stop all wasteful activities that contribute to our carbon footprint like driving cars, taking cheap flights to foreign beach resorts, buying ready-packaged convenience foods, filling our wardrobes with more garments and shoes than we really need, having one or more power showers a day, ironing our clothes, overheating or air-conditioning our homes and offices? There's no getting away from it, but our modern way of life thrives on consumption and public image. In practice we have little choice if we want to succeed in mainstream society. If you want to build a life around a successful career and attract the right calibre of partner, you'll need means to turn up to work on time in a fresh and presentable condition and be culturally attuned which usually means partaking in some form of inevitably commercialised recreation. Almost everything easily accessible to most urbanites these days is commoditised, including access to the great outdoors off the beaten track. There may still be plenty of seemingly untouched wildernesses, but they're usually pretty inhospitable environments without the right equipment. Whether you like or not, any sudden change to our way of life would lead not just to massive disruption and economic stagnation, but to much avoidable loss of human life. For a start millions of people with physical handicaps or ageing bodies rely on energy-intensive assistive technology to undertake some of the most basic tasks of everyday life. Our eco-warriors may fleetingly imagine a bright future of fit office workers cycling to work with their reusable coffee mugs, before they consider everyone else who need other means of transport to do the shopping or visit friends and family, or heaven forbid, do a practical job that requires a motor vehicle and/or other high-consumption tools.

The real environmental challenges

The aggregate human impact on our planet's ecosystem has risen exponentially since the advent of the industrial revolution, especially since modern medicine and the green revolution, boost farming yields as much as seven-fold, spread across the developing world in the 1960s. We have escaped the much-feared Malthusian trap largely because of an unprecedented rate of technological innovation. Despite dire predictions of mass famines by the year 2000 in Paul Ehrlich's infamous 1969 book, the Population Bomb, the proportion of malnourished children has fallen dramatically as the global people count approaches 8 billion. Somehow despite growing numbers of mouths to feed, desertification of vast tracts of previously arable land and late rain seasons, infant mortality has continued to decline in Africa, India and South America. More strikingly the biggest development over the last 20 years has been the rapid urbanisation of Africa, meaning most of the continent's teeming masses are within easy reach of food distribution chains. If you like statistics, here's another. As recently as 2015 only 42% of Indians had access to a toilet in their home. When I first visited India in 1982, most people outside the major cities had to cope without access to the mains water supply. Today the figure is 82%. Yet each water closet requires extensive infrastructure such as sewage treatment plants. Now you might naively imagine that Sub-Saharan Africans and Indians are so glad to benefit from modern plumbing and electricity that they'd be happy to settle for an eco-friendly urban existence riding bicycles to work and wearing only second-hand clothes. Alas while many may not have much choice, those that can have already embraced mass consumerism. The real problem is not the prospect of 10 billion human beings, but the environmental challenge of accommodating the 3 to 5 billion vehicles our future global citizens will inevitably want to drive by mid century. Even if we can persuade more people to use public transport, walk or cycle where feasible, we will still need to deliver raw materials and manufactured goods thousands of miles to meet growing demand.

Yet in the face of all hard evidence, many principled environmentalists insist the main problem is a mere by-product of our modern lifestyle, CO2 emissions leading to catastrophic climate change. I'm not going to fall into the trap of disputing the hard science linking CO2 emissions from industrial activity to climatic instability. However, we should at least have the intellectual honesty to analyse similar claims made over the last 30 years. Some ice-sheets are expanding and some are retreating. Average global temperatures have barely changed. Some deserts have grown while some arid regions have been reclaimed as arable land. Irrigation, fertilisers and greenhouses can easily offset any shortfalls due to regional events such as late rain seasons or soil erosion. The real problem is whereas only 30 years ago most Africans and Indians were subsistence farmers, they are now trapped in the same techno-industrial complex as Western Europeans or North Americans with consequences for personal freedom that many observers have failed to foresee.

The Technocratic Trap

Hunter-gatherers or subsistence farmers are in intimate contact with mother nature. Their livelihoods depend on a mix of hard work and their interactions with their immediate ecosystem. In just two generations more than half the world's population has escaped the limited prospects of traditional low-tech lifestyles, only to fall into a new trap of hyper-dependence on global distribution chains, banking cartels and tech giants. Had they remained in their traditional settlements without access to electricity, telecommunications or modern medicine, much higher infant mortality would have contained population growth, but leave isolated rural dwellers in blissful ignorance of the wonders of television, smartphones, refrigerators and microwave ovens. Yet governments, big business and NGOs saw it as their mission to reach out to every stranded community on the planet to ensure they participated fully in modern education and preventive healthcare. Some remote regions bypassed the transitionary era of community television halls and public phone booths to embrace the marvels of smartphones putting locals in immediate touch with a consumer world they had only heard about before from occasional visitors and returning relatives. Unsurprisingly millions abandoned their ancestral homelands to seek fortune in big cities often coming into contact for the first time in their lives with extremes of opulence and helplessness. In today's bustling metropolises the main cause of worklessness is neither a lack of resources nor a lack of investment in education. It's an economic system that commoditises human beings as mere economic actors and has become so efficient at satisfying insatiable consumer demand that it has few practical jobs for the world's new urbanites other than as temporary sales reps or van drivers. Early capitalism relied on masses of workers to produce either essential goods or satisfy the consumer habits of the upper middle classes. Today large car manufacturers only need to a few thousand production workers to meet the automotive needs of whole nations. With the next wave of smart automation, a few hundred highly skilled robotics engineers will be able oversee the production of millions of vehicles. While the service sector will continue to grow, we will all become dependent on tangible wealth generated by a technocratic superclass.

Politically Correct Narratives

The world's managerial classes face two key dilemmas. First how can they manage the expectations of billions of new consumers. Second how can they prevent the underclasses from demanding more than their fair share of the goods that our techno-industrial complex can sustainably produce without triggering unmanageable populist backlash from the middle classes of wealthier countries as they stand to lose most from any levelling of per capita consumption? The answer is to come up with a humanitarian narrative that appeals to the wishful thinking middle classes, but does not offend the billions of new consumers in the developing world. The climate change narrative is neither the gospel nor a complete hoax as some naysayers may claim. It's simply a camouflage for much bigger environmental and social challenges that it would be, to put it mildly, politically incorrect to discuss openly. What are the managerial classes going to do with all the superfluous consumers if and when their economic model no longer needs us? Whether our planet can sustain 4, 8, 16 or 32 billion human beings may be a reasonable subject of scientific inquiry, but technocrats will only respect the masses if they do not challenge their hegemony. They cannot just tell useless eaters in developing countries to stop breeding. In today's climate of political correctness, that would be outright racism. But they can incentivise mass migration from poorer regions to trigger internecine conflict between newcomers and the native working classes. This creates a perfect storm where the perceived threats of far-right xenophobia among the native peoples and religious fundamentalism among many migrant communities serve to limit free speech and open debate. Climate change thus becomes a catch-all explanation for all disruptive changes to our way of life. Why do working class Europeans have to welcome millions of newcomers from disparate cultures into their neighbourhoods? Climate change. How do we explain the rise of Islamic fundamentalism? Climate change. Why are millions leaving their homelands? Climate change. How do we explain London's knife crime epidemic or riots in once orderly Swedish cities? You guessed it, climate change as locals cannot cope with heatwaves. If climate change is supposed to be such a big emergency in North Africa and Middle East, why have the urban middle classes there embraced automotive culture with a passion that would make Jeremy Clarkson look like an eco-warrior. Most large conurbations in countries as diverse as Nigeria, China, Turkey and Malaysia are practically gridlocked with a mix of private cars, minibuses and lorries.

Intellectual Honesty

In an ideal world we could all maximise our happiness and prosperity and minimise human suffering. We could literally have our cake and eat it, enjoying the wonders of modern technology and pristine nature, meeting all natural human desires, such as our instincts to go forth and multiply and to compete with each other, while ensuring everyone's emotional and material needs are fully satisfied. One of the biggest achievements of the liberal enlightenment was the recognition of other people's free will, namely the right of all human beings to act as autonomous living and breathing agents endeavouring to fulfil their personal ambitions. This means giving people equal opportunities to prove their worth and affording enough space for everyone to find their niche. Alas we are not all equally blessed either with extraordinary physiques or with exceptional talent.

This means each virtuous ideal conflicts with other ideals. For instance, the desire for scientific excellence and technological innovation may come at the expense of equality if we are to motivate the most talented engineers, physicians and inventors. Like or not, capitalism proved much more successful at driving innovation than command economies like the USSR or Maoist China. Yet even the Soviet Union had to reward its scientists and engineers handsomely to play catch-up with the West. Likewise, our natural desire to spread our genes and raise families may ultimately conflict with our wish for a clean and hospitable environment, especially if we want our large families to enjoy all modern conveniences. And last but not least, technofixes may indeed boost our carrying capacity and at least temporarily overcome the contradictions of rapid techno-social change, but usually come at the expense of personal independence, meaning any perceived liberties we may enjoy rely on infrastructure and technology controlled by remote organisations entrusted with the power of life or death over us.

Simply stating that these conflicts exist does not mean wishing for the worst outcome, but being smart enough to foresee other adverse effects and avert catastrophes. We should always consider drastic solutions with the utmost caution. Overpopulation is not, as many would prefer to believe, a myth, but a likely scenario if we fail to adapt fast enough to a new environmental reality beyond our control. The point is who's in charge of our destiny? In a socially engineered world at the mercy of a handful of tech giants who oversee every aspect of our lives, it's easy to imagine that unscrupulous bureaucrats may hatch plans to limit natural procreation to maintain an optimum population level and to prevent certain categories of people from challenging their grip on power.

However, our wishful-thinking extinction rebels present an apocalyptic vision of our near future lest we adopt drastic measure on a global scale that will not only restrict our personal freedoms, but also drive into the clutches of the very technocrats they claim to oppose. Few will retreat to self-sufficient farms in remote wilderness, but many more will be confined to micro-apartments in large conurbations under continuous surveillance.

Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Do the elites want to eliminate us?

Or do they just want to control us by getting us hooked on their technology?

As we progress into the 21st century, most of us find it harder and harder to understand the pervasive technologies that underpin our daily lives. This emerging reality can lead us to radically divergent conclusions. While many of us may fear a techno-apocalypse as we fail to tame the sophisticated systems that support our high-consumption lifestyle, others believe a tiny cabal plans to reduce the world's population by forcing most of us into big cities and depriving us of the means of self-reliance. Richie Allen, whose online radio show often discusses controversial subjects ignored by the mainstream media, recently interviewed Deborah Tavares of Stop The Crime . She honestly believes in a plot to kill off around 70% of humanity through carcinogenic radio waves (5G), vaccines, toxic additives in processed foods or the spread of manmade viruses and that this could happen as early as 2025. Proponents of the Agenda 2030 depopulation theory also contend that anthropogenic climate change is a hoax to justify the deindustrialisation of modern societies and force us out of our cars and spacious suburban houses into compact apartments serviced by automated public transit systems.

If we believed some ardent techno-pessimists like Paul Ehrlich or Richard Heinberg, by 2018 we should have suffered a massive worldwide famine as we would have failed to feed a record number of human beings or would have endured a total collapse of our industrial civilisation in the wake of Peak OIl. Alas not only are the scourges of infant mortality and malnutrition still in decline, but car ownership continues to rise steeply across much of the developing world. If our secretive overlords wanted to kill us, why would they let us survive and endlessly promote a wasteful consumer lifestyle? The technophobic doomsayers may have been proven wrong, at least for the time being, but what of the disciples of David Icke and Jeff Rense, who view all recent cultural trends as part of a plot to deny us access to safe technologies, boundless zero-point energy and almost unlimited resources? Their narrative appeals to a North American redneck mindset that favours personal freedom over state interference, gun ownership over police surveillance and affordable automobiles over public transportation. Ironically it also appeals to many leftwingers who view capitalism as the main cause of poverty rather than a system that has enabled more people than ever to live longer lives with greater material wealth. If there are limits to growth on a finite planet, then we have to contend with the ethical consequences of limiting human numbers. More external intervention can both boost our population by reducing infant mortality and limit family sizes by encouraging women to pursue careers rather than devote their lives to motherhood alone.

A common theme is the theory that mass vaccination programmes, e.g. as promoted by the infamous Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation, are part of a deliberate depopulation agenda. Whatever adverse effects some vaccines may have, especially if they are for diseases that our immune system will usually defeat, more children than ever survive into adulthood. In most developing countries, a growing population tends to hasten the process of urbanisation and people's dependence on imported resources.

Hyperdependence

All of a sudden, disruptions in broadband or mobile networks can render us helpless because in just 20 years we have transitioned from a world largely off the grid to a hyperconnected world, where social media validates your existence. Now imagine how many young millennials would cope with a prolonged power outage. Not only would washing machines, refrigerators and lights stop working, but within hours most domestic water supplies would run out too as they rely on electric pumps. Large cities would soon experience a public sanitation crisis as uncooled imported fresh food rots and residents fight over limited reserves of clean water. In short without drastic emergency measures, such as the immediate deployment of backup generators to keep essential services alive and the possible evacuation of many residents where these services cannot be restored, the death rate would skyrocket. Yet many urbanites ask not what practical help they could offer, but rather whom they should blame for such a catastrophic failure. Did the power supply fail because of lack of investment in infrastructure or because some technocrats wanted to kill off the population or did just fail because even with the best planning something always goes awry sooner or later?

We saw this dilemma at play in the aftermath of last year's gruesome Grenfell Tower fire. Many jumped on the bandwagon to assume the authorities were somehow complicit in the tragedy that killed 70 to 80 residents of an overcrowded high-rise block. If this were the case, then they could kill far more among the conurbation's nine million residents by simply cutting off the water supply. Now some may argue that the local council did not prioritise these mainly low-income residents and predominantly recent immigrants. However, they had just spent £8.7 million to refurbish the building or £72,500 per flat as well as subsidising the rent of most tenants as few could afford the going rate of over £2,000 a month. That money would go a lot further in provincial Britain. If anything the Grenfell tragedy should warn against the wisdom of mass migration without adequate infrastructure and environmental resources, but instead many have exploited the calamity to blame the rich for not spending enough to accommodate more newcomers in one of the most expensive and densely populated boroughs of Inner London. This is the politics of vengeance. The London borough of Kensington and Chelsea is home to many of London's 80 billionaires including Indian-born Lakshmi Mittal at 18-19 Kensington Palace Gardens, just a stone's throw from Grenfell Tower. Few ordinary English men and women on modest wages could afford to live there.

Could more people empower the power-hungry?

Let us just imagine two scenarios: one utopian and another dystopian. In one society everyone belongs to the affluent professional classes with a large private villa, plenty of nearby parks and countryside, one car per adult, a short working week and open participation in the democratic process with full access to the information, analyses and alternative perspectives we might need to reach informed decisions on public policies. Such a society would combine the best of public services and personal freedom. While we've yet to attain such societal perfection, we can see glimpses of it in the wealthy suburbs of European and North American cities, except we seldom need travel far to witness the rough edges and incongruences of our current system, e.g. the need for extensive transport infrastructure, industry, invasive policing and our continued reliance on low-paid workers in other neighbourhoods or countries. In other words the affluent professional classes inhabit a mere simulation of an ideal world, in which we all enjoy not just equal rights, but are equally involved the micromanagement of our complex society, equally intelligent and equally privileged. In such a society nobody would be a mere cleaner, nurse or machinist. We'd all have well-remunerated roles as health and safety supervisors, patient care coordinators or industrial automation engineers, managing specialised robots and unmanned production plants.

However, this idyllic future vision has three main pitfalls. First it relies on a high-consumption lifestyle with massive waste, essentially extending the North American dream to the whole world. To accommodate the projected peak of ten to eleven billion world citizens, we'd need substantial technological innovation with much higher efficiency. The trouble with technology is that it does not always work as desired. While some scientists have calculated that we could accommodate as many as 32 billion human beings with existing proven technology, this is only in theory assuming minimal waste. It's like claiming that a small lift measuring just 4 square metres (or 2x2m) could accommodate as many as 32 people (assuming an area of 25x50cm for each person). It all depends on how large these people are and what degree of personal freedom they're willing to relinquish for the duration of their short elevator journey. Yet our current way of life is constantly interrupted by seemingly trivial, easily avoidable but unpredictable mishaps, e.g. a traffic accident on a major motorway can lead to significant delays not just for commuters, but for food supplies and emergency services or a burst mains water pipe could deny thousands of residents of safe drinking water and spread life-threatening contaminants.

Second it fails to account for human nature, which is naturally socially competitive. While we may theoretically all thrive in different spheres, e.g. one neighbour could be an award-winning playwright, another a renowned architect and another a molecular biologist, most of us have rather mediocre skillsets. We may have relative strengths and weaknesses, but very few of us are genuinely top of our game. Yet without the fierce competition that motivates the most talented among us to excel, we could easily regress to a comfortably numb existence of subservience to a master race of technocrats.

However, there is a third downside to our hipster utopia. While our privileged denizens may lack motivation to hone their technical skills, they will have plenty of time to engage in political activism and challenge the ideological hegemony of the managerial classes. We would have an endless battle between the technocrats who know what's best for masses and the empowered lay-people keen to challenge their monopoly on wisdom. If nuclear power proves to be the only practical means of generating enough energy for such a perfect world, what would happen if voters decided to ban it and rely on wind turbines and solar panels instead? Would the demos be responsible for the increased death rate as vital services stop working?

Our ruling elites do not want us all to become hipsters, because this category of trendy affluent professionals are exceedingly hard to manage and constantly challenge the authority of anyone who tells them how to lead their lives. The managerial classes may tolerate this subset of humanity in segregated Bohemian neighbourhoods or as a minority caste of creatives and intellectuals, whose disruptive influence they can easily contain by subverting any movements that may challenge their grip on power. However, they'd much prefer a dumbed-down populace with minimal intellectual or economic independence, totally hooked on commercialised simulacra that technocrats can both control and monitor. It's much easier to manage online gamers ensconced in their bedrooms and engrossed in a captivating alternate reality, but oblivious to the machinations of the real ruling classes, than it is to tame intellectual rebels who want to free themselves from pervasive surveillance and mass consumerism.

The high-tech alternative to our hipster utopia of cycleways, vegetable patches, wind turbines, art galleries and pristine swimming lakes is a global network of megacities accommodating a large population of consumer drones rewarded not for their intellectual talent, but for their compliance with our brave new world of shiny happy people, unable to conceive of independent life. While our recent ancestors believed in a high degree self-reliance with most people working hard to provide for themselves and their family, we're drifting towards a new reality where either big business or state institutions, whose roles are rapidly merging anyway, are solely responsible for our well-being. In the not too distant past we would attribute our misfortunes either to spiritual forces beyond our control or to personal responsibility. While in the past we may have striven to overcome injustices suffered by large groups of people (e.g. the campaign against slavery), we now obsess with perceived disadvantages and inconveniences that various categories of people may subjectively experience, as if we all had an inalienable right to be whoever or whatever we want to be. Rather than accepting our natural limitations and trying to do our best to succeed in life, we now expect society to compensate for our weaknesses and facilitate our ephemeral ambitions. Our achievements thus become not the fruits of tireless endeavour, but rewards for compliant behaviour.

It's hardly a coincidence that the most universalist cults, from Islam to Catholicism and from big business to big government, encourage their followers to go forth and multiply. In the past devotees may have adhered to strict commandments, limiting their personal freedom, while today's rulers much prefer a new breed of self-pitying victim groups whose dysfunctional lifestyle choices will keep them at the mercy of welfare handouts. American-Indian political commentator and author, Dinesh D'Souza, correctly observed the transformation of the American Democratic Party from a champion of slave owners to a bastion of state interference. The same ruling elites who once kept their subordinates as slaves in plantations, now champion welfare-dependency and identity politics as a new kind of plantation of loyal subjects. Whereas once slaves had to work, now they only have to consume as subjects of endless screening. If big business is happy to bankroll the state to subsidise your consumer products, just be aware you are the product.

So the depopulation theorists are wrong, global megalomaniacs do not want to kill most of us so they can have the whole planet to themselves, they want us locked into an interconnected system that they control and without which we would die. It may be an unsettling thought, but a freer world may well be one with greater room for autonomous communities and individual creativity, supporting a smaller, but more self-reliant population than the tens of billions that genetic engineering, nuclear fusion and nanorobotics could theoretically support. The question is no longer whether we can feed ten billion or more human beings, but whether our descendants will have any control over their destiny. One billion is a very big number for a large mammal. For most of human history our numbers remained below 750 million before the advent of the industrial revolution and hovered between 200 and 450 million from early Roman times to the Rennaissance and the European discovery of the Americas. Today just 3% of land mammals by weight live in the wild. Should our destiny resemble domestic sheep, captive tigers on display in zoos and wildlife parks, guinea pigs under 24/7 surveillance or the last wild animals who have adapted to habitats unfit for human explotation?

Categories
Computing Power Dynamics

We cannot stop wars unless we tackle their causes

Police keeping

How greed, distrust, decadence and unsustainability engender conflicts

Most of us agree wars are best avoided, but we have long debated whether and when they can ever be justified. In theory at least, we can assert the right of all communities to self-defence against incursions and conquest, but in practice life is seldom that simple, as outside forces may easily manipulate disaffected insurgents with well-founded grievances for their own ends. Today most nation states seldom fight wars for territorial gain in the way European and Asian powers regularly did until the mid 20th century. In an increasingly interdependent world national governments play second fiddle to corporate lobbies, supranational bodies and borderless banks. As migratory flows have grown rapidly in an age of job insecurity and international commuting, regional identity has waned especially in our more cosmopolitan cities. Why spend billions of pounds to defend the right to self-determination of around 2000 Anglophile Falkland Islanders, when the ethnic composition of towns and cities across the British Isles and the rest of Western Europe is changing at a rate not seen since the mass people movements of the Second World War? Why invade a country if you can just move there, buy up properties and take over entire neighbourhoods? While global superculture with its familiar brands and transient communities often imposes itself on a backdrop of distinctive historical landmarks and geographic surroundings, we may ask if the blurring of national borders will end military conflicts, set in motion a new era of intensified internecine conflicts policed by transnational militias or trigger heightened superpower rivalry? After two decades of decline following the fall of the Soviet Union, military budgets in the world"™s main jurisdictions show a marked upward trend. However, the world"™s most active military powers do not seem very concerned with the defence of their own people, but rather with global peace-keeping and counter-insurgency operations.

The progressive narrative holds that enlightened superpowers may intervene to restore peaceful coexistence and protect human rights in more backward regions. Recent boundary changes in the Balkans occurred only after the Yugoslav federation went bankrupt and the wealthier republics of Slovenia and Croatia seceded. Most fighting took place in the contested regions of Slavonia, with a large Serb minority, Bosnia-Hercegovina and most notoriously in Kosovo. While the civil war rekindled old wounds dating back to the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian empire and the shifting alliances of Croat, Serbian and Bosnian militias during the First and Second World Wars, its main victim was national sovereignty as NATO assumed a peacekeeping role in the Bosnia and Kosovo while Slovenia and Croatia integrated with the European Union widening the economic gap with their southern neighbours. Other border disputes since the collapse of the former Soviet Union relate more to superpower rivalry than to aspirations of national aggrandisement, e.g. the Russian annexation of Crimea merely reflected the will of most Crimeans, who had only been part of Ukraine since 1954 and only divorced from Russia since Ukraine gained independence in 1992. With over 17 million square kilometres of land, the Russian federation hardly needed more living space and the region"™s key port of Sevastopol was only of limited strategic value to counter a massive US military presence in the Black Sea region. The backdrop to this dispute was the westward expansion of the EU and NATO through an association agreement with the Ukraine, a borderland whose eastern half had been part of the Russian Empire since the 17th century and before that was split between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Cossacks (Zaporozhian Sich) and Crimean Khanate under Ottoman rule. Ironically today ordinary people value nationhood more in Eastern Europe and Russia than in Western Europe, where it has fallen out of favour among the chattering classes, except when secessionist movements as in Scotland or Catalonia can help undermine larger nation states whose integrity stands in the way of global convergence.

Social Stability and Peace

Idealists may well oppose all wars, no matter how evil the enemy may be, while simultaneously expressing their love of all peoples and all cultures, no matter how oppressive or depraved they may be. However, our desires for greater prosperity, social justice and tranquility have often motivated us to support the military endeavours of our ruling classes or to unite behind freedom fighters. Like it or not, today"™s world would look very different without the legacy of Western imperialism, the industrial revolution and the liberal enlightenment. While the industrial revolution led to the growth of entrepreneurial capitalism and the abolition of slavery, it is also helped create the sophisticated infrastructure that have enabled such widespread prosperity.

To most of us peace does not just mean an absence of state-sponsored military conflicts, but freedom from the scourges of state repression and violent crime. We can think of peace as a state of social harmony where we resolve disputes without resorting to acts of coercion against individual liberty. We can only approach this ideal when we moderate our desires to goals we can attain without depriving others of their livelihood or personal space. Violence may ensue when we perceive that another group of people have denied us of our material and spiritual wellbeing and we have no other means to better ourselves through education and hard work.

Without innovation, we would still be fighting over finite resources with a much lower human carrying capacity. In some ways we still fight over access to life"™s necessities. For millions in the world"™s most densely populated arid regions of the Middle East, North Africa, Australia and the Southwestern United States, potable water has become a scarce resource, often only available as a packaged product. With widespread unemployment and limited welfare provision, price rises of staple foods and fuel can trigger social unrest that fanatical insurgents can easily exploit for their own ends or to empower rival superpowers. In previous ages if a region"™s population grew beyond a level that the local environment could reasonably sustain with contemporary technology, most people would simply die through malnutrition, disease or warfare. Today"™s youngsters have two other options. They can either emigrate to wealthier regions or demand more foreign aid or corporate taxes to subsidise technofixes, shifting social problems to the opulent countries most economic migrants choose and transferring responsibility for their environmental adversity away from local leaders and personal responsibility (i.e. only having as many children as you can feed unaided) to external powers, whose influence we could best describe as neocolonial. If you can only feed, house and clothe your people with the aid of large multinationals, foreign banks and NGOs, you are not independent at all. China is now by far the largest investor in African infrastructure projects. While local leaders gain their share of the proceeds, they train pitifully few local technicians preferring to rely on their own engineers.

A low-level civil war has been raging in the mainly Muslim regions of Northern Nigeria against infidels (non-Muslims) since around 2011. It only reached the Western public"™s attention when Boko Haram abducted 276 school girls in the town of Chibok, Borno State. While many observers have focused on the spread of Islamic extremism, another factor is the country"™s high fertility rate alongside widespread unemployment and a mass exodus of the fittest young adults to the country"™s sprawling conurbations and abroad. Many philanthropists hoped that better education and sustainable local business development could guide Nigeria towards the kind of social democracy that emerged in Western Europe in the latter half of the 20th century. Alas desires for larger families and consumer products, especially cars, have thus far trumped the impetus for greater engineering excellence and more sustainable technological solutions, i.e. more solar panels, greater use of bicycles, better public transport and smaller families. This begs two questions: Who is responsible for solving Nigeria"™s developmental woes or how can we both meet the people"™s expectations for a more prosperous future and ensure social stability? It all depends what we mean by we? Do we mean external powers such as UN agencies, charities, tech giants and foreign governments seeking to gain influence over Africa? Or do we mean the Nigerian people taking responsibility for their own future and living with the consequences of their decisions? Some would still blame the legacy of colonialism and the dominance of foreign multinationals in the country"™s lucrative petroleum sector. Yet one startling and easily verifiable fact stands out. At Independence in 1960, the country had just 40 million inhabitants. Yet despite the Biafran civil wars of the late 60s and occasional famines in the arid north, the population has grown to around 200 million not because women are having more babies but because more babies are surviving into adulthood and beyond.

Instability breeds conflict

While I still believe greed, envy and vindictiveness are the ultimate drivers of violence, in complex societies unsustainable development leads to greater coercion, whether in the form of state repression, heightened surveillance, militarism, violent crime or gang fights. When society can no longer foster prosperity and social stability through responsible management of a shared environment and high levels of communal trust, it will inevitably resort to more overt means of social control. When advanced people management techniques fail, social unrest ensues and the administrative classes have little choice but to suppress the personal liberties of the great unwashed masses. These days only the affluent professional classes can afford to buy more private space.

However, high tech societies with largely unarmed and welfare-dependent citizens need not resort to the kind of overbearing brute force that the great dictatorships of the 20th century had to deploy against insurrections long before most young adults were immersed in social media and online entertainment. The biggest threats to today"™s ruling classes are not drug addicts, low-life gangsters or even remorseless terrorists, whose actions conveniently serve to justify more intrusive surveillance, but the politically aware skilled working classes, whose expertise our rulers still need, but whose conservative beliefs may stand in the way of the kind of progress that our elites envisage. What the managerial classes fear most are not troublesome malcontents, but intelligent, conscientious and independently minded workers with families and strong roots in their local community. That may explain partly why many employers prefer a smaller number of well-remunerated technicians working over 40 hours a week, than investing in training more specialised staff so they can spread the burden. They want to limit the number of well-connected mission-critical operators who could challenge their hegemony. As we rely more and more on smart automation and lucrative jobs require forever higher levels of analytical intelligence, expect the captive disempowered welfare classes to grow. This transition to a subsidised consumer economy, where people are paid for their acquiescence rather than any real work, will affect military strategy too. A hyper-dependent populace, engrossed by social media and online entertainment, is much easer to control through non-violent means, e.g. psychotropic drugs, operant conditioning and financial incentives.

The future of warfare depends on the success of the global convergence project, which would eventually lead to the disappearance of practical cultural and economic diversity, with lifestyle homogenisation in locales as diverse as Beijing, Istanbul, Lagos, Berlin or New York City. In such a scenario, the workless classes would have little to fight over except access to the bounties of tech giants. Cities may still have different climates and landscapes, but each would have similar mixes of submissive consumer classes, social supervisors and technically literate professionals.

Sadly I don"™t share the optimism of many leading proponents of a borderless utopia with universal basic income for all. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism, the relative economic decline of the United States, the inability of Western military alliances to tame the Middle East, the failure of the European multicultural experiment with parallel communities and Africa"™s delayed demographic transition could all destabilise a fragile peace in the prosperous world. While Western elites focus on the perceived Russian threat, they are playing with fire in the Muslim world.

If you want social tranquility in a relatively free and fair society as much as I do, then you should not just campaign against military adventurism, but identify the causes of future conflicts. Bad environmental management and unsustainable rates of cultural and demographic change pose by far the greatest threats to world peace.

Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Parallel Universes

Shoreditch

When emotions trump logic

Do you ever get the feeling that your political adversaries do not respond to the logic of your arguments, but merely to their cultural acceptability from their narrow ideological worldview? Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News believed she could rely on good old emotionalism to defeat the purportedly reactionary arguments of Canadian professor of psychology, Jordan Peterson. They inhabited different moral universes. Ms Newman stubbornly refused to accept any scientific evidence of fundamental neurological differences between male and female brains. Over 15 years ago Simon Baron Cohen popularised the distinction between more feminine empathisers and more masculine systemisers or in other words women are more people-oriented while men tend to be more thing-oriented. In practice we all need a bit of both to navigate our social and physical worlds. A technically illiterate but sociable project manager is as useless as a socially inept and uncommunicative engineer oblivious to the needs of other human beings. The differences may be minor, but the weight of hard evidence points to neurological dimorphism among male and female humans. The irony is that young women in the wealthy world are now outperforming men in most lucrative people-oriented professions that the growing persuasion and social management sectors have created. The robotics and artificial intelligence revolution is likely to affect men, traditionally employed in practical trades, more than women whose superior emotional intelligence is much harder for machines to replicate.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/aMcjxSThD54

Nowadays debate has succumbed to infantilisation measuring policies not by their practical feasibility, but their perceived virtuosity. How do you explain to a two-year old boy that he cannot have another ice-cream because you want him to acquire healthy eating habits and save him from all sorts of nasty medical conditions such as obesity and diabetes? Believe me when expectations run high it's hard to convince youngsters they are not entitled to something they desire. The political discourse has ceased to be a battle between left and right factions, for we have learned to associate the former with openness, compassion and generosity and the latter with narrow-mindedness, discipline and greed. The real intellectual divide is now between romanticism and objective reality, i.e. a dichotomy between how our world should be and how it really works.

It hardly matters where you stand on any of the key issues of our era. If you let emotions alone drive your analysis, you will inevitably dismiss any countervailing evidence and find with great ease a virtual echo chamber to reinforce your preconceived conclusions. It would be nice to believe Israel were a peace-loving liberal democracy threatened only by intolerant Iran-funded Islamic terrorists, but to believe the opposite would be equally blinkered. Life is seldom that simple.

However, it's much easier to ignore inconvenient facts on the ground if the mainstream media and influential institutions provide alternative facts consistent with their ideological bias with the full support of the information verification industry. Sorting the wheat from the chaff can be even harder when such news outlets and NGOs pose on the radical left to widen their appeal among trendy youngsters. Their version of reality thus becomes an article of faith. To countenance alternative explanations for our social and economic woes is to invite ridicule with a litany of aspersions ranging from Islamophobe to transphobe or from conspiracy theorist to fascist. In short if you fail to toe the party line, you are anachronistically uncool.

Take for example the rather transparent issue of the housing crisis in the South East of England. It doesn't take a genius to work out that if the population rises by several million in just a 15 years and the housing market is dominated by buy-to-rent landlords and property speculators, ordinary people on average wages will struggle to pay their exorbitant rents and fail to get on the property ladder. The most affected are not welfare dependents entitled to housing benefit, but young professionals whose incomes may seem deceptively high until you subtract £1500 to £2000 a month for rent. In the early 1990s London property prices, whilehigher than other regions of the UK, were still affordable by international standards. A couple with a joint income of £30,000 could get a mortgage on a modest three bedroom house in the outer boroughs. Now such properties sell for at least half a million in the worst areas of the city's outskirts. To get mortgage a couple would need to earn at least £125,000 a year with the threat of repossession if their employment circumstances change. Yet the regressive left refuses to acknowledge how the city's over-dependence on migrant labour and international property speculation, effectively two sides of the same coin, have pushed up prices and transformed neighbourhoods. Their only response is to blame the evil Tories, the personification of the aristocratic old guard, for not building enough new houses. The same universalists also support laxer migration controls and usually argue that a greater population boosts the economy. It certainly boosts retail sales and provides employers with a larger and more malleable supply of cheap labour, whether it benefits the existing inhabitants, other than landlords and property speculators, is another matter. However, once we factor in the additional costs of providing all the extra infrastructure required for a growing population such as new housing, roads, hospitals, schools, sewage treatment plants etc., the economic case for mass migration to a small island that already imports half of its food collapses. Indeed if the Tory government were to blame, why did the previous Labour government fail to subsidise council house building as it knowingly let migratory flows reach unsustainable levels ? Other countries that have allowed large scale immigration over the last decade such as Sweden and Germany also have housing crises, despite having had until recently many empty properties and holiday homes that could be repurposed. Both the Swedish and German governments have dispersed new immigrants to outlying regions to avoid the proliferation of ethnically diverse ghettos.

Don't get me wrong. I don't oppose migration and cultural exchanges, which, if managed sensibly, can enrich society. However, it is intellectually dishonest to deny the rather obvious strains that mass movements of people impose on the existing population. London has seen a massive rise in acid attacks and stabbings. Working class Londoners of English, Scottish or Welsh descent are now very thin on the ground. We may soon see pitch battles between rival gangs as wealthy hipsters migrate to Devon, Sardinia, Bulgaria or further afield after selling their tiny 2 bedroom flats for a fortune to greedy Chinese investors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMcjxSThD54

A sign of things to come in Mayor Khan's London.

Categories
Power Dynamics

On the Value of Human Life

Idyllic human nature

Two subjects are bound to enrage puritans, especially those with devout religious beliefs of one persuasion or another: abortion and birth control. Don't get me wrong, I favour vigorous debate on both issues and totally respect the rationale behind an absolute repudiation of the murder of innocent human life. Nothing is more human than a wish to go forth and multiply, but we need to be fully of aware of the likely consequences. Many will argue that once we justify the elimination of sentient beings because of their perceived weakness or superfluousness, we have crossed a moral line that may lead to industrial scale slaughter. Yet we only apply this logic to our own species whose numbers would not have risen so fast since the onset of the industrial revolution without swift technological progress and our enhanced ability to exploit the earth's natural resources. The same technology that can sustain a growing population and save the lives of those who would otherwise have died can also destroy our environment and kill unwanted people. In the early 21st century we do not lack human beings, but arguably we may have lost sight of what it means to be a living, breathing and above all free-thinking human being.

Before the advent of modern medicine and improved sanitation, only the fittest survived. To put things in perspective, the human population grew very gradually from the spread of agrarianism over ten thousand years ago to the European colonisation of the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries. At the height of the Roman Empire the world's population did not exceed 300 million (usual estimates are around 250 million). When Christopher Columbus discovered the Antilles, there were still fewer than 500 million people worldwide. It took the colonisation of the Americas and the early industrial revolution to bring the global people count to one billion around 1830. As the industrial revolution spread to North America, the rest of Europe and Japan, our numbers grew to around 2 billion in 1930 and 3 billion circa 1960. There are now over 7.5 billion people and, contrary to the dire predictions of ecologists such as Paul Ehrlich (author of the Population Bomb), fewer people are malnourished today than 40 years ago. In 1798 Thomas Malthus presented an Essay on the Principle of Population that made perfect sense when applied to pre-industrial human civilisations and other animals. However, he failed to foresee an exponential rise in industrial efficiency. So despite famines in the colonies of European powers, in Stalinist Russia and Maoist China, by and large most economists believe Malthus got it wrong, but few could have foreseen the next 150 years of rapid technological progress. Some ecologists still argue that eventually we will hit our limits to material growth as the law of diminishing returns kicks in. When Richard Heinberg wrote The Party's Over in 2003, we still assumed future economic progress would be inextricably tied to the mass consumption of manufactured products rather than the provision of virtual services. We should have hit Peak Oil in 2008 when we saw crude oil reach its historic high of $150 a barrel. Despite the 2008 financial meltdown, per capita consumption has continued to grow in much of the developing world.

Most people in Europe, North America, East Asia and Australasia have already adapted to our new reality of low infantile mortality and high educational needs by having fewer children. Even the Indian fertility rate has fallen to an average of 2.3 children per woman. The birth rate remains high only in the Middle East, most of Africa, parts of Latin America and Muslim Central Asia (Pakistan and Afghanistan). While this may seem good news for those of us who care about environmental sustainability and may have once feared food and water shortages in the event of either technological meltdown or severe limits to growth, one cannot fail to notice that human life is valued much more in countries with lower birth rates. Just consider the case of Japan, with an infant mortality rate less than half that of the US and a murder rate of just 0.3 per 100,000 people compared with 34 in South Africa, 5 in the USA or 0.98 in the UK. It stands to reason that greater economic and environmental strains will lower our tolerance of weaker citizens.

A few weeks ago Islamic fundamentalists killed 305 worshippers at a Mosque in the Egyptian town of Al Arish. Unlike some other attacks against the country's dwindling Christian minority, this was an inter-Muslim affair. The Western media seldom mentions the ongoing civil war in Northern Nigeria and turned a blind eye to the 15 years of internecine bloodshed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While our media decried the killing fields of the 1994 Rwandan bloodbath, few highlighted the rapid rise in the country's population coinciding with a rapid fall in the price of its main export, coffee. When the system breaks down and fails to feed, clothe and house the populace, we can soon downgrade the worthiness of human life.

While technology may have, at least temporarily, saved us from the Malthusian trap, it has come at the price of personal independence. In our interconnected high-tech world we buy greater personal freedom by gaming the system. Like all games there are winners and losers, but the prize is greater control over your life.

As we progress to ever greater levels of sophistication and interconnectedness, we become more aware of our relative emotional and intellectual weaknesses. Many prefer to ignore the paradox that affluent societies tend to obsess more with psychological challenges. Throughout much of human history, and still today in much of the world, people were just glad to be alive and enjoy a simple meal with other members of their community. Anything else was a bonus. Today people obsess with their body image, diet, personal accessories, personality profile and ascribe any mood swings to medical issues that require some form of treatment. Whereas until recently we would explain our trials and tribulations to society, upbringing or immutable biological facts, today we view our psychological challenges in neurological terms. Feelings that we once viewed as normal reactions to our psychosocial milieu are now considered signs of a mental pathology, partly because we have so much leisure time in which to obsess about our social status, body image and perceived lack of success. Psychiatry treats the human condition as a potential pathology, something that needs to be fixed by modifying someone's personality in the same way as one would fix a malfunctioning car or computer. By equating mental health with physical health we devalue the human experience to little more than a set of illusions. Your state of mind, sense of self, thoughts, feelings or reasoned opinions may thus be pathological too. Yet personal freedom means exercising control over of your life by letting your thoughts and feelings shape the world around you, i.e. without someone else telling you what to think or how to manage your life. If the purpose of life is to hand down one's legacy to future generations, how can we fulfil our dreams if every aspect of our lives is proactively monitored and responsibility for personal wellbeing is transferred from families and individuals to social institutions that treat us as overgrown children? Indeed why have children at all, if the state tells you how to bring your offspring up?

Coercive social engineering inevitably restricts our personal independence and reduces our sense of self worth. Psychologists love to talk about the importance of self-esteem, as if it were a mere hormonal reaction to neurological systems and not the result of real life experiences and complex social interactions. Here we should contrast pleasure with happiness. The former may respond to biochemical stimulation or cheap thrills, while the latter is the result of life's achievements that require mental, emotional and physical effort. By suppressing our natural instincts or failing to channel our inborn urges in a socially advantageous way, we devalue what it means to be human. If we just wanted a perfectly harmonious community of diverse individuals devoid of jealousy or any form of interpersonal conflicts, we could biologically engineer a bunch of selfless asexual drones, whose happiness depended on only the collective good. In small communities the well-being of our team-mates or comrades may motivate us if we all share the same ethos with a high degree of mutual trust. However, both creativity and conscientiousness rely on healthy social competition and a desire for self-betterment. In larger more complex societies the abstract needs of millions of other citizens are unlikely to motivate us as much as personal advantage. We're unlikely to sacrifice body and soul for amorphous corporations with Byzantine hierarchies, but often do so for our kith and kin, but as traditional family bonds weaken, we regress into a lifelong puerile state of submission to our supervisors.

Biological Paradoxes

Humanity would not exist today without millions of years of natural evolution. None of the social or technological innovations of the last 250 years could have happened were it not a cruel process of natural selection in which only the fittest or best-adapted survived. Until recently merciless natural forces would end the short lives of those incapable of self-reliance. Many tribes would sacrifice the weak for the greater good as the late Marcel Mauss and Henri Hubert chronicled in Sacrifice: Its Nature and Function , originally published in French in 1898 as Essai sur la nature et la fonction du sacrifice. Societies as diverse as the Carthaginians, Etruscans, Aztecs, Canaanites and Celts engaged in ritual sacrifice,. In Aztec culture the victims were led to believe their sacrifice to the Gods would sustain the Universe.

Until recent times one earned respect through survival, the ultimate test of worthiness. The monotheistic Abrahamic religions that evolved alongside the more advanced agrarian societies of the Middle East enforced a new moral order that condemned child sacrifices and upheld the sanctity of innocent human life. The old Testament explicitly repudiated such practices, e.g in Leviticus 20:2–5 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death.†Nonetheless until the advent of modern medicine many weaker children would succumb to disease and painful early deaths. Today's technology can keep all but the unluckiest of newborns alive. Infant mortality in Japan is just 2 per 1000 live births compared with a staggering 112 in Afghanistan. Historical rates would have been over 200 in most of the world. To provide some perspective in 1950 most European countries had infant mortality rates over 30 per 1000 live births.

On the one hand we have enhanced the value of life by enabling more people to survive into adulthood, but on the other hand we have devalued the unique sense of achievement that each adult survivor has. In countries with advanced universal healthcare systems, we have ceased to be strugglers and have delegated all responsibility for our livelihood to technocrats over whom we have only symbolic control. Extreme interdependence undermines our sense of self unless we retain some sense of personal achievement gained through work. Alas the ongoing artificial intelligence and robotics revolution will deny this opportunity to all but the most talented individuals. Everyone else will be expendable. Should our high-tech infrastructure fail to sustain the 10 billion human inhabitants of our planet mid century, it will be relatively easy to phase out the excess population. In 2016 over 6000 Dutch citizens chose euthanasia to end their lives, sometimes for psychological reasons. As a sign of things to come, I learned of the new 3D-printed suicide machine, the so-called Sarco capsule, that lets users end their life at the click of a mouse button.

An absolute moral stance on the sanctity of all potential human could empower megalomaniac technocrats unless we can afford everyone meaningful and rewarding lives. It's intellectually dishonest to dismiss any concerns either over demographic overshoot or over the coercisive means of control required to manage a large population of dependents.

To be human means more than just being alive, feeling biochemically induced pleasure or belonging to a monitored social group, it means above all retaining intellectual self-determination interacting with other autonomous human thinkers whom we respect and trust.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/HFCQl8ot_NU

Our obsession with mental health and lack of respect for natural selection could lead millions to voluntarily escape a seemingly pointless existence.

Categories
Computing Power Dynamics

Establishment Stitch-Up amid Shifting Alliances

Did you naively think the whole EU membership debate had something to do with Europe and its smörgåsbord of cultures, cuisines and intellectual enlightenment? No doubt some of those who voted to leave the EU reminisced simpler times and older ways where at least we had a sense of social cohesion based on shared values, but most simply wanted to regain control over the country's administration so it works in the interests of its current citizens rather than serve as a social engineering playground.

Nostalgia is not unique to Britain, but it is easy to understand why those who endured the repressive dictatorships of the mid 20th century may be keener on belonging to a community of peaceful free-trading European nations. For many the expansion of the European Economic Community and its later transformation into the European Union coincided with a period of unprecedented economic and technological growth. Yet these apparent advances have failed to improve the perceived quality of life of most Western Europeans. The relative socio-economic security of the 1950s, 60s and 70s has given way to a new era of permanent volatility in our jobs, family structures, local communities, housing and dependence on external organisations.

So come April 2019 the UK will no longer be half in the EU, it will be half out of it. Some imagined the UK could regain its national sovereignty, stabilise migratory flows to more sustainable levels, forge new more advantageous trade deals and give our young people a chance to learn new skills through greater labour market protection. Alas all that is happening is the UK will technically be able to open its markets even more to the rest of the world. I suspect the end game will be like being an associate member of the EU, NAFTA and ASEAN with special deals with India and Australia. None of these trade deals are likely to restore power to our Parliament. Quite the opposite, such trade deals will merely transfer yet more power to unaccountable multinationals, headquartered not only in places like Chicago or Frankfurt, but in locales as exotic as Hyderabad, Mumbai, Shanghai or Seoul.

If you still harbour illusions in the European Dream, Martin Schulz, former President of the European Parliament and current leader of the German SPD (social democrats), let the cat out of the proverbial bag by openly advocating a United States of Europe and urging countries that do not share this vision to leave. What's also clear is that the international elite no longer follow the lead of the United States administration. The USA's share of the global economy has been steadily declining for over 50 years. China's economy is set to overtake the USA's by 2025, while many leading trading countries are moving away from the US Dollar. Worse still US-led intervention in the Middle East has lost the all-important battle of hearts and minds as its collusion with Saudi Arabia and Israel becomes all too clear. The Syrian Civil War, fuelled by foreign mercenaries, marked a watershed as Russia, rather than the USA, helped defeat ISIS and enable millions of displaced Syrians to return to their homes. Both the BBC and CNN have lost enormous credibility as the facts on the ground fail to match the fairytale accounts of evil Assad-led forces targeting heroic freedom fighters.

While most Europeans want both peace and stability through international cooperation on environmental and security matters, few outside the metropolitan elites and idealistic students, want a United States of Europe with open-door mass immigration from Africa and the Middle East. Yet this is precisely what Europe's politcial elites offer. Only coercive means, usually threats of economic meltdown, can persuade national electorates to support tighter integration. Oddly the strongest resistance to European Federalisation comes not from France, Italy, Spain or Portugal, whose economies have struggled to adapt to the Euro, but from Eastern Europe, whose people do not want to accommodate rapid change in the ethnic composition of their countries. Eastern Europe has seen its fair share of ethnic cleansing over the last century and the spectre of Islamic hordes at the gates of Budapest and Vienna loom large in the collective psyche.

However, Europe faces another little-mentioned crisis. The continent's primary strengths have long been its educational excellence and strong skills base. Yet most technological innovation now comes from the United States and East Asia. Hundreds of millions of Indians, Iranians, Chinese, South Americans and Russians can now compete with Europe's younger generation. As standards continue to rise in much of East Asia, they're falling in much of Europe as schools have to accommodate children from new migrant communities, who seldom speak the local language at home. At the same time many traditional low and medium-skill jobs are undergoing smart automation leading to the growth of workless underclasses and the proliferation of part-time non-jobs such as charity awareness raisers. With millions of Eastern Europe's best and brightest now in the UK, Germany or Scandinavia, local youngsters are less motivated to pursue many high-stress professions such as nurses or plumbers. More striking is the dramatic fall in the scientific excellence of major Western European countries, of which only France remains in the top ten countries with the most engineering graduates. And guess which major country has the highest number of engineering graduates relative to its population? Not Germany, France, Italy or the UK, but Russia. In computing we see similar trends, Russia, Ukraine and the Far East produce proportionally more talented programmers, especially in the more demanding domains of machine learning and artificial intelligence, than North America and Western Europe. Whereas once the top developers would be attracted by higher salaries in California, in our interconnected world more and more startup companies run their operations east of the old Iron Curtain. JetBrains, the company behind Android's new Kotlin programming language (named after island near St Petersburg) comes to mind. Not only does Google rely on many engineers trained in East Asia and Russia, but both Russia and China have their own home-bred alternatives, Yandex and Baidu.

So what was really going through the minds of our politicians as they negotiated the UK's new relationship with the EU? I suspect their two main concerns were how to continue the process of globalisation on all fronts while the UK nominally leaves the EU and second how to placate public opinion back home and keep alive the illusion of democracy safe in the knowledge that the only likely alternative government, a Corbynite Labour administration who may well end up in coalition with the more business-friendly Liberal Democrats, will seek an even deeper relationship with the European Union and do nothing at all to address the issues that concerned voters most, unbalanced mass migration and job security. In just two years since Jeremy Corbyn's surprise election and Momentum's takeover of the party, Labour have fully embraced a future of extreme interdependence. If you dream of a borderless utopia with universal basic income guaranteed by taxing global corporations, the EU may well seem a side issue or a mere means to an end. As things stand, I can only think the future of our country's younger generation may be slightly better if we emulated the high-skill economies Japan, South Korea and Russia than follow Sweden and Germany's recent conversion to welfare consumerism (a common argument among Swedish politicians is that while many of their low-skill immigrants do not work at least they contribute to the economy through their consumption).

The sad truth is we're a small archipelago that imports around half of its food and is a net importer of most manufactured goods and raw materials. A larger population will only increase our dependence on imports. Our geography and historical ties push towards two dwindling blocs, either with Donald Trump's USA or with the EU. Both are discredited on the world stage. The EU tries to cast aside the imperial legacies of its constituent nations, while collaborating with the USA in the destabilisation of the Middle East and its attempted economic colonisation of the Balkans and Ukraine. The world is changing before our eyes. The whole Brexit debate may be swept aside as smart automation and the growing power of East Asian multinationals consign both the EU and US to the status of regional bureaucracies overseeing divided communities that could easily descend into civil war.

Categories
All in the Mind

Manufacturing Identities

Dysphoria everywhere

Humanity has always had a wide range of cultures, vocations and two biologically defined sexes. For most of our history we identified with our family, our tribe, our gender and our vocation. We had no choice over family and gender, seldom switched tribes and had a limited window of opportunity to find a vocation within the cultural paradigm of our era. To the above list we may naturally add status, something we traditionally acquired from a mix of our family's social standing and any natural talents we can exploit in a socially advantageous or entrepreneurial manner. One assumed, rightly or wrongly, that your family bore the primary responsibility for your success either by endowing you with a better-adapted brain and body or by instilling in you their acquired customs, knowledge and wisdom.

Long before biologists discovered DNA and sociologists undertook detailed studies on the influences of culture, class, ethnicity and gender on intellectual and professional performance, we knew both nature and nurture affect outcomes. In the real world nature and nurture do not so much compete with each other to affect our personality, intelligence or economic success, as they interact in a continuous feedback loop, e.g. culture and behavioural patterns play key roles in determining who gets to mate with whom.

However, these days not only are our three core identities (gender, vocation and ethnicity) considered infinitely variable, but our behaviour, personality, desires and learning patterns also form key components of our personhood subject to endless categorisation and psychoanalysis. So nowadays people do not just identify as a woman, man, girl or boy, as an Irishman or a Thai or as a mother, a father, a farmer, a nurse or a blacksmith. All of a sudden, within just a few decades, we have come to identify with our erotic proclivities, our favourite pastimes, our brand loyalty, our personality profile, our medical conditions, our fatness, our relative handicaps and increasingly by our assigned mental health label. Someone may well identify as a mathematically challenged, obese, bipolar, gay and diabetic Xbox gamer. Rather than pinpoint and try to overcome someone's relative weaknesses, we celebrate a diversity of equally valid traits. The afore-mentioned identifiers are naturally a mixed bag. Mood disorders interact with narcotics, diet and medication. For instance, an emotionally insecure person with an imperfect body unable to find their ideal partner might succumb to recreational drugs, which in turn trigger sudden mood swings with psychotic episodes, which lead to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and the prescription of antipsychotics, which cause weight gain through binge eating, leading to a type-II diabetes and a sedentary lifestyle of online gaming. Without a strong focus on work or family as breadwinners or housewives, people can easily descend into a puerile state of monitored play and endless victimhood.

Traditional personal identities make practical sense. Your anatomical sex identifies your potential role in procreation and raising the next generation. Your vocation identifies your primary purpose in life. Your ethno-religious identity determines the essential ethical rules and customs by which you abide. Yet today we're blurring the boundaries of all three core identities. Rather than emphasise different aspects of our main occupation, we assume many different roles and identities at home, with our friends, with our neighbours, with our colleagues and as consumers. Someone may identify as a Manchester United fan, as an iPhone aficionado, as a diabetic, as a vegetarian, as a hiphop fan, as a disco dancer, as bisexual, as gender-fluid, as a keen online gamer or as a sufferer of mild obsessive compulsive disorder. All but the first of these identities would have bewildered past generations. The question is to what extent do these modish labels determine who you really are and to what extent are they malleable? Supporting a sports team is usually a way to bond with other members of your wider community and express your tribal loyalty in a controlled environment. Your choice of team would reflect your background. If you grew up in Merseyside you may support either Everton or Liverpool. Today spectator sports are run as sleek commercial operations whose only connection to their home city is their stadium's geographic location.

As the consumer age took hold in the 1950s, social marketers realised that if peer pressure can influence the sports clubs people support, then media promotion can affect our association with emerging musical genres and cultural scenes. By the early 1960s we had street fights between Mods and Rockers, identifying with rival commercialised countercultures. By the late 60s we had more middle class hippies experimenting in drugs and challenging traditional views on sexuality. In the 70s youthful rebellion found an outlet through the medium of Punk Rock, Reggae and Ska music. In the 1980s youth culture moved more to the narcotised Techno and House music scenes. Pop culture had come not just to dominate our lives way into our 30s and beyond, but to normalise a set of irrational behaviours in a regulated social context.

In the affluent West these new cultural identities mingled with the ethnic identities of new migrant communities. This set the stage for a new era of identity politics based on diverse characteristics, only some of which were inherited and thus immutable under normal circumstances. All of a sudden activists would equate prejudice against lifestyle choices and behavioural traits with racial or sexual discrimination. We don't choose our parents or, until recently, our biological sex. We do not really choose our personality either. It just evolves gradually through symbiosis of our neurological hardware and environmental software. Not everyone will be equally gregarious or equally conscientious, but social stimuli can certainly guide us towards more successful outcomes.

Most societies reward functional behaviour and penalise dysfunctional behaviour. They merely differ in their interpretation of which behaviours may be acceptable in which circumstances. Madness is simply unmanageable misbehaviour that is seen to pose a threat to social stability and may lead to heightened conflicts and cultural decadence. However, in the early 21st century the game has changed. As only a small minority of workers are responsible for providing essential goods, infrastructure and services, the powers that be are more interested in micro-managing people's moods and behaviours as subservient guinea pigs of a giant social experiment than promoting traditional values of diligence and self-reliance. Indeed many now view extreme interdependence as a virtue. The trouble with interdependence is some players contribute much more than others, thus empowering technocrats and bureaucrats at the expense of the underclasses unable to exert any real control over their techno-social ecosystem. In the emerging world of consumer slaves who depend either on insecure temporary jobs or welfare handouts, an interlocking diversity of identities is now seen a virtue that justifies more invasive surveillance and social intervention over an atomised populace.

Transgenderism serves mainly to blur traditional boundaries between well-defined types of people and create new subjective and infinitely variable categories. It conspires to normalise non-traditional families and to disassociate in the public mind the biological link between procreation and motherhood. Lastly, it may also helps redefine many complex psychological problems in terms of non-binary gender identities. Many youngsters may not identify as either males or females because they fail to meet the exacting standards of stereotypical alpha masculinity or femininity. However, divergent gender assignments may be only one of myriad alternative identities that may explain someone's inability to fulfil their personal ambitions.

Welcome to the World of Neurodiversity

Traditionally we viewed any kind of mental disability as unfortunate and reserved psychiatric diagnoses for extreme cases of dysfunctional behaviour. Today, we champion neurological diversity with celebrity endorsements of new-fangled mental health labels. Any human emotional or intellectual challenge can now be reassessed as a medical condition that requires some form of treatment and supervision. Any psychological traits that stray from an arbitrary range of normality now warrant attention, creating an almost infinite variety of problematic personality types in an age of self-obsession. The much trumpeted claim that one in four adults suffer from a mental illness at some stage in their life has served to normalise the concept in the public mind.

While nonconformist behavioural patterns and thought processes have now been pathologised, the NHS has ceased to classify gender dysphoria as a mental illness. So let us get this straight, if a young woman falls into a despondent state following a series of personal setbacks, spending more time alone in bed and failing to socialise with friends, an NHS psychologist may assess her as clinically depressed and thus suffering from a mental illness. If, however, the same woman believes her relative lack of femininity means she should assume the identity of a man and be allowed to take life-changing hormones or undergo genital mutilation, public funds should assist her in pursuing her delusion that her anatomically female body is at odds with her self-perception as a man rather than help her come to terms with her biological reality and deal with the real psychological causes of her identity crisis. We are literally normalising insanity, while redefining perfectly normal thought processes as somehow insane. However, identity crises do not only concern gender. A German woman, now calling herself Martha Big, has invested tens of thousands of Euros in cosmetic surgery and tanning injections to transform her complexion and facial features to resemble a black African lady. While Ms Big's appearance may fool some, Rachel Dolezal from Philadelphia has only undergone a modest transformation, but nonetheless identifies as African American. Of course, many will remember Michael Jackson's expensive skin whitening treatment to give him more Caucasian features. More disturbingly, a growing number of able-bodied people now identify as disabled, a condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder. In 1997 Scottish Surgeon Robert Smith amputated the perfectly healthy lower left leg of an Essex man, which naturally impeded his mobility and personal independence for the sole purpose of emotional relief. The patient reported feeling complete and at ease with himself after the procedure. More commonly this disorder causes people to have a distorted self-image as too fat, too thin or with exaggerated imperfections and may lead people to undertake dysfunctional cosmetic surgery. How does body dysmorphic disorder differ from gender dysphoria? There are naturally rare cases of hermaphroditism or ambiguous genitalia, in which case any psychological problems reflect a biological reality that may require corrective surgery. Likewise many people have defective or diseased body parts, which may often affect their body image.

What's wrong with a society where more and more people cannot come to terms with their natural selves and wish to assume identities that are either at odds with their biological reality or upbringing? Rather than create more cohesive and tolerant communities of people with a diverse range of practical experiences and skillsets, current trends have produced an atomised collection of victim groups at the mercy of external agencies. Unlike traditional categories, identities based on behaviour or self-perception require some sort of social or medical intervention to ensure a person's viability, something only possible complex collectivist societies. To some these assertions may seem oxymoronic. How can we be both atomised and reliant on collective organisation? A troubled young man suffering from social anxiety unable to hold down a well-paid job may well be both isolated from his wider community and yet concomitantly dependent on remote organisations for his livelihood. More and more individuals in our increasingly interdependent world fail to get along with their neighbours, extended families or colleagues. Rather than find a practical niche within a small close-knit community, many now prefer the safety of virtual communities in which many dysfunctional lifestyle choices become the norm.

In our emerging brave new world of constant transmogrification of human identity, I suspect the boundaries between sexual orientation, transgenderism, transableism, neurodiversity and eventually transhumanism will blur until only a upper caste of intellectually superior technocrats and social engineers retain true freedom of action.

Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Just gimme some Truth

On the importance of intellectual freedom

Hardly a week passes without a brand new high profile campaign against the Orwellian concept of hate speech, perceived public ignorance or the spectre of unofficial fake news. Naturally ignorance no longer denotes an absence of knowledge, but a failure to internalise a specific worldview or cultural attitude. By the same logic we need not worry about officially certified fake news, because no doubt experts wiser than we have sanitised the truth for the greater good of humanity, while evil dissidents probably have ulterior motives.

Presumably all enlightened progressives should welcome the arbitration of third party organisations over all contentious social, scientific, historical, economic or moral issues. It's a truism that none of us, no matter how wise or intellectually gifted we may be, could conceivably fully comprehend all controversies that affect our lives. At some stage we have to place our trust in someone who has had the time, intellect and resources to gather hard evidence and present it in a succinct and readable format. Who is qualified to decide on issues as complex as nuclear energy, arms sales to foreign regimes, support for rebel militias in entangled ethno-religious conflicts, genetic engineering of human embryos or sex education in primary schools? Can we trust the general public to reach rational conclusions on these matters based on incomplete data and swayed by emotions?

How do we make sense of the daily deluge of confusing and conflicting information about our rapidly changing world? Surely we need some sort of independent verification service to help us sort the wheat from the chaff. This begs the question, whose interests do these non-governmental fact checking outfits serve? Do they just want to give us raw data and let us make our own minds up or do they want to discredit any evidence that runs counter to their preferred narrative and may lead a larger cross section of public opinion to rebel against the policies that major corporate and state organisations are seeking to implement through deceptive means ?

Indeed as soon as someone accuses the government or big business of deceiving the public, they may attract the epithet of conspiracy theorist or tinfoil hat wearer. We've gone a long way from the days when these slurs were mainly aimed at quirky nostalgics uncomfortable with the implications of modern science and technology. Some Americans genuinely believe the Lunar Landing was a hoax staged in Iceland or possibly in film studios. Others believe extraterrestrial creatures have landed on our planet. Without evidence, this remains nothing but wild conjecture and given the sheer size of our galactic neighbourhood exceedingly unlikely. Most UFO sightings may be exactly what the term suggests, unidentified flying objects, in all likelihood meteorites or military aircraft. However, now it's often those of us who doggedly insist on scientific truth who fall foul of the new postmodern orthodoxy on subjects as diverse as gender identity to the sustainability of rapid mass migration.

On Wednesday, Labour MP, Sarah Champion, resigned her position on the front bench for having told the truth about mainly Muslim rape gangs targeting mainly white (or at least non-Muslim) teenage girls in a popular tabloid newspaper, the Sun, which the left, myself included, has long despised. I could think of few cases that could better exemplify the problem with politically correct censorship of both open debate and objective investigation as this. Her Labour colleagues have accused her sensationalism bordering on racism and collobarating with the hated Murdoch press, yet at the end of the day what matters is not what the liberal intelligentsia believe today, but what diligent historians will conclude tomorrow. Who's right, obedient Guardian columnists who pretend there are no irreconciable cultural differences between sizable sections of the growing Muslim community and the indigenous population or tenacious journalists such as Douglas Murray and Raheem Kassam, author of No Go Zones, who challenge the new orthodoxy? Should we await an official report to reassure us that our benevolent authorities are looking after our best interests or should we challenge media bias and demand both truth and common sense solutions? Now imagine a near future where the truth about rape gangs is no longer contested by rival sections of our media, but is flagged as hate speech and all Internet searches on such issues point to fact-checking services that essentially obfuscuate reality through selective statistics and emotional arguments.

So let us for the sake of argument agree that both racism and sexual abuse are morally reprehensible, but we have a logistical problem here. If the main concern of the police and social services were the welfare of vulnerable teenage girls, it would be an open and shut case once they had sufficient evidence to prosecute the perpetrators. Don't get me wrong in all such cases we need to corroborate evidence on the ground to prevent the police from arresting innocent participants in consensual sexual encounters. However, the recent trial of a Newcastle-based grooming gang follows a familiar pattern seen up and down the country. Young playboys, mainly of South Asian Muslim descent, lure working class non-Muslim teenagers to sex parties plying them drugs such as cannabis and mephedrone. As detailed in Peter McLoughlin's book Easy Meat: Inside Britain's Grooming Gang Scandal, these organised gang bangs have been going on for some time, but the establishment colluding with the regressive left have done their best to hush up and downplay the scale of this phenomenon. When the Rotherham case first hit the news, many viewers of mainstream news programmes could be forgiven for thinking it was isolated to one town. Ever since the authorities have been in damage limitation mode. Yet Channel 4 journalists have known about it since the suppressed 2004 documentary Edge of the City.

An online campaign has been launched to try and stop Channel 4 from airing a documentary that features claims Asian men are grooming white girls for sex. Edge of the City, set in Bradford, had been shelved in May after police warned it could incite racial violence ahead of local and European elections. The Black Information Link website asks readers to lobby Channel 4, police and the Culture Secretary to stop the film.

Some wishful thinkers may prefer to believe that Britain's growing Muslim communities are integrating just fine with the settled population and share our wonderfully enlightened liberal values on women's rights, sexuality and tolerance of diverse lifestyle choices. They may prefer to disregard the higher fertility rate of Muslim families or their higher dependence on social welfare (a consequence of larger families and widespread inbreeding). Indeed any problems that cannot be easily swept under the carpet are often explained away as by-products of past Western imperialism or of despotic regimes, which our enlightened governments opposed.

However, if objective analysis of hard facts revealed that not only have hundreds of thousands of British non-Muslim girls been systematically targeted by gangs of mainly Muslim young men, but such behaviour is deeply engrained in their culture, some may conclude that in the interests of community cohesion and indeed the safety of vulnerable teenagers (some boys have also been targeted), we should restrict further immigration from mainly Islamic regions without extensive background checks. You see in our private lives we'd behave in more rational ways. We may welcome our new neighbours and be pleased for them to play with our children, as long as we can agree on a core set of shared cultural values. Until recently we did not need social workers or pervasive surveillance to manage community affairs. Neighbours would look out for each other and any transgressors would soon be identified and dealt with. Within a culturally homogeneous community people know the bounds of acceptable behaviour. Tolerance is a wonderful word when applied to diverse cuisines, music or literary traditions, but not when when our naive tolerance blinds us to hateful intolerance and we become an ethnic minority in what used to be our parents' homeland. Indeed the whole concept of homeland is anathema to globalists, who imagine the world as some sort of playground or university campus interspersed with national parks and connected by airports and high speed rail.

The trouble is the truth is seldom convenient and often ugly. Human beings can be violent, selfish, vindictive and morally corrupt, but we can also be loving, resourceful, creative and conscientious. In different circumstances the same human beings can behave in very different ways with radically different outcomes, but we are not all the same. Some of us cope very well with stress and take heightened competition in our stride. Others thrive best as loyal members of a team learning mainly through social osmosis. Indeed creative or critical thinkers often make very bad team players, but our modern world would be very different without the innovations of a non-conformist and often reclusive minority. Successful societies need to harness the best of both mindsets. If we rely exclusively on experts endorsed by our dominant institutions, we risk closing our minds to institutional bias that serves our true rulers' agenda.

Shaming Dissenters

Speaking out against organised rape gangs may seem a no-brainer in a society that almost universally condemns such acts, but not when it conflicts with other priorities, such as facilitating cultural change to undermine the self-determination of all viable national communities. When the progressive media starts talking in terms of Islamophobia, transphobia (a term that only entered the Oxford Dictionary in 2013 after a petition) and hate speech, alarm bells should ring. As soon as one dissents on issues as diverse as the environmental sustainability of mass transfers of people from poorer countries or state-funded fertility treatment for lesbian couples, one is labelled a hater. People are named and shamed for defending hard science on building viable communities and respecting natural biological differences.

Can state planners really want to simultaneously promote tolerance of an ideology, Islam, that abhors sexual deviance and treats women as sex slaves, while teaching young children that gender is a social construct rather than a biological reality? Today in Canada one may be arrested for protesting against Islamisation of one's neighbourhood, but also for failing to use the correct gender pronouns for a tiny minority of transsexuals who fail to identify as either male or female. While Islam and transgenderism (or the LGBTQ+ agenda) would seem to lead in opposite directions on sexual ethics, both dogmas push us towards more social interventionism and greater surveillance. I suspect what we lazily call the globalist elite for want of a better word, will only tolerate the rapid Islamisation of many European and North American neighbourhoods until they devise means to subvert this culture too. Indeed most Muslims today would feel utterly ashamed of the grooming gangs that blight towns and cities across Britain, the Netherlands and other Western countries with large concentrations of randy Muslim males. Maybe these young men have been corrupted by exposure to Western decadence. Maybe the guardians of their female victims failed to protect their daughters against dangerous sexual predators. Whichever way, the multicultural experiment is failing the underclasses, namely those least responsible for Britain's imperial past.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/d5IZ16UpE7U

I wonder if John Lennon would welcome the new idealism embraced by the bankers and warmongers he once decried.

Categories
Power Dynamics

Disturbing Scenarios of the early 21st Century

Bury Park, Luton

Could globalisation trigger regressive ethnocentrism and religious hatred?

In a paradigm shift over the last 30 to 40 years, the establishment media in most Western countries now openly embraces not just globalisation and the gradual dissolution of traditional national boundaries, but also rapid cultural change via social engineering. However, until recently most national leaderships pretended to care about their countries, their citizens and their traditions to retain their people's trust and preserve social stability.

Back in the day rebels would oppose the imperialism or military adventurism of their rulers. We rightly associated wars, exploitation and oppression of subjugated peoples with expansionist nationalism. Some of us felt so disgusted with the crimes of our ruling elite that we would support their enemies or wish for the dissolution of our nation state into smaller regions of a larger continental superstate. Much of the European Union's philosophical appeal among the continent's trendy professional classes rested on its apparent disassociation with previous colonial empires. Yet in the early 21st century it's not so much the working classes who want to abolish their countries, as national elites who are now so enamoured with globalisation that they see their country as a mere anachronism and only pay lip service to its cultural heritage to placate conservative opinion.

Today school students learn about the horrors of, wait for it, nationalism. often seen alongside religion as the root cause of all evil. As discussed in previous posts we should contrast negative nationalism, which seeks to impose itself on rival ethnic identities, from positive nationalism or patriotism, which implies pride in the cultural heritage and collective achievements of one's wider community. In this sense negative nationalism is a precursor to imperialism, which has now morphed into globalism. We find many of the descendants of the same business classes who championed British imperialism in the 19th century and embraced Americanism in the mid 20th century are now the keenest advocates of globalism, often at odds with more conservative or protectionist movements at home. The worst examples of 20th century mass murder came not from small to medium-sized countries minding their own business, but from expansionist regimes that believed either in their civilisational supremacy or sought revenge for perceived past injustices. Stalin's Soviet Union and Mao's People's Republic China, both responsible for millions of avoidable deaths, were not compact nation states, but regional powers with a globalist outlook that openly suppressed traditional expressions of ethnic nationalism. Even isolationist regimes such as Pol Pot's short-lived Democratic Kampuchea came about as a reaction to competing expansionist imperialist and ideological forces in the region. Pol Pot received funding both from China and later from the US State Department. His regime could only seize control due to the power vacuum created by US bombing of the Vietcong (Vietnamese National Liberation Front) camps in Eastern Combodia. Admittedly a cocktail of supremacist ethno-nationalism and military might can engender murderous regimes, as we saw in Nazi Germany and Japan. However, one may also argue that they only resorted to genocidal barbarity because other means of commercial and political expansionism had failed. The problems here were military adventurism and ethnic supremacism, not national pride. The British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Belgian and Dutch empires were also responsible for their fair share of mass murder and ethnic cleansing, mostly of defenceless peoples who failed to write their own history books to counter the dominant narrative of civilising the world.

The workers' movement has long championed internationalism, i.e. solidarity and cooperation among independent nations with different cultural traditions and mores. One of the most famous gestures of true internationalism was when British and German soldiers ceased hostilities over Christmas 1914, exchanged gifts and reportedly played football. The truce highlighted the reality that it was not their war. Ordinary working people had little or no say in their country's foreign policy or military planning and had to rely on biased newspapers for information about unfolding events in other parts of Europe and the Middle East. Most supported the war due to their instinctive loyalty to their fatherland, a concept alien to many young Europeans who prefer vaguer appeals to abstract social justice and non-judgmental universalism. A hundred years ago our rulers urged us to fight for our country, now the descendants of the same power elites want us to welcome the transformation of our countries into mere regions of a fluid global superstate. Some still imagine the ruling classes as a reactionary cabal of nationalist aristocrats and religious leaders eager to prevent the fraternisation of a global working class yearning for a new tomorrow free of oppression or petty ethnocentric divisions. This is little more than 19th century fiction. In reality the upper classes have always been more universalist in outlook. The Great War of 1914 to 1918 saw intimately related European Royals on different sides of a dispute over the carving up of the former Ottoman Empire and the remapping of Eastern Europe. Ever since power has shifted to the bankers, oligarchs and state bureaucrats, who strut the world stage and often pose as progressive and environmentally conscientious liberals. Forget the waning influence of British Royalty, the real movers and shakers of the next century will be today's mightiest business leaders and multibillionaire technocrats in the guise of familiar jeans-clad rockstar tycoons such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Tim Cook or Mark Zuckerberg or even Britain's very own small-time billionaire aviator Richard Branson. These guys are all globalists, not old school nationalists by any stretch of the imagination.

Rebels against Post-modernism

Today's intellectual dissidents are seldom those calling for faster global cultural convergence. That prize belongs to what we may call the loony fringe of overzealous cheerleaders and idealists whose vitriolic loathing of their countries and traditions can be easily manipulated by global bankers who view national democracies with disdain. Instead the rebels of the early third millennium seek to warn us of the creeping authoritarianism of our ruling elites and of the cultural decay of our liberal societies. Naturally their main points of reference are the historically successful and prosperous nation states of the 19th and 20th century with their focus on civic culture and a mix of familial and social responsibility built on traditional values that evolved gradually through trial and error over many generations. While negative nationalism may have led to the revanchist neo-imperialism of the Japanese Empire and Germany's short-lived Third Reich, positive nationalism produced the social democratic mixed economies of Western Europe, North America, Japan, South Korea and Australasia. Most of the relative freedoms and rights we now take for granted evolved in nation states. Each country had a national debate about contentious issues as diverse as abortion, the legalisation or criminalisation of dangerous narcotics, nuclear power or euthanasia. Naturally people may reach different conclusions on these issues and live with the consequences. If a Muslim country wishes to force all women to wear a veil in public, that's their business. A globalist may seek to change such practices through military interventionism rather than by setting an example of more enlightened dress codes. If a cultural habit is bad for its practitioners, they will soon learn by comparison with neighbouring countries who take different approaches. Superior cultures, especially those that have stood the test of time, tend to expand more through emulation rather than conquest or imposition. We may reasonably debate whether the British needed to colonise India and much of Africa to spread our technical expertise, language or customs. Would the Indians and Africans not have found other ways to learn from our scientific discoveries and innovations without being colonised? Indeed many would consider the Christian culture that Britain spread in the 19th century to much of the non-European world both backward and supremacist. One only needs to read the annals of George Bernard Shaw's Fabian Society to learn how many envisaged the British Empire would morph into a Federation of the World.

Rebels vs Conformists

Today's critical thinkers can easily attract derogatory labels such as misogynists, homophobes, xenophobes, Islamophobes (which my spell checker has just underlined), transphobes, right-wingers, conspiracy theorists, fascists or, if all else fails, Nazis. At the recent #welcomeToHell protests against the Hamburg G20 summit, Antifa black block activists asked reporters if they were, wait for it, Nazis before proceeding to beat them up. Such epithets are mere insults devoid of any connection to real historical events, as if modern dissidents are as obsessed with a short chapter in central European history as the authoritarian left seems to be. Unless you submit to borderless universalism and systematic social engineering, you are purportedly on a spectrum of reactionary perspectives that include sympathy for a defunct dictatorship.

By and large dissenters react to overwhelming bias from the mainstream media, academia and corporate lobbyists. Anxiety grows when empirical first-hand experiences diverge from the sanitised versions of reality that our mainstream media feeds us. When the media and other vehicles of indoctrination suppress key aspects of objective reality, some of us begin to ask questions. That doesn't mean we always come up with the right answers. It's easy to get sidetracked by focussing only on circumscribed issues or viewing the whole world through a narrow prism. This is precisely the tactic that clever social policy marketers deploy. They emphasise a perceived problem, e.g. depression in pre-school children, and present a solution, e.g. early psychiatric screening. If we focus on that problem alone without reference to wider society, the solution may sound reasonable especially if marketed as a mental health checkup. Likewise dissidents may view today's social problems entirely through the prism of Islamic fundamentalism or Israeli involvement in recent Middle East wars. These phenomena are based on mere observations of a tangled web of events that cannot be fully understood in isolation.

Islamocentrism

Twenty years ago Islamic fundamentalism seemed a side issue, confined to a few regions of Central Asia and Middle East with a few followers among the Muslim diaspora in Europe. The US and UK had long funded some radical Islamic sects, most notably Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Afghanistan's Mujahideen to counter Soviet influence before 1991 and secular pan-Arabist regimes later. As an opponent of Western interventionism in the Middle East, I soon became acquainted with the prickly Israeli / Palestinian issue and the role of the Zionist lobby in shaping US Foreign Policy. On demonstrations against military intervention I naively viewed Muslims as allies in the great battle against US imperialism and Western cultural decadence. Islam does have a few merits, such as its condemnation of gambling and interests on loans. Some interpretations of the Quran reveal an appeal to universal love and social solidarity akin to Christianity, but in practice modern Islamic societies exhibit extreme materialism, internecine violence, misogyny, child marriage, polygamy and castigation of homosexuality. For many years I wilfully turned a blind eye to these oppressive aspects not only of austere Wahhabism, but a wider unreformed Sunni and Shia Islam.

Before the 1980s many Muslim societies had experienced a rather swift cultural enlightenment. One can still view films of Afghanistan, Iran, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon from the 1960s with women wearing revealing dresses, jeans or short skirts just like their contemporaries in the West. Cultural attitudes seemed to differ little from those in Christian countries with a comparable level of economic development. An Afghani acquaintance of mine recounted her experiences as a student in 1980s Kabul before the Mujahideen took over. Educated women could aspire to careers in medicine and scientific research. A decade later the Taliban had forced all Afghan women to wear burkas in public and prevented girls from attending school. Yet these austere practices masked the sexual slavery of young women and little boys behind closed doors. Meanwhile I revisited the nondescript municipality of Luton where I spent my teenage years, only to notice the small Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities once concentrated in Bury Park have become the most visible ethnic group. Women now wear burkas in the town's large Arndale shopping centre. Many long-established pubs have closed to match the town's changing demographics and most of the people I knew from the late 70s have relocated either to nearby market towns or further afield. In little more than 30 years the Muslim community has gone from fewer than 5% of the population to over 50% of under 25s. Nobody really cared that much about Luton, but if you read the liberal press you may be under the false impression that the widely vilified and allegedly rightwing Tommy Robinson exaggerated the scale of the problem facing Luton's parallel communities. While once Lutonians would boast of their Irish, Londoner, Regional English, Scottish, Caribbean, Italian, Greek Cypriot or Indian heritage, today the real divide is between Muslims and everyone else. In the late 70s I eagerly attended Anti Nazi League demos and Rock Against Racism gigs to protest against the antics of few white racists and the short-lived popularity of the National Front (an ex school mate actually joined this organisation). I would read reports of white skinheads deliberately targeting defenceless black and Asian kids. In real life a mixed gang of English and West Indian lads beat me up once, but a I didn't let this isolated incident counter the narrative of pervasive white racism that essentially transferred the guilt of British colonialists onto working class youngsters in post-imperial Britain. None of this rapid demographic transformation would matter if everyone shared similar values and a comparable level of cultural integration. Today Luton's most tightly integrated community adhere to Islam. Everyone else is an outsider or infidel.

Media hysteria means little unless it tallies with lived experience. On my return to Greater London in 2006 I became aware that phenomena I had previously dismissed as mere teething problems of a multicultural Britain had begun to sow deep seeds of division. The rose-tinted view of Cool Britannia that I would read in the Guardian and Independent or see in BBC or Channel 4 documentaries seemed at odds with the harsh reality of ethnically cleansed neighbourhoods interspersed with unaffordable gentrified estates. Alarm bells started to ring when Guardian columnists expressed greater outrage over Daily Mail sensationalism than verified accounts of Pakistani rape gangs. That Daily Mail readers would tarnish all Muslims with the same brush seemed to concern Guardian columnists more than the fate of thousands of mainly white teenage girls treated as sex slaves. Some of us actually care about the truth. The mainstream liberal media now used the same techniques of diversion and subterfuge that served to justify Western intervention in the Middle East to suppress the unfolding reality of the kind of social disintegration that could lead to civil war. Some of us recall the Guardian's anti-Serbian bias in the Yugoslav conflict of the 1990s. In the final analysis the death count was fairly even split among the belligerent sides. The Serbs were the bad guys, while the Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Kosovar Albanians were mere victims of Serb aggression. The Guardian devoted thousands of column inches not to objective reporting of a complex conflict, but to slandering dissenters who failed to toe their line that the Serbs initiated most violence, going so far as to describe playwright Harold Pinter as an atrocity denier for opposing the 1999 NATO airstrikes over rump Yugoslavia. We now see the same vitriol against those who protest against some of the less salutary side effects of Britain's multicultural experiment. The English white working class have in effect become the Serbs of the current decade. The liberal media either ignores likes of Shazia Hobbs and Anne Marie Waters, or it associates them with alleged far-right activists. That the former is a mixed race Glaswegian and the latter an Irish lesbian and former Labour activist is of little interest to the regressive left, their critique must be ridiculed.

State-sanctioned ethnic cleansing

The concept of multiculturalism appeals to me on many levels, not least because I've long loathed the creeping homogenisation that is rapidly displacing traditional cultures that evolved gradually over countless generations. I would liken real cultural diversity with an insurance policy. If one culture succumbs to dysfunctional decadence, others can correct its ways by seeking inspiration from more successful societies. If a universal culture results in unsustainable degeneracy or extreme totalitarianism, the repercussions are by definition global in nature. However, the peaceful coexistence of diverse cultures is not the same as a deliberate policy of mass movements of divergent peoples or as Douglas Murray would put it the transformation of a country into an airport terminal. Indeed airport-grade security is steadily infiltrating shopping centres, office blocks, colleges and other public venues, just in case some deranged loners or radicalised extremists unleash their hatred on innocent bystanders.

Cognitive Dissonance

The cognitive dissonance of the liberal media is so strong that they fail to acknowledge that the spread of Islamic fundamentalism into the West could destroy the very progressive liberalism they claim to cherish. It could do this two ways. If Douglas Murray, author of the Death of Europe, or Boualem Sansal , author of 2084: The End of the World, are right, then radical Islam will eventually replace modern Western society except perhaps in a few isolated havens of tranquility populated by affluent liberal elitists. However, technological developments will likely preclude such an extreme outcome. Some Islamic leaders may be shrewd businessmen and ruthless political strategists, but they will rely on technology developed by mainly European, North American and East Asian engineers, bioscientists and programmers to placate their growing army of adherents. Countries like Sweden or Germany can only provide generous welfare to economic migrants if they can leverage their collective brainpower to generate excess wealth. The Islamist strategy is solely predicated on conquest by migration and a higher fertility rate and will ultimately fail if their offspring cannot contribute in any meaningful way to wealth generation. A much more likely scenario in my view is that the spread of dysfunctional subcultures and parallel communities will only empower the technocratic elite eager for pretexts to expand surveillance and limit free speech.


What Is Social Engineering

A Web search for this term may define it only in its more recent application in the context of information security where it may refer to psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. This is obviously not what I mean. I refer instead to a combination of social policies, spending priorities, media conditioning, educational bias and commercial incentives that affect human behaviour, social interaction, our identity and sense of self. Architecture, town planning, wealth distribution, transportation, advertising, information technology and schooling are all factors that governments and big businesses can engineer to modify human behaviour. It's not necessarily a bad thing if such policies and their likely implications are openly debated. However, influential pressure groups can easily manufacture consent for radical policy initiatives by focussing on a narrow set of perceived social ills. Other forms of social engineering appear to respond to market forces or popular demand, e.g. pervasive fast beat piped music in shopping malls, leisure centres, offices and now even in some schools and libraries.

The key question is whether policy planners and corporate executives were aware of the psychosocial consequences of their initiatives, e.g. did the expansion of welfare state, especially the provision of generous child benefits to single parents, lead to the demise of the two-parent family as the cultural norm? Some would question the morality of those who even dare to ask such questions? Others would either seek alternative explanations or would welcome the decline of traditional family structures.