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All in the Mind Power Dynamics War Crimes

When Green meets Black

The public and private opinions of the controlled opposition

Prominent members of the Spiked Online gang, most notably Brendan O’Neill, Tom Slater, Joanna Williams and Claire Fox, have over the last few years gained some street cred among critically thinking anti-establishment types for their well-articulated critiques of identity politics, censorship and the demonisation of working class culture. They supported Brexit from the left and opposed many Draconian covid regulations, unlike much of the former Labour movement who have embraced the unattainable goal of zero covid. While Brendan, Claire and other regular Spiked talking heads pretend to be on your side in the battle against the remote elites, their deceptively subversive operatives have close ties with the biotech industrial complex. Out of the blue, Dame Claire’s sister, Fiona Fox of the Science Media Centre, writes a staunch defence of the quangos and scientists, such as the much-maligned Prof. Neil Ferguson,  who masterminded the government’s deliberate overreaction to the corona crisis. It should come as little surprise that the Science Media Centre attracts funding from AstraZeneca, GSK and the Wellcome Trust among others. This is hardly out of character. The Spiked Gang have always embraced technocracy. Now you may wonder why Spiked promoted Laura Dodsworth’s excellent book A State of Fear? They never challenged the covid narrative, only the Draconian regulations like mandatory face-masks that accompanied it. Only a couple of weeks earlier Brendan O’Neill came out in support of making mass-marketed covid vaccines mandatory for care workers. Spiked's new line is that we should fear neither covid nor mRNA vaccines, but the whole rationale for digital health passports hinges on fear of an invisible virus and its constant mutations.

In the great debate on the limits of technology, environmentalists warn us of the dangers of overconsumption and catastrophic breakdowns due to our over-reliance on complex interconnected systems few of us can understand.  We could call such people techno-pessimists. In the real world, we tend to like technology that empowers us and dislike innovations that enslave us. Billions of us have fallen in love with motor vehicles and the dream of exploring wide-open spaces along empty highways. However, we may not be so keen on the inevitable traffic congestion, noise, pollution and countryside destruction.  On the other hand, techno-optimists believe humanity can always overcome environmental constraints with new technology and want us to trust the friendly household names behind corporate behemoths to deliver the goods. While much of the notional left opposed nuclear power and distrusted big pharma, one small group of Marxist intellectuals stood out in their unabashed support for technological progress. I first encountered the tiny Revolutionary Communist Party in the early 1980s. They seemed mainly interested in recruiting students at the top universities. I only briefly flirted with them but have intermittently kept an eye on this clique ever since. Although their leading light, Frank Füredi, grew up in Hungary, they defended the old Warsaw Pact countries as deformed workers’ states against Western aggression in contrast to the SWP's position which viewed the whole Eastern Bloc as state capitalist. While many on the British left supported a United Ireland, the RCP went one step further and offered unconditional support for the IRA in their struggle against British imperialism, only expressing regret about the loss of human life. In the early 1990s, they rebranded themselves around their magazine Living Marxism, shifted their focus to culture wars and weaved a distinctive critique of the often reactionary and snobbish green movement. They helped form the smokers' rights organisation Forest, defended football fans against accusations of racism and hooliganism and fully embraced the working class’s newfound love of cars, gadgets and foreign holidays. In stark contrast to most trendy lefties, they unashamedly backed nuclear power and ran to the defence of the controversial insecticide DDT. I caught up with them again around 1998 in the run-up to NATO airstrikes over Former Yugoslavia. LM Magazine did admittedly expose some media deception about the Yugoslav conflict and, more controversially, had questioned the mainstream narrative on the tragic 1994 Rwandan civil war, which attracted accusations of genocide denial. LM Magazine famously lost a libel case against ITN (Independent Television News) over Thomas Deichmann’s exposé of trick photography to make an open refugee reception centre in a Serb-controlled area of Bosnia resemble a concentration camp. 3 years later the LM Gang re-emerged as Spiked Online. Their stances over the years perplexed many casual left-leaning observers. Their critique of NATO’s role in the dismemberment of the Former Yugoslavia and of US/UK support for Tutsi insurgents in the Rwandan civil war followed in the best traditions of anti-imperialism and Lenin’s revolutionary defeatism. Yet at the same time, the LM Gang were forging close links with big businesses, especially in the pharmaceutical sector. Their wider circle of contributors now included a number of media-savvy academics and boffins. Dr Michael Fitzpatrick came to the defence of the MMR vaccine, dismissing any links with neurological disorders despite having an autistic son. The mainstream media loved him. In 1998 Channel 4 screened Martin Durkin’s three-part critique of the green movement Against Nature. Its theme was simple. We have nothing to fear from the growing encroachment of technology into every aspect of our lives and even of an eventual merger of man and machine. I recall a scene showing a full-body transplant of a chimpanzee with the narrator wishing for a near future when could bio-engineer replacement body parts and even augment our intelligence. They claimed that with the wonders of genetically engineered crops and almost limitless cold fusion power we could easily sustain a world population of 32 billion and thus had no need to either reduce per capita consumption or worry about a growing population. On a superficial level, the utopian vision of communism where everyone has access to everything they desire is only conceivable via an idyllic techno-panacea. Yet the LM Gang’s new business partners had other ideas about the future progress of humanity.

Green Technotopians

It’s a funny old world where the WEF (World Economic Forum,), the WHO (World Health Organisation), Prince Charles, Boris Johnson and the Greens all sing from the same hymn sheet. The covid narrative has conditioned many of us to view other members of our species as vectors of disease and thus to accept mandatory genetic code injections as a means to win back tightly regulated freedoms. More important, the authorities have ever so subtly pushed the message that we are not all essential and some of us may be superfluous to the collective needs of humanity as a whole. Now governments have set a precedent for virus lockdowns, the stage is set for climate lockdowns. Unsurprisingly, vaccine passports have been marketed as green passes in many European countries. Now people can be tracked everywhere they go and can no longer gain access to many essential services without smartphones, which despite fact-checker denials will soon morph into wearable microchips. Digital health passports are effectively temporary movement permits.

Environmental campaigners once distrusted our overreliance on complex technology and preferred local solutions to global problems. Many critics of neoliberal globalisation, such as French farmer and syndicalist Jose Bove or Indian novelist Arundhati Roy, defended the rights of smallholders, craftspeople and factory workers from the left in opposition to an emerging world controlled by a handful of multinationals. Most eco-activists also favoured holistic healthcare with a focus on diet, exercise and natural remedies over lifelong dependence on pharmaceutical products and invasive treatments such as chemotherapy. In many ways, the early green movement with its love of mother nature had much in common with social conservatives. Who would oppose new airports, motorways, high-speed railways and more suburban sprawl? Often concerned local social conservatives would join forces with affluent professional newcomers who had moved to the countryside to escape the hustle and bustle of the cities. The early green movement instinctively rejected both militarism and imperialism, the notion that one group of people, whether organised as countries or corporations, may impose their will on others through coercion. However, as green politicians gained office in regional and national administrations, they soon cast aside their new-age love for self-sufficiency and formed new alliances with tech giants who wanted to transition away from the old fossil fuel economy. In the early 21st century the main drivers of economic growth were no longer cars and other wasteful machines, but smart low-consumption gadgets and digital services. People had to be persuaded to pay for abstract services and ephemeral fashion accessories they did not know they needed.

When the climate change narrative first reached public consciousness around the turn of the millennium, the world’s largest car manufacturers and oil concerns seemed loath to adapt and funded the climate sceptic movement. While the growth in car ownership slowed and then declined slightly in Western Europe, it skyrocketed in much of the developing world. In 2007, Channel 4 broadcast Martin Durkin’s The Great Global Warming Swindle, much to the chagrin of the vocal army of climate change fundamentalists such as Guardian columnist George Monbiot. We soon learned the two pillars of the new religion of scientism, peer-review and the scientific consensus. Superficially, it makes sense for rigorous research papers to undergo methodical scrutiny before publication. If a scientist dependent on corporate sponsorship suppresses key evidence about the safety of her sponsor’s products, it seems fair for a more neutral academic to correct the bias.  Science can only thrive with complete transparency and open debate on the interpretation of evidence. However, in practice, peer review often serves as a form of corporate censorship to ensure scientific publications do not contradict the preferred consensus. The latter term no longer refers to a thesis supported by almost indisputable evidence but to the received truth, i.e. a dogmatically enforced orthodoxy. On the MMR debacle, we saw most of the centre-left establishment, academia and the LM Gang adhere strictly to the preferred narrative that the triple vaccines were extremely safe and could not trigger regressive autism in a small susceptible subset of children. Opposition tended to come more from social conservatives, back-to-nature bohemian types and a handful of dissident medics, most notably Dr Andrew Wakefield and Dr Joseph Mercola. Yet on climate change, the LM Gang sided with the mavericks who disputed the IPCC’s scientific consensus. By 2010 any scientist, such as Australian meteorologist William Kininmonth or Canadian zoologist, Susan Crockford, who challenged the consensus would struggle to get their research papers peer-approved. Around the same time, the big energy cartels embraced the transition to a post-carbon economy. BP rebranded itself as Beyond Petroleum. All along their main goal had been to hold humanity to ransom by controlling the resources that regulate our material freedom. If all communities were self-sufficient in energy, water, food and essential raw materials, the big energy mafia would be out of business. On the fringes, two visions of our post-carbon future vied for our attention.

One involved the re-localisation of our economy through greater self-reliance and a more frugal existence with fewer but more durable machines. Some envisaged such as a scenario might evolve as a natural reaction to a future worldwide economic collapse. When modern distribution chains fail to deliver the goods amid financial mayhem, people will have no choice but to learn once again to grow their own food. However, in many densely populated urban areas, this is simply not a practical option without substantial reallocation of land use and redistribution of population centres. Some have pointed to urban farms in Detroit’s sprawling suburbs as an example, but the city not only had plenty of disused land that could be repurposed, its population had declined.

The other vision of a green utopia harnesses advanced technology on a global scale to radically reduce our collective carbon footprint. It reduces human beings to the status of environmental hazards whose activities must be micromanaged to protect our delicate ecosystem. It’s almost the polar opposite of the loose network of decentralised self-regulating communities that early environmentalists had envisioned.

Green-labelled parties have long strayed from their original focus on ecological sustainability to champion other causes that require greater reliance on remote organisations. Over the last twenty odd years, green politicians have been more interested in welcoming unbalanced migratory flows, allegedly caused by climate change, and in promoting transgender ideology than in saving natural habitats. Such policies inevitably reduce self-sufficiency. If millions more people move to a region that is already a net importer of food and other essential resources, it becomes even more reliant on international trade and finance. Likewise, only male-female partnerships can reproduce naturally and raise the next generation with strong cultural bonds to their forebears. Alternative family structures with single or same-sex parents rely much more on state intervention and biotechnology. Here the new greens, as we may call them, have converged with the classic RCP position that technology would free humanity from the shackles of mother nature. While the LM Gang still lend lip service to free speech and carefree consumerism, the greens pretend to care about the planet and the rights of indigenous peoples. Behind the scenes, the same multinational corporations pull their strings.

The Great Reset

In the run-up to the corona crisis, the notional left in its social democratic, radical chic and eco-warrior garbs had abandoned the settled working classes and called for restrictions on free speech under the pretext of combatting hate crimes. This left a political vacuum for millions of disillusioned voters who felt totally betrayed by successive Labour, Liberal Democrat and Tory administrations and unpersuaded by the short-lived UKIP and Brexit parties. The LM Gang made a strategic decision to back the campaign to leave the EU. Claire Fox even won a seat in the European Parliamentary elections after Theresa May’s government had failed to respect the outcome of the 2016 EU referendum.  In the same period, the likes of Brendan O’Neill would appear on new alternative media outlets, such as Dave Rubin Show, alongside American intellectuals on the libertarian right. Three core beliefs seem to unite these new media pundits. First state regulation, including limits on free speech, should be minimised. Second, capitalism has been a fantastic success story that has vastly expanded the horizons of billions of human beings. Third, Israel is largely a force for good, but Islam represents a major threat to liberal democracy. How exactly do we square the RCP’s historic support for Sinn Fein, its radical critique of Western meddling in Rwanda and in the former Yugoslavia with its newfound love of Israel and its abject failure to criticise the growing power of the biotech mafia? The answer is simple. The LM Gang are polemicists who co-opt causes that resonate with a large cross-section of their target audience to demolish the arguments of the principled opposition to the ruling elites. Their disciples could make a radical Marxist case for almost anything as long as they can conveniently distance themselves from their partners in crime. Brendan O’Neill is no stranger to the population debate. He has repeatedly argued against neo-Malthusianism. I find it hard to believe the LM Gang could not have been aware before 2020 that Boris Johnson’s father Stanley has long advocated radical depopulation. Boris himself penned a letter to the Times of London in 2007 urging the government to address the issue of overpopulation. Yet Boris chose to elevate Claire Fox to the House of Lords for her services to the campaign to leave the EU. Her critique of the lockdowns has always stopped well short of questioning the dubious science behind it and, more importantly, the government’s true motivations for spending countless billions of pounds on the mass administration of dodgy mRNA injections. Big Pharma can rely on Claire to provide controlled opposition to the more unpopular aspects of the covid psyop, which was always just a means to an end. The LM Gang treat free speech as an academic debate about toxic identity politics but fail to attack Big Tech’s blacklisting of leading scientists such as Dr Peter McCullough, Dr Mike Yeadon or Prof. Luc Montagnier because privately they agree with the censors.

The virus scare may have served to justify previously unthinkable policies such as antisocial distancing, forced isolation and face-mask mandates, but the medium-term goal has always been a radical shift to a centralised technocratic world order, marketed as the Great Reset. Its proponents will move heaven and earth to bring every human being into their surveillance grid. Both the green and black strands of the technophile left have failed to oppose the biggest transfer of power from the masses to the ruling classes in human history. One can only conclude they are complicit and their apparent differences over demographic sustainability, free speech or the Palestinian question are merely rhetorical. The descendants of the old RCP are in bed with the architects of the technocratic coup.

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All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Is the Party over?

What goes up, must come down.

Ever since the birth of Keynesian economics and the abandonment of the Gold Standard in 1933, the world’s economy has thrived on material growth. The more people who could transform their labour into greater consumer demand, the merrier. This model was so successful that by 2019, obesity had replaced undernourishment as the world’s leading cause of preventable illnesses. Yet for many decades we’ve been living on spiralling debt. The 2008 financial crisis should have been a wake-up call, time to transition to a steady-state economy focused on social and environmental stability by letting the big banks go bust and bailing out the people. Instead, Western governments chose to bail out the bankers and extend more dodgy loans to the people to keep the consumer economy afloat.

Over the years I’ve explored all angles of the irksome population debate. The idea that the world may have too many human beings can feed the wildest fantasies of eugenicists. However, sometimes we have to separate science from dogma. It is all too easy to let deep-seated ideological convictions and emotions cloud our interpretation of conflicting scientific evidence.

Let's look at the rise of the world population since the industrial revolution. There is no doubt that it has grown exponentially and most of this growth has taken place over the last 70 years as infant mortality has declined across Southern Asia, Africa and South America. Before the covid scare, most forecasts suggested the world’s people count would peak between 9 and 11 billion in the mid 21st century. Most of Asia and South America were well on course to reach replacement-level fertility rates within the next decade without the need for coercive constraints on natural procreation. Urban lifestyles and compulsory schooling for all girls and boys have led young couples to choose smaller families, especially with the rising cost of raising children in a high-tech society. If your ten-year-old daughter can no longer help out on the farm, you may need to set aside some cash to buy her a laptop. The dire forecasts of population pessimists have, despite civil wars and occasional famines, proven mostly wrong. In his 1969 book, “The Population Bomb”, Paul Ehrlich predicted extinction-level starvation by the end of the 20th century. In the event the fertility rate declined in much of the developed world, while malnutrition and childhood deaths plummeted across India, Africa and South America, mainly due to improvements in agriculture and sanitation. More Africans starved in the 60s and 70s than in the 90s and early 21st century.

Nonetheless, rapid urbanisation brought about new conflicts and challenges, not least the demise of traditional extended families and job insecurity as new city-dwellers could not easily keep pace with fast-evolving technology. As I’ve stressed in some earlier posts, the real question is no longer the prospect of 10 billion human beings but the environmental challenge of 5 billion cars with the massive infrastructure such an automotive utopia would require. Back in 1970, the world had around 200 million motor vehicles. Today that figure has risen five-fold to over a billion, while the human population has merely doubled.

Historically, our numbers have adapted to environmental conditions amid spouts of internecine violence, famines and plagues. If our habitat can accommodate more people, our instincts to go forth and multiply will prevail as opportunities abound for young adults. Conversely, as environmental conditions deteriorate, fewer people survive without modern welfare systems and easy exit routes. In the 1840s, the Irish potato famine triggered an implosion of Ireland’s population due to a mix of starvation and emigration of the Emerald Isle's fittest young adults. However, our environment is not the wildernesses we inherited from our distant forebears, but the urban and rural landscapes we have engineered over many generations. We may contrast the natural geosphere, as might exist in our absence, with the much smaller technosphere. Over half of us live in the 1% of the world’s land area that’s urbanised and the other half in smaller settlements in the 10-11% of available land fit for farming and animal husbandry.

Any concerns about the long-term sustainability of the world’s population inevitably lead to calls for concerted global action that logically undermine the self-determination of peoples at local and national level. When investment bankers in Zürich or Singapore worry about demographic trends in Nigeria or Pakistan, self-determination is unlikely to figure high in their list of priorities. Rather global planners prefer to use applied behavioural insights to guide people towards more sustainable ways of life. By sustainability technocrats do not mean the conservation of our ecosystem so much as political stability as they shift gear from an economic model based on consumption-led growth to one based on micromanagement of all human activity, treating most denizens of our planet more as zoo animals than working consumers.

Wishful-thinking Progressive Cornucopians

For the last 30 years or so, mainstream economists and opinion leaders have downplayed the significance of the population factor, often welcoming immigration from poorer countries with growing populations to wealthier countries with ageing populations. One of their favourite arguments was the need for more young workers to pay taxes and boost consumer demand. I’ve covered the fallacies of this theory before. The existing population only benefit materially from immigration if newcomers pay more in tax than they consume in services. While we may reasonably debate the pros and cons of high levels of net migrations in times of economic growth and low unemployment, it makes a lot less sense with millions stranded at home on furlough and economic activity suffocated by medical martial law. It only took a few months for liberal progressives to abandon their love for the free movement of people across outdated national borders to become the staunchest proponents of internal borders, preventing people from leaving their region or county and gathering in large groups. Other human beings have suddenly turned into biohazards. It baffles me how we can love all other members of our species, while simultaneously avoiding social proximity and hiding our facial expressions.

Green New Deal policies make absolutely no sense if you naively believe that trendy progressive types want to embrace humanity in all its wonderful cultural diversity and celebrate our growing numbers. Multiculturalism has only ever served as a transitionary phenomenon to undermine native cultures and usher in a global super-culture that would make it easier for the intellectual elites to micromanage the urban masses. Since the turn of the millennium two competing visions of globalism have divided Western electorates. Some see a wider range of restaurants and the cultural enrichment of well-educated colleagues who have moved from other parts of the world. Others see divided communities, congestion, crime and alienation in their country of birth. Academics and affluent professionals tend to view mass migration much more favourably than the home-grown working classes. How could the population of Greater London, which grew from around 6.4 million in the early 1990s to over 9 million by 2019 and was once projected to hit 13 million by 2050, meet Agenda 2030 sustainability goals? How could the conurbation’s teeming residents make drastic cuts in their true carbon footprint, while importing almost everything from other regions and exporting their pollution? The answer is simple. It could not. Any honest city planner should have known that within a decade most short-term service sector jobs would be either outsourced or fully automated. By 2010 the city had already started to resemble a giant airport terminal with shopping malls, luxury apartments and bedsits for transient labourers. After 10 months of corona-containment measures, the city’s once-bustling streets and markets have been emptied. As many as a million workers have already fled. It simply doesn’t make any sense for remote workers to rent a studio flat in an unfriendly city where spontaneous socialisation may land you in trouble with the covid police. While some may argue the corona crisis was an unforeseen cataclysm that demanded emergency measures, once again the affluent professional classes have abandoned the working classes. Greater London grew rapidly in the 19th and early 20th century mainly with newcomers from other regions of the British Isles, but with a fair sprinkling of adventurers from overseas. By the 1930s it had reached chronic levels of overcrowding with its characteristic pea-soup smog. Wartime evacuations in the 1940s and post-war redevelopment prompted a steady exodus to the suburbs and satellite towns. Old settled communities and industries moved out and new communities moved in. London began to grow again in the 1990s as a hub of the global banking and media industries. Employers could easily exploit a new breed of international commuters. The same chattering classes that once tolerated racism against the indigenous peoples of the British Empire and later blamed Britain’s strike-prone home-bred workers for post-imperial industrial decline are now indifferent to the mass exodus of their Eastern European neighbours, whose services they no longer require. For every highly qualified doctor or engineer who has added to London’s human capital, there are 10 to 20 temporary office workers, caterers, builders, lorry drivers, hairdressers, nurses, nannies, decorators and cleaners. The covid scare has merely accelerated the rate of smart automation. If you have to order your caffè latte via a mobile app and then pick it up from a local coffee shop where you may only briefly exchange greetings with a masked barista, you might as well interact with a robot.

A World of Metropolitan Snobs

2020 marked a watershed in human development. The trendy managerial classes revealed, amid platitudes about saving lives, their unspoken eugenicist tendencies. They may not target a specific ethnic group, but they have a deeply ingrained contempt for independent-minded unbelievers or rather the politically incorrect plebians who fail to worship at the altar of scientism. Most wishful-thinking middle managers may still believe they’re working for the common good of humanity, but have become increasingly intolerant of nonconformists who fail to fall into line and internalise the new orthodoxy on covid, gender identity or climate change. Political correctness, obsession with equality and diversity and identity politics have long concealed a much more sinister agenda. How could we transform the world into a giant adventure playground or a kind of hipster paradise populated only by trendy progressive types with robotic slaves?

Unlike empirical science, scientism is the unquestioning faith in official experts, the high priests of global technocracy. Scientism teaches us to follow the science. By contrast science teaches us to subject each hypothesis to rigorous tests and analysis, explore alternative hypotheses and challenge orthodox theories when new evidence comes to light. Scientism suppresses dissent, while science welcomes open debate. Scientism is inherently elitist, while science thrives on an enlightened citizenry with constant interaction between different groups of concerned citizens and technologists with full accountability within an open and fair democratic process. Today the issues with the largest impact on our lives, from atomic energy to artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, natural families and bodily autonomy, depend on our understanding of science. Very few of us can be experts in all these fields, spanning nuclear physics, molecular biology, medicine, programming, nano-robotics and bioethics, although some of us may claim a degree of expertise in some specialist areas. By deferring our analysis to experts favoured by large media outlets, who in turn are closely allied with the biotech industrial complex, we reduce democracy to choosing which management team should carry out policies that remote technocrats have devised.

Slow Development in a Steady State Economy

The biggest challenge we face as a species is not so much overpopulation as over-development. We have become too reliant on technology that most of us can neither understand nor control. The problem is not change itself, which may good, bad or indifferent, but the sheer speed of psychosocial disruption that rapid technological transformation inevitably engenders. Accelerated progress always empowers the new elites at the expense of the more conservative underclasses. However, when technology evolves more gradually, ordinary people have time to adapt technology to better suit their needs and put themselves back in the driving seat. An alternative to the global utopia that Klaus Schwab envisaged in his Great Reset, is the decentralisation not only of political power, but of technology. Why, you may wonder, should Africans, Indians and South Americans, develop independent solutions for telecommunications, clean energy, irrigation, potable water and food security? The answer is simple. If you can control the technology on which your life depends, you are once again master of your own destiny. If you place your trust in a few technocrats employed by a handful of multinationals, they may decide if you are surplus to requirements.

For over twenty years I have ranted and railed in the wilderness against the unsustainability of endless economic growth. Now I find myself warning of the tragic human consequences of its polar opposite: planned economic decline and the dehumanisation of those who fail to comply. However, it may not be too late. We need a people’s reset that irreversibly transfers power from the tech giants to the people. Can we do it? It’s up to us.

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Power Dynamics

Is this the End of the American Dream?

How the virus scare empowers Big Tech Oligarchs

The global establishment has almost universally welcomed the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the presidency of a republic that is still the world’s largest economy. All the usual suspects rejoiced in the ousting of the much-reviled former President, Donald Trump. We may never know for sure whether electoral fraud occurred on such a massive scale to reverse initial reports of an electoral college win for the incumbent and to assign a sizable 5 million lead to the winning ticket. Owing to the USA’s changing demographics a Trumpian candidate, appealing to a broad cross-section of socially conservative middle-class Americans, may never again win a majority. Critics have long observed the fusion of the Democratic and Republican Parties into one big business party. Their brands appeal to different electoral bases, whose composition has changed dramatically over the decades. While both Democrat and Republican senators have spoken out against the military industrial complex, a term that Dwight D. Eisenhower coined in 1961, once in power both red and blue administrations have pursued interventionist foreign policies. The Republicans once appealed more to the urban professional and business classes winning states like California and New York, while the Democrats retained a large base of redneck supporters in states like Arkansas and Alabama. Now the Democrat base is split between the metropolitan elites and the welfare-dependent classes, namely the people who have least to lose from the ongoing destruction of the middle classes.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the American Dream spread to Western Europe, Japan and Australasia. It promised hundreds of millions the chance to prosper through their endeavours either as well-paid workers of larger firms or small business owners in an age of opportunity. If you worked hard, acquired sought-after skills and kept out of trouble, you could aspire to a comfortable life with a house, car and holidays. That’s not to say there were no conflicts or struggles as industries modernised, laid off workers and transferred operations to new more highly automated plants overseas. Nonetheless, until recently our economies revolved around wealth creation through hard work and consumption. Whereas as once the manufacturers and retailers of consumer products would dominate economic activity, today’s biggest growth sectors, the infotech and biotech industries, manage information and genetic sequences. Put another way, while people would once consume products, now we are the products, more useful to our new technocratic masters as guinea pigs than as workers. The aspirational middle classes have branched into three. In the middle, we have the remaining blue-collar workers who struggle to make ends meet on devalued salaries. When their skillsets become obsolete, they may either move down to lower-paid short-term service-sector jobs or try their luck in the more intellectually demanding tech and creative sectors. As smart automation gathers pace amid medical martial law, we can expect more and more to leave the labour market for good. The current crisis has wreaked havoc for millions of small businesses who need real-life contact with customers and cannot easily adapt to the rigours of covid safety. Online firms may give their owners the semblance of independence but rely on infrastructure owned and controlled by big tech and often provide services ripe for artificially intelligent automation. In the US, corona-containment measures have been much stricter in the more densely populated Democrat-controlled states. This will only accelerate the cultural divide that became so obvious in the Trump years between the old and new Americas. On the one hand, we have family-oriented workers and tradespeople who want to be masters of their own destiny in a land of opportunity. On the other, we have a parallel society micromanaged by a network of corporate and state actors with shrinking spaces for personal initiatives and independence of mind. America has long struggled to reconcile the benefits of private enterprise within a free market and the concentration of power in a handful of large corporations. NASDAQ 100 companies can buy influence in government, fund academia and charities and thus subvert democracy. Until recently they have tolerated the first and second amendments of the US Constitution that enshrine free speech and gun rights because they controlled the printing presses and airwaves and could rely on the police and national guard to outgun any small insurgencies. Now most social, educational and commercial activity has moved online, the tech giants call the shots and have not shirked from exploiting the corona scare to justify the suppression of free speech on all key scientific and geopolitical issues. Beyond doubt, corona containment measures have drastically curtailed economic independence and with it the American Dream itself.

In the first two weeks of his presidency, Joe Biden’s team has reversed most Trump-era initiatives that sought to resurrect American Exceptionalism and its core entrepreneurial spirit. Big Tech has now joined forces with radical Democrat politicians to undermine the very basis of Western democracy, free speech.  Opinion leaders now talk openly about re-educating Trump supporters in the same way as the occupying Allied Powers sought to denazify Germans in the bitter aftermath of WW2. Yet the American military industrial complex committed its worst war crimes under successive Democrat and Republican administrations, often via proxies, with the full approval of the same corporate media that now tries to blame the short-lived Trump administration for everything that’s wrong with the USA. Did Trump build an economic model reliant on unsustainable mass consumption, automotive extravagance and sky-high personal debt? No, that’s been the mainstay of US economic policy since Roosevelt. Did Trump start wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and Syria? No, he merely carried on where his predecessors left off. Let us not forget Billion Clinton and Barrack Obama had both voiced their disagreement with past US military adventures, respectively in Vietnam and Iraq, only to let the Deep State start new wars once in power. Indeed, even Trump’s rabble-rousing about illegal immigration only attempted to slow a rapid demographic transition that is already destabilising the federation’s delicate social cohesion at a time when most low-paid manual jobs are subject to smart automation.

The great irony is that American Deep State, for want of a better term, now seems happy to distance itself from the last 70 years of US Foreign policy as it merges with an evolving multipolar One World Government. Many on the notional left will welcome this, but the wars against restless natives and non-compliant local governments will not stop. They will simply be joint ventures with the Chinese, Indians and Europeans.

Biden will oversee the transformation of the United States from the world’s dominant economic, cultural and military superpower to a mere province of a global empire that looks to Beijing and Brussels as much as it looks to Washington DC. To the likes of Walmart and Amazon, North America is a mere market that must now be regulated to consolidate their grip on power. American CEOs now look on the Chinese model with envy. They want compliance and loyalty without the inconvenience of civil liberties for the great unwashed.

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All in the Mind Power Dynamics

How did it come to this?

The steady drift to technofascism

Earth with useless face nappy, a symbol of our Brave New Abnormal

As governments roll out a fresh set of lockdowns in country after country, more and more of us wonder if this is really about a virus. Many people who supported the first lockdown, as a temporary measure to save lives in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, are beginning to doubt the true motives behind these draconian restrictions on basic civil liberties and the complete restructuring of our society and economy. To say that the cure is worse than the disease is a monumental understatement. The adverse effects of lockdowns are highly predictable. They engender greater reliance on remote organisations, lethargy, lack of self-worth, depression, drug addiction, domestic abuse and loneliness. Lockdowns stop children from playing with friends and prevent people from visiting elderly neighbours, friends and relatives with mild dementia. These measures seem tailor-made to wear us down as independent free-thinking human beings. Why would a government spend £500 billion, or over 60% of total public expenditure, on corona-containment measures that not only restrict personal freedoms, but destroy livelihoods and drive small businesses to bankruptcy? In Scotland alone we have seen a 34% increase in home deaths as fewer people access clinics for regular check-ups and life-saving operations. There are no historical precedents for governments around the world inflicting such draconian measures in such a coordinated manner to tackle a nanoscopic virus. Many cite the misnamed Spanish Flu from 1918 to 1920, but governments were too busy dealing with uprisings in the aftermath of the Great War and Russian Revolution to police the private lives of families and regulate social interaction. Any attempt to quarantine the healthy in squalid dwellings without basic sanitation would have almost certainly led to an even higher death toll.

It’s becoming clearer by the day that the covid narrative, as game-planned at Event 201 in October 2019 at John Hopkins University, is not about a virus, but reorganising society around a new post-growth paradigm. While I have long advocated a steady state economic model that focuses on gradually improving our quality of life within natural environmental constraints by adapting to levels of consumption and population that we can sustain in the long term, my goal has always been to save humanity as a whole, not to save the lump of rock we call home. Planet Earth will manage just fine without us. It may take its ecosystem a few thousand years to reconquer the urban landscapes that occupy less than 1% of the world’s landmass, but house over half of the human population, and possibly a million or so years to bury to the last artefacts of the Anthropocene, but the planet has happily shrugged off much more cataclysmic events in its 4.5 billion year history. Demographers and epidemiologists have to clearly distinguish the evidence-based science of the earth’s carrying capacity and the sustainability of our current economic system from the ethical implications of any extreme projections one way or the other. If we underestimate the planet’s long-term human carrying capacity, we run the risk of unnecessarily imposing coercive restrictions on procreation and consumption that could lead not only to untold human suffering and early deaths but could make life a misery for those of us who survive the democide deprived of youthful vitality. On the other hand, if we overestimate the earth’s potential population, we may at some stage encounter technological limits to endless growth with catastrophic repercussions for our species. What goes up, must come down, but what matters most is who guides any changes we may need to make to our lifestyles. If the impetus for more sustainable living comes from local communities via greater resilience and relative self-sufficiency, then ordinary people remain very much in control. By contrast, if most people are fully integrated into the global distribution chain and thus reliant on large corporations, the impetus for lifestyle changes to deal with sustainability will come from the top down and will inevitably reflect the priorities of the world’s richest powerbrokers. The immense wealth accumulated by the likes of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates may be dwarfed by hidden assets controlled by the world’s leading banks, largely in the form of debt, which they can harness to dictate government policies and crash vast sectors of the economy at a whim.

Technocratic Coup

While large corporations and local administrations have joined forces to promote the new abnormal by flooding the airwaves and cyberspace with mixed messages about fighting viruses, remote working and greener living, they are busy reorganising society around the new mantras of collective responsibility and rule by experts (or as Jason Brennan calls it epistocracy). Alongside persistent fearmongering about a deadly virus, the media began to champion a new tightly regulated puritanical lifestyle. The cultural revolution that for many had begun in the 1960s has in many ways come full circle. Across much of Europe and North America the old left – right dichotomy morphed into a new schism between the socially conservative working classes and the woke professional classes pretending to represent their rainbow coalition of special interest victim groups. The latter category often calls itself, especially in North America and the British Isles, liberal because they lay claim to a tradition that championed greater civil liberties, enlightenment principles and personal freedoms. However, their tolerance does not extend to the sanctity of family life, privacy and traditional cultures. Under the pretexts of upholding children rights, monitoring mental health or tackling prejudice, progressive lawmakers have expanded the role of myriad agencies to encroach on the private lives of commoners. Yet we retained the illusion of choice and expanding horizons with easier travel and instant telecommunication. The authoritarian trend that raised its ugly head among faux-progressives in the twenty-tens as they obsessed with political correctness and identity politics has now in the post-corona era metamorphosed into full-blown hostility to personal freedom, privacy and bodily autonomy. The same people who once chanted “my body, my choice” when it came to sexual relations and abortion now support mandatory vaccination, which will inevitably lead to mandatory psychiatric screening linked to digital health passports. The state could be empowered to regulate our moods as well as our procreation. New aspiring parents may need state approval to visit a fertility clinic to conceive a child whose every move and utterance will be analysed.

The Abolition of the Working Class

One key difference sets the current crisis apart from all previous crises since the advent of the industrial revolution. Our technocratic masters no longer need such a bountiful supply of obedient workers. In the early 21st century growing demand for electric vehicles in Europe and North America may fuel the exploitation of children and adult workers in Congolese cobalt mines, but at least they have jobs and can feed their families. In the near future, smart robots will supplant not just relatively well-paid workers in rich countries, they will displace unreliable human resources in poorer countries too. With the worldwide roll-out of universal basic income, it may soon not matter so much whether you happen to live in Lubumbashi, Lima, Lahore or Liverpool, except for the local weather, if you owe your existence to the benevolence of global corporations coordinated by NGOs. Once you have relinquished your bodily autonomy to get a digital health passport so you can travel and regain access to public venues, there is nothing stopping the authorities from regulating your reproductive freedom and thus determining who may procreate and raise the next generation. Many workless denizens after the Great Reset may not qualify for parenthood at all leading the rest of their lives as overgrown children indulging in supervised recreation. Klaus Schwab and Thierry’s utopian book, Covid-19: The Great Reset, may appeal to many wishful thinking professionals eager for a cleaner, greener and leaner tomorrow, but excludes most of the 7.8 billion people alive today. What’s worse if we are temporarily confined to our homes under medical martial law, we have no way to chronicle the activities of our ruling elites. They can simply write off unexplained deaths as consequences of a viral pandemic and dismiss naysayers as dangerous conspiracy theorists intent on undermining the battle against elusive pathogens. At the heart of techno-elitist thinking is that flesh-and-blood human beings are the disease, while artificial cleanliness via transhumanism and augmented intelligence is the final solution.

Addendum

Don’t believe me? Prof. Graeme Ackland from the University Edinburgh has simulated potential excess deaths with and without lockdowns and concluded rather cautiously that lockdowns may only delay some deaths, while actually causing others and that’s before we factor in the long-term effects of destroyed livelihoods.
It’s all very well if you have a spacious house with a secluded home office and can easily network with colleagues and fiends online while continuing to earn a good salary. It’s not so good if you have limited private space at home or your job relies on regular real-life social contact. While technology does indeed allow many professionals to work remotely, we all need some real-life human contact and, most important, a sense of purpose in life. As its name suggests, the whole hospitality industry thrives on our desire to mingle informally with other flesh and blood human beings we would not otherwise meet if confined to our own homes. We don’t eat out just because we’re too lazy to cook as we could just as easily buy a takeaway or have a restaurant meal delivered to our homes. We eat out to soak up the atmosphere, interact with human waiters and casually observe other diners. The same is true of cafés, pubs, theatres and cinemas. Anti-social corona-containment measures dramatically limit capacity and spoil customer experience. They are unworkable for all but the largest and best organised businesses. Most rules introduced since the start of the corona-scare earlier this year have had three effects, to limit natural socialisation, to spread distrust in other human beings (either because we might harbour the elusive virus or flout new rules) and most ominously to isolate dissidents and subdue protests.
The mainstream media leads us to believe that technofascism is a price worth paying to prevent the spread of a novel coronavirus. We must accept 24/7 surveillance via track-and-trace apps with regular viral load tests, have our media censored, heed the advice of remote experts whose qualifications and independence we cannot ascertain and obediently follow rules that make our social and professional lives a misery, all because of a nanoscopic virus we cannot detect without a powerful electron microscope.
The key to this scam is the infamous PCR test (polymerase chain reaction test). It amplifies DNA strands by adding a reagent in successive cycles to detect a genetic sequence resembling the target pathogen. If you amplify DNA samples beyond 30 cycles, fragments of older related infections can be revealed. Test centres in the UK regularly amplify DNA extracted from swabs as many as 45 times leading to a large number of false positives. While only 1% of the results yield false positives, that’s 10 times more than true positives, meaning fewer than 1 in 10 positive results are genuine. Moreover, the respiratory complications originally associated with sars-cov-2 may have many other causes such as seasonal flu or pneumonia. Dr Mike Yeadon, former CSO at Pfizer Research, has exposed the statistical flaws that underly the government’s covid-19 narrative. Perhaps the best book available in English on the planned overreaction to covid-19 is Corona, False Alarm by Prof. Sucharit Bhakdi, formerly of Mainz University, and Dr Karina Reiss. It details how vested corporate lobbies swayed public opinion to promote an apocalyptic narrative that warranted an unprecedented overreaction.

Categories
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, boosting 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 measures 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 rarely 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://youtube.com/watch?v=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 a 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.