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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
Power Dynamics

On the Value of Human Life

Idyllic human nature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biological Paradoxes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Patronising Social Conformists

How the new left merely cheerleads the new globalist establishment

As millions heed the call of the establishment media and celebrity charlatans to protest the inauguration of a new conservative American president, we must ask why the same media outlets barely reported massive grassroots opposition to recent military interventions in the Middle East. These stage-managed anti-Trump protests bare more semblence to similar choreographed uprisings in Ukraine, Venezuela and Egypt, also broadcast live on CNN. Behind the left-branded protests against populism lies the spectre of George Soros' web of fake activist organisations.

Once upon a time left-of-centre social reformers and trade union activists had a bit of a reputation as rebels standing up against the old reactionary establishment intent on preventing social progress to preserve their privileges. If you were a coal miner on 78 shillings a week in 1926 or a toilet cleaner earning little more than pin money, you'd listen to Labour politicians and trade union leaders who promised to redress the balance of power away from capitalists and aristocrats to ordinary workers. The experience of the 1914–18 Great War also taught a generation of young radicals not to support their ruling class's imperialist games and extend their solidarity to workers abroad.

Today the new emerging global superclass of corporate executives, transnational bureaucrats and NGO consultants speak the language of the left. They preach internationalism, environmental protection, equality, diversity, women rights, gay rights, migrant rights and above all social progress. Indeed a potpourri of causes that would not look out of place on the stands of 1980s Students Union conferences. The only difference is the former rebels now occupy boardrooms and enjoy the support of mainstream media outlets such as MTV, CNN, the BBC, Facebook, Buzzfeed and more. Yet the world remains a very unequal place. Real power is demonstrably concentrated in fewer and fewer hands while national elections are often meaningless as elected governments have little choice but to kowtow to the demands of big business and supranational organisations. The old left agenda, in its many flavours, has been repackaged as a model for global social engineering. Meanwhile the traditional working class have lost their strategic role as the engine of industrial creativity. Their jobs have been largely outsourced and/or automated. In their place has come a range of insecure service sector jobs, increasingly divorced from any tangible goods and services we really need. More and more professionals have morphed into service providers, who work for larger organisations as contractors, but whose contracts may be terminated at the drop of a hat. If a fictitious National Union of Graphic Designers ever went on strike, businesses would just outsource these tasks to graphic designers abroad, import more malleable migrant labour or develop artificial intelligence capable of replicating artistic creativity. Only workers with secure jobs and protected employee rights can dream of taking industrial action and such jobs are these days few and far between. In theory teachers and nurses, at the forefront of postmodern social engineering, could withdraw their labour, but would meet massive public opposition. As a result we've created a new underclass who have failed to transition from the old manufacturing economy to the new information and service economy and instead have to compete at the bottom end of the wage scale with growing competition from migrant workers. All too often the underclasses are trapped in a cycle of temporary low-paid non-jobs, such as shelf-stackers or CCTV supervisors, and welfare dependency. Economic insecurity in a consumer society inevitably leads to emotional insecurity. Yet this most vulnerable group feels betrayed both by the corporate left, once represented by Tony Blair, and by the infantile left represented by Labour's new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and his coterie of trendy virtue signalling celebrities and Guardian journalists. Today's self-styled leftists have abandoned their local working classes, whom they accuse of xenophobia and ignorance, and embraced a smorgasbord of victim groups, many belonging to newfangled categories we barely recognised just 50 years ago. The infantile left bang on about helping migrants, mental health patients, transgender teenagers, single mothers and/or welfare claimants, all categories who owe their conceptualisation to recent rapid socio-cultural changes. It now seems rather odd that many who may theoretically fit one of these categories fail to identify with the new left, who keep failing to distinguish the symptoms of a dysfunctional society (such as emotional stress often described as mental illnesses and expressing itself in myriad forms such as eating disorders or drug abuse or mass migration caused by volatile economic development) from their causes or potential solutions, such as a sustainable economy with full employment that values its participants. Survey after survey have shown that what people really want are secure jobs and stable communities. Amazingly the working classes, or those who still retain some pride in their social and cultural heritage, do not want to depend on state handouts or redefine their personal challenges in terms of mental health, gender dysphoria, sexuality or minority ethnic status. The infantile left keep offering to address symptoms, such as the Middle East quagmire, often in a futile or even counterproductive way, creating new conflicts between rival victim groups, whom they once championed. When Muslim migrants groom teenagers, rape young Western women or beat gay couples, the regressive left censors the reality that many Islamic fundamentalists have a radically different approach to women's or gay rights. Whereas once we may have had the semblance of a rainbow coalition of disadvantaged groups that would unite in their struggle against a common enemy, purportedly capitalism, now we have parallel communities who share only their perceived victimhood and subservience to advocacy groups. The old left may have advocated workers' power. Now the lifestyle left merely advocates submission to a brave new world. While Jeremy Corbyn's small entourage may still claim to defend workers' rights and cherish their movement's ties to the great workers' struggles of the industrial age, the most regressive strand of the new Left are now commonly known as social justice warriors (SJWs). Their stronghold is not the factory floor or trade union branches, but college campuses and their modus operandi is not industrial action but endless awareness raising, protests against traditional beliefs and calls for censorship, safe zones and protection against alleged haters. Unlike student activists in the 1960s who would oppose unjust wars, exploitation and state oppression, social justice warriors work in unison with well-funded NGOs such as George Soros' Open Society Foundation or alongside state institutions. While the government may still pay lip service to liberal concepts such as free speech and open debate largely to keep alive the illusion of democracy, social justice warriors spend much of their time attempting to shut down any debate about their radical redefinition of human reality. Rather than going against the grain, the infantile left act as foot soldiers for elite social engineers, whose main goal is to deny us of any personal or social independence.

Often it can be hard to tell apart a genuine grassroots campaign against real injustice, such as against welfare cuts, from a clever identity awareness raising campaign, e.g. raising awareness of an ill-defined personality disorder few had heard of until recently. They both use similar language and adopt similar techniques to appeal to our compassion. Having been through some relatively hard times myself I can at least empathise with those who campaign against government welfare cuts or want to raise awareness about the very real personal challenges many have in our increasingly atomised society. Some of us have little choice but to beg from the state, but once you begin to depend on remote organisations you have practically relinquished your independence. Our brave new world has consumers and client groups managed by a superclass of technocrats, social engineers and banking cartels.

Categories
Computing Power Dynamics

Is Oceania still at war with Eastasia?

Goldman Sachs

How President Trump could signal the demise of the USA as a superpower and how the globalist elite may switch allegiance to other centres of power.

In George Orwell's 1984 Oceania appeared to be in a never-ending war against Eastasia. Airstrip One, the new name for Great Britain, belonged to Oceania with North America and Australasia, but Eurasia stretched across continental Europe to Vladivostok. At least since Britain's WW2 alliance with the USA first against Nazi Germany and later against the former Soviet Union, the UK intelligentsia has consistently supported the US in its many deployments oversees. Admittedly the British government remained technically neutral over the Vietnam War, but the mainstream media gave the US State Department an easy time over the sheer scale of its war crimes in Indochina. Critical analysis came mainly from the left, whom we could split into pro-Soviet and anti-Soviet camps. Yet the carefree hedonism that accompanied the protest movements of the 1960s and 70s could not have existed in the same form in any other society. Students could stage colourful musical protests and develop a hippie counterculture precisely because of the affluence that their capitalist society provided. In the USSR you only had freedoms that the state explicitly permitted. While Americans could protest against racial segregation or unjust wars, Soviet citizens could not openly oppose the party line. Many anti-war rebels of the 1960s would become the entrepreneurs and neoconservatives of the 1980s and 90s. With the fall of the USSR, global capitalism was all that remained in most of the world. Even China embraced its own brand of crony capitalism managed by a one-party state. Yet the US did not stop waging wars in multiple conflict zones. It simply redeployed some resources from Western and Central Europe to the Middle East. The State Department's new goal was not the defeat of Soviet communism or the protection of Western Europe against a rival expansionist superpower, but the pursuance of a New World Order dominated by liberal democracy and free enterprise. Alas both stated goals were mere illusions. Personal freedom depended on widespread prosperity and social cohesion, while free enterprise depended on ideal market conditions, economic growth and healthy competition. In short the relatively successful mixed economy model that boosted living standards in North America and Western Europe in the 1960s and 70s relied on a fine balance between private enterprise, state interventionism, managed international trade and protectionism.

By opening up markets to global corporations and transferring powers to supranational organisations, rather than create a new world of commercial opportunities for an increasingly mobile and versatile labour force, the ruling elites have paradoxically expanded the role of governments and a wide range of non-governmental people management organisations. If you let your manufacturing industry relocate to low wage economies and let low-paid migrants do all the manual jobs that local workers used to, you have to offer your disenfranchised working classes alternative employment. For a while many bought the theory that old manufacturing jobs would be replaced by new jobs in retail, marketing, media and information technology. But big businesses first outsourced call centres to places like India or the Philippines and then replaced them with interactive Websites. The manufacturing jobs of the recent past are not coming back, because it will soon be cheaper to automate these tasks. If the US can no longer rely on steady stream of Mexican immigrants to pick fruit for peanuts, it can hire a team of talented robotics engineers to automate the whole process and thus save future generations of the humiliation of such back-breaking drudgery.

Rapid economic and technological developments have disempowered the working classes, or at least those unable to adapt. As a result, contrary to all the rhetoric who may hear about millions of new small businesses (usually contractors), we've seen a massive rise in the welfare-dependent population. As clever-accounting hides the true level of unemployment, it may be better to talk of underemployment, i.e. people employed only part time to do unrewarding jobs that serve no real practical purpose and who could not survive without some form of welfare subsidy. More disturbingly, the boom of this century's first decade was largely fuelled by debt. Big business sold millions of tonnes of consumer goods with a very limited shelf life that would be soon be superseded by further innovations. Clearly the economic numbers do not add up. Nobody on an average wage can conceivably afford the kind of lifestyle we see in American soap operas. Real estate inflation has long been much higher than retail inflation. More and more young Americans, just like their cousins in Western Europe, can no longer afford to get on the housing ladder, as the wealth gap grows. Traditionally the forgotten people of rural and suburban America would have voted Democrat. They did not need a tax cut, but more government help to get back to work. However, the last 8 years have only seen more jobs outsourced abroad, growing levels of unskilled immigration and record levels of welfare dependence. Trump's rhetoric on immigration and unfair trade deals appeals to more conservative Americans from the Rust Belt and Deep South. The Clinton campaign could only offer more of the same, while receiving massive funding from the same global corporations who outsourced manufacturing jobs and supported the US's disastrous wars in the Middle East. More than any other politician Hillary Clinton has advocated pro-active military interventionism combined with greater global convergence and high levels of immigration. If one slogan could resonate more with your average Joe than anything else, it was Trump's rallying cry of Americanism, not Globalism. The country that exported its brand of universalism to the rest of the world, now wishes to shield itself from the world it helped to create.

Deep in the belly of global finance is a man seldom mentioned in the mainstream media, George Soros. He doesn't just move currency markets, but has been active in fomenting protest movements against national governments that fail to cooperate with the global institutions Mr Soros favours. His Open Society Foundation has its tentacles in many organisations which masquerade as left-leaning grassroots movements (See Organizations Funded Directly by George Soros ) . His involvement in world affairs started shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall through various business schools and media outlets in former Warsaw Pact countries. But after a brief foray into the Balkans quagmire, Mr Soros turned his attention further afield funding pro-EU groups, such as the fanatically federalist European Movement. All these organisations share a few key features. They champion the rights of perceived minorities, especially migrants, and offer new international solutions to social injustices. While some campaigns seem innocent or even laudable, the solutions on offer always lead in one direction: greater global convergence. The trendy left has gone from being mildly critical of George Soros in the early 90s when they rightly viewed him a meddlesome billionaire banker, to brothers in arms. Soros-funded campaign groups, most notably those claiming to further migrant rights, have hired many left-leaning journalists and activists, who genuinely believe they are working for the greater good of humanity. Disasters, such as the regional conflict in Syria and Iraq, are presented as opportunities for refugees to enrich Western Europe with their diverse customs and immense talent. While Soros-funded activists are often critical of past Western intervention in the region, they are more focused on facilitating the movement of refugees rather than stopping the wars that purportedly caused the refugees to flee in the first place. In my experience most Soros-funded activists also recycle the orthodox line that the mainstream media endlessly promotes on the causes of such conflicts, i.e. they are inevitably blamed on local despots rather than foreign intervention, except when the intervening foreign power is conflict with globalist interests as in the case of the recent Russian intervention to help Syria defeat ISIS.

Three apparently disparate groups have thus converged in supporting a new universalist agenda. Together they call themselves the international community supported by major governments (such as the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany etc.), major corporations and an international intelligentsia of enlightened experts and human rights campaigners. Sometimes these groups are so intertwined, it's hard to tell them apart. Someone may start their career as a political activist for some noble cause, such as refugee rights, global hunger prevention or climate change awareness, then get a job with an international charity before moving to a global corporate services company like Price Waterhouse Coopers, Ernst and Young, Deloitte or KMPG with a stint in politics or media advocacy.

Consider the strange case of one José Manuel Barroso. As a young man in the mid 1970s he belonged to the Maoist Portuguese Workers' Communist Party (see him speak in a 1976 TV interview ). By 1980 had joined the mainstream governing PPD (Democratic Popular Party, later PPD/PSD-Social Democratic Party) and rose through the ranks to become Prime Minister of his country in 2002. After supporting the 2003 US invasion of Iraq he became President of European Commission in 2004. Last year, after 11 years of loyal service to European superstate project, Barroso accepted a role as non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs International. What, you may wonder, has this to do with the recent electoral success of Donald J Trump? Well, his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton, clearly was funded not only by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, but also by George Soros. Indeed a long list of former EU commissioners and politicians ended up working for Goldman Sachs. The Clinton Foundation has long had close ties with George Soros, so much so, that Hillary's daughter, Chelsea Clinton, married his nephew in the billionaire's mansion.

More disturbing, however, are the close ties between mercenaries and NGOs. The US has long deployed security contractors in conflict zones. These mercenaries are literally guns for hire, who may protect the mining interests of global corporations in African trouble spots such as Sierra Leone or Equatorial Guinea one year and the next be on a mission to train opposition forces in Syria or supplement the Iraqi government's ill-disciplined armed forces. One such group is Blackwater, recently rebranded Academi. Former British army officer and security expert James Le Mesurier, worked for Blackwater in its murderous operations in Iraq. In 2014 he founded the infamous White Helmets in Syria, allegedly to defend civilians in conflict zones and provide critical humanitarian and medical aid. At last we saw a merger of deceptively progressive media activism and the kind of dirty tricks operations many believed the CIA had ceased to undertake in Central America. We now have videographic evidence of Humanitarian aid workers colluding with the same Islamic fundamentalist militias that the US denies supporting. Well-intentioned politicians and former aid workers, such as the late Jo Cox, naively lent their support to this organisation and as a result many worldwise Guardian readers developed a new worldview that pitted the forces of progress represented by the EU, NATO and NGOs against the forces of reactionary nationalism personified by their new bêtes noires of Bashar Al Assad and Vladimir Putin. This simplistic worldview could point to Assad's brutal repression and autocratic rule as well as Putin's alleged corruption and anachronistic views on homosexuality.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/YmjMZbaMsF8

Many analysts, myself included, sought to explain recent military conflicts purely in terms of superpower politics and economic expedience, e.g. privileged access to key resources such as oil. It seemed logical to attribute US interventions in the Middle East to US corporate imperialism Others opted for convoluted explanations that typically implicated Israel. Thirteen years after the US occupied Iraq their Air Force is still bombing insurgents, while its ally Saudi Arabia is busy bombing the Houthi militia and loyalists in Yemen. Let su not forget the US's pivotal role in arming and funding opposition militias in Syria. The Middle East quagmire has led to the emergence of more virulent strands of Islamic fundamentalism whose influence has infected not only the Middle East and South Asia, but growing Muslim communities in Europe and North America. This begs the question to what extent do these wars benefit ordinary Americans? After all many of us fall into the trap of claiming that the Americans invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, the Americans destabilised Libya and Syria or the Americans sold arms to Saudi Arabia and Israel. In reality most Americans did no such thing. Their government did. Worse still even many politicians are woefully unaware of their government's role in destabilising much of the world. The US State Department will never admit to funding head-chopping Islamic extremists. It simply claims to have supported Syrian opposition forces who want to see the replacement of the current Baathist regime with a more democratic system. Traditionally a large cross section of patriotic Americans would have supported whatever the US military and secret services did abroad because they believed, mistakenly in my opinion, that such actions ultimately served to defend and broaden the reach of the liberal, democratic and free market values on which their country was founded or at least the kind of prosperous and socially cohesive society that had evolved by the late 1960s. However, many have begun to question this logic. How did US interventions in the Middle East help ordinary Americans back home? They may just have given the United States a few more years of cheap oil, thus delaying an inevitable transition to more more fuel-efficient vehicles. Yet our ruling elites expect North Americans and Europeans to pay the price of a never-ending series of wars, flows of migrants and refugees and resurgent Islamic fundamentalism, a rival strain of global cultural convergence. All for a few barrels of oil.

Something Bigger Is Afoot: Global Realignment

When the world learned that the US electorate had failed to endorse Hillary Clinton and had let a former reality TV star and property mogul Donald Trump win instead, the neoliberal media erupted in indignation. Throughout the campaign the BBC could only discuss how to prevent the accidental election of a populist demagogue because of wild conspiracy theories about Hillary's email server. As it became clear that Trump had indeed won and may break with over 30 years of military and political interventionism combined with free trade and open borders, the mainstream media began to change their tune. If the world's strongest economic power will no longer spearhead the globalist project because it jeopardises the security of its own citizens, who will? What follows is admittedly conjecture as neoconservatives within the Republican Party, not least those allied with Vice President Mike Pence, may keep the USA firmly within the globalist camp. The linchpin in this realignment is not Theresa May or Angela Merkel, but Vladimir Putin. There are now no major ideological differences between mainstream conservatives opinion in Russia and United States. They all support the same basic values of strong families, limited government, hard work and enterprise. Today only the government account for just 35.8% of the Russian economy and 41.6% of the US economy. By contrast the UK figure is 48.5% (France 56.1%, Germany 45.4%). A bilateral trade agreement between Russia and the US would be of huge mutual benefit. Russia has immense resources and the US still leads the world in structural engineering. In a near future where most mundane jobs can be automated, big business will no longer need a large pool of malleable cheap labour. Why should the US continue to waste vast resources trying to reshape Middle East and build a new world order in its image, if the cost vastly outweighs any benefits to its current citizens. A deal with Russia and continued friendly relations with Canada, Australia and Japan could give US businesses access to vast resources without the high political and military costs associated with interventions in the more densely populated regions of the world.

Yesterday Nick Clegg, the former leader of the British Liberal Democratic Party and passionate supporter of the European Union, voiced his concerns about Trump's alleged friendship with Vladimir Putin. After dismissing the idea of a European Army as a wild conjecture during the recent EU referendum debate, Mr Clegg urged Britain to align militarily the new EU Armed Forces to oppose Russian expansionism. Here Mr Clegg makes a fundamental error of judgement. While the USSR undoubtedly had expansionist aims and Soviet troops were until 1990 stationed as far west as Berlin and Prague, Russia only has a few border disputes with countries that were historically part of the Russian Empire and have large Russian speaking populations. Russia has no immediate strategic need to occupy Ukraine or invade tiny Estonia. Russia has plenty of land and resources and has managed surprisingly well with sanctions imposed by EU and US. However, it would like to maintain its longstanding commercial and cultural ties with these countries. Ukraine and Baltic States could prosper as intermediaries between Central Europe and Russia. Amazing the establishment media here hate Putin so much, they are willing to entertain the possibility of new military alliance, potentially with the USA, to oppose Russia. We must ask whose interests such a conflict would serve.

The worst human rights abuses in today's frenetic world occur, not unsurprisingly, in regions under the greatest environmental stress, i.e. those least able to provide their people with a comfortable standard of living, namely most of the Middle East, North and West Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Burma and parts of Central America. Many of these countries are close allies of the US and/or NATO. How can one justify belligerence against Russia because it fails to share the West's values on homosexuality and has purportedly very high levels of corruption (though whether corruption is greater in Russia than in the US or EU is matter for reasonable debate), while selling arms to and collaborating closely with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain ? These countries are not just repressive dictatorships with extreme levels of state-sanctioned corruption, they enforce a strict Islamic code on women's rights to education and workplace equality and outlaw homosexuality completely. If we cared about human rights, surely we should impose a trade embargo against these countries and refuse to buy any of their products until they adopt our standards of morality?

Let's forget about all the moral case for disengaging with the Middle East, the business case is much stronger. I disliked Donald Trump's simplistic rhetoric against Islamic extremists and his offensive bad hombre reference to illegal Mexican immigrants who statistically commit a very high percentage of crimes in the US. However, the USA cannot accommodate everyone in the world who would like to take their slice of American prosperity. Just consider Nigeria, with a current population of some 190 million and fertility rate still over 5 children per woman. Its population is projected to rise to some 500 million by 2050. Most Nigerians now live in or around major urban centres and are keen to emulate the consumption patterns of North Americans. Only a naive policy advisor could fail to envisage potential socio-environmental problems as hundreds of millions leave the developing world to seek prosperity in richer countries. One would have to be amazingly naive to believe that most of these new citizens of the affluent world will acquire the kind of high tech skills we will need in 2050. If the destiny of many of current US citizens is a life of welfare dependence under the guise of the basic income, why should we subsidise 100s of millions of new citizens in the US rather than Africa, the Middle East or elsewhere. If the likes of Amazon want a larger pool of keen consumers, do they really need to live in the United States? Moreover, if existing information technology can let us communicate instantly with people all over the world, do we need to move physically to another country to share our cultural experiences? Indeed we could live together more peacefully if each national community had its own cultural space where its own rules apply. Modern telecommunications ensure that we are still aware of other ways of life. If you think all women should conceal their bodies and faces, move to a country where such rules apply. If on the other hand you're quite happy to bare all at the beach on a hot summer's day, you may visit locales where naturism is tolerated. Believe me, over the next 50 years we will have plenty of contentious moral issues to debate. Should we allow euthanasia for mental illness sufferers or human cloning? Both these controversies have huge implications and thus must be held to the strictest standards of open public debate. This cannot be done in a world of poorly educated welfare claimants dependent on corporate benevolence.

Personally, I suspect many will soon be very disappointed with Donald Trump's presidency, but not because he will reintroduce anachronistic discrimination against women, blacks or homosexuals (a mere figment of the infantile left's imagination), but because he will be a prisoner of the same neocon lobbyists who held sway under Clinton, Bush and Obama. However, if his administration seeks peace with Russia and withdraws from Middle East after eliminating ISIS, while renegotiating trade deals in the interests of working class Americans, the globalist cabal may well move to Berlin. If NATO splits, it will not because the USA abandoned Europe, but because globalists want war with Russia.

I just don't know how they can pull this off without involving other key military players such as Saudi Arabia (the world 4th largest military spender), India or even China. If you imagine Europe 20 years from now with a large and politically engaged Muslim population allied with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (and what about Iran?), the mind boggles. We'd have a Middle Euroasian Union comprising the Arab World, European Union, South West Asia, North Africa and possibly West Africa as far as Nigeria. We could call this new superbloc, Globalistan. Its official religion would be Political Correctness and its official language Globish, with only partial mutual intelligibility with Oceanic English.

Categories
Computing Power Dynamics

Am I Left or Am I Right?

Once again we return to the superseded left vs right spectrum or is it good vs bad, collectivism vs individualism, state control vs private enterprise, equality vs meritocracy or ecological responsibility vs economic growth? Few real world issues can be simplified on a one-dimensional scale.

Some would now describe some of my opinions as embarrassingly rightwing, an epithet often applied to outmoded ideas. What would I have thought 30 to 40 years ago if I had realised that later in life I would ascribe to fiercely reactionary views on topics as diverse as transgender rights or immigration. Back then I supported sexual freedom between consenting adults and recognised the benefits of cultural exchanges and sustainable migration. I always defended immigrants from the irrational prejudices of angry natives who considered themselves superior to their neighbours recently arrived from far-flung former British colonies. I've consistently argued against imperialism, especially that of my own country and its most powerful allies. So what's changed? Have I suddenly become a gay-bashing xenophobe, intolerant of any divergence from the mainstream British culture of some mythical golden era? Not quite. In truth my core values haven't changed at all. Society has. Since my adolescent activism in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the neo-Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and my brief flirting with the Revolutionary Communist Party, now regrouped as Spiked Online, I may have lost confidence in the ability of a command economy to deliver a socialist utopia. Nonetheless I have steadfastly opposed all military, economic and social policies that I believe will disempower commoners, destabilise functioning societies or strengthen the power-hungry elites who run the military-industrial complex. In essence I've advocated environmentalism, anti-militarism, decentralisation and mixed economy social democracy, a practical recognition that only private enterprise is versatile enough to develop the kind of technological innovations we will need in the coming century, but left to its own devices capitalism will always tend towards oligopolies. While I've fluctuated from periods of techno-pessimism to cautious techno-optimism, I've only recently grasped the true relationship between rapid advances in informatics and biotechnology on the one hand and an unprecedented rate of societal change on the other. I had mistakenly anticipated that a global economic meltdown would have reversed the seemingly unstoppable process of economic and cultural globalisation and with it the growing dominance of mass consumer fetishism. Alas I have to report global cultural homogenisation shows no signs of abating any time soon, but is fast leading us into unchartered territory.

For the life of me I cannot recall any debates back in the 70s and 80s on gay marriage or using limited public resources to allow single parents or gay couples to procreate without an opposite-sex partner through state-subsidised fertility treatment, initially only available for married couples unable to conceive for medical reasons. Before the turn of the millennium the idea that a child is best raised with a loving mother and father was uncontroversial. For most of us it was just the received wisdom of thousands of years of human civilisation. Of course, it's not always possible for children to grow up with their biological parents. They may not have had a steady relationship at the time of conception, the father may have died at war or at work or the mother may have met an early death through an incurable disease. In some dysfunctional families the children may well have been better off if the abusive parent left, but surely we should investigate the socio-economic circumstances that may engender such troublesome behaviour. However, until recently we always tried through our extended family and local community to recreate as far as possible the ideal of a mother and father team. My mother spent the first three years of her life in an orphanage before my grandmother, working as a chambermaid, married my step grandfather to form a viable family. When things go wrong, as they inevitably do in life, how should society intervene to give everyone the best chance in life? In just 40 years we have moved from debating sexual freedom to redefining not just marriage but the whole concept of families, who when deprived of their biological foundations become little more than temporary guardians monitored by the state. We've transitioned from trying to understand why people may have sexual urges towards others of the same sex to laying the foundations of a brave new world in which procreation is outsourced to fertility clinics.

Do any of these concerns suddenly make me a rabid rightwinger? Certainly not by 1980s standards. I do not want the state interfering unduly with people's private lives, but believe we should respect natural procreation and biological distinctions.

Nothing disgusts me more than the classic ex-pat mentality, the idea that you can live in a country with a different culture to your own, but expect the locals to adapt to your ways rather than making an effort to learn their language and respect their customs. In some countries British ex-pats form parallel communities and see locals as mere servants. To some extent the British are lucky for many are eager to learn or practice their English with native speakers. You can visit some Spanish resorts and barely hear any Spanish or Catalan. Until recently I would have dismissed such cultural arrogance as a byproduct of Anglo-American imperialism and may have felt at least in part guilty. Yet today ordinary citizens of nearly all affluent countries feel increasingly alienated by the fast pace of social and cultural change. It doesn't matter if you're Swedish, English, Spanish, French, German, Italian or North American, your community and cultural landscape are being socially engineered out of all recognition.

Shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed, Francis Fukuyama wrote the End of History and the Last Man. Western Liberal Democracy had triumphed and the American Dream of personal freedom, entrepreneurialism and civic pride would gradually spread around a peaceful global community of free and independent nations. Yet history has not stood still. The core conservative values of most North Americans and Europeans now appear rather outdated as the liberal elites promote an increasingly illiberal agenda under the false pretexts of multiculturalism, social justice and economic growth. The more they talk about equality, the greater the educational and monetary divide between the new upper classes and the dumbed down masses. The more they talk about diversity, the more cultural homogenisation and migratory flows suppress centuries of gradual cultural evolution, diversification and exchange. The more they talk about social justice, the more they create new categories of people unable to fend for themselves and completely dependent on state handouts. Indeed Mr Fukuyama's historical stasis lasted little more than a decade. Back in the 1990s it seemed the European Union and North America would gradually converge on the kind of liberal social democracy I could live with and we only had to contend with environmental challenges and regional conflicts that we viewed as hangovers from an intolerant past. However, the emerging transnational elites did not seem content just to make our existing nation states work better in the interests of their citizens, they wanted to replace nation states, the very bedrock of liberal democracy, with regional superstates that would eventually merge into a one world government. This is not some wild conspiracy theory either, mainstream social scientists now openly advocate a borderless world (See the Nation State is an Outdated Concept ). Their only concern is how to sell their postmodern vision of a homogenised world run by enlightened technocrats to the underclasses, still inconveniently attached to their traditional ways.

Parallel Visions of the Future

In the back of my mind I've long had three dystopian visions of our future. One is an Orwellian future of absolute state control. Orwell certainly learned much from his experiences in the poverty-stricken European cities of the 1930s, the Spanish Civil War and working in the BBC's war propaganda department during the 4 short years of the Anglo-Soviet Agreement. Orwell saw how the Soviet system merely empowered a new ruling class and perhaps by 1948 had concluded that the Western World would soon emulate the Soviet model. Yet his dystopia lacked sophistication and relied on rather conspicuous means of social surveillance. Aldous Huxley's 1931 Brave New World seemed for many years little more than a far-fetched sci-fi dystopia that the forces of democracy and liberalism would avert long before the necessary technology became available. Aldous Huxley's techno-optimism would be blunted by another world war, the 1970s oil crisis and apparent limits to technological progress. My third dystopian scenario would involve no hidden agendas or conspiracies, merely systemic breakdown as technology fails to meet growing demand. James Howard Kunstler is probably one of the most outspoken technopessimists on the planet. He's written extensively on the myopic idiocy of suburbia (Geography of Nowhere) and the coming energy crisis (The Long Emergency). Others such as Richard Heinberg, author of the Party's Over and exponent of the peak oil theory, are a little more upbeat as long as we transition to renewable energy, cut consumption and stabilise our population. However, their dire predictions of economic collapse have yet to materialise. The global economy may be built on debt, but the Chinese, Indian, Brazilian and Nigerian economies have continued to grow as have the number of cars, refrigerators and mobile phones. Our enlightened elites may talk about the dangers of climate change, but they are going literally full steam ahead with their global economic growth plans. We may not see it quite that way in the formerly affluent West, but Nigeria's largest city Lagos is now a sprawling metropolis with over ten million inhabitants and multilane superhighways while India now has nearly as many smartphones as it has inhabitants.

Infantile Left and Paranoid Right

Before the Internet age had begun in earnest, environmental depredation and techno-totalitarianism presented only challenges that transcended traditional political divides. Environmentalism, to me, meant a concern for the long-term sustainability and wellbeing of our society, rather than short-term economic growth. Likewise concern about techno-totalitarianism appealed to traditional liberal values of free speech and individual freedom. I first became aware of political correctness in the early 1990s. Honestly, it just seemed a joke. I really could not see anything wrong with saying chairperson rather than chairman, and never approved of disparaging ethnic markers. Little did I know that hackneyed politically correct speech would soon usher in an age of Orwellian language police and a new concept of hate speech that could suppress viewpoints that would have been mainstream only a couple of decades ago. Today feminists such as Germaine Greer are silenced for expressing honest opinions about transsexuals.

The 1990s may have been a relatively tranquil era for Western Europeans and North Americans, but peace was a short-lived illusion. Civil wars continued to rage in the former Yugoslavia and more catastrophically in the Congo, Rwanda, Somalia and much of Central Asia. Under Boris Yeltsin former KGB apparatchiks made billions by taking over former state enterprises, while millions of ordinary Russians starved or froze to death. As bad as the Soviet Union may have been, since the famines of the 1930s and the devastating death toll of the Second World War, the state had tried to provide all citizens with food, shelter and heating. Only the allure of mass consumerism and greater trade with the outside world prevented Russians from voting their former communist masters back into power. Vladimir Putin seemed the natural successor to an increasingly unpopular and alcoholic Boris Yeltsin. As Russia regained confidence and Putin cracked down on the worst abuses of the country's gangster oligarchs, many of whom left Russia for the US, UK or Israel, Western leaders would wine and dine him for Russia remained a mere shadow of its former self, while NATO had expanded as far as the Baltic States with US military bases in neighbouring Uzbekistan and Mongolia. However, Russia today has turned its back on top-down state control and ironically is more closely aligned with the kind of conservative mentality of strong families, patriotism and minimalistic government common in 1950s USA, while the United States is moving in the opposite direction towards more state and/or corporate control. In 2014 the Russian State account for just 35% of its GDP compared to 48% in the UK, 56% in France and 41% in the US.

Many on the left, or notional left to be more precise, failed to understand the true purpose of New Labour. We criticised it for being too neoliberal and not radical enough. Neoliberal had come to refer to a strand of free market capitalism that wanted to dismantle the welfare state and empower global corporations. At least that was how it seemed in the Thatcher years. To the left, neoliberalism was rightwing and only liberal in terms of the freedom it afforded big business. However, the role of government never really shrank, not even under Margaret Thatcher's premiership. Welfare and social services continued to grow throughout the 1980s. Inefficient nationalised industries such as steel, coal and car manufacturing were privatised as were later telecoms, railways, electricity and water suppliers, but this masked the growth of transnational organisations responsible for managing every aspect of our lives. Contractors such as Serco, G4S, Capita and Veolia began to run public services as diverse as prisons, refuse collection and accounting. A growing proportion of workers did not make anything or provide any essential services, they just micromanaged a hypercomplex system. More startling has been the growth of the third sector and a vast maze of awareness raising pressure groups and charities who fill a void left by the demise of traditional family and community support structures to cope with permanent social insecurity. Neoliberalism has not led to a new era of individual freedom and small-scale private enterprise, but rather to a steady transfer of power away from traditional nation states, who may intervene to defend local small businesses, to global corporations. Today most small businesses are effectively freelance service providers or skilled workers whose contracts with big business can be terminated at short notice.

However, on lifestyle issues the neoliberal intelligentsia seem perfectly aligned with the trendy left. I only became active on Twitter in 2014, but one of my earliest followers was one Andy Woodfield, who heads up the diversity team of Price Waterhouse Cooper. His tweets are uncomprimisingly positive about all aspects of globalisation and social engineering. I think the PwC language police are in the process of phasing out the adjective ungood as it might trigger the occasional critical thought. Why would an audit firm such as PwC, founded to help large corporations avoid tax, be so concerned with promoting the misnamed Equality and Diversity agenda? Shouldn't PwC just focus on its core business of accounting? Besides how can they afford such plush and spacious offices in some of the world's most expensive cities? I used to walk past their shiny office building sandwiched between the Houses of Parliament, City Hall and Ernst and Young's London HQ. The truth is tax consultancy is only a small part of their operations. Their true role is the creation of a new world order that serves the long-term interests of their corporate clients. They're in the change management business, overseeing the suppression of traditional cultures and their replacement with a global culture of socially engineered psychoanalysed individuals. Big business has now coopted the language of the old anti-establishment left. They claim to want a fairer, greener, more egalitarian, more inclusive and simply nicer world. Monsanto wants to tackle hunger through biotechnology. Starbucks wants to help African coffee growers through its fairtrade brands. Facebook wants to combat racism, misogyny and homophobia by monitoring social network posts, while HSBC helps young people set up small businesses. Happy consumers can help by choosing brands that reflect ethical responsibility and positive change. Indeed in the mindset of the metropolitan elite, the only bad guys are those who want to limit the freedom of our benevolent global corporations, such as Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump or Bashar Al-Assad. These are the Orwellian Emmanuel Goldsteins of our era, people every progressive person should hate.

Most on the left have long ceased to oppose global corporatocracy. They still rant and rave against greedy energy companies and CEOs, but their main gripe these days is that corporations do not pay enough tax. Translated into English this means the do-gooder left worries that some branches of the global mafia do not sufficiently subsidise local branches of the global mafia. As it happens it's not in the interests of global retailers such as Amazon for Europeans or North Americans to be so poor that we can't afford to buy their goods online any more. They are perfectly cognisant of the fact that the next wave of automation will render most jobs in manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, food processing and even catering obsolete. Big business needs big government not only to subsidise its customers, but also regulate their behaviour through education, social services, psychiatry and policing. The tamed masses need do be given the illusion of democratic control. Whenever a local government reaches a new social engineering milestone, the progressive classes give themselves a pat on the back as if a grassroots movement has just achieved a breakthrough. Likewise whenever a new technology enables a new service or consumer experience, big business can present itself as a force for social progress. Manufacturers no longer need us as workers, only as loyal consumers and marketers. We should have seen it coming. Right through the first decade of the millennium I marvelled as manufacturers continued to outsource production and lay off workers, while retailers expanded. How can we have an economy in which people only sell products and services, but don't make anything? I wondered. In a traditional capitalist economy my observation would be perfectly correct. The retail economy relies on wealth ultimately generated by the productive economy, which is increasingly in the hands of global corporations. So why should the likes of Amazon pay more taxes to subsidise consumption in the UK if its real wealth comes from all over the world? Why should it not subsidise Kenyans or Peruvians? Why should it not support social engineering to encourage more people to flock to regions where consumer culture already reigns supreme?

The real political divide is no longer between left and right. It's between conformists and anti-conformists, globalists and nativists, establishment cheerleaders and anti-authoritarians. If you trust the new coalition between statists and corporatists, your rhetoric may sound progressive but you are unmistakably conformist. I, on the other hand, remain a free thinker and support whatever policies seem to redress the balance of power away from unaccountable elites to people like you and me and more important lead to the kind of sustainable society that can best safeguard the future of our descendants.

Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Expertocracy: the political Elites don’t trust you

Unless you believe their experts

Today people power, or democracy if your prefer a more Hellenic term, means little more than mood management. You may express your feelings on a range of options that other presumed experts and high-profile opinion leaders offer you. However, you are not supposed to have any original thoughts or seek alternative sources of information that have not been given an official seal of approval or at any rate deemed authoritative. In debates on scientific issues orthodox pundits love to reference peer-reviewed research, because obviously any findings that challenge agendas essential to vested corporate interests can be easily weeded out or toned down in the peer review stage.

Expertocracy, the power of establishment experts, affects all controversies, whether on scientific, environmental, historical or geopolitical matters. The establishment bias pervades not only news media, but entertainment, drama and above all educational programmes. Popular soaps regularly push agendas and reinforce our preconceptions on a whole range of issues so that highly disputable contentions become generally accepted truisms. I've tried to highlight some of these in previous blog posts. Some questions are loaded, i.e. they only make sense if we internalise a mainstream assumption, such as we need economic growth and therefore any policy that might hinder economic growth must be bad. If we realise we don't actually need economic growth and merely better, more rewarding and less stressful lives, we might reach radically different conclusions on many topical issues.

Two recent events in British media circus have highlighted the public's growing distrust with the establishment media and their preferred experts. First the EU Referendum showed much of public opinion shunned the overwhelming pro-EU bias of the liberal intelligentsia and academia. The BBC and Guardian reminded us every day that leading economists believed continued membership of the EU is essential for job security and extreme labour mobility is just part of our wonderfully dynamic 21st century globalised economy. Their message was clear: Stop asking silly ill-informed questions and leave big questions such as economic management and migration control to the experts. The subtext was even clearer: If you question the rationale behind unbalanced mass migration you must be racist.

Then on Wednesday 6th July another shock unsettled the Westminster establishment. Sir John Chilcot's long-awaited report admitted major failures in the intelligence, justification and planning of the 2003 US/UK-led occupation of Iraq, but naturally fell short of identifying the real reasons for war or accusing any politician of intentional mendacity. I use the word occupation because in the event Iraqi forces loyal to the Baathist regime offered only token resistance. The US-led military coalition easily conquered Iraq and effortlessly overthrew Saddam Hussein's hated regime. Yet three trillion US dollars and over 1 million dead Iraqis later, they have clearly lost the peace. Iraq descended fast into civil war and now much of the Sunni-dominated and oil-rich Western region is under ISiS control. In the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war most establishment experts, at least those favoured by the BBC and UK government, agreed that Saddam Hussein posed a real threat to world peace and failure to overthrow his despotic regime would not only lead to more deaths in Iraq, but would allow an unhinged Saddam Hussein, always referred to by first name in the Western media, to destabilise the region. Of course, if Iraq really did have functioning weapons of mass destruction it would have deployed them in self-defence. Alas in the invent of the US invasion the Iraqi military could barely muster a couple tank divisions. While it was never hard to find Iraqis who welcomed the deposition of their former dictator and Western sanctions had already made most Iraqis poorer, attempts to rebuild Iraq as a vibrant peace-loving democracy along the lines of West Germany in the aftermath of WW2 failed dismally. The rest is history. By any account the region is much more unstable now than it was before the ill-conceived occupation. Other interventions in Afghanistan and Libya have had equally disastrous results. They have made nobody safer and have unleashed a tsunami of refugees on neighbouring countries and Europe.

Yet had we listened to the warnings of specialists that that our mainstream media either ignored or dismissed as mavericks or wild conspiracy theorists, we could have foreseen the likely outcome of these military operations. The UN's official inspector in the run-up to the occupation, Hans Blix, failed to find any evidence of new WMDs, except for remnants of chemical weapons labs from the 1980s when Britain and US exported arms to Iraq. There is nothing the public learned in the Chilcot Report that had not been predicted in Scott Ritter's 1999 book Endgame, in which he suggests a way out of the Iraqi quagmire but warns of the danger of outright invasion. However bad Saddam Hussein might have been, he was far from alone in the long list of tyrants and mass murderers that the US once supported. Iraq is largely a creation of Anglo-American imperialism in the aftermath of the First World War. Lines in the sand were drawn with little consideration given to a territory's viability as a country. The US and UK were happy to support a dictator like Saddam Hussein to suppress Islamic fundamentalism and as a bulwark against Iran. Just as Western governments tolerated Saudi Arabia's human rights' abuses and Turkey's suppression of its large Kurdish population, they turned a blind eye to the Baathist regime's crimes until Saddam Hussein authorised Iraq's 1990 occupation of oil-soaked Kuwait. Those with a long enough memory and an inquisitive mind will recall Saddam Hussein felt it safe to occupy what most Iraqis of the era regarded as their 19th province after former US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie said "We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America".

In a complex society nobody can reach logical conclusions on most subjects without deferring to the experience and technical competence of others. The challenge we all face is to judge whether or not to trust experts that appear regularly in the mainstream media or to seek alternative views. Dissident experts are not necessarily right just because the establishment shuns them. They may be pursuing another agenda, possibly funded by dark forces that do not have our best interests at heart, have deep religious convictions at odds with modern scientific theories or may simply retain faith in outdated beliefs that have lost favour with our new internationalist elite. However, all these charges are equally applicable to the status quo, except we might replace religious zeal with an unswerving belief in technological progress. The establishment does regularly change its mind, which is partly why some apparent dissident experts cling to the old consensus, but has to manage public perception in such a way as to not discredit its authority. When irrefutable evidence proves a product, once favoured by powerful lobbies, such as cigarettes to be harmful, many reputations are tarnished. Yet the marketing of tobacco products played a major role in the promotion of consumer hedonism. Cigarettes have arguably lost their usefulness as effective means of mood management. Modern technology has better alternatives.

Should we let our government build more nuclear power stations? Should we allow hydraulic fracturing in our neighbourhood? Are mercury amalgam fillings safe? Should all girls be vaccinated against human papilloma virus? These are all reasonable questions that affect the lives of millions. Yet which experts should we trust on these matters? Fortunately on all these bones of contention you can still find a diversity of well-researched expert opinion. The mainstream media bias, at least in the UK, is still broadly supportive of nuclear power with all the usual caveats about safety and security. The NHS still defends the use of mercury amalgams and will readily point you to copious peer-reviewed abstracts dismissing the concerns of anti-mercury campaigners. However, opponents of mass vaccination are often dismissed as little more than uninformed quacks likely to believe the scare stories of a few renegade clinicians. Just consider the vast sums invested in the vilification of Dr Andrew Wakefield, apparently personally responsible for each outbreak of measles. In truth Dr Wakefield has only ever advocated safe vaccination and only questioned the safety of the triple vaccine option. I don't want to revisit the MMR controversy here, but it surely highlights the problem with expertocracy. Once we silence dissident experts in the name of public safety, we then effectively only have a narrow set of sanitised policy options.

One of the most dangerous political currents is universal progressivism. Its adherents believe that despite many transient hurdles and occasional setbacks, we are on a one-way journey to a global utopia. In the words of D:Ream's 1994 hit that accompanied Tony Blair's upbeat 1997 election campaign "Things Can Only Get Better". For this illusion to appear true we have to keep rewriting the past and often the very recent past. Moreover, we have to keep discovering new perceived problems that require some form of proactive intervention. We no longer accept our natural limitations. Consider the sad fact that some women cannot bear children. In the recent past if a woman learned she could not procreate successfully for medical reasons, she would have probably felt some temporary despair. But surprisingly most women took such news in their stride, glad to be alive and able to contribute to their family and community in other ways. Now infertility is considered a tragedy, not just an unfortunate fact of life, because the fertility treatment industry have transformed people's perceptions of personal injustice and contributed to a growing culture of entitlement. This attitude emotionalises political discourse. The media present major issues in emotional terms. Thus if you oppose the European Union, you must hate European people. If are concerned about high levels of net migration, you must hate individual immigrants who may be good people. It's very easy to conflate the personal with the social. However, on a personal level we regularly express the most extreme forms of real discrimination. If a young woman rejects the sexual advances of a young man, she is not only discriminating, but may also hurt his feelings. This behaviour seems only natural and healthy until you internalise the crazy logic of social justice warriors in which every perceived personal misfortune is a crime against humanity. Thus if a fat person is entitled to expensive surgery to tackle their obesity and not expected to control their weight naturally through a healthy diet and exercise, there's no reason why a relatively ugly heterosexual male should not be entitled to expensive cosmetic surgery and generous welfare handouts to boost his attractiveness in the sexual marketplace. Employers often discriminate against incompetent or unqualified workers. I don't think many of us would like to be operated on by incompetent surgeon or fly in a plane commandeered by an unqualified pilot. None of this means we should not give everyone a chance to learn new skills or provide healthcare for treatable conditions. We just need to balance personal and social responsibilities, understand our limitations and limit our expectations.

A culture of entitlement leads to extreme interdependence. As we are not all equally gifted or equally able to pursue intellectually challenging jobs, it makes us more, rather than less, reliant on experts. These armies of official advisers are now responsible for every aspect of our lives from eating to shopping and leisure, lovemaking to procreation and child-rearing, communication to transportation, education to work as well as healthcare. Our freedom has largely been reduced to a choice of consumer goods and regulated leisure pursuits. Psychologists now view our opinions mere expressions of our psyche. If we stray too far from the narrow range of permissible dissent, sociologists may regard our views as dysfunctional or delusional or somehow incompatible with the kind of new society they wish to build. In their mindset if you believe, for instance, that fluoride in the water supply is a form of mind control, you are a victim of delusional thinking and the hypothesis that fluoride ingested in excessive quantities can cross the blood-brain barrier and inflict permanent brain damage is barely worth investigating. If you only ever rely on official reports from mainstream media outlets and respected scientific publications, you will probably only ever find out about any adverse effects of our current policies when it's too late. If you believe mass migration is the best way to achieve social harmony, you may have seen all manner of alternative explanations for events that may on the surface not fit your thesis. Could the rise in terrorist incidents in France and elsewhere be related to a growing Muslim population and record youth unemployment ? If you previously believed in something we rather misleadingly call multiculturalism, then you may only accept the latter part of that hypothesis. We know mass unemployment alone does not necessarily lead to terrorism, though it can naturally lead people to support political agendas that would otherwise be unpopular. However, a combination of extreme ideologies within a marginalised ethnoreligious group and neoliberal economics with limited job security could well destabilise delicate social cohesion when rival communities no longer share the same core values. As the universalist neoliberal dream, the idea that global big business can work in tandem with supranational organisations to bring about a better world, crumbles, we had better start listening to more subversive experts and learning, once again. to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Does the Trendy Left trust you to do anything?

Teletubbies for Remain

If you listen to the debate on Britain's membership of the European Union you could be forgiven for believing that it's a clash between progressive philanthropists and selfish Little Englanders determined to restore Britain to Victorian values. To the likes of Caroline Lucas the EU represents green fields with solar panels and wind turbines interspersed with cycle lanes, eco-friendly houses and intelligent talented European citizens sharing ideas on how to make the world a better place. This idyllic vision of a new Europe might resemble a cross between a university campus and the Teletubbies, where EU bureaucrats act as benevolent teachers and playground assistants moulding a new generation to break with their forebears' old divisive ways. For all the talk of multiculturalism, pan-Europeanism has always been about suppressing national identities that emerged over centuries of gradual cultural evolution in favour of an artificial social construct.

Just as primary school teachers fear their children will revert to bullying and infighting without their progressive oversight, left-branded EU fanatics would have you believe Britain would revert to a pre–1973 squalor controlled by rightwing Tories intent on undoing all the good things the EU has purportedly done. In reality most environmentally friendly EU legislation just helps big business deal with the adverse affects of higher consumer demand. We may have more energy-efficient fridges and hair-dryers, but not only are these goods imported from afar, they are replaced more frequently offsetting any marginal gains in yield.

Yet it's when the debate turns to the UK's unbalanced net migration statistics that the faux left reveal their true colours. Free movement of labour has become a core value. It's doesn't seem to matter how unbalanced migratory flows are or how many social problems are caused by our inability to accommodate so many new residents, the infantile globalist left has only two answers:

  • Shout racism at native workers
  • Blame greedy capitalists for not building enough affordable houses, schools, hospitals and roads to accommodate newcomers.

By this logic 19th century Bengali textile workers should have welcomed cheap imports from Manchester in solidarity with their English counterparts toiling away in mechanised sweatshops. Surely any attempt to defend your community and way of life must be motivated by either insular nationalism or Luddism.

Yet the same arrogance that Victorian imperialists showed towards the native peoples of their colonies has now re-emerged as a the globalist revulsion against autochthonous working class opposition to their plans. Just as Victorian industrialists used child labour in English, Welsh and Scottish textile mills, factories and coal mines to displace local cottage industries in the colonies, they use migrant labour today to displace native working classes everywhere.

More disturbing is the pseudo left's emotional propaganda for perceived victims groups. They will have us believe that our health service would crumble without the hard work of immigrants from the rest of the EU. Besides the obvious point that a higher population boosts demand, a disproportionate percentage of NHS staff are indeed not UK-born. This is because the NHS has failed to invest sufficiently in training medical staff and relies increasingly on agency workers, who can be hired and fired at the drop of a hat. NHS managers seek to cut costs by importing ready-trained personnel, thereby reducing training costs and gaining more malleable staff.

No doubt, longer life spans, higher survival rates of disabled people and greater awareness of medical conditions and treatments have increased demand for healthcare in most technologically advanced countries. The NHS employs a staggering 1.7 million people, of whom around 140,000 are medical doctors. However, other European countries have similar needs and need staff too. Why should we pilfer the best and brightest from low-wage regions whether they happen to be in the EU or not? Why are young Britons not pursing medical careers in sufficient numbers or being given chances to train? These are naturally complex questions, but even those British nurses who try to do the right thing find themselves sidelined by agencies NHS spends huge sums on foreign nurses, yet two thirds of local applicants are rejected. The NHS is clearly run by people who do not have the beat interests of their local communities at heart. The locals are seen as customers or, as we used to call them, patients.

The faux left loves to complain about government cutbacks in welfare provision and mental healthcare. Yet has it occurred to them that alternative to both might be better training and job security. Why do so many native Britons need mental healthcare? Why do so many lack any sense of purpose in their lives? Traditionally one lived to provide one's family with comfortable standard of living and a future for the next generation. The kind of neoliberal policies we have seen since the Thatcher era have both destroyed communities and split families. Just as the information revolution enabled greater automation, Western elites decided mothers should organise their lives around wage slavery rather than seeking new ways to enable both women and men to work less and have more time to raise their children. So rather than reorganising our economy so people only have to work 20 hours a week, can retire early and take off a few years for sabbaticals, we opted to condemn millions to joblessness and welfare dependence while others were forced to hand over their young children to third-party carers so they could earn a living in boring office jobs. No wonder so many children lack any clear sense of identity or purpose life. Their parents either depend on welfare handouts or they're away most of the day serving someone else's needs. As men are no longer needed as breadwinners during a child's early years, many women have effectively married the state. However, these developments have not affected the chattering professional classes anywhere near as much. The highly skilled can usually negotiate much better work conditions. An affluent professional couple can easily team up to provide both themselves and their offspring with the right work/life balance. If you earn £100,000 a year each working 40 hours a week you can easily agree to halve your salaries while you take it turns to look after your children, though mothers naturally have a stronger biological bond with their babies in their tender first few months. By contrast if you're on the breadline struggling to pay exorbitant rents or mortgages, you have no such choice. A couple earning 30,000 a year each would both have to work full-time in most of the UK to maintain a vaguely normal standard of living without being a drain on the welfare system. Indeed as discussed elsewhere, anyone earning less than 32K per annum receives more in services than they pay in tax once we take into account childcare, schooling, healthcare, transport infrastructure, policing and other essential public services.

A new reality is dawning on the affluent world. Big business no longer needs most workers, except as marketing, surveillance and support staff whose job it is to control the behaviour of social deviants. The only mission-critical workers of the future will be those essential to the development of new technologies and new ways to manage the great unwashed masses, basically between 1 and 5% of the current workforce, a privileged intellectual elite able to grasp complex organisational concepts. Everyone else's job will be expendable.

The trendy left's simplistic rhetoric may reassure some that they care about the underprivileged, but increasingly it seems they have become extreme advocates of interdependence. Every faux-left cause célèbre seems to lead in the same direction, greater dependence on external agencies and greater reliance on high-tech solutions to cope with the demands of increasingly interconnected lives. If we grow our economies and fill skills gaps by allowing our population to rise, we'll have to import more resources, build more houses and find innovative ways to boost energy efficiency. If we expand mental healthcare, we are effectively policing people's minds rather than enabling them to fend for themselves. If we ban hydraulic fracturing, something I'd certainly welcome, we either cut consumption or need alternatives means of energy generation to cope with demand.

The last people the faux left trust to run their lives are ordinary workers, because sooner or later workers start to think for themselves and may not agree with the universalist vision of infantile globalists. Hence social media has to be proactively monitored for nationalist opinions. Social workers can pry into the lives of every parent or carer. Surveillance has moved way beyond the primitive CCTV of the 1990s. Labour-controlled Glasgow City Council partnered with an Israeli Intelligence firm to introduce a state-of-the-art surveillance system with advanced facial recognition (Big Brother is watching: Glasgow City Council partners with Israeli surveillance company to monitor ‘unusual behaviour' among citizens). If you think the Scottish National Party are any better, just consider their infamous Named Person bill that assigns an inspector to every child empowered to intervene in family matters.

The pro-EU left do not trust common folk to run their lives. They see us as mere voting fodder. If you think they care more about new immigrants or refugees, just consider the plight of Britons of Caribbean descent who arrived here in 1950s and 60s. Labour seemed quite happy to let agencies overlook hundreds of thousands of unemployed Londoners of Afro-Caribbean heritage, and hire directly from Eastern Europe. If the left really cared about immigrants, it would make sure we can assimilate the last wave of newcomers before we import another. If it really cared about sustainable development in Africa or India, it would also make sure they can keep their most talented sons and daughters rather than rely on aid and remittances.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Xy-yIsQgJEA

The Teletubbies series started in 1997 and have deservedly been criticised as an exercise in social engineering.

Categories
Computing Power Dynamics

Fair Trade Not Free Trade

Fair trade

Free trade has now become an untouchable sacred cow, which alongside economic growth and free movement of labour forms a sort of mercantile holy trinity. Without free trade, we are told, we would have a smaller variety of more expensive products and, worst of all, economic stagnation. However, all this assumes an idealised world of free markets and a level playing field in terms of environmental regulations, workers' rights, welfare provision and taxation. Such a world of laissez-faire entreprise is pure fantasy as the technologies on which our hypercomplex societies rely require a degree of organisation and material resources only available to the largest corporate players. While small players may often innovate, they need a little help from venture capitalists to win the financial resources required to take their ideas to the next level. If our government doesn't regulate our way of life, other organisations fill the void and regulate human behaviour to suit their quest for greater power. Capitalism, if left unregulated, ultimately destroys itself through its natural tendency to let more successful companies dominate the market, either as oligopoly as in the case of cars and many electronic goods, or as a quasi-monopoly, and as may appear in the case in the productivity software industry. No elected government decided that Adobe Photoshop â„¢ should be the standard image editing application or that Microsoft Wordâ„¢ should be the only word processor acceptable in business, education and government administration. Two large software companies first established a market lead in their respective fields and then through an army of sales agents and lobbyists locked key organisations into their ecosystem, largely by enforcing cryptic file formats that other applications had to deconstruct. They can thus charge government and small businesses whatever they can get away with because key decision makers are unaware of alternatives. It's often hard to work out if one is dealing with public or private organisation and they both behave in similar ways. The prison service has clients rather than inmates and the NHS has customers rather than patients. Both outsource many of their activities to private service companies like Serco, Capgemini, G4S, Virgin Health etc.

The British Isles produces around half of its food and imports most manufactured good and strategic raw materials. We're no longer self-sufficient in oil or gas and even import coal as it works out cheaper than exploiting our last remaining deep-vein coal pits. To add insult to injury we import thousands of tonnes of Chinese steel while letting the British steel industry, once a pioneering world leader, shed most of its workforce. However, for some spurious reason in the current debate on EU membership, both sides seem to agree on one thing: Free trade is good or is it? On the one hand the Remain crowd keep reminding us how 3 million jobs depend on trade with the EU, while the Leave side have just produced Brexit the Movie which advocates an even more globally integrated future than possible within Fortress Europe, a myth that spread in the late 1990s just before the WTO negotiations had completed under the New Labour-appointed EU Commissioner for Trade Peter Mandelson. I'm not alone in having viewed the European Union as the lesser of two evils back in the heady 1990s. It seemed for a while that it could protect workers' rights and environmental standards while nurturing a competitive internal market. Southern Europeans, especially entrepreneurial Northern Italians, prospered as their small and versatile businesses adapted to meet demand for niche products in Northern Europe. However, their competitive advantage would not last long as the EU expanded eastwards and forced governments to remove protectionist tariffs and subsidies. Combined with greater automation and the fast pace of technological change and obsolescence, globalisation led to the failure of thousands of small businesses and rapid rise in youth unemployment and that was before the 2008 credit crunch and Euro crisis.

Economic students learn the old mantra that protectionism always fails. One need not look to extreme examples such as Cuba during its special period in the early 1990s or the former Soviet Bloc, most advanced mixed economies, including the United States, had tightly controlled national or supranational markets until the mid 1990s. Governments understood the advantages of competition, but also the need to retain a skills base in strategic industries and more important maintain full employment and social stability. If the local economy depends on hundreds of small textile businesses, it's no good telling voters they have to adapt to new market conditions with dirt cheap imports from the Far East.

Tariffs are effectively a tax on low pay, poor working conditions and minimal environmental standards. If a competitor from another jurisdiction can undercut local producers because they pay their workers peanuts, dump waste in the sea rather than invest in an expensive effluent treatment plant or pay hardly any taxes in their home country, this is unfair competition. You may get cheaper consumer products in the short term, but unless the workers laid off in your high-wage country can retrain or upskill to fill new vacancies in the service sector, you'll end up paying more in welfare handouts. Thus over the last 20 years of unshackled global trade, the welfare bill has skyrocketed in much of the advanced Western world. While some former manufacturing workers have transitioned to the service sectors, tens of millions have been left behind. Not everyone is cut out for sales, marketing, research, graphic design or informatics. Some can find new niches as personal trainers or dog walkers. Others try their luck with online retail businesses, while others tap into the insatiable demand for instant gratification via sexual services or narcotics. As a result fewer and fewer of us have a direct stake in the real economy responsible for putting food on our tables or a roof over our heads. We simply trade favours and compete for a bigger slice of corporate profits, while in other parts of the world resources are depleted, workers are exploited in slave-labour conditions and natural habitats are destroyed in the name of economic growth.

We could only have free and fair trade if we had a level playing field, i.e. a global minimum wage, global corporation tax, global environmental regulations and workers' rights. Why should Malaysians make kettles for the British market? Why should Indians process English council forms? The two main reasons are for temporary economic expediency and to prevent workers from holding their employers to ransom. Today few groups of organised workers can trump the power of global corporations to move their operations from one part of the world to another or in the longer term to invest in greater automation.

Infantile globalist leftwingers dream of a world with Norwegian workers' rights and welfare provision, Tanzanian consumption levels and cutting edge green technology that will enable everyone to enjoy an Australian lifestyle. I recently exchanged tweets with one deluded leftist who believes in free energy, i.e. a conspiracy by oil companies to deny us free and clean water-powered vehicles. With current levels of youth unemployment and ecological destruction, believers in a such utopian vision live in cloud cuckoo land. Each viable community needs to find its own way to reach the ideal equilibrium of technological progress, environmental protection and social justice. More important everyone needs to feel that are stakeholders in the social and economic life of their country, which requires a strong sense of social cohesion, trust and shared values. Free markets empower unaccountable corporations, while fair trade lets each community decide what is in the best interests of its workers.

What is Fair Trade?

Like many other good things Fair Trade has been hijacked by big business as a sort of ethical kitemark (stamp of approval) to mean some external agency has vouched for minimum workers' rights, earnings and environmental standards. We are supposed to place our blind trust in international bodies supported by big business to monitor their compliance with various well-intentioned regulations. This inevitably empowers larger businesses with sophisticated marketing and PR operations who can afford the additional overheads to the detriment of unscrupulous small businesses. Next-generation automation technology will soon displace banana pickers or coffee plantation workers anyway.

What Fair Trade should mean is trading only when it makes good long-term social and environmental sense. It may be temporarily cheaper to import to apples and tomatoes from Spain, Chile or South Africa, but these fruits grow in the British Isles too and people used to adapt to seasonal fruits and vegetables. As people have grown accustomed to a plentiful supply of seemingly fresh fruit shipped from halfway around the world, we waste much more, offsetting improvements in agricultural yields and preventing the development of feasible alternatives such as the greater use of greenhouses. That doesn't mean we should not import at all, but should aim to be as self-sufficient in staple foods and essential goods as reasonably possible. Certainly it makes little sense to outsource manufacturing of goods mainly consumed here. If kettle production can be fully automated, why should that take place in China rather than in the UK? More important, by insourcing more manufacturing we become more aware of the true environmental consequences of our shopping habits. Why should we keep throwing away cheap imported products just because it's more cost-effective than replacing inexpensive spare parts that are mysteriously unavailable locally? Many recent technological advances such as 3D-printing could actually enable greater localisation. Rather than ship goods thousands of miles, we could simply send a design to a local 3D-printer to produce a customised component. To sum up free trade focuses on short-term corporate profits and their need to maximise retail sales and minimise labour costs without having to invest in new technology or training. Fair trade focuses on identifying products and services that regions can exchange to their mutual long-term benefit without displacing workers overnight or creating unsustainable social and environmental imbalances.

Categories
Power Dynamics

Meet the new Universalist Establishment

Corporate Logos

Trendy leftwingers are the new ultra-conformists

Many observers still tend to simplify political analysis on a one-dimensional left / right spectrum. We might use many other scales such as state ownership vs private enterprise, libertarian vs authoritarian, individualism vs collectivism, local vs national, national vs international or environmental friendliness vs economic growth, equality vs meritocracy or cultural diversity versus social cohesiveness, but somehow we still try to place each opinion somewhere on the elusive left-right scale. One could be a libertarian capitalist or an authoritarian environmentalist or even a green advocate of private enterprise or, heaven forbid, a libertarian socialist (namely someone who believes people may one day freely choose to share the fruits of their labour with others). I could go on forever, but I find another key differentiator a much better gauge of political leanings, pro-establishment vs anti-establishment or conformist vs anti-conformist. Rebels just love to exhibit their anti-establishment credentials. But the new-age hipsters who rebelled against the old guard back in the 60s and 70s have become the new conformists. On issue after issue, the radical chic elite are at odds with the more conservative traditional working classes practically everywhere. Most people welcome higher living standards and better working conditions, but they do not necessarily want to redefine culturally entrenched concepts of family and ethno-religious identity. Indeed the most successful way of persuading people to abandon cherished social customs is to lure them away from local communitarian values towards global culture of atomised individual consumers, micro-managed and monitored by a new class of marketers, social workers and supervisors. This transition is beautifully described in Adam Curtis's 3 part documentary The Century of the Self Whenever you consider the merits of any policy, just ask what does the establishment want and why?

Of even greater importance is the real composition of today's power brokers. For some reason the wishful-thinking left clings to the outdated belief the UK establishment still comprises a bunch of White Anglo-Saxon Male Tories, Hereditary Peers and Church of England bishops. They imagine the British establishment would love to turn the clock back to some mythical Victorian golden age when women could not vote, the poor starved and much of the world was subject to racialist colonial rule. Based on this logic all reactionary conservative views are pro-establishment, while enlightened universalist policies are by definition anti-establishment or at least break with the ancien régime. If you measure progress by the demise of the Victorian British establishment and their antiquated values, then we have made huge strides towards a new era of ubiquitous consumer culture.

The spectre of a reactionary nationalist status quo may well have reflected reality at the turn of the 20th century, but today power is very much in the hands of a bunch of global corporations, banks, non-governmental organisations and supranational unions. Organisations as diverse as Tesco, Goldman Sachs, the London Stock Exchange, Microsoft, Google, George Soros's Open Society Foundation, the BBC, CNN, News International, HSBC and the WPP Group (world's largest advertising agency) are all infinitely more powerful that the last remaining British aristocrats and are fully committed to the universalist vision of a new multicoloured borderless world order of happy consumers managed by myriad local agencies. They speak the same politically correct, environmentally aware and culturally inclusive language as the aspirational left. Indeed many former leftists have ended up working for the multifaceted tentacles of our new globalist establishment.

Of the top ten billionaires in the UK, only one descends from the old British aristocracy, The Duke of Westminster at No. 9. Of the other nine, only one other, George G Weston, descends from a British, albeit Anglo-Canadian, family. The other 8 are foreign nationals, recent immigrants or stem from the wider Anglosphere (e.g. the Reuben brothers, Iraqi Jews born in Bombay and migrated to England). Britain's board rooms, media empires and financial institutions are chock-a-block with non-natives, i.e. people whose grandparents did not live in the country before 1945. Now you may welcome this great internationalisation of British society, but it still stands in contrast with most of the resident population, who identify as English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish and whose surnames dominated phone books in the 1950s and 60s. As late as 1997, 75% of the British population could trace their roots to the first settlers of these Isles after the last ice age (as evidenced by Stephen Oppenheimer in the The Myth of British Ancestry) and most of the rest had assimilated almost totally over several generations. Second or third generation Glaswegian Italians or Mancunian Poles have more or less the same outlook on life as their autochthonous neighbours. Naturally most migration before the 1950s occurred within the British Isles, especially since the advent of the industrial revolution. Our elites have always been much more cosmopolitan than their underlings (the Royal family is largely of continental European extraction), but the rapid pace of global convergence has swept aside even the old elites, descended from the Norman French with an admixture of later arrivals from the Huguenots and East European Jews.

Localism vs Globalism

However hard we may try, it is almost impossible to take an absolutist stance on localisation or globalisation, though the direction of travel has accelerated towards the latter. For instance I may argue that we should source food more locally and cut waste, but in many densely populated areas an absolutist interpretation of this policy could mean starvation or having to adapt to a narrow range of staple foods available locally. By contrast if a city were to depend wholly on imports from afar, people could starve within days in the event of a banking collapse or other natural or man-made calamities that may disrupt trade. Both total interdependence and complete isolation have their prices in terms of personal freedom, living standards and happiness.

Anti-Europeanism

The upcoming EU referendum in the UK exposes the growing divide between globalist elites and nativist working classes. In the UK this may manifest itself as oppsosition to the European Union, but elsewhere it is expressed as left or right-branded opposition to neoliberal mercantilism, whether in the guise of the French Front National or the Italian Movimento Cinque Stelle (5 Star Movement led by Beppe Grillo). Universalists claim to stand for progress and lend lip service to ideals such as democracy, womens' rights, sexual freedom and multiculturism, while overseeing the transfer of power away from local institutions to remote organisations that can override any decisions taken locally. Having sold the illusion of democracy to a sceptical public, the cosmopolitan elite now frown upon any expressions of popular opinions as reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic or just plain ill-informed. This is why elitists are keen to give voice to strategic victim groups, whether ethnic minorities, recent immigrants, disability rights' activists, transexuals or careerist women, as long as their aspirations serve a long-term agenda of global convergence with all power vested in a handful of universal corporations. This doesn't mean these perceived victim groups do not have valid grievances, just that the proposed solutions tend to empower remote entities at the expense of traditional institutions. Thus a globalist is more concerned about the rights of Muslim immigrants in Western Europe than those of Muslims in the Middle East or North Africa. If Muslims had viable, stable and largely self-reliant home countries, then they could seek their own path to social betterment. Their culture would evolve in parallel to Western European societies. They could choose which aspects of our culture they wish to adopt and further develop the aspects of their culture that best suit their needs and aspirations. Over a century of Western interference in the Middle East has destabilised the region, leading paradoxically to the emergence of a new more fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, while Christianity in the West has given way to a new atheistic consumer culture devoid of strong family values. The rising cost of parenting in the affluent world has led to a growing demographic divide between the fertile Islamic world and cautious European and East Asian worlds. Mass migration will almost by design create a culture clash that will further empower surveillance bodies. Some believe the end result will be the Islamisation of Europe and indeed in some European cities Muslim children already outnumber those of other religious affiliations. However, I very much doubt the same globalist elite that helped destabilise the Middle East and incessantly promotes fun culture among the world's youth would like to see the transformation of Europe into a new enlarged Caliphate. Rather they trust the immense emotional and technological power of the world's largest media conglomerates to undermine traditional values everywhere and usher in a brave new borderless world of happy consumers and international commuters. Democracy will be little more than petitions asking Starbucks or Apple to pay a little more tax to other global organisations over which we have no real control.