Monday, 20 February 2017

WHY THEY'RE WRONG TO HATE THE SNOWFLAKES [OPINION]





I just came across this most interesting meme. Man, it's deep.

It strikes like an arrow directly at the heart of a major issue, in a way only good satirical cartoons can. It neatly sums up the very essence of where we are today.

I do acknowledge that's a broad statement, but it gets right to the crux of the huge societal divide we are currently experiencing. And it does so more viscerally and more honestly than I've seen elsewhere, almost quite nonchalantly.

At first glance, the woman who puts the snobbish parent with her "liberal arts degree" in her place seems justified. Morally superior even. The snobbery exuded by the liberal parent invites it, and the smart retort might seem a moral victory to almost anyone reading. I must add, as one of those very people with a "liberal arts degree", the irony and harsh truth of the retort is not wasted either. I'd say there's more than a smack of truth to it. Now, heading towards 40 with a child to support, it's a painful reality I cannot escape.

But more importantly, what I think the meme does is go a long way to explain why so many working class/low income families have come to despise us, the supposed "libtards" and "snowflakes" (as we're now less than affectionately known).

They believe we, virtually without exception, look down on those who lack education or means. If you exercise some empathy, it's quite understandable why if they believe this, they have rebelled against all notions of middle and upper class "superiority". Even reason itself. In this reality, they're perhaps entirely justified. The meme hits the nail right on the head.

Here's the thing though: it's completely wrong. 

It's actually quite a dire misinterpretation, identifying the wrong 'enemy' (if we're going to work in such black and white terminology). And the meme's populist attitude questionably sits at the core of exactly why society is currently sabotaging itself, almost beyond recognition.


Liberal values


For a start, very few people go into the arts if accumulation of money and luxury is their priority. The minority who get rich off the arts are so so relatively small, the truth is the average supermarket worker or road-sweeper probably is better off than your average 'artist'. A point this meme makes rather well.

But even if such an odious snobbery is entertained by any among the liberal classes, perhaps even subconsciously and non-intentionally, by very definition a true liberal would never say such a thing. Certainly not aloud or in earshot. They would not teach such ethics to their children. To do so would go against any notion of liberalism; such a flippant and derisory comment flies in the face of egalitarianism. Something which should, at least in theory, be the very guiding principle of an ethical left.

What the meme does is confuse and blur the lines between educated liberal/arts-types, and financial elitist/gentry-types. It happens a lot, and there's a colossal difference. The two latter groups are the ones who'd come out with stuff like that, and it's also they who are true enemies of honest working class people everywhere. Not those with "liberal arts degrees". 

It's definitely not teachers, historians, architects, designers, artists, therapists and musicians. It's not people who've striven to expand their knowledge and understanding of the world, to better it, or reflect upon it in some way. Eg: the people who in some respects, make the world worth living in. Are liberal/artistic types not the reason Western societies have progressed beyond medieval thinking? Yes is of course the answer. It was called 'The Enlightenment'.

It's certainly not judges, ethical journalists, or professionals who've often dedicated their lives and careers to the pursuit of justice, or doing what's right. That's a disastrous misdirection. And by the gods, I fear where it may lead.


Enemies of the People


No, the enemies are established 'money'. It's your Boris Johnsons, your Jacob Rees-Moggs, your David Camerons and your George Osbornes. The Eton and Oxbridge cronies who believe their 'divine right' by birth is a model worth preserving (more often than not, the average Tory politician fits this mould). Above them, providing even more extreme example, it's youngsters like the 25 year old Duke of Westminster - who recently inherited half of London to the tune of a £9bn fortune, and didn't pay a penny in tax due to legal loopholes. It's the families and individuals born into extreme wealth and privilege, who've never known anything but. Their bloated fortunes only trickle down to a small group of sycophants and highly paid employees, who naturally, also defend them tenaciously.

But the enemies also sadly include 'new money' too. Those who've come from modest means initially, who now believe their financial advancement and (let's face it) 'luck' in many cases somehow sets them above 'little people'. It's a skewed and entirely self-congratulatory ethos that because they were successful, anyone who isn't has nothing and no-one to blame but their own lack of enterprise. Again, a very Tory mantra.

This group includes your Philip Greens, your Rob Terrys, your Richard Desmonds, your Rupert Murdochs. People who've come to loathe the background from whence they came. And they can often become all-the-more brazen in their lack of respect for those lower down the food chain. 'Old money', by contrast, often tries to observe basic convention on what's commonly viewed as 'decent'. They hide ignominious plans, going to great lengths to disguise them. Whereas the antics of evil bastards like Philip Green handsomely demonstrate how those people quite frankly don't give a f**k at all.

Like 'old money', 'new money' will often do absolutely anything to avoid re-balancing of the status quo, perhaps even more so. And they have simply immense resources to deceive, misconstrue, and even manipulate entire populations.

Anyone who genuinely thinks they don't use those resources to first and foremost ensure the continuation of their position is, quite frankly, off their proverbial rocker. It's inane naivety. It's also why anyone with even the vaguest hint of intelligence understands the political agendas pioneered in The Daily Mail, The Express and The Sun etc are quite literally not worth the paper they're printed on. 

It's a detail that leaves many 'libtards' foaming at the mouth with frustration. Ultimately, because so many from working class backgrounds actively support these populist rags. They rarely question motive. They believe every word spooled, even cite them as 'proof' on occasion. (Trump's doing the same thing on a much bigger scale over in America.) They just do not grasp that the proprietors concerned don't give a fig about them, or see how the only concern for billionaire moguls is to remain rich, influential and powerful at all costs.

When you accept that, everything else falls into place.


Trying to avoid the B-word


I could of course, be referring to the word "bitch". Its use in the meme goes some way to demonstrate what the left fears so much about the aggressive attitudes of the right. Yes, the supposedly liberal woman is horrid. That doesn't mean it's OK to call her a bitch, and least of all encourage such language and antagonism in front of children. A minor detail, and one which many who identify with this meme might skip right past.

But no, I do mean Brexit.

I almost got through a whole diatribe without mentioning the 'B-word' once.

Unfortunately, the arguments explored here are exactly why the issue of Brexit is so critical today. You absolutely categorically have to look at who among the political/powerful classes are pushing hardest for it, and question why. To not do so, is folly.

Hard working, average British people are concerned by the erosion of their culture, and perhaps more significantly, they blame their lack of opportunities, amenities and a poor quality of life on foreigners they believe are 'taking' what should be their assets: overriding the inherent benefits of being born British. And yes, liberals and 'remoaners' do tend to take issue with that. Because firstly, we appreciate how someone's financial situation, ethnicity, and/or geographical location at birth should not be the deciding factors in the opportunities and rights they are afforded.

But secondly, because it's complete bullsh*t.

Even if the odd family are, in the face of economic hardship, claiming more than they're entitled to from the state. Even if some of the state's resources are spent on foreign nationals as opposed to those homegrown, irrespective of the possible reasons why. Even if someone on benefits has a newer iPhone than you, it's all quite literally 'small-fry'. The amounts spent on social welfare are so paltry, so pathetic and meaningless in comparison to the sums squandered by our government on nefarious activities and selective wealth distribution among their own, it's a downright insult. In short,

angry British people everywhere are arguing over pennies tossed on the floor, ignoring the vast wads of cash the mighty are flaunting in their faces.

That's also why impending nationwide increases to council tax to fund the social care crisis are so deplorable. If MPs can afford to reward themselves yet another pay rise from the public kitty; if Britain can afford to be a veritable tax haven post-Brexit, we shouldn't be simultaneously making everyone, including the very poorest in an already austerity-whipped society, foot the bill. Not in a state that claims to care for its people, or respects the perils of old-age are felt more keenly by those financially insolvent and insecure.

If Brexit brings about a collapse of the NHS and other public services, if all the foreign nurses and workers are tossed out, the financial elites won't care. They have private medical insurance. If the funding for public schools dries up, and there's a crisis caused by the shortage of qualified teachers, again they won't care. They send their kids to expensive private schools. 

If there's no longer such thing as a public library, playground or swimming pool, the rich will pay for their kids to go to pricey and exclusive ones. If the price of a babysitter/gardener/cleaner/builder etc goes through the roof, absent of those pesky Europeans undercutting our wages, it won't touch them. They can pay top whack to get a 'good British equivalent'.

If the price of bread/milk and basic provisions skyrocket, the rich won't break a sweat. They might simply order three cases of the Dom Perignon instead of four, or at worst, rent out a holiday home they'd normally keep vacant. 

If lowly workers and employees have to endure a "gig economy", are denied basic working rights and exist on low pay/zero-hour contracts etc, financial elites won't be concerned. Their wages are tied to capitalist enterprise, property, and the private sector: the vast sums earned by CEOs/Directors and stake shareholders of large companies. They have more than they'll ever need, so the logistics of menial living are totally irrelevant.

In the same way, which groups actually benefit from making it easier to sack an employee, or renege on employer responsibilities? (Small details Tories refer to as "red tape".) Yep, it's the same wealthy elites. Elites who now rub their hands together at the prospect of Brexit, and the unrestrained corporate autocracy it might allow to take root.

Employers in Brexit Britain may well get to work you through your lunch hour, and not pay you a penny extra, for example. Or rather, there may simply be nothing you'll be able to do to stop them. Or you may be sacked for objecting, without a right to appeal. It all depends what Theresa May and her dictatorial government decide; what they define as acceptable.

Considering we're speaking of an unelected and pretty far-right government that emerged virtually by coup, that's been condemned for human rights violations, that oversees one of the highest wealth inequalities in a developed nation anywhere in the world, that tried to bypass the sovereignty of parliament? I certainly wouldn't hold out much hope for the little guy in post-Brexit Britain.


In defence of 'liberal snobbery'


Earlier in this article, I alluded to the fact some liberals actually may take a less than positive attitude towards working class jobs, subconsciously or otherwise. Or may, as the meme suggests, encourage their children to aspire to more intellectual vocations.

In fairness, as someone whose career highs and lows have varied from being a well paid singer performing for thousands all over the world, to working for minimum wage in pubs/fast food chains and more recently car sales, I can squarely say this 'liberal aversion', if there is one, can also be nothing to do with anyone believing themselves "too good" for a job. It's sometimes because intelligence is ridiculed and labelled effeminate; intellectual and artistic interests beyond sports and drinking are sometimes belittled in such industries. The liberal's standards of courtesy and inclusion do not apply. And thinking/liberal types are sometimes made to feel about as welcome as a bout of scurvy.

There's also a big difference between not wanting to do a job, and looking down on a job. I for one definitely do not want to be a road-sweeper. That doesn't mean I have no respect for those who empty my bins and keep my local streets clean. On the contrary, I have a very healthy respect for those who do jobs I could not/would not want to do. But I shan't apologise for believing my abilities and talents lie elsewhere either. Nor does it mean I'd wish for manual labourers to receive anything other than fair remuneration, and a decent rate of pay.

What 'Average Joe' and those on the right often accuse as being "liberal snobbery" is often no such thing at all. Commonly conceived notions of "snobbery" are based on concepts of class or money - normally defined by familial wealth, education, and opportunities afforded by virtue of birth. But people on the left hail from both rich and poor backgrounds. It's nothing to do with money: a liberal's idea of being 'classy' stems from attitude.

So what some might define as "liberal snobbery" is often just snowflake insistence that values such as decency, courtesy, and respect are morally superior to those of bigotry, absolutism, and intimidation. And you know what? In that, there can be no compromise. They are. 

I make no apology for that either.


Thursday, 2 February 2017

HEIL BREXIT! THE BATTLE LINES ARE DRAWN, THE DESCENT INTO FASCISM BEGINS [OPINION]




That's it then. The battle-lines are drawn; the die is cast. 'Heil Trump', and 'Heil Brexit'.

I like many held out hope that our MPs would prioritise the good of our nation over their desire to pander to populists in parliament yesterday. They let all of us down in spectacular fashion. Essentially, they just gave in to fear for their own jobs and positions: because we all know the majority of parliament were opposed to this inane, geopolitical 'scorched-earth' act of self-sabotage.

What amazes me is that so many misinterpret what this 'Brexit' from Europe is all really about. My heart is so, so heavy that vast and increasing swathes are seemingly blind to the rise of fascism taking place all around us, or actively want it to be the case.

The number of people who kid themselves it's only 'coincidence' they now share goals and values with white supremacists and Christian extremists, is quite simply staggering.

Same too of those Brexiteers who now seem so repulsed by Trump. He's a different side of the same coin.

Lack of respect for the lessons of history might well be our undoing in years to come. Britain lit a fuse. It encouraged, if not directly led to the coronation of 'King' Trump. Our new alliances in this brave new world now say it all. Our best buds are dictator Trump, and equally unscrupulous dictators in Turkey and Saudi Arabia. But damn those horrible Europeans, eh?

We allowed a political coup to take place. An already right-wing Tory government was replaced with something far worse: UKIP in disguise. Whereas a couple of years ago, UKIP were widely condemned as fringe hate-peddlers that only those openly racist supported. Farage was rightly derided as a bigot, and a dangerous man - now he's everyone's pal, with a show on LBC, just "saying it how it is". The change was sudden, very deliberate, and very much manipulated by forces in big business and the media. Forces who wanted this to happen. And many in Britain, poor naive Lemmings that they are, thought a vote for Brexit was a vote against the Tories and David Cameron: a vote AGAINST elitism and corporate oppression. Nope. They let a far more dangerous and insidious wing of the Tory party into power, who are now running amok. Their misguided backlash was against the wrong bloody 'elites'.

Instead of multi-billionaires and corporate swindlers, the people who pillage our world and run our very lives, the 'elites' who've been condemned by all this madness are now simply those who are educated. Those who've grown up with liberal attitudes. Or those who've dedicated their lives to humanitarian causes, scientific discovery, the pursuit of knowledge etc. In short, to knowing what they're talking about.

We have quite literally made the pursuit of wisdom a crime. And we've simultaneously volunteered to load ourselves onto our own slave ships.

Britain was (is) in an unprecedented and unique position within the EU, without any of the same rules the other mainland countries have to adhere to. Like the Schengen free-movement clause, for example. We already control our own borders, and our own laws, it's complete bluster. The laws the EU hold up concern pesky things like workers rights, air quality, consumer rights... all those terrible things that Tory 'Little England' will hack to pieces with an enormous machete. The common currency? We don't even share the common currency?!? We very specifically held onto GBP through thick and thin for decades due to those reservations, and we're already virtually independent on that front.

It's all just a smokescreen to distract from the fact we don't like foreigners, particularly Muslims, and we don't like all those pesky refugees that horrible sorts like Angela Merkel keep allowing in.

That's what the 'men and women with pitchforks' voted for any way. Politicians and businesses, perhaps not so much. They have their own motives. But this is certainly not all just about what's effectively little more than bits of paper with pictures printed on. Britain was a net recipient of EU funds: what we mostly provided Europe was military security. Our supremacy in this area was why we were afforded such privilege, why we were allowed to pick and choose, to a certain degree. But it wasn't enough for those clinging to the coattails of the once 'Great British Empire'.

What the EU really stood for was unity and friendship within Europe, cooperation, acceptance that peoples of Eurasia should look to themselves as 'one people'. It is the most successful peace project the world has ever known, and has prevented hostilities between the main powers of Europe for THE LONGEST PERIOD IN HISTORY. Europe has quite literally been a melting pot of warring and competing cultures for centuries, and these tribal squabbles, one way or another, have caused (or at least traced back to) virtually every international war that's ever occurred in documented world history too. Fact. The EU even made friends/allies of people we were only years before, bombing the hell out of. Today, German businesses and technologies thrive as part of our own economy, like BMW, Volkswagen etc. All of us in the UK have grown up with the security and opportunities that ties and openness with Europe provided. Not to mention a far far better quality of produce on our supermarket shelves! (Trust me, the majority of widely sold American food is absolutely not good.)

But it's all been flushed away.

Gods, I felt strongly about all this BEFORE the rise of Trump. Now, it's beyond critical. Instead we've thrown our lot in with unapologetic monsters like Trump and Erdogan, dictators who persecute teachers, scientists and journalists whose reports contradict their agenda. We've turned our back on friends and neighbours we've enjoyed a shared culture with for decades. It is heart-breaking. Yes, of course the EU has problems, and of course it has endemic corruption. Can anyone claim Westminster doesn't?? Does anyone even care that our own political system is clogged with financial autocracy?? However many problems, you just don't work out differences with someone by walking out of the room, trashing the joint on the way out.

The EU promoted security, inclusion. Finding diplomatic answers. It made war unthinkable because member states were tied so closely economically. That was the exact f**king point. You're less likely to set fire to someone else's tent if yours will definitely catch fire too.

Quite simply, nothing else had worked in Europe since the time of the Roman Empire. 'Superstates' are only inherently bad if they are oppressive and violent, and being part of a larger union strengthens all within it: a principle I will cling to til my dying day. If economic ties and common markets kept my daughter from ever knowing the barbarity of war on the doorstep of her own continent, then I, and many others, felt it was a small price to pay.

One day, we may all be very sorry that those who clamoured against this colonial sabre-rattling were belittled and ignored.

That we didn't listen to the 'snowflakes'.

#Brexit #Snowflakes #Trump #Fascism
#EU #Europe