Life – Terror. Ecstasy. Fight. Denial. Flight. Failure. PAIN. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Hope. Love. Peace – Death.
We are, rapidly, running out of time?
Our current ‘custodians’ have, and continue to, fuck things up.
We have, and are still, allowing them to continue to do so. We seem hell-bent on destroying our planet.
Fixing weaknesses in democracy is not about less, but more democracy. A radical fix of the previous forty years.
Democracy and capitalism coexist in many variations around the world, each continuously reshaped by the conditions and the people forming them. Increasingly, people have deep concerns about both.
In a recent global survey, ‘Pew’ found that, among respondents in 27 countries, 51% are dissatisfied with how democracy is working. Millennials and Gen Zs are increasingly disinterested in capitalism, with only half of them ‘viewing it positively’ in the United States.
The problem with Socialism is the word itself?
When people hear and read ‘Socialism’, especially ‘those of a certain age’, what they hear, and see, is ‘Communism’. Partly due to manipulation, control on an unprecedented scale, by media, by governments, by political stake-holders, that say so, They see woolly hammer and sycal hats, red flags, on top of grey Russian tanks, driving relentlessly, towards them.
Until we solve this then we are completely fucked, that is until enough, people ‘of a certain age’, die off.
Defining someone as a socialist necessarily depends on your view of what socialism is, i.e. it is highly subjective. But, it also depends on the frame of reference – a soft left liberal of yesteryear is likely to be hailed as left wing today, given how much the country has moved to the right over the last forty years.
Democratic socialism is defined as having a socialist economy in which the means of production are socially and collectively owned or controlled, alongside a democratic political system of government. Democratic socialists reject most self-described socialist states and Marxism–Leninism.
Social democracy is synonymous with democratic socialism and represented its original form, i.e. socialism achieved by democratic means, usually through the parliament elected government).
Communism and socialism are political and economic systems that share certain beliefs, including greater equality in the distribution of income. One way communism differs from socialism is that it calls for the transfer of power to the working class by revolutionary rather than gradual means.
Capitalism is based on individual initiative and favors market mechanisms over government intervention, while socialism is based on government planning and limitations on private control of resources.
In socialist economies, governments are charged with redistributing wealth and narrowing the gap between the poor and the rich. While no modern-day countries are considered to have a “pure” socialist system, Cuba, China, and North Korea have strong elements of socialist market economies.
My own socialist values are rooted in the fundamental belief that whatever your background, wherever you are from, you should have the means and opportunity to fulfil your potential.
But what have the Romans ever done for us?
A socialist (political) approach in the UK would propose that the, now colossal, £2.21 trillion pounds national deficit should be tackled – but not through spending cuts and not to an “arbitrary” deadline. Instead fund its reduction via higher taxes for the rich and a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion while tackling “corporate welfare” and tax breaks for companies.
In addition, Britain’s railways should be renationalised and scrap the HS2 rail scheme. The imposed ‘lockdown’ has demonstrated that more consideration should be applied as to the need for such an incredible spend as many (post-pandemic) will continue to work from home.
“Quantitative easing for people” this could be used to invest in housing, energy, transport and digital projects. Unlike the £375bn issued electronically by the Bank of England between 2009 and 2012 to buy bonds, gilts and other debts, this would be “QE for people instead of banks”, Tax campaigner Richard Murphy argues these plans would stimulate the economy and boost employment. However, some economists suggest the proposal would lead to higher inflation and interest rates, hurting the poor most.
Replacing Trident would be a costly mistake. Plans to replace the nuclear missile system should be ditched. A £100bn price tag could be better spent “on our national well-being“.
Talking to militant groups is necessary to win peace in the Middle East. Any peace process means “you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree”.
Stop support for air strikes against Islamic State in Syria. Innocent Syrians suffer and the supply of arms and funds to the Islamic State group should be cut off instead. “Illegal wars” would be replaced with a “foreign policy that prioritises justice and assistance”.
A National Education Service modelled on the NHS should be established. State-funded academies and free schools would be forced to return to local authority control while university tuition fees would be scrapped and replaced with grants. In the interest of full equality – Ending of the charitable status of public schools.
An arms embargo on Israel. Palestinian refugees should be given a “right of return”.
War no More – A boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements and of Israeli universities that engage in arms research. The amount of money spent on arms is obscene and unnecessary.
Energy companies would be under public ownership. A publicly run service ‘delivering fair energy supplies’.
A national maximum wage – cap the salaries of super-high earners coupled with a windfall tax on former state assets such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, which were privatised far too cheaply to political funders.
Private Finance Initiative deals with the NHS would be ended by using government funds to buy them out.
The restriction of the arms trade with the “brilliance and skill of those in the arms industry be converted for peaceful purposes”.
Enough is Enough
It’s time for the world to come together. It’s a time when the world is falling apart. It’s a time for global institutions to have a loud voice. But it’s a time when they are most feeble. It’s a time for cooperation and trust, so that local and global action can be decisive and meaningful. But it’s a time when partisan, divisive and hurtful politics are ruling — across nations and within nations. Just think.
All the crises we see before us today — from air pollution to climate change, from coronavirus to locust attacks that are now destroying the fields of farmers — are about pollutants and viruses that know no boundaries.
The virus — today’s corona — jumped from animals to humans in some wet market in China. But no longer is that market in China part of the shadowy, secretive world.
The virus has moved so fast that within some six months, the entire world was infected; over 10 million cases and counting, with no country being spared. The contagion has already claimed over 500,000 lives world-wide (and counting). Powerful, wealthy nations, economies have come to a standstill, that’s how easy it is, that’s how vulnerable we are, how dependent we have become on ‘profit at all cost economies’, on ‘market sprawl’, on ‘capitalism’, we didn’t even see it coming?
(Sprawl is characterised by specific patterns within urban areas, including leapfrog development, areas of commercial strip development, gentrification, ribbon development, a loss of centrality, and a lack of accessibility (Hamidi and Ewing 2014; Chapple 2018).
Worse, when you think of the prospects in the future, nothing will ever be the same as before, it is clear that countries will remain connected but will live in air bubbles — closing boundaries to travellers other than “safe” countries — which will be difficult to sustain.
India; bubble-wrapping countries to fight the contagion will be, at best, a short-term solution. In the long-run, the world needs to come together to get rid of this virus, or at least fully contain it not just ‘at home’ but world-wide…., but what about the next virus?
India’s locust problem — is severe and crippling for farmers — is a direct result of climate change impacts, where weather has turned weird and extreme. The frequency and intensity of cyclones has intensified; rainfall has become variable; and, as a result, breeding grounds for this desert critter have expanded.
It is fast turning into a Biblical-scale scourge. But here again, India can do little to control the problem on its own. The most fertile breeding grounds of locusts are today in the Horn of Africa, where governments are struggling with lack of finances and equipment to control insect numbers.
These will then fly with the changing wind patterns — literally — and make new homes in our world. We need regional cooperation — between countries of eastern Africa, Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Pakistan and India. We need global institutions with heft and credibility to drive this agenda — bring countries together and provide financial and technical assistance to contain the insect.
Here in the UK, there is no need to explain the imperative of global action on climate change — it is a no-brainer. The atmosphere is one; emissions of greenhouse gases know no boundaries. The need for global cooperation — and trust between nations should also know no boundaries, but does it?
The agreement to act will be built on nations doing what is best in the common interest of the world. This only happens when they know that the agreement is equitable, fair and proportionate.
We are at a crucial point in world history. The key global institution is the United Nations (UN) that was set up after World War II. It then spawned many agencies and agreements. But over the years, it has made fatal mistakes — never standing up to power and death by bureaucracy and money.
Just think how the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has decided to postpone critical discussions on what is today’s, and tomorrow’s, most catastrophic global challenge till end of next year end of 2021. What an absolute abdication of its role and responsibility. We also have the powers in a dog-cat-fight for global domination — China versus the rest.
This is all about the new global order (or disorder). Let’s not beat about the bush, it is clear that China has made massive inroads into the world’s economy — and this is across the poor and rich world. It has also no qualms about using fear and coercion as the means to achieving its ends.
The answer, I hope, will be clear: Fixing weaknesses in democracy is not about less, but more democracy. It requires huge scale investing in the local on the one hand, and global community on the other. It is about that compact that will keep the world safe; but most importantly, will keep democracy and the rights of human beings and the environment at the centre of our universe. Nothing less should be acceptable. Not now. Not tomorrow.
Until we start to believe in, are fully ready to, respect and accept, the interests of the majority, the many, over the powerful of just a few, then nothing will change.
Thanks for Reading