De omnibus dubitandum
9 Nov 2016
It’s been over two years since I last wrote here. Today, I feel I have no other choice but to write again. Call it therapy.
Many on social media proclaim 2016 to be the worst year ever. With the deaths of popular celebrities, a slim majority in the UK opting for economic suicide with Brexit, and now the election of Fuckface Von Clownstick as president of the USA, it seems hard to argue with that.
But I’m telling you, this is just the beginning. It will get worse.
Let’s look at the underlying current causing the Brexit vote in the UK and the Trump vote in the US. It’s an undercurrent that is active in many so-called civilised countries, and it has not reached its peak by far.
This undercurrent of fear and hatred will only prosper, as its legitimacy is seen to grow with these recent democratic outcomes in the UK and USA. Inevitably, we will see the election of more far-right parties to power.
Geert Wilders and his PVV will seize power in the Netherlands. Marine Le Pen’s Front National will win in France. Other European countries will see similar political shifts to the far right.
Aside from their obvious bigotry and regressive policies with regards to many personal freedoms we now take for granted, these parties have something else in common: they are fiercely anti-EU.
In France and the Netherlands and perhaps other EU countries, there will be battles about whether or not these countries should leave the EU. If even one of those countries succeeds and, despite the horrors Brexit is unleashing in the UK, chooses to leave the European Union, the entire European project will collapse.
In the wake of the catastrophic impact this will have on European economies, the far-right parties will continue to blame ‘the other’ for the problems they themselves have now aggravated, and the white working & middle classes will believe them thanks to the aid of vocal partisan media online and offline.
Hatred of minorities will fester and grow. Hate crimes will increase. There will be violence.
This will all be aggravated by the growing impact of climate change. The new right-wing powers in charge across the west are, on the whole, climate change sceptics. Rather than enforce the policies that might prevent the worst, there will be no significant action to fight climate change.
Extreme weather will become the norm. Food crops will be scarcer. Economies will suffer more. Societal pressures will increase further as people want to migrate to those increasingly scarce countries where the climate remains temperate.
As a result, more countries will close their borders. Isolationist policies will prevail as countries act in self-defence, hoard their food supplies, and refuse entry to outsiders.
As the economies of western countries implode, politicians will find any scapegoat they can. More fuel for the fires of hatred and bigotry. There’s a strong likelihood of countries turning towards tangible enemies in the form of other sovereign states, which will increase the chances of armed conflict.
Then, with the EU weakened beyond repair and NATO in no position to act (as the USA under Trump will likely withdraw from NATO and other members fight among themselves), Russia is likely to seize the opportunity and invade the Ukraine properly. They might even reclaim Belarus and some other countries like Georgia.
War in Europe is almost inevitable.
If anything, 2016 has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that the era of Western hegemony is over. In fact, it deserves to die. We deserve to relinquish our place as leaders of the world. It’s time for someone else to become the next Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, Britain, USA… All previous empires have fallen, and so will the West.
We’ve had our time at the front. It’s someone else’s turn.
Who? Probably China. They’ve been quietly getting on with it for the past decades, and are now – ironically – a beacon of political and economic stability. If they’re smart, they will ally themselves with growing powers like India and Brazil to form a new global order to replace the collapsing West.
So it will get worse for us. Much worse.
What can you do? There’s little hope of restraining the forces that are now unleashed. At best, we can hope to weather the storm. It’s unlikely that we’ll ever be as prosperous and safe again in our lifetimes as we were in the mid to late 1990s. We can only endure.
It will eventually get better. It will take decades, but the west will emerge from this darkness that is consuming us. We won’t be around for that, but our children will, and our children’s children.
So don’t give up hope. Keep fighting for what you believe, even if you know it’s a losing battle. Do what you can and what you feel comfortable with, knowing that to speak out against the tide of hate means risking your safety and that of your family and friends.
Most of all, stay civil. Show people their due respect, even if you cannot respect what they believe. Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. Be kind. Be generous.
It will get worse. But, eventually, it will get better.
22 May 2012
Recently some alarming facts about justice and imprisonment in the USA have been highlighted. These facts are not new discoveries as such, but worryingly few people know about them.
First there’s this study about wrongful convictions in the USA, which paints a pretty grim picture of the American justice system:
“The US criminal justice system is a broken machine that wrongfully convicts innocent people, sentencing thousands of people to prison or to death for the crimes of others, as a new study reveals. The University of Michigan law school and Northwestern University have compiled a new National Registry of Exonerations – a database of over 2,000 prisoners exonerated between 1989 and the present day, when DNA evidence has been widely used to clear the names of innocent people convicted of rape and murder.”
The fact that thousands of Americans are jailed for crimes they did not commit is not particularly surprising, if viewed in the larger context of the country’s highly profitable private prison system:
“In the past few decades, changes in sentencing laws and get-tough-on-crime policies have led to an explosion in America’s prison population. Funding this incarceration binge has been an enormous drain on taxpayer dollars, with some states now spending more to lock up their citizens than to provide their children with education. It’s difficult to spin anything positive out of that scenario, but as it turns out, even this blackest of clouds has a silver lining – silver as in dollars, that is, for the private prison industry.
In 2010, two of the largest private prison companies in America, GEO Group, Inc and the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) generated over $4bn dollars in profit between them.”
Both these articles are just scratching the surface of this deeply worrying trend in many western democracies to impose ever-stricter sentences on minor crimes, and to utilise the resulting prison population for capitalist gain.
In effect this is a new form of slavery, aimed at imprisoning as many of the lowest echelons of our society in order to use them as involuntary cheap labour. It’s a new way to maximise corporate profits through exploitation of the lower classes, as these will be the most likely to serve extensive prison terms for often minor crimes.
As we all know, rich men can pillage and loot for billions and get away with a slap on the wrist, while the poor serve decades in prison for petty theft. Our justice systems are not blind, we are not treated equally under the law. The more money you have – i.e. the higher your social class – the lower the punishment for your transgressions, if there is any punishment at all.
We see the same unsavoury trends beginning to take shape here in the UK. This form of government-approved corporate slavery is among the worst excesses of capitalist greed, and it should be resisted at every step.
26 Aug 2009
As you probably know by now, Scotland has released the man convicted of the Lockerbie-bombing on ‘compassionate grounds’.
Without delving in to the debate of whether he’s actually guilty (there are strong reasons to suspect he was innocent), the facts are simple: Al-Megrahi is dying of cancer, and Scottish law has a rule about terminally ill convicts. Al-Megrahi’s release is simply an adherence to this rule.
A very commendable rule, in my opinion. Justice, you see, is not about revenge, no matter how many Americans seem to confuse these two concepts. Justice is about protecting society and rehabilitating offenders. It’s not about “an eye for an eye” or other equally medieval mantras.
Scotland has done a brave thing. They’ve adhered to their own rules, their own concept of justice, regardless of what the Big Bully on the block has to say about it. They’ve stood up for what they believe in, and I admire that.
What I do have a problem with is the hero’s welcome Al-Megrahi received in Libya. Not a very subtle move, and a bit of a “fuck you” towards the West.
I’m looking forward to Al-Megrahi’s side of the story which, with the appeal dropped, he is now free to tell. A shallow scan of the Lockerbie trial shows the prosecution’s case leaned heavily on a single eyewitness account to confirm a fragile link between Al-Megrahi and the explosive device that caused the disaster.
And we already know how notoriously unreliable eyewitnesses are.
23 Jun 2009
As should be no surprise to any well-thinking individual, European cities dominate the list. Massively so. The numbers 1, 2 and 3 are European, with seven European cities in the top 10 and a total of seventeen in the top 30.
The first American city on the list is Honolulu at number 29. Arguably one of the least American cities that is technically a part of the United States.
Additional hilarity is caused by number 30 – San Francisco, the USA’s second contribution to the list. You know, that liberal city with its abundance of gayness and alternative lifestyles. A city nearly universally despised by its own country.
And the cherry on the cake is the city that ranks last on the list, i.e. the Worst Place in the World to live. It’s a city that has obviously benefited so much from its ‘liberation’ at the hands of the Americans: Baghdad.
29 Oct 2008
A right-wing pundit with a pole up his ass the size of the Eiffel tower is complaining that an Obama presidency would result in the “Europeanization of America.” Which he seems to conclude is a Very Bad Thing.
Yes, it must be bad for America to start looking more like Europe, because Europe is this dreadful part of the world where people have lower standards of living, a lower life expectancy, more crime, and less happiness.
Actually, America’s standards of living are lower. On the December 2008 UN Human Development Index, the USA ranked 15th on standards of living. 11 European countries precede it on the list.
Life expectancy in the USA is a few years shorter than in Europe. On the World Life Expectancy chart the USA ranks 27th. Nineteen European countries are ranked higher.
Crime rates are generally much higher in the USA than in most western European nations, with significantly higher murder and assault rates per capita.
A 2006 study aimed at creating a world map of happiness showed that the top four happiest countries in the world are all in Europe, with 11 European nations ranked in the top 20. The USA ranked 23rd.
Yes, the Europeanization of America would be a bad thing. We wouldn’t want the USA to become civilized, would we?
3 Jan 2008
The fact that Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are the primary Republican candidates for the presidential election is really such a powerful statement about the state of the Republican party and US politics in general, that you really can’t make a joke about it that surpasses reality in outrageousness and insanity.
Well, I suppose a joke with Ayatollah Khomeini as the punchline would come close. But only just.
2 Feb 2007
And they wonder why we think they’re all a bunch of morons over there.