Losing our Memory?

The future is unclear...image
The future is unclear…

A commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law was Europe’s answer to fascism. The loss of this European memory presents real dangers amid a resurgent populism.

‘s argument is essentially about the vacuum created by the emergence of new populist right, with their cries fortaking back control’, ensuring that ‘our white race … continues to exist’ and fighting ‘an invasion of foreigners’. 

Memories of total war, and the deprivations wrought by a far right in full military mode have faded. This is the danger he argues.

As a baby- boomer I have no personal knowledge of this damaging blanket of conflict too, but my existence has been fully shaped and tempered by the ’45’ generation, to whom European solidarity and inter-nation co-operation and human rights had been so important.

The leaders of this generation deepened integration through the completion of the common market, the opening of intra-European borders with the Schengen agreement, the creation of the euro and the empowerment of the European Parliament.

Anecdotally, there are plenty of millennials in the media who seem to intuitively feel this shift, but do not, as yet, declare their allegiance to Europe to be against the rise of Fascism.

However, it is not the unspoken feelings of the liberal left that may triumph. It is the stentorian call of the a resurgent, militarised right that may shatter the old certainties.

As

We commend this article to our readers.

 


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

As we hurtle towards the edge of the cliff…

The future awaits...train crash image
The future awaits…

This statement is all about party political management of the factions in the Tory party – the national interest is a very poor second. What an utter shambles‘… Oct 15

In a sense, in the midst of a gargantuan flow of promises, policy revision and idealogical selfishness, then it doesn’t really matter what the statement mentioned above is all about. Umunna’s tweet is a metaphor for a wider socio-political discontent.

History is the important context, or rather, a lack of it and a missing sensibility to previous disastrous political outcomes.

Umunna’s opinion captures a general sweep of unease with both major parties – over Brexit, the political operational vacuum at the heart of Westminster because of it, and all the ancillary debates, gesture politics and posturing that diminishes compassionate, effective government.

As I emerge from my period of grief over the Europe debacle, I look back in a deeply personal reflection across the current landscape.

Post the ‘Referendum of Mis-information’ and having taken the family to Europe, France and Holland, to explore new places to live and new bases for our small  businesses, they have taken the opportunity to decline relocation as a solution to my European malaise.

I remain deeply pessimistic about their future, and that of their children, as a result of a party political ‘manoeuvre’ of the deepest national and international significance, a word described in the dictionary as ‘...to move skilfully and carefully‘. In this case, history here may not be kind.

In the here and now, I find it interesting that both church leaders and humanists are clearly voicing disquiet regarding the activities and expectations of an ideological Right. The history matters here.

‘The European Union is one of the greatest human achievements. A continent which had been at war for centuries is now at peace. It’s not just about military alliances, it’s about countries opening their hearts and their borders to their neighbours. Preserve it!‘   

In the future? Well, I expect that the clarion arguments of a European peace, guaranteed by secure political alliances, will mean nothing. We risk, yet again, our own ordinary people becoming, quite literally, victims to political expediency.

As I write, I am dusting off my copy of Sun Tzu, The Art of War, to better understand the interplay between politics and military aggression, which has left my life untouched so far, but which devastated the generations of my father and his father too.

It is interesting, I would argue, that as we approach yet another commemorative date to remember both profound loss and absolute bravery, that no current politician, of any party, seems able to entwine these historical political consequences into their current thinking, whilst still bearing appropriate reverence for the fallen. The Menin Gate should haunt us all.

There is a lack of intellectual grasp, about society, politics, economics and history – a monumental failure of perception – that lies at the heart of mainstream elite political debate and sound-biteism over Brexit.

The consequences for me, in the now, are a sense of betrayal, a denial of internationalism as an inherently good thing. Not in a capitalist shade, but in the efficacy of governmental co-operation and social utility that has seen so much historical investment in the UK, from Europe, and a melding of socio-cultural ideas that have enriched our society for the better..

Splendid isolation, as a political driver, results in a hardening of negativity towards the other. It makes the consequences of state violence both remote and unheard in the home state

These consequences, social and economic, of the Brexit divide are irrelevant to an ideological elite, I would argue, secured by private funds, private education, overseas investment and a property portfolio that would stagger George Soros.

In the future? I shall remain European first and English second, as I have been my whole adult life.

At the office, as a board, we are debating a paper to facilitate a change to Estonia as a base for our operations. We have always, in the day job, worked as a collective across international borders. Any move which denies us having to break this core mission, for us, is the right move.

For me with what time I have left, even if I remain only a virtual European in Estonia, I will, as one small voice in a social landscape rendered asunder,  have taken a stand, of good conscience, against monumentally misguided, politically opportunist ideology.


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

Equaliteas – share, debate, celebrate – not too late

Equaliteas web button image and web link
Discover more on the web at UK Parliament…

‘What does it mean to you to have the same democratic rights as everyone else? Join together with people from all over the country to celebrate 90 years since the Representation of the People Act 1928, which gave all men and women over 21 the equal right to vote. Invite your community to share, debate, and celebrate what equality means to you’.

Source: https://equaliteas.org.uk/

Register on this UK Parliament web site to get your free promotional material and to support parliamentary democracy for all – and the Representation of the People Act in 1928.

Equaliteas teapot image and web link
Get your event going for Equaliteas – see some ideas and resources here…

Events: 18th June to 2nd July, 2018.

Why not have a tea party and talk about it, or discover an event already registered near you. See more here.

Check out these events in the East of England, for example…

Tea Together at Kings Lynn Library‘Celebrate the Great Women of Lynn and Norfolk this afternoon. We are launching our new Voicebox Cafes celebrating women’s right to vote & encouraging you to get involved in local democratic life. Discover some local suffragette stories & try some tasty cake! All welcome’.

Tea Together Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library

More than MUM!  South Street, Ipswich

Kesgrave Tuesday Project – Kesgrave


Still time to register and engage your community of interest in debate, delicious cakes and pots of hot tea!

Democracy, community and the relevance of the democratic process across all communities.


 

 

 

 


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

The Moral Matrix and 2017

Jonathan Haidt in this 2008 talk explores the constraints and tensions in the moral psychology of left and right. He uses the context of the American political system and discusses primary moral principles, which for us in the UK, can be seen as a proxy equating to Labour and Conservative ideologies.

Given the tensions within the Labour Party at present, given the divisions created by the referendum on Europe last year, there is a merit in revisiting these earlier Haidt arguments, touching as he does on freedom, rights, power and dissent.

You can see the full TED talk from Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business, below…

Source:

In the talk, leavened with an easy humour, it is easy to see identifiable Labour Party sterotypes, as well as those of the Tory persuasion. The left enjoy open-ness, change and commitment to the future well-being of others. Those of the right, in this model, cleave more strongly to notions of order, and acceptance of the suffering of some, to achieve their world vision.

Haidt’s arguments about the five principal moral values that determine our political allegiance do bear subtler fruit after reflection. However, there is a more complex truth illustrated at play within and relevant to the UK Left, I would argue.

There are certainly those of the left who are adherents of open-ness, change and collaborative development. The countervailing position, arguably, is reflected in the matter of the Labour Party rule book. My electronic copy runs to 110 pages. It is hard to imagine a historically, long established political party, with a distinct and focused collective community mass-identity, that would need long debates about rule or process. Given the weight of history and experience that sits atop the shoulders of branch and national executive members.

However, it is also possible to see a ‘rightest’ version of the left, utilising the Haidtean moral psychology arguments. The press for deployment of rule in pursuit of rigid order, is also conflicted, in this model, by those who then seek to change the rule book. Not for pursuit of long term social and moral objectives, but in a short term attempt to secure self interested order as a group or societal norm.

Would it not be better to use moral psychology and the moral imperatives of the Left, socialism in my intellectual landscape, to develop thematic drivers of action which, in Haidt’s canon, would see an end to the ‘moral matrix of disputation’?

Yes, would be my answer. When even members of Momentum are being drawn into debate and argument about the rule book, it would seem, all would benefit from having a contextual list of moral activity, with a view to changing the long term political landscape of the social Left.

……………………………………………………..

Below are examples of how the ‘Moral Values Directorate‘ of a new Labour Party might look…there are many others, to be sure.

a. Social Business/Social Enterprise/Community Business

In England the depth and history of charitable endeavour runs deep. Why does the Party, most connected with the workers, not more forcefully and adroitly engage with business principles that can employ people, deliver companies with highly moral employment and marketing values, to change the topography of communities and regions.

Is it not possible that the Party could have national teams who foster branch engagement with social business solutions to local community problems? Not to the abandonment of working for votes and candidates, but as an exension, an additional part of the political armoury which would, in the long term, affect those moral value triggers of the electorate who do not currently vote for our party.

For Party members to actively engage and cultivate social business and community enterprise as aprt of their constituency armoury utilises member energy and experience, but over time, serves to illustrate the practical vaues of the Party to a much broader audience, in a newly relevant way.

b. Arts and culture

Performance, art and creative conceptualisation of problems can all be powerful adjuncts to a political allegiance or understanding. Younger members of the Party, wanting to become writers, creative workers or intellectuals should have, in a Moral Values Directorate, a process available, a ladder of opportunity which enables them to emerge as thinkers and doers, to the notice of their peers and local communities, which again can change the political landscape of branches and/or regions over time.

The Arts is just one segmental approach – creating new vertical communities of potential subscribers, followers and voters – in a way which drectly speaks to their interests, and salts political direction and thoughtful opinion into the lived experience of local politics.

The Arts can be a powerful enabler of personal development, cultural shift and redirection of loyalty, I would argue.

c. Values Rapid Response teams:

We now know, for example, that our Local Authorities are using legislation to eavesdrop and record the activities of the residents/electorate that they are responsible for. Where is the concerted effort to abolish such activity. If our freedoms are imperilled by those elected members who are there to represent us, why can we not have national teams who can support immediate, local action to such deployments when they become clear.

Here is just an example of how a vertical approach, this time by contentious theme, that could close the gap between distant elected members of the party and those who live in the communities they represent.

As an interested outsider, I am not aware of a groundswell of opinion or action, to protest in this way. Partly, this is about holding elected members to account in a very direct and solutions driven way, but also seizes the high ground for the Left, where to take action in defense of community is, importantly, to be seen to take action.

It is a thematic approach to political drive which can disrupt the’…maintain the status quo, despite the inequality inherent in such positions’, whilst making the moral values which the Left should, or could, hold most dear, radiantly clear.

You could also devise the same vertical model to confront the privatisation of education or the railway network, for example. Not in the usual overtly, partisan way, but devised campaigns that lead with the moral value, the community well-being arguments absolutely at the fore.

It can be done. I have heard railway men and women talk, at conferences, of the human value and social benefit of railways, for example. A discursive, collaborative display unknown to most politicians, voting for foreign ownership and private fiscal value without consequential thought, I would argue.

If ever history was on the side of the man or woman on the footplate, it is this conversation that would resonate with voters…if they, the voting population, could hear it in concord with a ‘moral value proposition’ that was relevant to their own experience and needs.

…………………………………………………….

Making moral psychology become part of the everyday political discourse of England, allowing the Left to jump out of the moral matrix we now find ourselves. Now that would be worth voting for in 2017.

We might even get a ‘Labour TEDTalk’ out of it?


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

Film, art, reality and Ken Loach

 

 From Jarrow into the future, the never-ending march!

 

Spending time and resources on re-location, post referendum, has been an interesting, if difficult,  process over the summer. France has been a comfortable destination, both in terms of culture and prospective places to live.

Now we have now widened our search, however, to scope projects in the cities of Rotterdam and Dublin. Both seem to offer a more supportive context for a refreshed approach to developing a social business project list, and a settled philosophical face to permanent membership of Europe. Progress reports of our search for a compassionate community in the EU, as they emerge…

This has not been a brake, however, on engagement with the artistic and political culture of England. I saw two films riven with political angst and declarative for reform over this week. Below is a commentary on that viewing.

Adam Curtis has delivered a provocative new film, HyperNormalisation, which seeks to show how the emergence of inward looking, technology driven, private banks and corporations have essentially subsumed the power of government, in the widest possible sense of a world with only a pretence of accountablity.

filmmakeradamcurtis
Image: Adam Curtis

The film tracks a development arc from the 1970’s onwards which shows the rise of ‘big data’ and it’s secret storage and manipulation, and how this, coupled to a capricious and opportunistic political class, had traded allegiances and money whilst dissolving their ability to solve societal problems.

You can see this challenging and sometimes disturbing film on the pages of the BBC iPlayer here.

Curtis’s title for the film comes from the concepts derived by American academic Alexei Yurchak whilst writing about the collapse of the old Soviet Union. He argued that everyone recognised the system was failing, but as no one could imagine any possible alternative, politicians and communities gave over to maintaining a pretence of a functioning society. This delusion eventually became a self-fulfilling prophecy with fakery accepted by all as real.

Ken Loach, defined by Conservative MP Kwarsi Kwarteng, as a ‘revolutionary socialist’ has produced in his film I, Daniel Blake a contemporary catalogue of outcomes that derive from the structural, corporatist and political changes over time, defined by the film HyperNormalisation.

In a recent interview the Tory critic refuses to see the ‘reality’ of I, Daniel Blake, as it is only an artistic representation. Resorting to the perjorative epithet ‘revolutionary’ to describe the film maker, in the face of an austerity campaign derived from his own ideology, the like of which has created the need for the very representation we see in Loach’s film.

What I, Daniel Blake is not, despite the Kwarteng protestations, is a dogmatic, rigid and Manichaeian Marxist rant.

As always wth a Loach film the depth of research, and contributions from state actors and individuals of conscience to it, is clearly visible in the film credits.

See the recent interview with Ken Loach and the Tory MP below. (The MP even amazingly admits that he has not seen the Loach film, and continues to deny the struggle of ordinary people in carrying the burden of austerity!).

Daniel Blake is a working class resident of the North East who, having suffered a heart attack, finds himself and those around him trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare of conflicting processes, anti-humanitarian state machinery and ultimately despair. Loach defines this context for a life, for many contemporary lives, as ‘conscious cruelty’.

The language used by the systematised officers and state actors, in this rational, economic world that Daniel confronts, is of ‘sanction’, remote decision makers, contracts and ‘customers’. The services and support he is attempting to access have been ‘privatised’ and contracted out. so that all people entering the system become coins in a fairground slot machine – waiting to be pushed over the edge.

It is in this process that the filmic work of Curtis and Loach come together. Remote corporations drawing down vast sums of public money, attempt through the use of technology and rigid process ladders, to solve a problem the politicians cannot master.

Daniel is a victim of a change, started over forty years ago, aided and abetted by technology, which has left the political class floundering to find solutions to the most complex of societal problems.

It is the lack of humanity, of the personal consideration, which drives the frustration and anger that Daniel feels. Applying a ‘sanction’ to individuals who are ill, distraught and now deprived of all income for thirteen weeks is anti-humanitarian, surely? The Loach film contains a scene in a food-bank which is completely heart rending. That society should allow such support processes to exist, no matter how worthy, whilst prolonging the detrimental state of its individual members, is deplorable?

It is this sense of powerlessness, I would argue, in the face of such complexity which has allowed the demagogues and sound bite political contenders, who are contemptuous of the truth, to move communities to the isolationist right, as those communities seek solutions to the deprivations and inequalities they are experiencing.

Both filmic artworks present a depressing and depressed view of human relations and experience. The Loach film, however, is essentially about working-class friendship, compassion and solidarity – not any of which is administered by the state in general, alas.

It is the desparate shortage of humanity in both these cinematic edifices that is the most painful. A world determined by elite processes which lack any sense of it in strategic, operational or political decision making.

Most people of the liberal left are driven by a strong social conscience. What is less clear to them, and which is a weakness of the left in general, is the delivery or conceptualisation of a crystal clear message, methodology or mission, that makes issues and solutions tangible, transparent and treatable.

Watching the work of Curtis and Loach may coagulate us into action – to deliver that humanistic, egalitarian and compassionate society, which both films are crying out for.

The long march continues.

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This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...