October 2020

My Voice Shakes

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again … and again.

The position that the Labour Left finds itself in today is a logical consequence of all the things the Labour leadership and membership have accepted in the past. The removal of Rebecca Long-Bailey from her front bench position and the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn are the logical consequences of premises and principles adopted by the leadership of the Labour Party and acquiesced to by its membership:

“The only acceptable response to any accusation of racist prejudice is self-scrutiny, self-criticism and self-improvement.”

~ Rebecca Long Bailey 12 Jan 2020

Do people really not appreciate what this statement implies? How dangerous it is, and how humiliating, because it deprives the potentially innocent the right to speak in their own defence? Do people not realise that its effect is potentially racist because those who are most subject to having their voices silenced, to being accused of speaking out of turn and to be presumed to have nothing of value to say are the black and the poor? It is most often power that accuses and the powerless that stand accused.

“Any MPs, Peers, councillors, members or CLPs who support,campaign or provide a platform for people who have been suspended or expelled in the wake of antisemitic incidents should themselves be suspended from membership.”

~ The Ten Pledges

This is the fifth article of the Ten Pledges made by the leadership of the Labour Party in January of this year. What it means is so clear and its wrongness so clear that I feel foolish attempting to make it more clear, but a logical consequence of the acceptance of this principle is that any member now supporting Jeremy Corbyn should now be suspended themselves.

Premises and principles have corollories and that if you accept the premises you implicitly accept its corollories?

“When an expert looks into a problem you have – whether it’s a doctor, a mechanic, or a plumber – you take their advice and follow it without thinking twice.

So when the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), and imminently the Equalities and Human Rights Commission give the Labour Party specific recommendations about how we need to root out the poison of antisemitism from our movement, our starting point must not be to dispute their proposals but ensure every single one is implemented unless we can rationally explain why not.”

~ Emily Thornberry 8 Jan 2020

“Without thinking twice” says Thorberry. Think about that if you will. How can you rationally explain why anything might be wrong unless you accept the possibility that it might be wrong, unless you are prepared to think again and to question both yourself and those who are ‘advising’ you.

“Without thinking” the Labour Party has abandoned the obligation to think, it has become explicitly hostile to reasoned discourse and to human decency. Starmer’s endorsement of the of the Overseas Operations Bill and of the Covert Intelligence Sources Bill is an implicit endorsment of torture and murder that has been acquiesced to by the great majority of Labour MPs.

The endorsement of savagery is the ultimate consequence of the abandonment of reason. I note with respect that a small number of Labour MPs including Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott have oppossed these bills:

See: https://labourlist.org/…/commons-abstentions-are…/

It is not the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn, but the suspension or expulsion, of decency, compassion and reason from the Labour Party and from our public consciousness that most concerns me most and that should concern all of us.

The Third Industrial Revolution

I saw this today and am mightily impressed. I’d not heard of Jeremy Rifkin before but what he says is worth listening to closely.

What is the difference between the ‘Third Industrial Revolution’ that Jeremy Rifkin is talking about here and the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ ? The following definitions are both from Wikipedia:

“The Digital Revolution (also known as the Third Industrial Revolution) is the shift from mechanical and analogue electronic technology to digital electronics which began in the latter half of the 20th century, with the adoption and proliferation of digital computers and digital record-keeping, that continues to the present day.”

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution (or Industry 4.0) is the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology. Large-scale machine-to-machine communication (M2M) and the internet of things (IoT) are integrated for increased automation, improved communication and self-monitoring, and production of smart machines that can analyze and diagnose issues without the need for human intervention.”

For Rifkin the Third Industrial Revolution is founded on ‘Three Internets’:

A Communication Internet
A Digitalised Renewable Energy Internet
An Automated GPS Transport Internet

What most interests me in Rifkin’s presentation is his contention that these three Internets are by design distributed and decentralised rather than centralised. Although I’m far from being familiar with these concepts it seem to me that the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, by contrast, points to greater centralisation through Artificial Intelligence. The phrase was coined by Klaus Schwab, head of the World Economic Forum in a book of the same name. His vision is one of close integration between humanity and AI systems even at a biological level.

Both Schwab and Rifkin offer visions that respond to impending crises that are very real.

Rifkin begins his lecture by noting the following epoch defining facts:

  1. Half of humanity is now better off than their ancestors before the industrial revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries
  2. …but 40% of the human race making $2 a day or less and are arguably worse off than their ancestors before the industrial revolutions.
  3. The very wealthy .. the 62 wealthiest humans own more accumulated wealth than that of the poorest 50% of the population.
  4. Climate change .. is never properly explained .. climate change changes the water cycles of the planet. Increasing temperatures mean more concentrated precipitation leading to unstable weather – storms, floods.
  5. We are in the 6th Extinction event. This is not a model. Over the next 7 decades we could lose half of the species now in existence.
  6. We need a new economic model. For both developing and industrialised nations.

The rest of the lecture is about how the distributive aspects of the Three Internets could provide the new economic model.

Resolutions …

Resolutions, revolutions and religions depend not only on a clear vision of a perfectionable future but on the releasing of the past. As is often the case the Christ put it very well when he warned against putting new wine in old wineskins. But we hesitate to make a clean break with the past and in hesitating the future and the present are lost.

Autumn is a time for letting go .. I realise that there is much that I need to release, to clear out of my life, in order to move on.

Socialism is a political theory and a set of principles that people calling themselves socialists argue about. These principles derive from correct ethical premises concerning the equal worth of individuals and our essential unity of being. A fuller understanding of and commitment to the premises would facilitate the implementation of socialism’s mostly correct principles but most socialists regard the premises I mentioned as metaphysical and prefer talk about scientific materialism, about the rights of groups rather than individuals and seek to implement new pecking orders rather than work to eliminate hierarchical orders altogether.

It is not what we call ourselves that matters, it is what we do.

The Internet is both boon and bane. It is an externalisation of the collective conscious and unconscious of its users. As an information world it interacts with the power dynamics of the material world on which it is built but these dynamics are not necessarily the same.

Everyone does what they do. For better or worse writing on the Internet is what I do. I may put together a book at some point but wrting like this, conversationally, has value of a different sort. I like the transcience of it.

It matters what people think of what I write and if they think of it at all. I won’t pretend it doesn’t. The thing is not to fear what men say .. caring what men (and women) say is human.

To practice unconditional love with ourselves or anyone is to automatically practice it with everyone since being anyone in particular, including being ourselves, is merely a condition of being and unconditional love must love every state of being.

It is not a particular condition of Being that is to be loved it is the Beingness beneath the condition.

A Personal Tragedy

Every death is a loss for someone and the death of a young person is a particularly unbearable tragedy for parents who expect to age and pass before them and for siblings and peers who expect to grow and grow old with them. We have these expectations because dying young is an exception. Dying young as a result of Covid-19 is an exception too, and a rare one. The possibility should not be ignored but the risk must be assessed and our responses as individuals and as communities must be proportionate to the the size of the risk. We can and should discuss proportionality at some point but the point I want to make here is that pointing to and using a particular case to make a general case and a political point seems to me to be bad science and bad argument and maybe even bad taste.

Chad Dorrill apparently died as a result of the particular and rare circumstances with which the Covid-19 infection interacted. To use this to support not opening up educational facilities is, to put it mildly, intellectually and emotionally dishonest.

From the article:

“According to Tonia Maxcy, a family friend, doctors suspect that COVID-19 triggered an undetected case of Guillain-Barré syndrome in Dorrill. Guillain-Barré causes the body’s immune system to attack nerve cells. It was also linked to the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil in 2015, where it caused paralysis in those affected by the syndrome. As of June 29, according to the journal Neurological Sciences, there have been approximately 31 reported cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome caused by COVID-19 worldwide.”