The following is an excerpt from an article on socialism by Albert Einstein. It succinctly and simply outlines the meaning of and moral necessity of socialism. It provides a clear framework for discussion of the sociopolitical, geopolitical, existential, ecological and moral isuses that confront us. Einstein at least implies that a global and planned economy and centralised world government are necessities but he reminds us that this is not sufficient without the guarantee of individual rights. Please share your thoughts on this.
Why Socialism by Albert Einstein – May 1949Excerpt:
This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career. I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion.
A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?
It’s difficult to know where to start because we don’t want to start from a place of confusion. But admitting that, accepting that, not apologising for it, or using it as an excuse, that is the only place from which to start and that in itself is the best response to the confusion.
I haven’t written on my blogs for almost a month but I have been writing, incessantly, on social media. Posts on Facebook or Twitter, the platforms I use most are very transient. Even if they on occasion express something profound, they are still expressions in and of the moment, immediate and in the context of a conversation, a mood or a particular event.
Sometimes I am pleased with what I have posted. Sometimes I wish I had not posted it. Others who see the posts will, similarly, like them or wish I had not posted them. But whether well constructed like a complex pebble sculpture or put together like a few stones laid together on the beach, they should be washed away naturally by the tides of time and attention. If there is an expression that I want to preserve, maybe to extend and expand on later, then like photographs of the pebbles, I should commit that expression on a blog. But then it will be something else because the context will be different apart from the conversation and the original moment and perhaps part of another conversation and moment.
To post a thing and then walk away from it. Time moves on and we move on. That’s how it should be.
My analogy is not perfect however and I have learned perhaps to my cost (though the cost may have been worth paying) that even if I keep nothing of my past expressions others may unearth them to use out of context and with malice.
I will keep arranging pebbles on the beach and urging others to do the same. This is freedom. Expressing a thing in the moment and then moving on, beyond the expression, beyond our own judgement, beyond the judgement of others.
Tolle gives good advice about being present and his authentic presence is evident in the way that he speaks. I was almost as impressed with Russell Brand for being so quiet and so honest about himself. I think Brand was surprised himself.
Some key points:
What we do is an expression of our level of consciousness.
If we fight something we give it more energy. Be aware. Be an observing presence. Feel desire arising but don’t be that desire.
The Hive Mind moves into our minds. We know we are in the collective egoistic Hive Mind when we are participating in condemning others.
We need to operate on the level of Being not just Doing.
I sketched as I was listening and making notes:
Tolle’s understanding/teaching is similar to Krishnamurti’s because they are both based on appreciation of being in the present moment and ‘choiceless observation’.
I do not doubt the reality of the Covid-19 virus and I do not doubt the severity of the disease in many patients. What I question is some of the information that we have been given about the disease and the way that the virus is being handled. I suggest that there might be large amounts of misinformation being disseminated by govenrment and that there is considerable mishandling of the crisis by government.
For example it has not been proven that asymptomatic transmission is real. As this is the basis of masks and lockdowns, transmissibility is of the first importance. Here is Dr Maria Van Kerkhove of the WHO in June, few months ago:
..there was the predictably pro-lockdown mainstream media which decried her [Van Kerkhove’s] heresy. The cry was so loud that the WHO immediately started walking back the claim, mostly with hints and suggestions that didn’t say untrue things but did not repudiate the initial claim either: “There is much to be answered on this. There is much that is unknown. It’s clear that both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals are part of the transmission cycle. The question is what is the relative contribution of each group to the overall number of cases.”
Dr Van Kerkhove apparently does not continue to pursue the line that Covid-19 is not or is only rarely transmitted by the asymptomatic. In the next video I see of her, she is talking about vaccinating Santa Claus.
Then there is this video where she talks about mutations in viruses generally, mutations in the Covid-19 virus generally and then specifically about the new variant in the UK. She says that this new variant does not behave any differently from the the older virus.
This is apparently the line that the UK government was taking until the last few days. On 15th December Van Kerkove is reported as saying
“So far we don’t have any evidence that this variant behaves differently. But we will continue to evaluate and inform you of any changes.”
Dr Gillian Richardson, the co-chair of the Covid-19 vaccine programme board in Wales, said
“At the moment, this variation is not thought to affect the behaviour of the virus at all and it is not thought to affect the effectiveness of the vaccine. Obviously, we will be looking very closely at that to make absolutely sure.”
Within ten days the situation has changed. We are told that the new variant makes the coronavirus more contagious and the UK government puts London and a large part of South East England under strict ‘Tier 4″ lockdown.
In the fourth video I see of Van Kerkhove she is talking about social distancing, masking and vaccines. What is missing is any reference to the lack of evidence regarding asymptomatic transmission or discussion about the mechanism of transmission.
The UK is country with the seventh worst figures in deaths per million attributed to Covid-19. As of 18th December the number is 66,541 which is 978 per million of the country’s population. The UK has done slightly worse than the US, which has reported 320,182 Covid-19 deaths or 965 deaths per million. This is particularly remarkable as all Covid-19 deaths in the US are routinely blamed on Donald Trump.
But it is not the comparison with the US or France, Italy or Belgium, all in the top 10 of countries worse afflicted with the virus, that is most interesting it is the comparison with countries like Ethiopia which, with a population of over 116 million has reported a total of only 1,843 Covid-19 deaths, 16 per million of population. It would not be unfair to say that Ethiopia seems not to have experienced a ‘pandemic’ at all.
If Ethiopia were a solitary outlier it would make sense to look at Ethiopia and ask what factors caused it to be so little affected by Covid-19. But Ethiopia is of course not the only country to be much less affected than the UK. There is a huge difference between Finland’s reported 88 deaths per million and the UK’s 978 deaths per million.
A lot of energy and of course money has gone into creating vaccines to protect people against the virus but very little effort seems to have been put into examining factors that might account to huge disparities between nations in the impacts on them of the coronavirus.
Why does China with a population of over 1 billion people, and where the Covid-19 infection reportedly originated, record only 4364 deaths or 3 per million of population? Why does Congo, one of the poorest nations on the planet report only 100 deaths, 18 per million?
What about Madagascar, Malawi and Malaysia with 9, 10 and 13 deaths per million?
The success of New Zealand in keeping numbers very low has been celebrated. Less so (well not at all) the successes of Nicaragua, Niger and Nigeria. Why? Is it supposed that nothing can be learned from these countries?
Here are a few more countries. The figures show that Tanzania and Thailand, with populations numerically similiar to the UK’s, have hardly been touched by the pandemic.
A world map showing the occurence of Covid-19 cases lines up somewhat with the map of temperature zones.
Countries in the tropical zones have much fewer recorded cases of Covid-19 in some cases the figures can be called negligible.
However Brazil with high Covid mortality in a tropical zone and China with low Covid mortality in a temperate zone are very big exceptions to this observation.
What can we make of these observations? I’m not qualified to make much of them but I think it would be useful for people who are qualified to look at the differences between countries. I think that if it is the case that tropical zone countries are vastly less vulnerable to Covid-19 infection and mortality they should not model their responses to Covid-19 on the responses of temperate zone countries; they do not need to trash their economies and should perhaps seek to benefit economically from their lesser vulnerability. Also, if there are factors apart from climate that contribute to the lesser vulnerability of Madagascar, Malawi and Malaysia then though factorts should surely be identified in only to increase our understanding of the virus and to better inform our dialogue.
I have completed the ‘first chapter’ of an Interactive Fiction (IF) story called ‘Prisonship‘. I wrote it using Twine 1.3.4. It is in the style of a webcomic using Comic Life software from Plasq. Most images were taken from Pixabay and manipulated and captioned in Comic Life. I’m enchanted by the simplicity of Twine 1.3.2 and the ease with which the story can be viewed on both PC and smartphone screens. I’d previously written a previous short IF story called Lucid Dreaming using Squiffy , another interesting tool.
I’m thinking seriously about using the webcomic, interactive fiction format as a way of expressing what I want to express. Learning to draw is probably a better way to go for me than learning new digital design skills. I’ll probably be posting some of my efforts over the next few week and months ..
I don’t do political theory a lot and I don’t like doctrine at all but there are certain important concepts, ideas and models for moving forward together that seem to me to be simple, obvious and necessary. These ideas are not ‘mine’ but they resonate with my way of thinking. I understand the following articulations so I’m sharing them I may have changed the wording slightly in some cases but I’ve noted all the sources:
Dialogue To enter into dialogue presupposes equality amongst participants. Each must trust the others; there must be mutual respect and love (care and commitment). Each one must question what he or she knows and realize that through dialogue existing thoughts will change and new knowledge will be created.
Praxis (Action/Reflection) It is not enough for people to come together in dialogue in order to gain knowledge of their social reality. They must act together upon their environment in order critically to reflect upon their reality and so transform it through further action and critical reflection.
Conscientization The process of developing a critical awareness of one’s social reality through reflection and action. Action is fundamental because it is the process of changing the reality.
Conversational Leadership Conversational Leadership is about appreciating the extraordinary but underutilized power of conversation, recognizing that we can all practice leadership and adopt a conversational approach to the way in which we live and work together in an increasingly complex world.
Distributed Leadership The rise of the distributed leadership movement comes in response to the problems that arise when we rely on ‘Hero Leaders’. Many community institutions/initiatives have leaders who do everything, so much so that when they leave, vast amounts of knowledge and skill upon which the initiative departs with them. The void that they leave behind is difficult to fill and the community struggles to maintain any legacy from the departed Hero Leader and the period of transition with new leadership can be very turbulent indeed. Distributed leadership, therefore, was born out of the idea that if leadership of an institution/initiative and its activities are distributed across many leaders, both formal and informal, it can continue to grow and flourish as leaders come and go. The focus is shifted from organisational structures and hierarchies being key to the initiative’s long-term success more towards an investment in community capital that is able to successfully renew itself, as skills and knowledge are retained in the community.
Horizontalism Over the past ten years, the world has been witnessing an upsurge in prefigurative revolutionary movements; movements, that create the future in the present. These new movements are not creating party platforms or programs. They do not look to one leader, but make space for all to be leaders. They place more importance on asking the right questions than on providing the correct answers . They do not adhere to dogma and hierarchy, instead they build direct democracy and consensus. They are movements based in trust and love.
Anarcho-syndicalism Anarchism is a revolutionary political tradition that declares “freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice and socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality.” Syndicalism is the workers’ movement. Deriving from the French word for trade unionism (syndicalisme), it seeks to unite workers to fight for their interests at work. Anarcho-syndicalism is anarchism applied to the workers’ movement. From small educational groups to mass revolutionary unions, libertarian organisation grows and is controlled from the bottom up. The role of anarcho-syndicalist networks is to advocate and organise mass meetings of all workers or community members involved in each struggle so that the workers or community members involved retain control. Within these mass meetings anarcho-syndicalists argue for the principles of solidarity, direct action and self-organisation. In this way anarcho-syndicalism is completely different to trade unionism, which seeks to represent our economic interests, and the so-called ‘workers parties’ which seek to represent our political interests. Instead, anarcho-syndicalism unites the political and the economic and opposes representation in favour of self-organisation.
Learning and Making Culture Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things.These things are like little pieces of us and seem to embody portions of our souls. To feel whole as a community there must be a sense of us being makers and learners, of being productive as collectives and as members of collectives. Making things in the community roots learning in the community and creates value for the community. It can include everyone from the youngest to the eldest.
“Gavin Sealey had been suspended from membership of the Labour Party at that time and he was finally expelled in February 2020, for antisemitism. He was a public supporter of the well known antisemite Gilad Atzmon.”
I note that there is no instantiation to support the charge of antisemitism against me unless it is being ‘a public supporter of well known antisemite Gilad Atzmon’. I shared a number of posts by Atzmon over a period of five years but I do not know that this constitutes being ‘a public supporter’ of Atzmon.
I am asked if there are further matters I wish to raise in my defence. I do not perceive anything I have said as a defence. The only further matter I wish to raise concerns the motivation for this charge or inquiry or whatever it is. What motivated the Labour Party to trawl through five years of my Facebook posts. These are presented as ‘evidence’ but evidence of what? Evidence in support of what charge? Think about it; evidence is usually sought in support of some allegation or conjecture. What is the allegation that preceeded the search for ‘evidence’ in this case?
I can only speculate as to whether my coming to the attention of Newham Councillor Joshua Garfield had anything to do with me being investigated by the Party.
Returning to the Hirsh Report, it says that the particular post from ‘Exposing Zionism’ “named Lisa Nandy as ‘one of the five Zionist stooges left in the Labour leadership contest’. It says that ‘all five have grovelled before the Board of Deputies in order to get endorsement from the Israeli lobby group’. The report says that this image is antisemitic.
I cannot remember the post or the context in which I presented it but it is very likely the context in which I commented, on my website, on the Labour Leadership candidates acceptance of the ‘Ten Pledges’. This was my view then and remains my view now: https://52.netstorms.org/a-crisis-of-antirationalism/
I am a very polite person and, although I do not hide my views, I do not use terms such as ‘grovelling’ to describe other people’s behaviour. I do not necessarily dismiss an article for its use of such imagery in relation to public figures but I do not approve it.
According to the report:
“Gavin Sealey’s introduction and defence of this piece is antisemitic because, as Joshua Garfield puts it in his complaint, it will have ‘radicalised average Labour members to distrust Jewish people’s concerns and think ill of Jewish organisations’. Sealey portrays the Board of Deputies … as inherently Conservative and anti-Labour. In this way it inaccurately gives the impression that Jews, including Labour Jews, are on the whole are Conservative and antiLabour. This portrayal of mainstream Jews as hostile to the Labour Party and its values fosters an antisemitic image of Jews in the minds of Labour People.”
I find the image of myself ‘radicalising average Labour members’ particularly ludicrous. A characterisation of the political stance of a particular Jewish institution does not imply an intention to characterise Jewish people in general as having that same stance. To imply that would be stupid and to infer it is stupid. I do not believe that ‘average Labour members’ are stupid but the only inference I can take from Garfield’s comment is that he does.
I do not want to go back to a normal where my worse days are better than the best days of many children across the world.
I do not want to go back to a world where the goods I take for granted are in fact granted by the exploitation and dispossession of billions.
Our freedoms can be taken from us, our wealth can be misappropriated and our communities can be broken so easily because we permitted freedom and wealth to be taken from others and felt no sense of community with them.
Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.
Our freedoms of speech have been restricted, our freedoms of thought have been limited and manipulated, and our collective wealth has been misappropriated long before the current dispensation.
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery None but ourselves can free our mind”