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My name is Nick Grant and I have manic depression. I write every day about living with bipolar disorder. I've written and published more than 1.3 million words

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World Mental Health Day and World Homeless Day 2019

5 min read

This is a story about annual events...

Hampstead Heath

I sometimes forget that I have a 1.3 million word repository of 4 years of my life documented in exquisite detail. Given that I have chosen to manage my mental illness - bipolar disorder - without medication, it's extremely useful to have everything written down. Memories are easily corrupted. It's easy to romanticise the past. Past traumas can be forgotten. Pain fades from memory. By having everything stored digitally like this, it's easier for me to avoid getting stuck in a cycle of boom and bust; making the same mistakes again and again.

Mental illness combined with some dreadful circumstances which exacerbated the problem, like an abusive relationship followed by an inevitable divorce, plunged my life into utter chaos. I was homeless and slept rough. I was sectioned and kept in secure psychiatric institutions. I very nearly lost everything.

Today is both World Homeless Day and World Mental Health Day. The two things go hand-in-hand, but the choice of day was a coincidence, I expect, although ironically it's quite apt.

There is a powerful relationship between mental health and other problems, such as being able to work, having money problems, having relationship problems, homelessness, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, self harm, suicide and crime, amongst other things. To say that drug addiction causes mental health problems, for example, is a mistake of confusing correlation and causation. To say that mentally ill people are more likely to become homeless is a mistake of cause and effect. As you might imagine, not having a secure, dry, affordable, pleasant place to live is toxic to good mental health - how can anybody be expected to have any kind of sense of wellbeing when one of their most basic needs is unmet or under threat?

We might dismiss housing concerns, believing that local councils and "the government" ensures that nobody goes homeless, but it's lazy and ignorant to believe that housing is not the number one concern of people in crisis. The root of all problems is not mental health or drugs, or Brexit... it's housing.

The proportion of people's wages spent on rent or mortgage payments, has steadily risen, while wages have fallen in real terms. Vast numbers of people are on zero hours contracts or work in the 'gig economy'. Unemployment figures do not tell the real story: millions of people live under constant threat of eviction; homelessness.

Do I really have to spell this out?

Living with the constant threat of losing your home is incredibly stressful.

People are working all the hours they can to try to make ends meet, and they are still only one or two missed paycheques away from being chucked out onto the streets. One hiccup and they'll be homeless. Living with that kind of daily threat creates intolerable anxiety.

If you put somebody under an enormous amount of pressure and stress, for a very long period of time, it will negatively affect their mental health. It's inevitable that the lack of affordable housing in the areas where there are job vacancies, would create a mental health epidemic.

In London, where there are the most jobs, the housing is also the most expensive, over competitive and overcrowded. Yes, there are lots of jobs in London, and they're better paid than elsewhere in the UK, but the housing is terrible quality and massively overpriced, plus there are heaps of people competing for the few place to live, and the nice places to live are virtually unattainable except for the mega-rich.

Where I currently live, I pay a fraction of what I used to pay in London, and I have a lot more space, but when my contract ends I will struggle to find another one nearby - there simply aren't as many jobs in the area, hence why far fewer people want to live here and why the cost of living is lower.

This is capitalism in action. This is supply and demand. Capitalism is maximising how much money it can extract from our pockets, before we all go insane and/or kill ourselves. Capitalism is highly efficient at creating the maximum misery, in its pursuit of the maximum profit. Capitalism is not about freedom or choice. Capitalism is about the immoral destruction of human lives, in order to deliver relentless 'growth' at the expense of our quality of life.

I'm one of the lucky ones. I have emerged from that dreadful chaotic period of mental illness and homelessness, and I now enjoy a reasonable standard of living, but I am painfully aware of how insecure my existence is; how quickly I could be turfed out onto the streets again. I'm acutely aware that my mental health cannot be taken for granted, and the pressure to keep earning vast sums of money, month after month, to line the pockets of an idle capitalist, is incredibly toxic to my mental health.

 

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Brexit Psychosis

5 min read

This is a story about learned helplessness...

Polling station

Following the news is a misery-making endeavour. Following politics is a misery-making endeavour. While the world appears to offer the illusion of free will and the opportunity for us to influence outcomes, this is manifestly a lie; the idea that we have any control over our destiny is patently untrue.

Brexit is the ultimate misery. Exactly half the country want something which they are not being given, and the other half don't want something which is being threatened to be forced upon them. Three years ago we - the British citizens - were given a so-called 'choice'. One half of the country chose something impossible and the other half of the country chose to avoid something which is obviously terrible, and then nobody got what they wanted. Nobody will ever get what they want, because Brexit voters were promised impossible things, and those who voted to remain in the EU will never regain those lost, wasted, sorrowful years, even if Article 50 is revoked - the economic damage and the social damage is still done, the friendships lost and the divisions widened.

It doesn't surprise me to increasingly read about people whose mental health has deteriorated to the point of breakdown, due to Brexit. The headlines are always Brexit-related. The media narrative is unswervingly Brexit-related. The constant bombardment of the doomsday Brexit scenario and the home-grown terrorism and threats of violence by the far-right, intent on perpetrating atrocities against peaceful and valuable members of European society, is a toxic atmosphere which is hard for even the most psychologically secure and happy person, to be able to weather.

I suppose I consider myself a teeny bit of a Remain activist, having been on a couple of pro-EU marches and poured a mountain of energy into teasing out people's real reasons for voting to leave the EU, which invariably is a racist motivation. "Britain's full" and "Muslims don't integrate" are the dog-whistles for the far-right, which I hear all to often from people who I thought were more intelligent, kinder and generally not racists but unfortunately, there are tons of racists. There are lots of secret Tory voters, who are actually really horrible people, and it turns out that Britain is riddled with racists too.

Following the political developments and trolling a few racists has been somewhat of a hobby, but at other times it's hard, because I do genuinely wish to avoid the UK leaving the EU. An organisation I was working for last year was planning on closing their UK subsidiary if Brexit goes ahead. Every organisation I've worked for would be affected negatively by Brexit. Chaos and disruption isn't good for anybody, except for wealthy unscrupulous opportunistic scumbags, seeking to exploit vulnerable people.

So many people are working as hard as they possibly can, but their living standards are declining. So many people are doing everything humanly possible to make things better, but things are getting worse.

We are helpless.

The news backdrop of Brexit, climate change and imminent economic catastrophe, does not create a great environment for human happiness and contentment to thrive. Current circumstances are anathema to a sense of wellbeing. Depression and anxiety are the surefire consequences of the dismal outlook; the hopelessness of it all.

We are inherently programmed to move away from things which are uncomfortable and unpleasant, and to change and improve things. Yet, we have no opportunities anymore. Hard work will get you nowhere. There's nowhere to run; nowhere to hide.

Of course my outlook is coloured by depression. Of course I view things in a profoundly negative way, because of my state of mind. That doesn't mean I'm wrong though. Humans have a faulty positivity bias. I am able to perceive reality far more correctly than somebody with a neurotypical brain. I'm not smarter than everybody else, but I'm able to see through to the pure reality, with a cold, analytical and rational brain, due to faulty mental health.

Our asylums are full of people who think "the end of the world is nigh" but they're occasionally correct. The difference between the terminally insane and myself, is that I'm functional and they are not; I can justify and explain my train of thought and they can not; I can show my chain of deductive reasoning and they can not. Do I have a crystal ball? Do I claim to know the future? No. I'm just like an economist saying "in the long run we are all dead".

It's through our collective behaviour that problems develop. It's our group sentiment where the problem lies. I have a gut feel that a critical mass is close to being reached, in terms of the millions of people who are desperately unhappy and would be prepared to watch civilisation burn.

That way madness lies. Although I briefly entertained the idea of revolution, I'm now a bit more calm and moderate, and I don't think we should risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater. However, I suspect that the fuse has been lit for quite a long time now and there's no escaping the fireworks which are coming. Too many damn metaphors and idioms. These past years have been too damn hard on my mental health, and indeed vast numbers of others too.

 

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Sensitive

5 min read

This is a story about spectator sports...

HP

Politics and protesting is a kind of hobby for the middle classes. In the absence of a football team to support and matches to attend, the middle classes engage in similar tribal behaviour with their political party affiliations and their favourite political causes. Instead of an irrational hatred of a geographically proximate football club to one's own preferred football club, the middle classes hate the political party on the opposite wing from their own chosen party. The reds hate the blues and the blues hate the reds, whether it's football teams or political parties.

The issues of the day have rather vague and nebulous non-threats. Terrorism and immigration do not affect us day to day. Climate change does not affect us day to day. Brexit does not affect us day to day. Very few of us will be victims of terrorism, man-made climate change or economic catastrophe due to leaving the European Union. Why get so worked up about these things?

Given that most of us are idle in our bulls**t jobs which needn't exist, we have plenty of time to read, listen and watch the news. We have plenty of time to engage with social media. We have plenty of time to partake in manufactured outrage and to work ourselves up about things which have no bearing on our day to day existence.

My mental health is fragile.

The constant media bombardment with nonstop news coverage of the political drama is something that affects me more than it should. I think I'm somebody who feels quite a lot of empathy - a lefty libertard snowflake - and I am often taken in by my perceived onslaught on the vulnerable members of society. I'm one of those bleeding-heart tree huggers. I feel a great outpouring of sympathy for refugees and asylum seekers, homeless people, alcoholics, drug addicts, neglected and abused children, neglected and abused animals, and indeed our ecosystem. I struggle to go through life with a "take are country back" (sic.) attitude, and to ignore the climate emergency, the refugee crisis and the misery inflicted by economic disaster and austerity. I struggle to distance myself emotionally from current affairs.

I'm acutely aware of how little I am contributing towards worthy ideals. My bulls**t job requires me to drive a car and otherwise pollute the planet, as well as robbing my labour from any efforts to build a better world. It would, in fact, be better if I just stayed at home; far less polluting. If I didn't have to go to my bulls**t job then I would have all the time in the world to knit my own yoghurt and wipe my bum with a chinchilla, or whatever it is that tree-huggers are doing these days in order to save the planet.

It's highly toxic to my mental health to be forced to spectate. It's awful that I have so little opportunity to be a productive member of a new, better society, helping to build a better world. It's really crappy that the coercive demands of unrestrained free-market capitalism dictate that I have to choose between homeless destitution, or selling my soul and being part of a society which is destroying the planet, in pursuit of endless profit and growth, with no regard for sustainability.

I feel as though I'm an aerial, a satellite dish, receiving an incomprehensible and unprocessable torrent of information at all times. I feel tuned in to so many things, and those things all cause me pain.

I can't do anything about the pain.

I see something about climate change and I want to alter my lifestyle completely, to reduce my carbon footprint, but then I remember that I'm trapped by capitalism.

I see something about homelessness and I want to build social housing, but then I remember that I'm trapped by capitalism.

I see something about asylum seekers, refugees, drug addicts, alcoholics, mental health problems, suicide, youth unemployment, bullying, child abuse, animal cruelty... and I want to quit my bulls**t job and to build a better world, but I can't because I'm trapped by capitalism.

Instead, I'm trapped on the sidelines, watching with horror. Instead, I plough my intellectual energy into social media, writing and worrying; thinking about what the solutions are to the world's problems, and arguing with people who want to "take are country back" (sic.) and otherwise perpetuate the situation ad nauseam.

It makes me unwell, hoovering up all this information - all these world events - all day long, and thinking about the problems, and worrying, and using my rational brain to think about solutions... solutions that I'll never be allowed to put into practice, because I'm trapped making profit for billionaires; trapped by capitalism.

I hate being this sensitive. I hate being tuned into everything. I hate being powerless. I hate being sidelined. I hate spectating.

I'm a productive busy thoughtful person. I'm also very sensitive.

It's agony right now, being forced to spectate while everything burns.

 

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Getting Rich From Racists

5 min read

This is a story about happy hedging...

Pro-EU March

Frightening numbers of racists feel emboldened by Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Brexit and the alt-right, such that "immigration control" has turned into outright xenophobia, Islamophobia and generally abhorrent views that any non-white should be deported. It seems OK to say openly in an office to a work colleague that you're against the idea of an asylum seeker fleeing a warzone - fleeing persecution, torture, murder - shouldn't be allowed to receive the assistance which we should offer to the unfortunate victims of conflicts which the UK illegally started.

Frightening numbers of these racists are turning out en masse to vote for political parties which don't even have manifestos - their manifestos are unwritten, because if they wrote down the values that they really stood for then they would become proscribed organisations and their leaders and members would be prosecuted for hate crimes.

Tonight, there's a chance that The Brexit Party will gain its first member of parliament. We should remind ourselves that the leader of The Brexit Party stood proudly in front of a giant billboard showing Syrian refugees fleeing for their lives, proclaiming that the UK is at "breaking point" with the amount of asylum seekers in the country. This is pure unadulterated racism. The UK has processed fewer than 30,000 asylum applications, while Germany has processed far in excess of a million. How can the UK be at "breaking point" when Germany has taken at least 40 times as many asylum seekers? Why is immigration even considered to be an issue in the UK, when we're the 5th largest economy in the world? It's pure racism: hatred of people because of their race.

I placed a bet in 2016 that the UK would vote to leave the EU. I received extremely favourable odds.

I placed a bet in 2016 the USA would vote to elect Donald Trump as their president. I received very favourable odds.

I placed a bet in 2017 that the Conservatives would get the most votes in the UK general election. I received favourable odds.

I placed a bet on May 23rd that The Brexit Party would get the most votes. I received reasonable odds.

I placed a bet today that The Brexit Party's candidate for Peterborough would be elected as MP. I received acceptable odds.

Each of my bets has been a simple bet: that most people are racists and most people are dishonest. If you ask a person "are you a racist?" they will invariably answer "no", but if you ask a person if an asylum seeker deserves to find safe haven in the UK, or whether they should drown in the sea, most people will think that they should drown in the sea, or die in the warzone they're fleeing.

Each time I place a bet, I take the winnings from the previous bet and place those winnings onto the next bet. My winnings have substantially accumulated.

I'm getting rich from racists.

I shouldn't thank the racists for being racist, because I would much prefer it if my fellow citizens would stop being racists, but I have little ability to influence their abhorrent views. I have very little ability to stop racists from being racist, so I am vocally outspoken against racists like Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen and the whole shower of sh*ts who support them. I also bet as much money as I can afford to lose on the outcome that I least want to see: that the racists continue to thrive in this climate where the condemnation of racists and racism seems to have been replaced with outright unashamed undisguised blatant racism; where people are openly racist in every part of UK life.

I have to suffer a dreadful racist at work, but at least I'm being financially compensated.

Does it seem immoral to profit in this way?

Perhaps I will take my substantial winnings and use them to fund anything I can do to stop the rise of racism. I can spend the money going to anti-fascism protests, anti-Trump protests, and anything I can do to promote progressive, inclusive politics, which condemns racism and introduces laws to prosecute those people who would gladly see asylum seekers drown in the sea, rather than offer them safe haven. The UK is very much not at "breaking point" unless we are referring to the emboldenment of racists.

I will be bitterly disappointed to see The Brexit Party gain an MP in parliament, but I will also be significantly richer, which will not make me any less sad about the sorry state of the United Kingdom, and its vast hordes of horrible disgusting contemptible racists.

Perhaps you think I should be spending my money directly on supporting the political parties who oppose racism and have the resources to fight men like Nigel Farage and Donald Trump, but it seems like a rational economic decision to me, to enrich myself... hopefully to the point where I can afford to dedicate my time and effort to fighting against these horrible people and their horrible supporters.

Rejoice with me tomorrow, if The Brexit Party is defeated, even though I will have lost a very large sum of money. I don't care about the money. I just want the racists to stop being racist and f**k off.

 

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Cool Britannia

9 min read

This is a story about indoctrination...

Dunkirk IMAX ticket stub

I wrote a lengthy Facebook post on Sunday morning, condemning jingoistic rhetoric, especially in light of the emboldenment of closet racists by Brexit & Donald Trump. As our fathers and grandfathers who served in the armed forces during World War II die, I am angry that we seem to be left with a bunch of deluded nationalist wankers who think that warfare is a glorious thing. There are no winners in war - only one group getting to impose terms on another.

As children disengage from education and unjustly inherit a hopeless future of minimum wage zero-hours contract McJobs, we have witnessed the rise & rise of the Call of Duty series of computer games. The aggregate profits from Call of Duty, vastly eclipse all the money taken at the cinema box office & DVD sales, for war movies.

If you learn about warfare from computer games, not from history lessons, then you gain the false impression that wars are won by individual soldiers' heroic actions. The story told by computer games is that war is exciting entertainment and one man can be victorious against insurmountable numbers of enemy forces. When playing a computer game, you don't have the visceral fear that you are going to be wounded or killed. There's no risk to your life or health and you don't hear the screams of people, as they bleed to death in agony. When you kill a 'virtual' soldier you know they're not real - they're not human like you are. All humans have a family; you and the 'enemy' bleed red; everybody is equally shit scared of death and injury.

When we learn about history at school in the UK, it's all about World War I and World War II. We're taught about the USA sending cannon fodder for the D-Day beach landings. The Brits talk about 'winning the war'. The Yanks talk about 'helping the Brits win the war'. Due to Cold War propaganda, it's now no longer acknowledged that it was the Russians who conquered Berlin and cornered Hitler in his bunker, where he committed suicide. The fact is that Nazi Germany fought on too many fronts and over-stretched itself.

It's hard to conceptualise a war of attrition - trench warfare - like World War I, when ground troops would be sent 'over the top' only to be shot to pieces by machine guns. Through the genocide of the Native Americans and happy geographic accident, the USA has been able to pour trillions of dollars into the development of weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear bombs were dropped by the USA, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese civilians - men, women & children. The USA has a romanticised a kind of warfare that's cowardly, clean and clinical - dropping bombs on a defenceless 'enemy' thousands of feet below.

Every decisive weapon that has ever been developed in history - from the pointy stick to the suicide bomber - has conferred not only a military advantage but also a psychological one. If you've ever been prodded with a pointy stick, it's not very nice and it makes you wish you had a pointy stick, with which to at least defend yourself, if not to get revenge on the person who prodded you. If you have ever prodded an unarmed person with a pointy stick, then you are joining the ranks of every man who ever carried a spear, slingshot, bow & arrow, dagger, sword, musket, rifle, pistol, rocket launcher or machine gun. Weapons turn an ordinary animal that can only fight with teeth & claws, into an increasingly powerful combination of man & machine, capable of mass murder. The arms race is a natural reaction to armed oppression.

I like to think of myself as a cosmopolitan Citizen of the World, as opposed to a nationalist. Racists with the St. George's flag draped around their shoulders make me want to vomit. However, the educated middle-classes who work well-paid professional jobs, have many things of value - houses, cars, cash in the bank, stocks & shares, holiday homes and a bunch of other stuff too - but English white trash have nothing: no hope of a better life, and their life is dog shit anyway. The most valuable thing that an English 'chav/pleb/prole' has is their British citizenship, which entitles them to welfare benefits, free healthcare and social housing. I can somewhat understand why the Brexit brigade wouldn't want to share the only thing they've got in their life that's got any value: their UK government handouts.

I watched the Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk yesterday. I saw it at an IMAX cinema, shot on 70mm film (well, the digital equivalent anyway) which made it an immersive experience. I didn't expect it to affect me emotionally. I honestly could not have given a fuck whether Private Ryan was Saved or not.

I've been a keen sailor/yachtsman, since childhood. There's something inescapably British about living on a small island. I've spent lots of time at sea, and I have no illusions about what a formidable impasse any stretch of open seawater presents, even in the absence of man-eating sharks. The English Channel - where I've sailed and kitesurfed more than anywhere in the world - is one of the windiest places on Earth and has some of the biggest tides, which create dangerous fast-flowing currents that exceed the maximum speed of many boats.

In the film Dunkirk, when the flotilla of British fishermen and amateur pleasure boaters, appeared on the horizon - to evacuate the beach packed with 400,000 troops, surrounded on all sides by advancing Nazi troops - I was crying like a baby. This is a true story. 326,000 troops were evacuated by a hastily assembled hotchpotch of any vessel that was capable of making the channel crossing and getting close enough to the beach for soldiers to clamber aboard these motorboats, fishing trawlers, sailing yachts and every other kind of boat you could imagine.

Land of Hope and Glory or God Save the King did not play as the soundtrack, nor did Rule Britannia or any other overtly patriotic clichéd music. Dunkirk wasn't plastered with Union Jacks or other national symbols. However, when the film is about to end, the soundtrack finishes with a subtle reboot of Edward Elgar's Variation IX "Nimrod" which is played grave. The orchestral piece is played so slowly, that few would be able to immediately identify the chords, name the work and its original composer.

I don't wear a poppy on Remembrance Sunday and I don't watch any of the television coverage, let alone attend the ceremony.

The British Legion has metamorphosed into something that's got an unpleasant association with racists, and is on the same spectrum as the British National Party (BNP), the English Defence League (EDL) and Britain First. I have a knee-jerk reaction that causes me to reject the flag-waving nationalism that inversely correlates with the economic prosperity of our once-great nation and empire. Nationalism breeds bigotry and xenophobia, which leads to hate crimes and racially motivated atrocities.

Of course, to feel guilty about slavery, the conquest of nations, genocidal massacres, imperial aggression and oppression of whole nations - hundreds of millions of people - is not something I can take any rational personal responsibility for. I wasn't alive when the British gunned down over 1,000 unarmed Sikh men, women & children, who were peacefully gathered in Jallianwalla Bagh public gardens. I protested against the invasion of Iraq. I've protested against every war that Britain has fought, since reaching voting age - when in theory, all wars became fought in my name, as a member of the UK electorate. In a democracy, the blood of the innocent is spilled on every citizen's hands.

However, something about my upbringing in Britain has clearly indoctrinated me, as I was so deeply emotionally moved by Dunkirk. Perhaps living by the sea and being a keen dinghy sailor, yachtsman and kitesurfer, has given me an appreciation for the treachery of the oceans and the difficulty of evacuating 326,000 soldiers, trapped on a beach, to a place of safety. I can directly relate to feelings of every yacht skipper towards the safety of their crew and the duty of care that is morally owed to anybody who is in need of assistance - the sea is a cruel and deadly place, and to return crew, passengers and shipwreck victims to safe dry land is a responsibility felt amongst all captains and skippers.

Watching a very British war movie, doesn't make me want to build a wall and turn the United Kingdom into a fortress; I don't want to deport every Muslim and Eastern European; I don't want to racially abuse people who weren't born in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland; I don't want to EVER say that "national security" is a justification for the infringement of the sovereign rights of another nation state, through war, invasion, dropping bombs, drone strikes and UN economic sanctions that cause disproportionate suffering to innocent civilians. I didn't rush out of the cinema, and immediately want to punch the first foreign-looking person that I saw.

I'm obviously conflicted. It was a wake-up call, that I've been so subtly indoctrinated, that I'm not even aware of my own Britishness. I hope that doesn't mean that I'm more of a closet racist than I care to admit to myself or others. Am I really just as bad as Trump supporters and neo-Nazis, beneath my cultured & educated, compassionate liberal metropolitan tolerant & inclusive veneer?

It's a dichotomy, but I feel like I can watch a historically accurate dramatisation of true events, and be emotionally moved, but yet also stay true to my values: condemnation of nationalism and Donald Trump's undiplomatic rhetoric; and peacefully protesting against war and opposing racism, wherever I see it.

 

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Labour's Catch 22

8 min read

This is a story about not pleasing all the people all the time...

Party Rosette

The gutter press and Tory rags have done a staggeringly good job of convincing ordinary people that their security is under threat from the invisible spectre of international terrorism. Despite the complete lack of evidence of any communication with ISIS - commanding and controlling "sleeper cells" and suchlike - the newspapers have managed to convince a worrying number of people that there's an Islamic plot to kill and maim the people of the UK, even somehow dovetailing with immigration, asylum and - by loose association - our membership of the European Union.

Our very worst off members of society live in the most fear. They fear the loss of their low-skilled jobs to migrant workers who are prepared to accept terrible working conditions. They also fear for their security, having been turned into Islamophobes by an unrelenting media narrative about terrorism, radicalisation and Muslim extremism. A disappointing number of our fellow Brits would vote in favour of policies that deported Muslims, closed our borders to immigration and asylum and expanded our police state; even arming every police officer with a gun. These working class people should be staunch Labour voters, but the 'security' (jobs and terrorism) issue swung them into the Conservatives' open arms.

Meanwhile, the surprise success of Jeremy Corbyn - to political pundits, journalists and even his own party members - is easily attributable to the number of liberal lefties who were politically 'homeless' until Corbyn re-ignited those forgotten dreams of a socialist utopia. Many who voted Labour might not have been pro-Corbyn, but what educated humanist could ignore the simplistically appealing ideology of taking from the rich to give to the poor? At last, a left wing party to vote for again! Many who had been politically dormant were re-activated by the chance to make a vote to oppose the right-wing, and their cruel cuts and austerity.

To some, it seems obvious that if Labour were to adopt a policy of blocking and derailing Brexit, they would surely have voters turning to them in their droves. Sadly, this is where Labour is caught in a terrible paradox.

By opposing Brexit, Labour would seem soft on immigration, and therefore soft on national security, which are the paramount issues in the minds of the working class, who are Labour's core voting bloc. Conversely, the Islington champagne-socialist who reads the Observer or the Guardian is appalled that Labour offer no strong opposition to leaving the EU. Even to the most rabid Corbyn supporter, they are somewhat baffled as to why he's sitting on the fence when it comes to Brexit. The reason is simple: Brexit is bound up with fears of international terrorism as well as job insecurity. To oppose Brexit would be spectacularly unpopular with the working class. To oppose Brexit would make the Labour party into a party for the wealthy educated London leftie liberals, who are a substantial proportion of the much-resented gentrifiers - seen as no different from any of the other metropolitan elites, who are out of touch with the reality of life's daily struggles in an austere Britain.

After years of politics where people and politicians believed in nothing; where policies were chosen based on focus groups and surveys; where political ideologies had been abandoned... Jeremy Corbyn represents the antidote to politics dominated by unprincipled men and women who only want to wield power. Every policy; every position on the Corbynite agenda, is driven by his conscience and his desire to do the best for ordinary people. This is a radical sea-change, from the rush to the centre and the boom of the populists. We had the era where Tory and New Labour were indistinguishable. We are in an era where a populist party can capitalise upon the pain and fears of a nation reeling from an invisible recession and security threats that have been exaggerated beyond all reasonable proportions. Corbyn represents a return to an ideological politics and strong opinions on what's best for the ordinary people of Britain, instead of the weak insipid crap shaped by polls and focus groups, which pointed to vote-winning policies.

Now that Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, has proven itself to be a credible opposition and stands every chance of being in government, the next move is extremely unpalatable. As a party that ideologically stands for the working class, Labour must address that group's primary concerns, even if they're unfounded. It would be impossible to undo the damage of the Brexit campaign, UKIP, BNP, EDL and a nonstop media narrative that tells us that Islamic fundamentalist terror threatens to kill or maim us and our families, anytime, anywhere. The ongoing invisible recession caused by the financial crisis of 2007/8 and Tory cuts - austerity - has been blamed on econonic migrants, but the broad brush has tarred all immigrants, including those seeking asylum. As a principled man Corbyn has been able to do little more than sit on the fence.

Tax avoidance by the rich and large corporations costs the UK vast sums of money, wheras economic migrants actually bring a net benefit to the economy. Suicides caused by job losses and welfare cuts far outnumber deaths caused by terrorism.

It is as if, having been stressed and depressed for a long time, we discovered that we could function perfectly well with just two fingers and a thumb, and so we have decided to cut off four of our digits in the mistaken belief that it will solve our malaise.

To try to reason with those who are hell-bent on Brexit, would only be to further antagonise and patronise them; similarly with those who believe we might need to nuke Iran or North Korea before they nuke us. Those who have decided that all Muslims are potential terrorists are not open to persuasion that their beliefs are complete bullshit. Unfortunately, many traditional Labour voters hold these abhorrant views, and have a warped set of priorities, when it comes to politics, citing immigration - and national security, implicitly - as their number one issue.

The Tory party ties itself in knots, being led by a woman whose opinions can do a U-turn in the blink of an eye; a woman who believes in nothing; a woman who is the toothless, powerless figurehead of a party hell bent on creating a huge insecure labour pool, to be exploited by ruthless capitalists for obscene profits.

The best we can hope for is an awakening of class consciousness: where people realise that the Tory government does not seek to protect its people, but seeks to exploit them; where people realise that the Labour party of today bears no resemblence to New Labour or the Labour party of the 1970s; where people wake up to the injustice of the fact that the burden of Tory cuts and austerity has fallen disproportionately on the least wealthy.

Labour and Corbyn are trapped between a rock and a hard place, and can only patiently continue to stand by their manifesto and the underlying ideology - that the richest and the largest corporations should pay their fair share in society - until the electorate is finally sick and tired of Tory lies and hypocrisy.

As a champagne-sipping North London socialist, I obviously want to scream with frustration at the working class man or woman who votes against their self-interest. They've been turned into Islamophobes who blame immigration for their daily struggles in life, rather than remembering that it was the bank bailouts that started this whole mess, and the Tories who made the ordinary people pay for it. However, all my efforts have done is to label me as part of the London elite, living in a bubble... despised by the working class.

At the moment, politics depresses me, but the ever-present chance of a vote of no confidence in the government and another general election this year, would re-invigorate my interest and my enthusiasm to spread the 'gospel' of comrade Corbyn and a better life for everyone, under a left-wing socialist Labour government.

Politics is such a turn-off for most people, but I think that the referendum on our EU membership, the shock result of Donald Trump's victory and the credibility of a Corbyn-led Labour party, has engaged people who were previously disinterested and/or disillusioned.

Perhaps I'd better get ready to announce my Loony candidacy, should another election be suddenly thrust upon us.

 

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Spectator or Participant?

9 min read

This is a story about being a groupie...

Windfest 2007 Podium

On the steps of the podium stand the winners of the 2007 Poole Animal Windfest. There is a girl and a boy for 3rd and 2nd place. If you look closely, where is the boy who won 1st place?

In 2007 I was involved in building part of the software system that processed over a quadrillion dollars worth of toxic bullshit for JPMorgan, in a single year. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad job and they didn't treat me badly. In fact they kept a private driver waiting down by the seashore; engine running; waiting for the kitesurfing competition to finish. Then I jumped in the Mercedes with smoked glass windows and we sped off to Heathrow for me to catch a flight. I didn't even have time to wash the salt off my skin or sand out of my hair... or collect my prize for winning the competition.

There used to be a time when JPMorgan's main office in Bournemouth had squash courts and a gym onsite. There was a bar. There were enough car parking spaces for everybody, so everybody drove to work. Then, they grew; and they grew; and they grew. Investment banks were - and still are - ludicrously profitable. The IT budget that paid for my little team of 30-odd people was circa $10m per annum. You're never quite sure what the real numbers are though, when you work for an organisation with 130,000 direct employees.

Slowly, prefabricated office buildings sprang up on parts of the car park. The bar, gym and squash courts were turned into office space. That was OK. We still had several tennis courts and a sports centre nearby with badminton courts and 5-a-side football pitches. You could park nearby in an overflow car park. It was still a great place to work, and nobody had a fucking clue what they were doing or what impact it would have on the world, unless they really stopped and thought about it.

I've always been one of those pain-in-the-ass employees who does stop and think about the ramifications of everything that's being done. When it turned out that senior management had decided to support outsourcing a lot of our software development, I was very vocal about my displeasure and concerns. I was a thorn in the side of everybody more senior than me, in the hope of JPMorgan seeing sense: cheaper employees do not equate to cost savings. You get what you pay for.

So, I got landed with a stinker of a project. To train up about 20 brand new offshore employees, in Mumbai, and also to build a piece of software that was not only late, but was a critical component in a global initiative to get all the toxic bullshit warehoused in one place - a depository - so it could be figured out who the fuck owed who what, and how much? Who was holding the toxic debt? Who was bankrupt?

How big is a million dollars?

$1,000,000

It's hard to say, but it's probably a few times bigger than the value of your house, or twenty times bigger than your salary. Now, let's multiply that by a thousand.

$1,000,000,000

Now what you're looking at is a billion dollars. 1% of a billion dollars is $10 million. You'd be pretty happy with $10 million, wouldn't you? That'd set you up for life. Now, let's multiply that by a thousand.

$1,000,000,000,000

This is quite obviously a trillion dollars. 5 trillion dollars is the value of all the world's 'money' - the cash in your pocket, the coins in your purse, your bank balance etc. etc. Now, let's multiply that by a thousand.

$1,000,000,000,000,000

We've reached a quadrillion dollars. 1% of a quadrillion dollars is $10 trillion, which is twice as much as all the 'money' in existence. So, how the fuck does JPMorgan process over a quadrillion dollars in a single year? Two answers for you: 1) Derivatives 2) Financial crisis of 2007/8

A derivative is a financial instrument that derives its 'value' from an underlying security. By security, I mean something tangible: a fucking house or a metal coin that has its value stamped on it. Derivatives are just pieces of paper that say "in the event X, I will pay Y"... for example "if the stock market goes up, the value of this derivative goes up ten times as much". Derivatives contracts have been created that have become more valuable than all the 'money' in the world. As much as a thousand times more valuable. This is just worthless paper, and nobody has the money to pay up: insufficient collateral.

I know, right? Don't stop and think about this stuff too much. Nobody else did. There was too much money to be made.

So I get landed this stinker of a project, drive off from the beach at Sandbanks to Heathrow airport in a luxury car, in order to train 20 or so Indians on how to build a piece of software that's going to be instrumental in the Financial Crisis of 2007/8. I'm an engineer. I solve problems. I stopped thinking about the madness of outsourcing to India when JPMorgan was already plenty profitable. I stopped thinking about the madness of there being quadrillions of dollars worth of derivatives contracts, when there was only $5 trillion of money in existence. I started thinking about software designs and who I had in my new team to build this software system.

7 star hotel

At some point, I was seduced. I was seduced by limo travel, private drivers, 7-star hotels, business class flights, everything paid for on expenses, company credit cards. I was seduced by everybody telling me what an important project it was, and what an honour it was to be in charge - the manager - when I was only 27 years old; so young & ambitious. Giddy with this seduction, I started to see the world in different colours. Things were rose tinted. I was sucked in. It was like I was dreaming.

A year later, I'd woken up from a nightmare where I'd played a significant role in helping the Investment Banks to hold the world to ransom. "Pay up, or we'll crash the global economy and plunge the world into a depression that will make the 1930's look like nothing" they said. And the ransom was paid. Every government; every central bank coughed up hundreds of billions, so the bullshit could continue and none of the bullshitters had to lose a cent. In fact, the only people I knew who lost their jobs were the ones who were replaced by Indians I trained.

I started thinking again. Big mistake.

I took to the bottle. I drank every lunchtime and every evening. I was drunk most of the time. How could JPMorgan sack me or even reprimand me? What they'd paid me to do; what they'd asked me to do... they could never make that right. They just let me do whatever I wanted, which was mostly to go to the pub and get drunk. Nobody ever questioned it.

As Bear Stearns was being taken over by JPMorgan - asset stripped under the auspices of being 'rescued' - I'd had enough. Building software for banks made me sick. I was sick at what they did to their own people. I was sick of what the industry was doing to the world. I was sick of producing nothing of value; helping nobody except the lucky few who knew how the con-job worked.

Don't get me wrong, I should have looked the other way; kept taking the fat bonus cheques and big salary; kept those golden handcuffs on - loose enough that they never chafe - but I wanted to get as far away from it as possible. The whole thing left me feeling like I had blood on my hands. Every company that went bankrupt; every person who lost their job; every home repossessed; every suicide due to financial worries... I was one of the co-conspirators who fleeced them out of their money and assets.

Some colleagues stayed, but most of the cynical ones - like me - drifted away. Some died or at least nearly did, as they beat themselves up with alcohol for their sins. JPMorgan paid for a lot of people to go to The Priory to dry out. Those who couldn't face working again were pensioned off early. You only had to work for a year, and then you were covered by a generous insurance policy so you never had to work again. Occupational health were busy, getting rid of an entire generation of engineers who had built the bedrock foundations of the global financial services empire, now shakily propped up using public money. Masses of public money.

Ten years on, I watch in horror as those hastily made repairs to a fundamentally broken system start to crumble.

UK debt

Record high national debt and record low tax receipts. Our economy is 80% financial services - an industry that's booming if you haven't noticed. You probably haven't noticed unless you work in the Square Mile or Canary Wharf. You've probably seen stagnant wages, a lack of jobs and insecure employment, such as zero-hours contracts. There's always a McJob, if your self esteem is finally fully eroded by the capitalists.

Brexit had a frontman - Nigel Farage - who was a trader from the City. Brexit had billionaire donors, like the stockbroker Peter Hargreaves, who literally said "insecurity is fantastic" - referring to his desire to see workers abused by their employers, in the interest of profits.

I don't wish to segue into commentary on current affairs, but you have to be aware who you're dealing with. Who's putting words in your mouth? Who's planting ideas in your head, through the newspapers and TV channels they own?

You have to wake up out of your nightmare.

 

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Opinion Polls and Bookies' Odds

3 min read

This is a story about inverse correlation...

Marine Le Pen

I want to talk about three past votes, and two future ones: Brexit, Trump, Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen and the UK General Election.

Brexit and Trump followed a very neat pattern of anti-correlation with the expected result. The opinion polls showed that the UK was going to vote to remain in the EU, as well as showing that Hilary Clinton was going to win the US presidential election. The bookmakers' odds showed that most people were betting in line with the opinion polls, so the odds were short on remain & Clinton, and long on Brexit & Trump.

Geert Wilders and his far-right PVV party were clear favourites to win the majority of seats in the Dutch election. The opinion polls and the bookmakers were in PVV's favour. Again, we saw anti-correlation, with PVV failing to secure a majority and Geert Wilders being dealt a long-overdue blow. It was encouraging to see racism, bigotry and the far-right's rise and rise, finally falter.

France's Marine Le Pen is behind in the opinion polls and has long odds offered at the bookmakers. Does this mean that the pattern of anti-correlation is going to continue, and our nearest continental neighbour is going to vote for an extremely right-wing president?

Opinion polls are flawed when it comes to voting for racists and bigots. People are not going to openly admit to their abhorrent views, but when they have the anonymity of the voting booth, the truth is revealed: the west is much more racist than it cares to admit.

The Conservatives have styled themselves as a centrist party, but one must always be mindful that their roots are right-wing. It's no accident that Eurosceptic, anti-immigration, bigoted and racist views have come to dominate the political landscape during the time they have been in government.

If, instead of asking the question "should the UK remain a member of the EU?" we had asked "would you kill somebody if you could get away with it?" and people had voted "yes" in the anonymity of the voting booth, should we legalise murder because it has a democratic mandate? Fundamentally, I think there is a nanny state role to be played when it comes to civilising the barbaric and abhorrent aspects of the knuckle-dragging masses. Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

Looking at the upcoming general election, the outcome is not going to be that interesting. In the year that the Lib Dems formed a coalition with the Conservatives, I had placed a bet on the Lib Dems at odds of over 500 to 1. Right now, you can only get odds of 60 to 1, which are still very long odds, but nowhere near as long as they have been in the past. Odds on Labour of 18 to 1, in what is widely considered to be a two-horse race, are very generous indeed. Perhaps Labour will surprise pundits and all those truly left-wing socialist people who get laughed at for being wide-eyed optimists, will no longer be ignored.

The next couple of months are going to be very interesting, to see if the pollsters continue to get things completely wrong, and that there's plenty of money to be made by betting against the favourites.

 

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A Brief History Lesson

19 min read

This is a story about conflict...

Partition

Israelis, are you fucking colour blind? The United Nations partitioned Palestine, to create the state of Israel in 1947. Stay behind your fucking border and stop killing Palestinian children with your American planes, bombs, guns, tanks, helicopters and every other piece of advanced military hardware that you have, to terrorise poor people who only have sticks and stones to defend themselves.

Israel, you have nuclear weapons, so the Arab countries that are in your proximity have a right to have them too, to defend themselves. You can't continue to bully and fuck over the poor nations in the region. You've got your territory. It's time to stop being such genocidal maniacs and total arseholes. You're the fucking reason why we have terrorists, along with your American sponsors.

Quit your fucking boo-hoo-hoo about the holocaust, and crying "ANTI SEMITE" whenever the international community criticises your atrocious violation of United Nation resolutions and your brutal assault on your impoverished neighbours. The Jews aren't the only group to have suffered a genocide. Check your fucking history books and have some fucking humility. Ever heard of the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian Genocide? Quit your fucking self-pity and stay the fuck within your borders. Get the fuck out of Palestine and stop killing children.

Map

Can you see lines on a map? Can you read? Does the name of that place you're bombing or invading have the name of your country on it, or somebody else's? Why do you think that these places have existed for long enough to have borders and names? Do you think it's because some kind of peace and stability in the region has been achieved: an uneasy truce?

So, Saddam probably gassed some Kurds. So fucking what? Boo fucking hoo. Sadam kept a lid on the Sunni vs. Shia bullshit, and kept the fucking Kurds at bay. The goddam Kurds are the thorn in everybody's side: just ask the Turkish. They're like those fucking nutjobs who think Cornwall should be independent from the UK. Bunch of nutters.

The Assads aren't exactly chuffed about American troops occupying the Middle East. How would you like it if some bunch of trigger-happy jumped up twats decided to live in part of your fucking house? Hafaz el-Assad was quite successful at getting the Americans to fuck off. Bashar al-Assad was doing quite a decent job of building a modern Syria, until neighbouring Iraq got illegally invaded and the whole fucking region was thrown into chaos, allowing 'rebels' to have a stab at trying to grab power through violence and coup attempts.

You can dig up dirt on any government, which is trying to maintain stability and control. The longer the region is left to stabilise, the less brutal the government has to be. I'm no fan of the Tory regime, with the evil dictator Theresa May. I would be locked up as a political prisoner - persecuted - for my right to rebel against the government by getting a gun and trying to take power by force. How can people be expected to live under such appalling conditions?

Afghan

Afghanistan. Ever heard of this shitting place? I'm sure you've heard tales about how easy it's been for countries to take it over and control it. There's lots of history about how the British found it really easy there, and definitely didn't get totally massacred. Then the Russians were there and they had an absolutely wonderful time and didn't have any problems at all. Finally, the Americans decided that they'd have a go at this super soft target, because of the simplicity of the task of conquering this country with a long history of being easily dominated by massive military might. Yes, history has definitely shown that massive numbers of British, Russian and American troops, with all their military hardware, can easily control this strategically important country on the Silk Road. Nobody ever got their arses kicked... presumably. I'd need to check the history books, but I'm sure that it's written down somewhere that this is a totally cool place to invade.

You want to move goods from East to West, but there are only so many passes through the mountains where it's possible to get truckloads of whatever it is you're transporting, to be traded in the Middle East and Europe via Afghanistan. Maybe you've heard of the Khyber Pass and the Silk Road. It's pretty strategically important to have land-based supply chains.

Afghanistan looks innocuous enough on the map, but it's actually super important for anybody who doesn't want to be forced to deal with the Ruskies in the North.

Libya map

You know sometimes you hear the name of a country and you think "I really want to bomb that country, just because I don't like the name". Sometimes you think "god damn, there's a country with some really nice infrastructure and a thriving economy... we really should bomb the shit out of some of their stuff". That's what Americans think when they hear Libya.

In 1986, three people were killed in a nightclub bombing in Berlin - which is in Germany by the way - so the obvious response was for the Americans, who live nearly 5,000 miles away from Germany and over 6,000 miles from Libya, was to bomb the shit out of the Libyans.

Iran map

What about this poor bastard, Iran? The country that the US just won't leave the fuck alone. Oil rich and with a highly educated population, Iran has managed to get close to being able to defend itself, despite the US's attempt to use the monarchy to control the population for their own advantage. When the Shah started backing his Arab allies, especially as part of OPEC, the West had no more use for this puppet, and he was driven into exile. Ever since then, endless boo-hoo-hoo propaganda bullshit about how awful it is that now rich twats in Tehran have to act with some cultural sympathy, is fed to us in the West, while internally the country prospers as best as it can, despite bullshit sanctions designed to stop Iran from being able to stand up to the bullying imperialists, and be a strong Arab ally in the Middle East, to counter the disproportionate force of the genocidal Israelis.

In short: the world is a safer place if Iran gets nukes, because then the Israelis might have to stop acting like such utter cunts. If the Yanks and the Israelis stop pissing off the Arabs and destabilising the whole of the Middle East, then terrorism goes away and we all have a nice peaceful co-existence.

Basically, history since the end of World War II pretty much goes like this:

  • State of Israel created so that persecuted jews have somewhere to call home
  • Israelis start being right bunch of cunts, with American weapons, and pissing off all their fucking neighbours and threatening them with nukes and stuff
  • Invasion of Middle East and illegal occupation of countries, pisses of some really poor people
  • Americans and American-armed Israelis start killing Arab children and generally acting like fucking Nazis
  • Americans jam their thumb up the arse of the Arabs and smear pooh all over their face, just to piss them off
  • Israelis keep leaving human faeces on the doorstep of every Arab home
  • Eventually, the incredibly poor people who don't have any weapons start chucking stones at the occupying forces, with their body armour and tanks.
  • The Yanks and the Israelis start ethnic cleansing, blowing people and shit up and generally pursuing a policy of terrorism.
  • A tiny handful of extremely pissed off Arabs blow up some planes, nightclubs, army barracks and other targets, in attempt to get the invading and occupying forces to fuck off out of their countries.
  • The Israelis decide to invade and occupy parts of Egypt and Syria, just because they fucking can, because the Americans are backing them and they've got far superior weaponry. They even threaten to nuke the Egyptians.
  • The Americans invade and blow everything to fucking pieces and completely destroy all peace and stability in the region.
  • Some US government shit that shouldn't have even been in Libya gets attacked. Big deal. Get the fuck out of Benghazi - check the map... it's in Libya, not the United States.
  • The Americans blow up a convoy allowing the Libyan leader to be lynched, after already destabilising the whole place by selling guns to both sides.
  • "Regime change" is a synonym for "unleashing an unbelievably awful power struggle".
  • All the fucking nutters that Gadaffi, Saddam and the Assads kept under control, start fucking up the peace and stability of the region.
  • Iran is aggresively and relentlessly fucked over, because they're trying to defend themselves from American-sponsored Israeli aggression.
  • The policy of supporting the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and Golem Heights in Syria, allowing the Israelis to threaten the Middle East with their nukes and generally act like total Nazis, and whinge about anti-Semitism, while committing atrocities, continues to aggravate the Arab world
  • Even a white middle-class British man who was born in Wales and grew up in Oxford, can sympathise with how fucked over the whole Arab world is by the Americans and the Israelis, and can understand why they would fight back by throwing stones or even suicide bombing
  • Every fucking nutjob thinks their particular ethnic region should be an independent country, even though they couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery, let alone agree how to divide the land and self-govern. The Kurds attempt to fuck Turkey and Syria up. Various religious nutters try to enforce their bullshit patriarchy on whole developed countries, because they're not getting enough sex.

You could say it's all about oil, but in actual fact, all those petrodollars had built some amazing infrastructure and raised living standards exceptionally high in the Middle East. The middle classes were thriving. Educational standards were amazing. The 'developing' world was threatening to become a bit too developed. The Yanks decided to bomb and destabilise, invade and occupy, until the whole of North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf states were totally fucked, and collapsed into internecine conflict.

In 1973, the world got a very clear message from the Arab world: don't fuck with us, because we can turn off the oil taps. The Arab world asked to be treated with some fucking respect, because they wield some power too. The Yanks didn't like that very much.

The Brits had done a decent enough job of chopping up the Middle East and installing some rulers who would give the region some stability. OK, so it was stability achieved by machine-gunning large numbers of religious nutjobs, like the pesky Wahhabists. OK, so a few militant Kurds needed to be liquidated. Call it collateral damage. You can't argue with the fact that it was at least peaceful after World War II, thanks to the Brits understanding the history and culture of the region very well.

The Americans are a bit stupid when it comes to the definition of terrorism. When the IRA would blow up a pub or a hotel or something like that, that wasn't terrorism. When the Israelis would terrorise all the impoverished people in the Middle East using American high-tech weaponry, that wasn't terrorism.

Israel and the Americans got annoyed that somebody threw a rock at them that harmlessly bounced off their kevlar body armour, so they decided they'd better take over the management of the Middle East, by bombing the shit out of everybody, killing civilians without giving a fuck and getting rid of 'regimes' that kept the whole region stable.

Obviously, it pissed the Yanks off that they were asked nicely to respect other countries and treat them with decency. Obviously, it pissed the Yanks off that they couldn't just take everything they wanted, whenever they wanted it, while the whole world starves in squalor and they live in opulent luxury. After the indignity of having to pay slightly more for their petrol in the 1970s, they decided to destroy an entire continent's living standards and directly and indirectly kill millions of people, just because they wanted to feel like a "big guy".

More of the history of the Middle East and North Africa is about the Brits and the Americans being able to sell weapons and supply the Israeli military, than it is about oil. Oil only enters the equation, because the cartel of OPEC pisses off arrogant Americans, who think they're the boss of everything and need not show an ounce of respect or diplomacy towards anybody.

So, if you were wondering why we have to suffer Nazis like Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen and other truly deplorable twats who threaten to destroy the peaceful world we've been able to enjoy since the last world war, then the answer is: because America has totally screwed up the Middle East, with Britain tagging along for the ride, even though us Brits actually stabilised the region in the first place.

There's so much disproportionate revenge from the United States, using weapons of mass destruction. You kill one of their soldiers who's invaded your country and is occupying your land, and they'll drop an atomic bomb on hundreds of thousands of your civilians. That's the kind of bloodthirsty evil shit of a country that we're dealing with: a bully that's armed to the teeth, and will inflict horrible death and suffering using any excuse.

If you want to know why we can't all get along, why we have all those security checks at airports and we're scared of Arab-looking men, it's because we fucking deserve a good kicking. We've been part of America's global campaign to be an absolute dick to everybody with a brown face, kill mind-boggling numbers of innocent people and cause unimaginable suffering, in the interests of imperial arrogance.

How much, exactly, do you want to have? The 1950s sounded pretty awesome, and the 1960s too. Why not stop there? Why go marauding all over the globe, fucking up other people's shit? Why on earth does America need to flex its muscles and bully impoverished nations?

The Brits seemed to develop a smidgen of humility, and stop pissing the Irish off so much. Ireland is Ireland. The British invasion and occupation of Ireland is something we should apologise for and be ashamed of. You can see what a bad attitude the Brits had, when you look at the Argentinian Malvinas, which fucking arrogant Brits seem to think are somewhere off the coast of Cornwall and are called the Falkland Islands.

Empires are one thing, but fucking with the stability of a region is quite another. The American quest to fuck up Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya and just about anywhere else that's peaceful and prosperous, but doesn't buy much Coca Cola and McDonalds, is the reason why we have these 'national security threats'.

So, 52% of the UK population are intent on fucking up the unity of a peaceful Europe, because they don't like immigrants and refugees, and they're fucking paranoid about terrorism. But think about why people might want to hurt us, or might want to come here: because their home countries got fucked up by us, as part of an American-led campaign to keep the poor in their place. Americans can't feel prosperous unless they're making somebody else suffer.

A billionaire reality-TV star, who's completely useless as a businessman, having been bankrupt many times, has now been elected leader of the 'free' world, by being a racist; a Nazi. How did this come about? What kind of world has resulted in building massive walls, revoking visas and banning visitors from certain countries? How on earth does any of this not sound like we're just repeating the mistakes that led to world wars?

This is not democracy in action. This is awful. The marginal Brexit victory, and the technical victory of Donald Trump - he got less votes overall - does not show the will of the people. It shows the disgusting attitude of the people. These weren't votes... this was an opinion poll that showed that there are a terrifying number of racist cunts in our midst.

Democracy and capitalism are not only failing, but they're giving credibility to awful things. There's no way I can respect a vote to abuse immigrants. There's no way I can respect the portion of the electorate who want to do awful things to their fellow human beings.

Try to remember that the Nazis didn't take their power by force. Try to remember that we all have an individual responsibility to vote with our conscience, not with malice, xenophobia and bigotry. It takes effort to be kind and humanitarian, but we have a responsibility to act with decency; both collectively and individually. It's a terrible thing when a gang of thugs starts throwing their weight around, and thinking it's OK because there's safety in numbers.

We may well find that democracy is completely flawed, when people turn nasty, because they're protected by the anonymity of the voting booth. Imagine if there was a permanent public record of how you voted: you could be held jointly responsible for the damage, suffering and deaths you caused through your nastiness, thinking that you could get away with it. Imagine being prosecuted for a crime against humanity, because you voted for something so evil and selfish, that was harmful to so many people.

It's our job as citizens of democratic countries to curb the warmongering ambitions of our political leaders. Every prime minister and president wants a war to call their own. It's our collective responsibility to muzzle these dangerous dogs. These wars should not be fought in our name, even if some of us are stupid enough to be swayed by the propaganda.

Take another look at recent history, and try to look at it without the Hollywood bullshit, that tells us the world is made up of good guys and bad guys. Why don't you find out what it was really like to live in Iraq under Saddam, Syria under Assad, or Libya under Gadaffi, before these places were torn to shreds by forces unleashed when America and a few allies - like us Brits - attacked, invaded, bombed, drone struck and generally destabilised.

Take another look at why the 'bad guys' - who are far fewer than you might imagine - want to 'kill us'. Think about motive. Think about what we might have done to other countries, that makes our own countries a target for retaliation. Think about what injustices we perpetuate, oppressing people. What can these unarmed victims do, in the face of these invading armies who have all the latest high-tech weaponry? 

Re-tell the story, without bleating on about the holocaust - it was a long time ago, by the way - and painting this demonic figure of 'radical islam'. Let's hear the story about illegal invasions, occupation, aggression of militarily superior nations against impoverished nations with limited ability to defend themselves. Let's hear the story about the bullies beating up anybody who's advancing and improving: keeping things unfair; unbalanced.

If having nukes means that you act with kindness, restraint and generosity, then maybe it's OK if only a few nations have them: countries that set a good example for the rest. However, having nukes seems to make a country act with aggression, arrogance, cruelty and a thirst for world domination. Therefore, the only solution is for everybody to have nukes, so nobody gets bullied. The other solution would be for every nation to give up all their nukes, but that ain't ever going to happen.

Anyway, everything looks like it's about to blow. Everywhere I look, things are fucked. Greece and Italy are in big economic trouble. Turkey is so strategically important, but also in the middle of a massive power struggle. Iran is exercising its rights as a sovereign country to develop weapons to defend itself, but America doesn't need much of an excuse to start wars and fuck countries up. Iran's probably one of the last stable proper Islamic republic democracies in the Middle East: the Iranians voted "Yankee go home". As the weather warms up, the huge movement of migrants will start again. The French are pissed off with having everybody trying to get to the UK, fucking up Calais. A wave of right-wing Nazism threatens a clean-sweep across the globe: Le Pen and Wilders joining the likes of Farage and Trump, in a world that thinks that racism is suddenly OK now. All it's going to take is one trigger event - a stock market slump, economic calamity or a major act of terrorism - and a massive domino effect will be triggered. Take a look in your history books and tell me what's happened before when people feel poor and insecure. Fuck the stats: the reality is that most families are just about managing, and it's fucking stressful. Something's gotta give.

Debt levels are unsustainable, suicides are soaring. All the omens are very bad. There's definitely a whiff of the 1930s about what's going on, with hints of another Great Depression and the rise of fucking insane nationalist Nazi parties. It all makes me feel rather nauseated.

I reckon we've probably got one chance to step back from the brink of disaster, but nobody seems to be capable of saying "ooops, I was wrong. I made a mistake". Nobody seems to want to say "look, I know that so-and-so won on a technicality, but really, I don't think our democracy should be run by a bunch of racist cunts".

Everybody's too busy just about managing to be able to understand what's really going on and act with some human decency, rather than having our emotional buttons pushed by the very people who have exploited us and pushed us to breaking point.

Why are you not more worried about history judging you to be one of the bad guys, than taking a clear stand and fighting for what's obviously the right humanitarian, compassionate thing to do?

 

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WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!!

5 min read

This is a story about liberal arrogance...

Black Sheep

Ah, caps lock, my old friend. Also, exclamation marks: you can never use too many. Do you think if there was more caps lock typing and sentences ended with multiple exclamation marks, we could wake the sheeple from their coma? The sheeple are clearly sleepwalking [or is it shleepwalking?] towards disaster.

While this is self-deprecating humour, it's also mockery of the same old liberal lines that are trotted out instead of any kind of nuanced counter-argument.

During Brexit, I noticed that people on both sides would say "I can see you're far too intellectually inferior to be able to have a debate, therefore this argument is over and I won". I lament the loss of anybody who can actually be bothered to have a proper debate, without being so childish.

Your white-trash, redneck, poorly educated person is now incredibly bored with the tried and trusted liberal short-cuts that supposedly immediately discredit an opponent in a debate. "Bigot" is a particularly charged word, and guarantees instant disengagement by the disenfranchised members of the public, being browbeaten by a group of elites who consider themselves morally superior.

I'm as guilty of it as anybody.

But, I've also noticed a kind of pathetic infighting amongst the intelligentsia.

Firstly, one must overcome the snobbery of the grammar Nazis. For your argument to even be considered it must be deemed to have attained certain standards. The most innocent spelling mistake will become the focus of commentary, rather than the points raised by the original author, no matter how eloquently the central argument is presented.

Having established oneself as 'a cut above the rest' there is one kind of ad hominem attack that succeeds where all others might fail. All one has to do to win the argument is write "WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!!" in mockery of your opponent's attempt to make a reasoned argument and reach a sensible conclusion. Essentially, you're accusing somebody of being a nutjob; a raving madman. Case closed. End of debate.

Our asylums are stuffed full of 'visionary' people, and those seized by absolute conviction that the end of the world is nigh. However, do we not also laud that tiny handful of individuals who successfully predict recessions, stock market crashes, credit crunches, housing crises and other cataclysmic man-made events?

Why is it that a stock market trader or hedge fund manager, who might make a good living from short selling - betting against the market - is considered a highly intelligent person - cloaked in the mystery of mathematical models - while others who also forecast negative events, are dismissed as lunatics?

Humans always err on the positive side. There is a psychological test where participants bet money and win precisely as much as they lose. In this randomised gambling experiment, most test subjects will report that they think they're making a profit, even though they're breaking even. Even when the experiment is adjusted so that the participants are losing money, most will still think that the course of events is in their favour.

It's undeniable that we do see a herd mentality amongst groups of humans. The accusation of sheep-like behaviour is entirely valid and well supported by evidence. Stock market crashes are created by market sentiment not by external events. When investors collectively lose confidence, there's a rush for the door. The sheep line up for slaughter, even though by selling their stock, they're going to lose money.

Bank runs are another great example. The FCA underwrites deposits - your savings are safe - but we still saw long lines of people queuing up to withdraw cash from Northern Rock, during the credit crunch. That's a bank run, and it's driven by sheeplike behaviour. The panic is not rational. It's animalistic behaviour, not calculated and logical.

The well-educated middle classes have turned on one another, in this zero-growth second Great Depression. Research grants are at stake. Well paid middle-management jobs are at stake. The baby boomers are trying to collect excessively generous pensions. For God's sake don't even breathe, for the whole house of cards may come tumbling down at any moment. We are so highly leveraged - indebted - that one hiccup and we're all screwed. 

We should remember that the working-class are more numerous than the middle-class. While the working-class wail inarticulately about their poverty and lack of opportunities, the middle-class lock themselves into an echo-chamber of Facebragging and snobbery. Whenever somebody is critical of the status quo, we quickly shut them down by typing "WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!!" to bully them into submission.

Personally, having safely circumnavigated the City of London - and profited - during the dot com crash, 9/11, the commodity price boom (and bust), the credit crunch and Bitcoin's ups & downs, I feel rather like Cassandra.

Dismiss and ignore me at your peril.

 

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