Tag Archives: austerity

A film that shows what the people can do

Today, I again saw a film that makes me inspired and alive. It is Belle, which shows us what can happen when people of conviction speak out for justice. It was an issue that felt so entrenched and widespread, with opposition so numerous and powerful, that a hope of quashing it must’ve felt extremely daring.

But this is the real story of how a major step was taken towards justice and the end of something that had caused so much suffering and been a disgraceful aberration of human rights.

It made me think about the essence of all injustice, and how it relates to continuing despicable problems.

A powerful group defines themselves as other to another and sees that other either as a threat or something less valuable than themselves. Therefore, that other is there for their profit, to be silenced and destroyed.

Once we start to care and give features to those we have commodified, once they cease to be expendable or wicked, we cannot continue treating them as we have. This is true of all earth life. It is true of those we call enemies, those and that which we would use for our own gain.

Not saying: it’s always been that way, it’s too big; it’s too costly to change or end, but: this is enough!

The more I read history, the more I see the themes of control by fear occurring, from armies to bailiffs – people carrying out the instructions of another without question. Rebels will be punished. Conformity is rewarded.

But I also read stories of people who did push for change, of balls of moss that gather in size and momentum.

Stories, actual and imagined, can give us the impetus to put faces on those we refuse to see, give voices to those who hadn’t been heard, and to empower us to take on that which pretended to be invincible.

I post this as the Tory party conference takes place in Manchester this weekend.

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My Proposed Austerity Law Cuts

Those who endorse David Cameron’s latest rounds of proposed cuts show themselves to be ignorant and are being tools of the government’s propaganda. It’s so harsh and ridiculous that it barely requires or deserves comment, except to show how far removed the government is from people, and how cruel. This idea of feckless shirkers – certainly for most – is utter rubbish; and comes from the financially secure, or the unambitious, and those very much part of the system. Anyone who cares what they do and doesn’t fit the drop down menus at the job centre might find that work-finding is rather more difficult, and the greater the cuts, the less jobs, the less funding, and yet higher debts…

I’d like to pass a law that all prime ministers and their cabinet who have been in power for over 2 years and who weren’t elected, and who damage the country, should resign with immediate effect and no severance package. I suspect the public would support that in droves. And perhaps Cameron might have to face his own austerity messages.

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No axes, no strikes – listen to Hegel

I am very much opposed to the cuts that the government are attempting to put into place.

But I am also opposed to the response and remedy to them.

I am nonplussed as to why a general strike is being proposed. You will make those suffer whom you have pledged to support. Striking is like hostage taking: make a third party suffer so much that the first will do what you demand. Without food, energy, water, money, or even able to enjoy anything as it will all be closed down – how will any one benefit?! Some may even die in your attempts to save them.

I have just heard a speech asking for strong leadership – and then talk of trade unions. Trade Unions are not the alternative government, any more than a military leadership. It was the trade unions dictation that caused Thatcherism to rise.

I am not happy to be seen standing with those that cheer at her death. While I shed no tears for Margaret this week, I will not be rejoicing at an old, ill woman’s demise. I think the Independent’s editorial this week was spot on – that we should be using our energies in far more positive ways, to stop her legacy continuing, not to denigrate her.

I am against party politics, in that councils and governments should not be comprised of ruling parties all adhering to a group agenda who choose their cabinets, not the people. Our current voting system makes it hard for independents to get in, when we need more of these. It also means wasting too much energy on being elected before any good can be done. The low percentage of voting turn out is because many feel parties are too similar – yes, even the Greens.

Though I am for a system which champions the poor, not I do not want a reverse of the current system. Otherwise we are in for a history that is a game of ping pong between right and left, rich and poor.

We should embrace all people as part of our society, and not shun our opposite. Rich people can be philanthropists and finance good projects. They are not all bankers and toffs, but people in arts and sports, and some of those give pleasure and important contributions to the world. I am not for making enemies of the rich or Tories. Nor am I for a remedy which supports only one ‘class’ and type of person – hence I am not for those for the ‘workers’ only, making narrowly defined labour our raison d’etre and mode of worth.

Hegel the philosopher spoke of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. We have had enough of theses and antitheses; we now need to move towards synthesis, in peaceful, ethical way.

My suggestion is to lobby those who would implement the cuts (eg your local council and landlord associations), and also other bodies who many left wing extremists demonise – the house of Lords and the Royal family. If you think they are not in touch with ordinary people – and you’d be surprised, I think – make sure they are. They have more influence than we are led to believe – let them use it for good.

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Winter is Coming

My last piece on my first impressions of Game of Thrones was somewhat cynical. I still stand by many of my comments and feel more strongly against the disgusting sexual abuse by men  – what I read of season 2 and poor Ros the Pros made my blood boil! But I have been wondering about my final premise – to read it like a myth. Whether intended or not, it makes a story into something meaningful and empowering, and rather topical.

 

The watchword of season 1 is “Winter is Coming”– a phrase meant to frighten those younger characters who had never known what real hardship is. Just as I watch this, Britain has brought in a new round of austerity measures. The media are making their own ‘winter is coming’ clarion call, adding a bass note to the government warnings about cuts as savage as the Dothraki. We are encouraged that there are threats from fearful outsiders, just like those from over the Wall and across the Narrow Sea.

 

Winter is Coming means get ready – as those wise disability benefit claimants who have renewed before the new harsher rules came in. It doesn’t mean just brace yourself, but to prepare. In metaphorical winter, it is not a case of endure it and see if you come through: unlike a season, we can affect whether winter comes and do not have to accept it.

 

I am encouraged that so many characters in Game of Thrones are disadvantaged, yet no-one gives in. They turn disaster into opportunity instead of cowering and resigning themselves.

 

Tyrion the dwarf advises to wear one’s disadvantage like armour. He doesn’t languish saying: my family don’t love me, my father is ashamed of me, I’ve only ever been with women I’ve paid…. I will be lonely and an easy target so I mayaswell just die. He twice states his love of life. He knows he is not a strong fighter, so he trains his mind instead by constant reading and uses his wit to help save him. He has a soft spot for others whom society rejects; he designs a saddle so “cripple” boy Bran can ride a horse. Although he cannot play as he did, Bran relishes that he can still look at the world and enjoy that.

 

When Daenerys is sold to a violent warlord by her controlling brother, she could have felt her world was over. But she not only ends up with a loving marriage, but a loving people, and she becomes the leader her brother dreamt of being, learning her powers and realising her potential. She is empowered through loss, transformed through tragedy and treason.

 

Arya names her wolf for a queen she admires and takes after. When her father is killed before her and she’s rounded up by a rough man, Arya must have also feared for her life. But by disguising her as a boy and taking her to the Wall, Arya is made safe from Queen Cersei and avoids the arranged submissive marriage she dreads. Her ‘dance’ teacher Syrio taught her to tell death “not today;” even bravely when he realised it may call for him, he saves her and imbues courage and a buoyancy in her that will keep her going. Arya tells her father that Syrio said, “every hurt teaches us a lesson, every lesson makes us stronger.” I think I might make that my sigil and motto.

 

Jon Snow is so fed up of being the half acknowledged bastard son that he goes to the Wall to join the Night Watch of brothers. As a nobleman with sword training, he looks forward to military duties – only to be relegated to manservant. But his friend Sam points out that being a steward to the chief commander has huge advantages and opportunities.

 

This is what Game of Thrones.net says of Sandor, the Hound:

Once Sansa has lost everything, he tries to show her the lessons he had to learn alone: how to survive, how to keep going when dreams are dead. He tries to protect her and help her to protect herself.

 

Even a slimy character (Ser Petyr) has something worth hearing: “Only by admitting what we are do we get what we want.” It seemed to refract some spiritual manifestation and growth books I read recently.

 

I realised that life in Westeros can feel more akin to our current world, especially in the countries with so much violence in them at present. Many countries have leaders who want power for its own sake, not to lead for the good of the people. Houses may not be about blood families, but about other alliances which means you help your own, at cost to others and regardless of ethics. As Cersei tells her son, when you are in power, you can create the realities that will be circulated and believed. But the truth will be revealed and karma has a way of dealing out justice.

 

What follows winter is coming in Game of Thrones…? The fight back*, not simply being crushed by undemocratic tyrants with dubious justice systems. And those who seize their power and treat their people cruelly never keep their seat.

 

*I am not suggesting for a moment it ought be a violent one; I am against taking up arms

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