The Party Line is…………Decision time

Friday’s Britain will be a very different place to Thursday’s one. The political shockwave will reverberate around the UK and the corridors of power in Europe, it will be a watershed moment in British politics as the nation decides its own destiny.

In or Out? Are decisions rarely ever that simple?

We claw at the truth of each argument like a man in the dark searching for a light switch, groping anything in search of illumination. It is an old struggle that the political establishment in Britain have been keen to maintain as it keeps them in power.

Every individual of voting age in the UK needs to make their own selective judgment on this issue and right or wrong, at least their vote will be theirs and not the politicians or the doomsayers.

I say doomsayers, because regardless of their politics there have been prophets of doom on both sides preaching Armageddon both social and economic. Leaving or remaining in the EU was always going to be a leap in the dark and as such it has brought out those previously unseen divisions in Britain’s political and social structures.

Understanding should be at the heart of every political debate, except this one. This referendum is all about one thing and one thing only: emotion. We are at our heart, emotional beings with clearly defined boundaries and precepts, we know what is right for us and what is wrong for us and by appealing to our emotions the political parties in this campaign bring these precepts to the fore.

What sort of place do you want Britain to be? Do you want to stay in the EU or do you want to leave it? These are the issues at the heart of the debate and they are deeply emotional questions.

The problem is that decisions made purely on emotion are not always the best decisions. However in the clamour for your vote, the rival campaigns have lost the ability to win the argument through legitimate means and can now only win points by emotion. That is not to say that we have not been bombarded by arguments, statistics and estimates to the point where we are saturated by them.

I’m not here to continue this trend, I wouldn’t know where to start and wouldn’t presume to judge your feelings or predisposition on the EU. Do I need to? If you’re anything like me you’ve probably already made up your mind on which way you will vote.

You are reading my blog, so I assume you want to know my view and over the past few months I’ve expressed my feelings on the referendum, how it’s been conducted and the fundamental arguments involved.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

Today I can confirm that I will be voting for the UK to leave the European Union.

Now that the shock of this knowledge has sunk in, I’ll explain why.

In any scientific experiment there are things that work and things that don’t. If the things that work outweigh the things that don’t the experiment succeeds and vice versa. The weight of either determines the success of failure of the experiment. The EU is an experiment in political and fiscal union.

While the EU started out as an experiment that worked, the number of adaptations made to it over the years as it has expanded has stopped it functioning as a viable political entity. It is a clunky inefficient organisation that does not exercise its political authority in a manner which benefits all. If it did, there would be no discord and federal union would be a practical reality.

Of course the central tenets of free movement and integration between countries are worthwhile goals, we live in a globalized world and co-operation helps achieve the highest of human goals, but these tenets must be executed correctly and in a manner that benefits all.

Citizens must be able to say to their leaders “your approach is not working, try something different” without fear of being labelled reactionary or as some have called Brexiters racist. Legitimate concerns have been raised and without practical redress, risk the whole structure of democracy in our country.

Claims, Suppositions and Estimates have been bandied around as facts and words like could, should and may have become ever more frequent words in the political lexicon. Saying that we should not undertake a course of action because of a fear of the consequences of what may happen is no argument. If I didn’t do things because I feared what may happen I wouldn’t do very much at all. I am are aware of both the risks of both leaving and remaining but neither will stop me from choosing what I believe to be correct.

I will make an important point here: I believe in the idea of the European Union, but the idea has been practised incorrectly in my view and is need of serious reform.  The problem is that the European Union is seemingly unwilling to embrace the need to reform its political structures, its reluctant to say that its wrong. Mr Cameron’s failed attempts to obtain a deal with the EU that was in the best interests of Britain is the best evidence of this failure to change.

We need a consensus in the EU for practical reform, but any such consensus is being overwhelmed by the actions of the larger economic powers within the organisation: France and Germany. Both of these nations have become so blinkered, so focussed on EU integration that they have lost sight of the fundamental precept of the Union: the idea of community.

Don’t get me wrong, we could stay in and try to effect real change from within the Union, but such a change has to be in our national interest otherwise why bother. All signs point to a similar reluctance to change as highlighted earlier and I believe that any attempt to reform the EU will be widely opposed and shouted down. I honestly believe that a vote to remain on Thursday will not be the end of the debate and this issue will continue to rear its head in the politics of the next 50 years.

Who knows? A decision to leave the EU on Thursday may prompt a seismic shift in the politics of the Union, shocking it out of apathy and into practical action. If this occurs and the resultant Union reform is successful, I will be the first to campaign for Britain’s return to this organisation.

All political schisms are fraught with uncertainty, no decision is without risk both short and long-term.  I am of the firm belief that when something is important to you, you do it regardless of the risks involved and Britain’s future is important to me. I want to see this country prosper and find its place in the world. I want us to become the Great Britain that I’ve always read about in the history books, becoming a greater world power and force for good.

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© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.

The Party Line is………..Security

Security. Peace. Freedom to exist without fear of terror. Fundamental truths that exist at the very heart of good government. Fundamental truths which are under threat on an almost hourly basis.

In a globalised world where individuals can move freely between countries, internal security and external security have a symbiotic relationship where one determines the success of the other.

Maintaining this relationship has become a substantial drain on the resources of nation states, particularly those who expose themselves directly in both militaristic and diplomatic actions in those rogue nations and regimes. Exerting this influence leaves them vulnerable to reprisals, both in their spheres of influence and at home.

There are however, mechanisms in place between the various countries in the world to both combat the increasing threats and to disseminate information across the various law enforcement agencies which operate in each nation.

At no previous point in history has there been such vulnerability in international security with truly international threats manifesting themselves around the globe. Terrorist organisations seemingly operating without borders and using increasingly covert methods of spreading their messages of fear.

Intelligence, both for and counter plays an increasingly large part of the international response to these sorts of threats.  Anticipating and countering threats before they occur forms a vital part of this, saving lives and preventing tragedies.

Mutual defence treaties need to be maintained to prevent the rise of a larger foreign power with hostile intent and to provide a check against further acts of terror. 27 mid-size nations defending the interests of a small client nation have a greater chance of stopping a bigger nation exerting its agenda, being hostile or otherwise.

The mere presence of these sorts of treaties and international agencies keeps the complex spider web of international interdependency working.

But with every success using these methods, there are failures like Orlando, Paris and Amsterdam.

Terrorists and criminals hiding in plain sight, integrating themselves surreptitiously within minority communities until the need arises to perpetrate their acts.

Far too often, these individuals exploit legislation designed for altruistic methods, such as the European Union’s free movement of individuals within its borders doctrine. Organisations like Islamic State have used the smokescreen of the immigration crisis and the Syrian civil war to place individuals from their organisations into these countries, exploiting the compassionate nature of the European Union. For every altruistic act, there are those who wish to exploit it, for nefarious and corrupting aims.

Migration of individuals from these at risk countries, is being closely monitored by agencies both foreign and domestic but one has to ask the question, where do we draw the line? When does the terror threat become so severe that we pull up the drawbridge and look to our own security?

It is a political issue that speaks to the heart of every community within the European Union. When does the Union allow too much terrorist activity to occur for it to remain a viable secure entity?

It is a vital issue in government and has been drawn to the heart of the EU referendum debate in the campaigns of both the Brexit and Remain campaigns. Dire prognostications of doom have been made, should the vote lean towards the exit door with assumptions being made that our security services will be unable to cope with ongoing international threats without the support of our partners within the European Union. What they fail to state is that the bulk of the organisations designed to counter these threats do not depend on Britain remaining in the European Union, they are instead internationally independent agencies. The failure of the Brexit campaign to explain this obvious distinction explains why the Remain campaign are winning the security argument.

But in utilising these sorts of sentiments, they are engendering a climate of fear to what should be a legitimate question: Can the EU provide for Britain’s future security, when it perceptibly cannot manage its own?

In a globalised world, we cannot simply baton down the hatches and expect to survive the storm unscathed, we must take a positive assertive role in preserving our own security. International Co-operation and intelligence resource pooling enables us to do this and should form the bedrock of what we do to counter external threats.

Relationships of this nature thrive on co-operation between nations and although the EU referendum may result in us leaving this political union, our greater spirit of co-operation with our neighbours in this area should continue as it is mutually beneficial for all.

 

 

© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.

The Party Line is………..Fear

Like it or not, we live in a world which is shaped by politics. We may not see it or come into direct contact with it, but it is always there lingering in the background of our lives.  When we receive our pay packets we are experiencing politics, when we shop at a supermarket we are experiencing politics and by simply existing in society we experience politics.

It is a beneficial relationship to both the individual and the society they live in, as both receive compensation for their contribution. A relationship which starts as beneficial will not always be so, as times change and society and the politics that govern it evolve. Relationships can often become toxic to both, with both individual and society changing radically. Toxicity to this relationship can often start with the smallest of changes to the political structures or outlooks.

The implied relationship between individuals detailed above leaves both vulnerable to the politics of fear. For example, politicians can be forced to bow to political pressure to avoid losing their constituencies and people present in society can be forced to change their political views for fear of losing something of value to them.

A toxic symptom is currently finding fruit in British politics: the usage of fear as a political tool. It is a tool that is being used extensively in the current EU referendum campaign.

I do not apply a partisan view to this statement, both campaigns are using this as practical political process. Only their implementation differs.

Britain has long been an unconquered nation in Europe. While other nations have been occupied and subjugated, most notably in World War Two, Britain has stood apart. This idea has taken root in the public consciousness and manifests itself in the belief that Britain should continue to remain separate. It exists in notions of empire and history, but in the modern age it has become a focus for anti-integrationist sentiment. Politically, successive governments have encountered opposition to proposed greater integration with the EU and this trend will in all likelihood continue, due to this fundamental idea being entrenched in British culture.

The prominent assertion is that British sovereignty should not be surrendered. It is this assertion that The Brexiter’s have exploited in their campaigning, claiming that the EU is steadily eroding British sovereignty and that this erosion, coupled with rising immigration from the EU is destroying Britain’s ability to exist as a country maintaining its own cultural heritage and perceived position as a world power.

This loss of sovereignty may have some basis in fact, particularly as governmental policy is increasingly becoming influenced by Europe, then again it may not.

The Remain campaign, frustrated at losing the immigration argument has pushed the emphasis of their campaign towards what the British people would lose if they were to leave the EU.

Legitimate statistics and estimates have become the ammunition of both campaigns, with The Remain’s economic arguments employing the more direct usage of fear. Bringing the cost of exiting the EU to a household level may have won them more votes than attacking immigration but it should be remembered that at the heart of the matter these numbers are estimates only. The actuality of cost to each family and to the country as a whole is not known with any degree of certainty, beyond the immediate future.

By the same token, Brexiter’s have quoted migration and financial statistics slanted towards two clear points: Migration will increase to uncontrollable levels and we are giving more to the EU than we are getting back. It is an approach that likewise gains votes but engenders fearful sentiment.

The campaigns have been supported in their usage of fear by an increasingly partisan press, eager to increase circulations and consequently revenue. Scare stories appear in the media on a daily basis, with different institutions taking contrasting viewpoints on the debate. The key thing that seems to be missing is clear objectivity. Although it may seem that they take a moderate view, the media coverage is increasingly one way or the other, depending on who funds their organisations.

The EU referendum is at its heart a debate and in any debate it is the persuasiveness of the argument that determines the winner. Although the campaign started out as a debate, it has increasingly become a contest of fear mongering. Politics should be about winning the argument using persuasive and ultimately right expression, not about using statistics and statements to make people afraid to exert their political opinion.

As negativity and fear in political campaigning becomes political currency, legitimate debate becomes less and less important. A climate of fear mongering challenges the long-term stability of political societies, leaving it vulnerable to extremist views. It vicariously endangers those freedoms to which we all depend: It must be stopped.

 

© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.

The Party Line is………Immigration.

Throughout the centuries, groups of people have traveled across the continents of the Earth. Some have done so for political reasons, some social and some economic. Often a key factor in this is the need to migrate to avoid financial/personal calamity.

Migrants from many countries have made Europe their home for centuries and as the EU has expanded so has the number of migrants coming into it. The unrest and civil war in Syria and other outlying countries has exacerbated the upward curve in migration figures, which has in no small part led to the current crisis.  Images of personal tragedy in the media have become grim reminders of the risks that these migrants have to endure to find a better life.

A central tenet of the European Union since day one has been the free and unrestricted movement of the individuals within its borders. It has become the sociological underpinning on which the union has built its economic and political success.

As this migration has increased the burdens on member states have increased, forcing them to accept larger and larger groups of these at risk individuals. Stresses, both economic and sociological structures have endangered the stability of these states exposing them to more extreme politics.

It is a trend that has not gone unnoticed by the many member states, in particular the UK who have looked to address the problem of uncontrolled migration in renewed negotiations with the EU. These negotiations and the eventual agreement brokered triggered the proposed referendum in the UK as to whether EU membership should continue.

This referendum is the greatest challenge to the EU since its founding.  Legitimate concerns about the direction of the EU have been raised which if unanswered will be only to its detriment.

Key to this has been the battleground of immigration and the free movement of individuals, it has been the central pillar of the EU experiment and is vital to its success. The problem is that this policy has failed to anticipate the population explosion in Europe. Since its founding the population of the European Union has rocketed to just over 508 million individuals.

508 million individuals….. it seems an insane number doesn’t it? All the signs are that this will increase exponentially over the next 25 years as new states join the European Union. Many of these states are in economic collapse with record levels of poverty and unemployment, yet are allowed into the EU. This “perfect storm” of circumstantial forces has prompted many to migrate both legally and illegally to those more affluent member states.

Speaking plainly, these potential member states are simply not ready to be part of the European Union and the fact that large numbers of their respective populations choose to leave these countries is the best illustration of that lack of preparedness. Checking mechanisms which exist in the Union to ensure preparedness are often rushed in the drive toward greater inclusion. Migration remains a practical necessity in the globalized world, but migration without effective conditions of limitation will likewise be detrimental to the long term success of the EU.

Policies implemented by the UK government that have attempted to control migration into the UK by these increased numbers of migrants have utterly failed under the weight of political and judicial pressure from this free movement obsessed Union. Unwanted migration, coupled with the overtly “ever closer union” agenda being pursued by the EU has resulted in the current groundswell of anti-EU sentiment being expressed by elements of the British parliament and its populous. The practical expression of this sentiment is the current EU referendum on membership and it has become a key campaign issue in the political manifesto’s of both the Brexit and the Stronger In Europe groups.

I’m not saying that EU idealism is unwarranted, every citizen wants long term security and prosperity for themselves and their children. The governments of Europe have done what they thought was best to avoid a repeat of the two world wars of the 20th Century and what they have achieved is truly admirable. The problem is that the idealism has clouded their judgment and prevented them from seeing that the world has changed and as a result requires a fresh approach to meet these new challenges.

UK exit or continued inclusion could signal the sorts of reforms which address this issue in the long term or it could be a case of out of sight out of mind as the EU continues on its current course regardless.  The proximity of the referendum has drawn this issue to the forefront of British politics with campaigning reaching fever pitch over the next few weeks. A similar ideological referendum on a larger scale needs to occur in the EU with the free movement of individuals at its heart.

 

 

© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.

What are the practicalities and politics of preserving the Status Quo?

The world is an ever changing place; more and more people and society as a whole exist in a state of flux. Yet amidst this constant state of change, there is the constancy of the world itself. This world is not a new one and has steadily evolved over the centuries to become the society in which we live.

It will continue to evolve, but as it does it relies on one main thing: The maintenance of the status quo.

By status quo, I mean the steadiness of human society both political and sociological. This steadiness is not a naturally occurring phenomenon and is supported and maintained by the social and political institutions we have created for ourselves over the centuries.

How does this control manifest itself practically?

Firstly in a population which aspires to be more than it currently is, which is in turn far less likely to rebel and cause societal change. By aspiring to be more than we are, we remain caught up in our own personal spheres of influence and are ignorant of what is going on around us.

The idea that we can achieve more than we currently do is supported primarily by our consumerist society. A society which consumes goods in a self perpetuating cycle has the effect of reducing its own net worth while increasing the wealth of those pulling the strings. Goods are purchased then consumed by the society and then the society is forced to create new goods to sustain itself further, distracting them from dissention and societal action.

The secondary mechanism of support is exposing that society to a better way of life. This can be through exposure to celebrity culture/ the more affluent individuals or the promise of a different way of life (for example through a lottery or competition). The exposure to this often leads to a practical desire for members of the society to become these individuals. Like any lottery, the chances of an individual achieving this are remote. The society itself can manifest a mechanism to reduce the chances of an individual advancing, either through sociological impediments like the class system or monetary impediments like lack of affluence. Both of which can stop an individual from achieving their full potential.

And yet, individuals do achieve these feats but only after conforming to the societal model, this could be through the acquisition of personal wealth or greater status. Both of which rely on the consent of the society and the preservation of the status quo.

This can be achieved by the placation of the social group via monetary or increase in status. As long as the individuals involved are placated the method can be anything. They should also have the opportunity to better the lives of those who are less fortunate than they are, when the actual chances of bettering these individuals’ lives are small. This method also serves to placate the less well off on the societal pecking order by making them value their lives and status, however small it is.

Malcontents, or those who choose not to accept the status quo can be ostracised by the societies pre-existing mechanisms, reducing their status to the point where these individuals can no longer affect the status quo in any way. This pushes the individuals out and preserves the status of those who are willing to accept it.

Societal status quo, relies on placing the right people or social groups into the right place for them at the right time.

Governmental status quo is very similar and can be maintained indefinitely by refreshing the various branches of government regularly with new individuals from the same sorts of social groups. This has a double beneficial effect because it maintains the status quo on an ongoing basis and gives the people the idea that they have determined who would be in control of their country, despite the fact that they did not.

Any changes made to the fundamental structure of the government, for example a popular uprising or dictatorial changes would obviously result in some disruption of the status quo, but ultimately the underlying political world would remain the same.

Potentially damaging changes to the status quo resulting from international schisms can be avoided by greater co-operation between international governments. Into this mix of peoples there will always be rogue elements, but as long as a consensus prevails the rogues can be ostracised, their politics ignored and their political status reduced to its lowest amount.

The threat of an unseen enemy, or war allows the government to add new dimensions to its status quo preservation mechanism and gives them carte blanche to do whatever they want. As long as there is a danger, any sort of restrictive or unhealthy policy can be masqueraded by the government as being a security matter and in the national interest.

Additionally the government can employ external agents, in the guise of individuals acting alone or as part of a cell to produce acts of terror, which have the effect of swaying the populations of their respective countries. As long as the involvement of the government remains a secret, they cannot be found out.

Human beings are at their heart agents of change. This change manifests itself both in how we act and how we conduct ourselves in the world, it is this change which has enabled us to rise from apes to humans and will eventually lead beyond. When this necessary change meets something which is immutable, (i.e. the status quo) the most likely result will be the destruction of one or the other. It can be suggested that the continued maintenance of the status quo at the present time is stopping us from changing both ourselves and the world around us. It is stopping us from evolving.

Although evidence for this change cannot be perceived immediately it will eventually be discovered, what we do at this point is up to us. Do we change our world or do we choose to accept it?

© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.

What are the practicalities and consequences of definitive proof of the existence of God?

The Question of the existence of God is the fundamental question that has occupied the thoughts of scholars, theologians and philosophers since the beginning of human knowledge. Religions have been founded on the various schools of thought, wars have been waged in the name of God and entire civilizations have risen and fallen directly or indirectly as a result of this question.

Recent scientific experimentation has sought to prove the existence of God by proving the existence of his actions. We have looked to show the handiwork of an intelligent designer in the fabric of the universe. While the discovery of the Higgs-Boson the so called God particle, science has gone some way to prove the existence of an external deity but there are still so many unanswered questions.

But what if the questions were suddenly answered?

The establishment of a definitive way to effectively prove the existence of god will most likely result in the creation of a new scientific branch and new technologies. This could range from scientific classification of the entity to practical measurement of its abilities. The possibility of proving the existence of a false god may also necessitate a divinity test to which the entity would be subject. In the same way that we would prove if a life form is sentient we would need to prove this. Although this would be seen predominantly as a religious matter, the act of faith can only definitively prove so much, science will inevitably take over. There will be uproar from the main religions, who will feel that they are somehow being supplanted by the scientists and this in turn could cause a further schism between science and faith. Whether this schism is a spiritual or physical is up for debate, however a physical schism would in all likelihood result in profound sociological change.

Taking a step back, the fundamental question which all subsequent contact would be based is: Can the human mind truly comprehend God? True comprehension may involve the use of artificial technology to augment the human brain, or genetic engineering to bring our evolution forward to the point where we can effectively comprehend higher levels of being/thought. Both of these methods will have far reaching consequences, both in terms of the desired objective and humanities interaction with the world as a whole. A change made too early may cause irreparable harm.

In a world where the existence of god has been proven and confirmed the need to create a stable framework for communication is prevalent. This would be much the same as communicating with another country or species. The only difference being that the embassies for this diplomacy already exist, albeit in the form of churches. Ambiguity and uncertainty about the message of God would give way to absolute clarity as the entity would be forced to confirm its policies within a pre-existing diplomatic framework. The greatest casualty of contact with God and the resulting clarity of message may be the religions he has inspired, holy texts may be proved to be inaccurate, clerics may be denounced and entire ways of worshipping may be deemed unacceptable to the entity.

Dialogue with an omniscient entity would doubtless bring a flood of scientific questions as the mysteries of the universe would be up for grabs. We could find out how the universe was created, what it takes to make worlds, harness infinite energy and create life. Fundamentally speaking however, this would depend on the entities willingness to volunteer that information. If he or she would not what could we do to change their mind?

Religiously speaking: Can God disclose the existence of heaven and hell? Would he want to? An unknown god cannot be held accountable for his own actions. A known God can.

The entity known as God may prove to be one of a race of entities which occupy and even larger universe. We may be the smallest iota of the smallest atom in an infinite reality. The previously arcane polytheistic religions could reassert themselves in religious thinking. If they are a race of omniscient entities, what is to stop another entity from contacting us and setting itself up as a potential competitor to our God?

Acceptance of the entity may not be forthcoming, in fact many individuals may reject the input of this unseen interloper in their lives. Interference once deemed as destiny or “God working in mysterious ways” could be ignored as we finally have an entity to blame of our own shortcomings. A revolution of spirit could result in an active desire to eliminate God from our lives, practically and spiritually. Blaming God leads to culpability and the potential to create a world where God is subject to the laws of man and is limited by what he can say and do.

The practice of Atheism may enjoy a sudden resurgence, a resurgence born of the proof of the existence of God as a legally and sociologically culpable entity in our lives. The paradox being that proof kills religion but creates a religion with no God.

Another assertion is that God is beyond good and evil and would therefore only work in humanities best interests. Entities which are part of a race rather than a singular may be subject to the same fundamental laws and emotional states as humanity. Not all of these states are good, if we meet a pissed off entity with godlike powers the consequences for humanity could be disastrous. We could become playthings for a more powerful race, like ants under a magnifying glass.

Proving the existence of God, though a worthwhile pursuit may prove costly to the spiritual and psychological health of humanity. We must as a species shake our preconceived notions of what God is, what he can do and what role the entity plays in our lives. We have to understand what the destination is and what it entails before we proceed on the journey. Only then can we truly be ready to discover God.

 

© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.

Would a world ultimately free of choice be a better one?

On a daily basis, a person existing in the world makes thousands of choices. If every person in the world made the same number of choices then the numbers would be infinite. These choices determine everything from what sort of coffee they have in the morning to larger choices, should I change my chosen career?

Every choice has a result which spawns a myriad of new choices and the cycle perpetuates itself onwards. Choices themselves can sometimes be obstacles rather than avenues, but what would happen if there was no choice? What if choice never existed or was supplanted by some other entity?

The absence of choice, if undertaken by humans themselves can resemble a totalitarian regime. Choice would not exist because the government of the affected nation would not allow it to exist. That being said, the removal of choice using this means does not necessarily mean that it does not exist, merely it has been withdrawn from acceptable usage by the society.

The trains would run on time, people would display satisfaction in the work and in their lives for fear of the consequences. The government enforcing this would most likely be hard line government, pursuing a philosophy of suppression by political and sociological means.

A society which employs this method of choice removal may seem to be okay on the surface, but discontented elements would ultimately surface primarily due to the presence of one natural phenomenon: Free Will.

Free Will would be the splinter in the foot of the totalitarian regime and could likely lead to its overthrow. True absence of choice could only be accomplished if free will did not exist.

Artificial choice or free will removal could take two potential forms: The disassociation of humankind from the sphere of decision making or the removal of the in-built human ability to perceive choice.

Under the disassociation method, an entity or medium is required to take up the burden of choosing on mankind’s behalf. In today’s scientifically advanced age, the most fool proof way of doing this would be to create a supercomputer, ostensibly to balance and weigh all of the choices available for mankind. Other more localised disassociation methods would rely on individuals and individuals may not choose to proceed with the result of the external choice maker once made.

A supercomputer created to make choices for humanity would require a level of technology un-paralleled in human history and would undoubtedly involve the creation of advanced artificial intelligence. Choices exist outside of the world of black and white and it would take an artificial intelligence to truly appreciate the scope of the choice. This AI would learn from each choice and would take on a degree of omniscience typically associated with a god like entity.

That being said, this choice making computer could be used/manipulated for ends contrary to its intention, it could be used to manipulate a society into submission. On the flip side of the coin, humanity may be reluctant to apportion its free choice to a machine and could rebel against it. The need to be objective about this sort of development would necessitate its response.

The second method, the removal or suppression of the inbuilt ability of Mankind to perceive choice and act on it could be far more effective and far more attainable. Genetic engineering or pharmaceuticals could be used to negate the human ability to perceive choice or act on it much in the same way as an anti-depressant would. Great care needs to be taken with this method to ensure that the negation of choice by pharmaceutical means does not result in an inactive society which does not evolve or progress.

The pharmaceutical method would need to work in tandem with a strong government which pushes its individuals to interact with society. The individuals in charge of this government may need to be free of the need to medicate themselves to direct the medicated populous. In this society of divides, the medicated would essentially become a slave populous and the previously mentioned rebellion against this authority would occur.

The natural absence of choice is a virtual impossibility as the natural world is founded on the principle of choice. Evolution of a species occurs as a result of choice, natural selection occurs as a result of choice and so on. The only way that a natural absence of choice could work is if it only applied to humankind at this time. Other species would simply die out without the ability to choose.

Practically, the absence of choice from the human sphere of perception can be a great levelling force. Many people have so much choice that this forces them into procrastination, or the feeling that their current way of life is in some way not the correct one. A world free of choice would remove the possibility of changing your life to make you happier. Would an individual removed of choice be happier? Maybe, choices can cause uncertainty and without choice the uncertainty would not occur.

As explained previously, this absence of choice may have a potentially detrimental effect on mankind, humanity may simply stop doing things or inversely they may do the same thing over and over again until the species simply exhausts itself. Also the absence of choice doesn’t allow us to anticipate external events, for example a person would not dodge an oncoming car because they could not choose to. If you play this scenario out to its natural conclusion, the human race would be unable to prevent its own extinction simply because it would not be able to choose to.

Under this forced or unenforced absence of choice, humanity would struggle to exist. It is the desire to change, to improve to strive further and further that allows us to become the best of ourselves. A world which exists in this way is most likely to implode, leading to the extinction of mankind via external means or internally through inaction. A better world would not exist.

 

© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.

Can we ever truly win the war on terror?

The war on terror has been the predominant force in world foreign policy for the last 15 years since the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The embers of this war were stoked further by the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 but it really gained momentum after the attacks by Al- Qaeda on September 11th 2001.

Since then it has claimed an estimated 1,249,025 lives, has resulted in more regime changes than at any time since the end of the Soviet Union and does not look like it will end any time soon.

The war on terror shares some of the characteristics of a conventional war, in so much that it is fought with conventional weaponry, albeit on a more improvised and guerrilla style but it does not meet all of the character traits of a conventional war. It does have a definable beginning, in so much as it began with the September 11th Attacks.

But can it ever truly end?

The term “War on Terror” was used loosely before 9/11 but US president George W Bush adapted the term to suit the US aim of destroying their 9/11 nemesis, Al- Qaeda. At the time he created a manifesto of aims that this war on terror would achieve, with most of them being non-specific promises like ending state sponsorship of terrorists, enable weak states, persuade reluctant states and compel unwilling states.

Of the 5 main aims of the war on terror, as established by George W Bush only one has been truly completed: Defeat terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and demolish their organizations. This was only truly completed by the assassination of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. The rest of the objectives cannot be truly proven to be met definitively.

It has led to an overstretching of resources across many continents, from the Horn of Africa to Asia and beyond.

The United States has become a more restrictive and reactionary entity, it has lost a lot of the international standing that it once enjoyed during the 1990’s when it was a key player in the then peace agreements in Israel and Northern Ireland. Now the US is perceived as a kid with a gun and woe betide the person who gets in his way.

Key to this change has been its conduct since 2001, both internally and externally. The policies of George Bush have used and manipulated politics and international law to suit the intended objectives of the US government.

A prominent example of this is Guantanamo Bay, otherwise known as Camp Delta. The US has detained terrorists there since 2001, labelling them as unlawful combatants, which enables them to use the Geneva Convention to their own ends.

New and dangerous words have entered the American vocabulary, words like Rendition and Waterboarding. National security has become the cloak behind which America has justified torture and increasingly invasive surveillance methods. These have been enshrined into American law in the guise of The Patriot Act, they have become part of the American political system.

Manipulation of law and systems of government has not been confined to internal politics, the build up to the second Iraq war exemplified what the US is prepared to do to get its way. A country which, granted was in the grip of an evil dictatorship was pushed into a war that it had absolutely no chance of winning because of weapons of mass destruction which did not actually exist.

The UN was pushed and prodded into passing resolutions which required the use of weapons inspectors and when those weapons inspectors were denied by the restrictive Hussein regime, the US had all the justification that it needed to go in. It sought international support to legitimize its incursion which it gained in the form of the coalition, fresh on its coattails from winning in Afghanistan and ploughed headlong into the maelstrom of a war that it did not need to fight.

The war itself was over in a matter of weeks but the war for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people continued for many years until the US withdrawal in 2009. It was a withdrawal which would not mean the end of conflict in the region, as the rise of Islamic State has proven.

The things that America has had to do to win this war have proven unpopular with its people and even its intelligence services. The release of sensitive confidential files by C.I.A. operative Edward Snowden has shed an unwelcome window on the subversive tactics used by the US and its international partners. Evidence included the mass surveillance of both US and international citizens, the military tactics used by the US, its coalition allies and files of operations of questionable legality conducted away from the gaze of international law. The release of these files damaged the already shaky reputation of the US even further.

The negative opinion of the US in countries across Asia and Africa has led to the US becoming the prime target for every terrorist with a grudge. The fact that most of the current leadership of IS are former Iraqi military proves that by manipulating international law and politics the US has given birth to its own enemies.

These organisations, armed with steady streams of cash from as yet unknown sources purchase weaponry from the international black market. All attempts by the US and its partners to freeze assets and prevent terrorist financing have proved token gestures.

Terrorists will undoubtedly find a way to find these weapons and could even look to align themselves, albeit surreptitiously with larger powers who have an interest in seeing the US fall. Powers like Russia and China could supply these groups with weapons, allowing them to wage war on the US and its coalition partners without getting their hands dirty.

This would occupy the gaze of the US just enough for these powers to accomplish their aims without interference. Vicariously they would also have the effect of decreasing the operational capacity of the US to wage war against a comparable aggressive power.

Islamic State incursions into Iraq and the resultant bombing missions conducted by the US could be used as the smokescreen for a larger Russian incursion into the Ukraine.

The growth of fundamentalism in the Middle East is largely fuelled by religious fervour. Radicalised clerics, distrusted by their respective governments use religion as a smokescreen to indoctrinate young impressionable politically aware individuals in their respective countries. The war on terror provides the conditions for this to become virtually self-sustaining. Even the censorship of the religion most likely to fuel terrorism would have the opposite effect, it would increase the numbers rather than decrease them.

There is also a danger that in the quest to limit those religions, we ignore ones which can be equally inflammatory once perverted by these fundamentalist individuals. These religions could ultimately prove more destructive than the ones being outlawed.

A war on an ideology (which is not linked to one specific nation) is something not previously encountered in the course of history. The Nazi ideology and other pervasive ideologies have all been based in one nation or encapsulated in a group of nations like the Soviet Union.

The removal of an ideology completely from the human sphere of influence would involve the manipulation of a population to such a degree as to completely restrict independent thought.

This would ultimately damage the human spirit, resulting in a stagnation of its desire to explore new ideas and belief systems. Ideologies are by definition internal constructs of humankind and cannot be defeated by conventional means. The combatting of such ideals begins at an early age and does not cease until that individual dies.

The price of winning the war on terror may be too high, in so much that in the rush to combat this growing threat, we compromise ourselves to such a degree that our own politics are denied. Individual freedom and civil liberties cannot be sold cheaply to achieve this goal as we would become as bad as the individuals we are combatting. The prospect of maintaining such an aggressively restrictive stance for an extended period is ultimately detrimental to the country it serves to protect.

Is there another path which we might take which would prove more beneficial?

If we were merely to do nothing, remaining inactive and leaving the terrorist unchecked we run the risk of allowing these organisations to become legitimate political entities. Attacking them leaves them on the fringes of the political sphere of their respective countries. A marginalised organisation cannot gain a foothold in a country.

But by the same token, attacking them makes us a target for any terrorist organisation which springs up. There needs to be a paradigm shift in what we do when we interact with countries which have leanings towards terrorism. Engagement of all local groups rather than those most willing to grant us favour would decrease the risk of the marginalisation and radicalisation of ethnic groups. Groups which have a stake in government are less likely to rail against them.

The destruction of existing institutions as a chief by-product of militaristic invasion is unnecessary, utilising these institutions and repurposing them to suit new aims is far more beneficial to both the indigenous population and the invading power.

As the war on terror continues, the casualties mount up and the realistic goals of the war become less and less realisable over the years. The schism of creating such a war has proven to be ultimately damaging but the prospect of inaction over terrorism can be equally if not more so damaging.

The war becomes less and less winnable in the classical sense of the word. A state of long term warfare could apply with no end, to the point where it becomes a generational struggle. In the opinion of this writer this is a world I would not want to be a part of.

 

 

© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.

Is IS actually a fascist organisation?

One cannot look at the current affairs of the world without encountering one very prominent and disturbing organisation: The Islamic State (IS). Its spectre looms large over the Middle East claiming both territory and lives, but if you look further into the organization itself, past the propaganda you start to see the fundamentals of the politics being employed. Questions begin to sprout, one of which I will attempt to answer here.

To effectively examine whether IS is essentially a fascist organization we must look at several key factors the most obvious being their methods and their politics. We can also examine their history to understand their future. The easiest way to confirm this is to compare them against the greatest exponent of the fascist ideal in the last 200 years: The National Socialist Movement in Germany.

The Nazi Party invaded all of the social and political structures of Germany, perverting a great and noble people into the worst cycle of human depravity. No structure was so greatly invaded than the minds of the people of Germany, organisations like the Hitler Youth exploited the young forcing them to accept their ideology from an early age. They also exploited the ordinary working class people of Germany, so humbled by the effects of the great depression using rallies, propaganda and promises of a new future.

IS, while not in possession of a country rather a fluid state employs similar methods to radicalise ordinary Muslims. It uses social media and the internet to broadcast its messages of hate, none more so than the sickening videos of their massacres. Its videos of the vile beheading of westerners like Alan Hemming push the ideology that the western powers can be challenged and they can do nothing about it.

The use of obvious propaganda instruments like social media is supported by its use of subversive propaganda. IS targets vulnerable Islamic youth radicalising them with promises that they are doing what Allah wants them to do. The fact that a lot of these “Jihadi Johns” are springing up in the combat zones is proof that their message is getting through. It is not just male Muslims being targeted, there has been a disturbing rise in “Jihadi brides”, vulnerable women lured to the Middle East as part of a scheme to marry them to IS fighters. The fact that it is now an offence to view a beheading video online under anti-terrorism laws is testament to how seriously the Western powers view IS propaganda.

Religion played a prominent but not obvious part in Nazi ideology, manifesting itself in the myth of the Aryan race and its divine destiny to rule the world. The Nazis perverted pagan mysticism and scripture to suit their ideology and supported this through the use of the aforementioned propaganda rallies and book burnings. Even newer mediums such as film were used as tools for ramming home this belief system, directors like Leni Riefenstahl were indoctrinated into making propaganda films like Victory of Faith.

IS exploits religion in a far more obvious way, using it as a bedrock of their organization. You cannot view a video of IS fighters without encountering references to Allah and the Quran, even though every Muslim organization has denounced them as zealots. The establishment of the Islamic Caliphate has been cloaked in the scriptures and traditions of Sunni Islam. Radicalised clerics have used Islamic texts to legitimize the movements and the massacres.

The core membership of the Nazi party was primarily composed of politicized veterans of the First World War and middle class Germans. Men with experience of combat and higher education than the disaffected individuals that they drew to their cause.

The current leader and Emir of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdad obtained a BA, MA and a PHD in Islamic studies from the University of Baghdad. Many of the core members of IS are former members of Saddam Hussein’s Republican guard, men such as Abu Muslim al-Turkmani and Abu Ali al-Anbari. Both men were dismissed from the guard in 2003 after the American led invasion of Iraq, drifting into radicalization and then open insurrection against Iraq and Syria. Education and military experience has enhanced the effectiveness of IS and its message.

Both organizations have used genocide to expand their spheres of influence. The Nazi’s used eugenics as a cloak for the removal of those they deemed to be inferior like the Jews and homosexuals. IS regularly engages in the genocide of Shia Muslims but does not cloak its activities, in fact it pushes them to the forefront of its propaganda message. In addition the principals of Lebensraum and the Islamic Caliphate are very similar in their intention to unite both Islamic and Germanic peoples.

Moving away from National Socialism, comparing IS to fascism itself provides a good comparison but it ultimately raises more questions than answers. The chief virtues of Fascism like totalitarianism and direct action through violence, together with the fascist view of the roles of Men and Women are in evidence when looking at IS.

Its desire to purge all pervasive and corrupting influences to enable a regeneration also harkens to the Fascist ideal of palingenesis. The idea of sweeping away the old order in favour of the new, or in this case sweeping away those who do not share the IS interpretation of Islam.

However the other chief tenet of Fascism, the nationalist ideal is not in evidence because the IS nation state has not been established as a stable country. There is no certainty if this will take place, not if the nations of the coalition have anything to say about it.

As an observer of this movement, you could argue that once the area is brought entirely under IS control that the green shoots of Nationalism will spring up to complement those fascistic qualities which already exist in IS, but it remains to be seen.

While IS shares many similarities with Fascism, the ultimate judgment as to whether it is or is not will only be borne out by time and in all likelihood not by this generation of political observers.

As members of the politically aware world it is our responsibility to form these judgments and make such comparisons to gauge the principles and motivations of the political organisations involved. In short we must always ask these questions.

Dedicated to LSS: Thanks for the idea and support.

© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.

Should the “Special Relationship” end?

The “Special Relationship” between the United States and Great Britain has coloured the complexion of both countries international political philosophy for the last 150 years. Indeed over the century it has been difficult to note an incident in international politics where the United States and Great Britain have not been involved as a partnership.

To understand why it should end we should first look at what it offers.

The mutual defence thing is the most obvious thing which springs to mind, our friendship with the US grants us the protection of knowing that should anyone attack us, they will also be attacking the US. It has added weight to Britain’s standing in the world, which has been on the decline since the end of the Second World War. But this sort of relationship goes both ways and co-operation with our friends across the pond has led us to pursue policies of questionable legality and has pushed us into unnecessary and unpopular wars. The UK has blinded itself in making maintaining this relationship its number one priority, it has failed to consider the pitfalls of pursuing such a policy.

A prominent example of this being our entry into the second gulf war which, while largely opposed by the British Parliament was vehemently pursued by Prime Minister Tony Blair to the point where prominent members of parliament were resigning in protest. It also prompted the death of Dr David Kelly under suspicious circumstances.

Ultimately the naysayers were proved right when no evidence of any weapons of mass destruction was found after the invasion but the reputational damage to the UK is still being felt in the political sphere today.

Maintaining the special relationship with the US has led to a rift between the UK and our colleagues in the European Union. Countries which were traditionally our allies, like France and Germany are now more likely to oppose us than support us. It has also led to a breakdown in diplomatic relations between the UK and the Russian Republic, one of the powers most likely to square up to the US in a fight.

Our relationship with the US offers us industrial advantages that would not otherwise be available to Britain on its own. The United States is the UK’s single largest export market buying £57 billion pounds worth of UK goods. Also the UK is the largest direct investor in the United States. British companies have more offices in the US than most of the other countries in the world. But any industrial and fiscal relationship is likely to be a double edged sword, as proven by the crash of 2009-10.  Direct investment by the UK in the US, which at the time was experiencing a sub-prime mortgage crisis due to its own dependence on Chinese money, proved costly and drove the UK into a debt spiral to which it has only recently emerged from.

We cannot mention British industries operating in the US without mentioning the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This disaster and the subsequent economic and ecological fallout has led to BP being banned from doing any more business with the US government for the immediate future. The special relationship has been tainted, much like the seas around the Gulf of Mexico.

What would ending the special relationship mean for the UK?

The first thing it would mean would be a severe decline in exports and consequently its economy. Current austerity measures being pursued by this government would have to change to accommodate longer timescales to reduce the national deficit. Also British companies would lose their edge over their counterparts in Europe and Asia when dealing with the US. Direct investment in the US could not continue under this and the UK would have to liquidate its assets or sell those investments to a competing world power such as China or Russia. Loans made to the UK by the US would be called in and would have to be paid.

But in any divorce there are always positives, a UK economy which is less dependent on exportation to the US would not suffer when US demand for goods and services decreases, as experienced in an economic recession. UK companies, free of the shackles of co-operation with the US could look for more lucrative opportunities in other foreign markets.

Militarily, the benefits of ceasing our relationship with the US are harder to quantify, indeed the prospect of not having the US to call upon when fighting a war would mean a greater cost in manpower and equipment to the UK. We would lose our protection as it were. But at the same time we would gain the freedom of not having to fight wars that only the US wants to fight.

Seeing this to its logical conclusion if the US is eventually brought down by a competing superpower like Russia or China, its fate would be its own. We would not be tied to them and would be a degree safer.

Clandestine military cooperation between our security services, which has often led to the aforementioned questionable legalities would cease and the surveillance culture which has permeated this over the last 10 years would have to change to suit. The government of the UK can return to the rule of acceptability and accountability, a rule which the US has chosen to ignore when it wants to.

Diplomatically, the UK would enjoy a better relationship with the EU and other world powers as it has often in the past been hamstrung by its work with the US. We could mediate political and economic disputes on our own. Indeed it has the potential to move us into a more positive light with our international colleagues. Perceptually, the UK would be seen as a nation of change, willing to end relationships that do not benefit it. It would grow stronger.

So, after all the issues are considered is it worth it?

It is a tense issue and the benefits of ending the relationship, while easy to see are not certainties. Positives can very easily turn into negatives. In the opinion of this writer, it would take a British politician of great courage and a Britain which is arguably greater than it currently is to undertake such a bold strategy.

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© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.