Archive for world order

The Human Tribe

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , on October 27, 2009 by AF

Much has been said about tribal communities, as in Afghanistan, and democracies and dictatorships, but I wonder if they’re not all actually different forms of tribal society. The sophistication and scale may vary, particularly in larger countries – even as big as the USA – but isn’t it just another take on tribalism? In fact, isn’t it the case that humans are simply mostly tribal animals and you probably can’t change that?

OK, let’s start with what is the definition of a tribe. Well there are a number of differing versions, but they amount to alternative means of defining a particular tribe. So, the general description? “A group of people who have something in common such as an occupation, social background, or political viewpoint.” I’d have thought that describes just about everyone, with the possible exception of the odd loner.

One of the ways a tribe defines itself is, of course, by ethnic or ancestral origin – remotely genetically connected, but not actually family, although even a family can itself often be a sort of tribe. In reality, though, it can be anything from a close-knit family to a gang, to a society, to a village, or town, or state, to a political group, to a country or even a continent. In truth, we seem to create tribes because we have a need to belong, to fit in, to be part of a group. That’s probably because, much as we love to boast about our individuality, there is safety in numbers and most of us feel vulnerable when isolated. However, I did include countries in that list and a country, particularly a big, federal country like America is a tribe that is itself made up of many smaller tribes at various levels and most individuals will belong to several.

I guess I’m looking forward to the day the aliens finally land. Then perhaps we’ll at last begin to look at humanity as a single global tribe, because that would surely be how they would see us – friendly or not!

There Are Times…

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2009 by AF

I’ve always had what I regard as a fairly young outlook on life and in some ways I think (I hope) that’s true and will remain so. Nevertheless, there are times when I think I must simply be getting old.

Maybe it’s mainly the death of Ted Kennedy that has brought it home to me at the moment for it’s usually as a result of world, or at least national, events that I feel this way. Lately, though, I have to admit that I have a feeling of more general malaise about the world we live in, or more precisely, about people, than I once did.

When I was truly young (as distinct from just thinking I am), there were no PCs and you got your information from your daily newspaper, or the radio and some of it from TV. The difference was that, although disasters, wars and all the rest occurred, they were the exception, whereas nowadays such mayhem seems to be accepted as the norm. Additionally, newspapers (apart from the odd one or two that most people regarded as little more than comics) could be relied upon, as could radio and TV news – they were respected and prided themselves on the thorough quality of their investigative journalism and the accuracy of what they reported. Of course, there was naturally national bias, but it wasn’t a slur to call someone a patriot then either.

People cared more too, I’m sure. If you told his parents (who you probably knew personally) that little Johnny was being a little sh*t, they’d apologise to you, clip him round the ear and make him say sorry to you (or whoever) as well. Doctors also took a pride in the respect that people had for them. They would turn out at any time of any day or night to visit a sick patient, but then they didn’t have thousand upon thousands of people on ever increasing lists that they had to service for less and less money. Perhaps more importantly, they didn’t spend half their time (or more) filling in government forms in quadruplicate for the benefit of a pen pusher in some quango and half a dozen NGOs (naturally, since they didn’t exist, none of us was paying for those pointless exercises either).

I’ve loved PCs ever since they were invented and I got very involved in quite a lot of software development at one point. I love the Internet, but does my increasing sense of foreboding for the future of humanity have any substance, or is it just that we hear about these things more easily than we once did? Are we suffering from some sort of data overload, or are people really nastier, greedier, less caring and above all often simply less decent than they were fifty years ago?

Maybe we just never heard about it in the past, but a rotten politician, policeman, lawyer, banker, financier, schoolteacher, doctor, or other type of professional worker was an exception and a talking point for weeks if not months. Now it seems that the huge plethora of news organisations we have today struggle to keep up with all the shenanigans going on in almost every field of public life and service.

Ho, hum … I think perhaps I am just growing old. In a way, I almost hope so, because if that’s not the reason, then sometimes I really do fear for humanity. Ted Kennedy, you weren’t perfect, none of us is, but you were more decent than many men today and a statesman to boot. I think you might just be well out of this sh*t! The world we and our generation knew and sometimes loved has probably had its day and is now just as dead as you … RIP.

What’s THAT About?

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2009 by AF

Do you come across stuff on TV, in the papers, in blogs, wherever, and think, “Oh hell! The lunatics have finally taken over the whole goddam asylum!”? Of course you do – you’re normal – that’s why I like you. I came across this gem today on a terrific and interesting blog called “The Fifty Factor” and had just such a moment. The item begins…

“It’s a slow news day when the front page of the Los Angeles Times Business Section has a big, full-color, “wiener warning” story! No, Loraina Babbit is not on the loose again, no the Playboy Mansion is not having another wild party and no, this is not about sex offenders living too close to neighborhood schools. It’s about hot dogs! Who knew wieners were breaking news and at the top of our “worry” list these days?!?”

Apparently, some vegan group in New Jersey is trying to get a health warning on wieners (hot dog sausages to you, if you’re a Brit) similar to the one the anti-smoking lobby forced the tobacco companies to put on cigarette packets (like we didn’t know smoking is bad for us … but what the heck, if we like it…)  What is that about?

Now, Joanna very rightly points out that there must be at least a million things that are far more important (well, the exaggeration is mine, naturally, but you get the point I’m sure), but I’m not actually so sure. Of course the vague, unproven, maybe, perhaps if you ate twenty packets a day for the next thirty years and managed not to die of obesity in the meantime, they might just encourage the cancer you were probably going to get anyway, is just plain stupid. But there is a serious point here and it’s very definitely not connected directly with wieners.

What the hell is the human race about with all this, warning on this, litigation over that, why didn’t the State protect me from my own stupidity there, thing? I reckon I’m normally a pretty easy going sort of guy – sure I get a bit annoyed about all sorts of things from time to time, like anyone else, yet I really do believe in “live and let live.” But there are three groups of people on this earth that drive me nuts and I would (I think) willingly trade just about anything with God (or whoever or whatever else might have the power) to have them wiped off the face of the planet – “jobs worth bureaucrats”, “do-gooders” and bloody “single issue activists” (and think about it, that includes terrorists and wiener hating vegans – both!).

Before anyone gets too excited, I have no issue whatsoever with vegans, vegetarians, meat lovers, pro-life, pro-choice, anti-smoking, smokers, gays, lesbians, Christians, Moslems, Jews, or any of the other millions of different groups that form to support what’s important to them. Those people add to the richness of humanity and life for us all. We may think they’re right or wrong, but that’s up to us just as their particular love, or beef (no pun intended) is up to them. But that’s the point! They are fully entitled to their opinion and it’s up to and important to them, not the rest of us!

Why the f**k do they think the rest of us should care and start to live their way? What is that all about? Are they that insecure? Who the hell do they think they are to tell me or anyone else how to live our lives?

So, all my three groups are probably actually three sides of the same coin: the “I know best and you must do it my way” people. Screw the lot of them, I say! That’s you screw them, not me – I don’t want to even get that close!

Zeitgeist – Schmeitgeist

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2009 by AF

My first reaction to Zeitgeist and the Venus Project is, “Yeah! Right!” and, in my heart, I stand by that, although, on the face of it, their aims are altruistic and beautiful and you can’t argue with that, can you? Or can you?

I do agree also that a new world order is essential if the human race is ever going to progress beyond its current somewhat unpleasant state. The thing is, though, we do progress – always – not necessarily in the right direction, but nothing ever stays the same, not really. And a new world order, if that’s what you want to call it, will only come about when humanity develops into something that is inherently “better” than it is right now – if it ever does.

However, statements like this (taken from their website) are what worry me…

“As an aside, it is important to point out that society today assumes a very negative posture towards humanity, retaining the belief that if human beings were not “required” to do something, they would just sit around, be lazy, and do nothing. This is absurd propaganda.”

This is totally idealistic and utter bullshit! Believe me, I wish it were not so, but it’s one of the major reasons why welfare, good business, decency and almost everything else desirable ultimately fails in the UK (and is patently doing so right now) and I’m certain it is inherently true in the US too – probably in fact throughout most, even if not all, of the world.

Without education and conditioning when young, we (humans) are no better than many apes and other animals and much worse than many. Without the need to do some kind of work to gain something, we WILL become lazy and do nothing. That will lead to boredom and hence to a further degeneration of our willingness to behave decently. Any other premise is simply fanciful poppycock. I actually observe this happening all the time – daily. I wish I could say it’s not true, but it is. Of course, not everyone is like that, but that’s because of the conditioning attached to people’s upbringing – like their education and parental guidance, particularly when very young.

To me, the suggestion that we are the creation of some super being is both fatuous and the absolute height of arrogance. Simple logic must tell anyone that, if it’s so, then he/she/it could only simply have created the means by which life can come about and has then sat back in disgust to watch the mayhem that has resulted – or maybe we’re all just a giant biological computer game that the somewhat evil masters of the universe manoeuvre into positions they find funny. To say that we are not worthy or able to understand the way God works is simply a stupid copout. Any superior architect would have done a better job and it’s quite obvious to me that there’s nothing very special about us – all life on Earth is nothing significantly more than an infinitely varied set of biological machines. If a god created us, then we are the version 1.1 prototype that failed miserably! In which case, maybe there’s a more successful model out there somewhere in another galaxy.

As we and some of the more intelligent species have become “self aware” we have changed to be both better and worse. We can see and talk about goodness, but we are also daily becoming capable of greater evil. When largely aimless and left alone to behave as other animals do, you can quickly see that we are just that – predatory mammals – and very bad ones, as it happens! If you don’t believe me, consider this: generally, it is only some of the more intelligent animals that derive pleasure from killing. Examples of those that do are orcas, humans, chimpanzees and some other apes and a few other species. There are exceptions, of course, there always are in anything, but most of the rest of the animal kingdom kills solely to eat or to protect themselves and their own, however misguidedly. We and those others I mentioned frequently do it just for sport – for the fun of it – particularly us humans! Some of the “higher species” are very caring, even loving and appear to be what we would regard as decent, but then most of them don’t live in a competitive environment and have evolved over hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of years without pressure because they are in a peculiarly unassailable position, or they were, until man figured out ways to kill them.

We are capable of great love and self sacrifice, but we are also capable of disgusting evil. Most of our existence, though, is about competition. That’s not the result of the environment we are in – we have created that environment because that’s the way we are and the conditions we enjoy most and thrive in. It gets hijacked by the assholes, of course, but it’s still basically a reflection of the way we are and what lies at the heart of humanity. Without the constant competition and striving to “better” ourselves and our lot in life materially, we stagnate and effectively die, or become worthless drifters, vagabonds and thieves without aim, caring or ambition.

We could force our species into being vastly better and more altruistic than we naturally are, but I doubt you’d recognise what we’d change into after a few tens of generations as being entirely human – possibly the species would fail entirely. There is, though, inherent good and bad in all of us and education is absolutely key to everything good that we want and believe humanity can be encouraged to become.

Civilised behaviour is no more than a veneer. When applied properly to a very young child and maintained in place right through into youth, a process akin to osmosis occurs, binding those values throughout that young person’s whole personality. Tacked on later, that veneer may stick, but subject it to any kind of adverse conditions or stress and it immediately starts to peel. If an overriding sense of decency, fair play and consideration for others is instilled into a child from soon after birth right up until about the age of eight or a little more, that young person will usually carry that underlying goodness in their character for the rest of his or her life. It can (and should?) probably be tempered by a necessary degree of self preservation which will otherwise be gained from bitter experience. That, though, is surely a good thing too, because if the good ones get endlessly crapped on and the bad ones prosper, then it’s obvious that’s no incentive to the next generation to be better still. Nevertheless, if you get a large enough body of instinctively decent people in the world, then that will gradually become the norm and take control of everything.

Try to change the system first and you’ll fail. Bad parents and bad schooling gets bad children who become bad adults. The reverse though is also true and there lies our hope for the future. Dilute that idea with misguided idealism, mumbo jumbo and hidden agendas and all the good in the world will fail. In the right circumstances, the world order will change automatically, if we allow and gently persuade people to grow intellectually and emotionally when young in directions that accentuate their good qualities and make them abhor and suppress the less desirable ones. Attempting to alter that world order first in the supposed belief that the human race will willingly change as a result is both futile and authoritarian in principle and I distrust what the Zeitgeist organisation is about with every fibre of my being.

If you’ve read H. G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” then you might think that I see what an uncompetitive and altruistic humanity could develop into as being similar to the Eloi, the small, elegant, sexless and childlike people that inhabit the light in a far distant era on Earth. Those childlike inhabitants are actually fodder for the pale, apelike Morlocks who live underground in darkness and effectively farm the Eloi by providing for them and controlling them and their environment. The Morlocks behave in a way that I see as the potential role for the distant descendants of the Zeitgeist Overlords. Whatever they claim, I see it as an, albeit somewhat covertly, hierarchal organisation and like any other there is always an ulterior motive. It’s my belief that this organisation is really no different from other pseudo religious “save the world” type cults. Scary stuff to me!

Given the opportunity, humanity will develop of its own accord! Educate and guide its members by all means since that’s pretty much essential to its advancement, but decentralise (always) and otherwise leave it alone to do its thing – for anything else is playing God and, if I’m wrong and (illogically) there is such an entity, then look what a crap job he (or she) has done thus far!

Where Do I Start?

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2009 by AF

I’ve just watched Question Time on the UK’s BBC TV. I recommend anyone who doesn’t know the programme and has never seen it (probably because the BBC, since it makes money from and has financial agreements with foreign companies, can often prevent those without a British IP address from seeing various broadcasts), to try to view it.

If you’re like me, you should probably start off by covering your screen with some kind of protective netting, or you’re likely to damage it when you start throwing things. But the fact is that, even when you dismiss (sometimes unfairly) the sound-bite politics and the facile, the stupidly liberal and the downright partisan remarks, there’s still one heck of a lot of, on the face of it, good sense that’s talked by both the invited audience and the panel of so-called experts.

And yet… and yet…

Good hearted people suggest endlessly that we shouldn’t have gone to war in Iraq, or Afghanistan and the problem with youth is that the troublesome minority feels no connection with society and we should do more to help them relate and we should have more, or less legislation and so on and on. Of course I agree with all those sentiments – in theory. But, if I could make just one plea to them all it would be to, please just stop and look at reality!

I’m as certain as anyone that the conflicts I’ve just mentioned were in many ways not about what was claimed at the time. Probably there was self interest over oil involved, but do you want oil, most plastics and fuel to be instantly cut off or the price to shoot up by ten-fold overnight? Think about it! It would mean the end of our civilisation as we know it. It really would! In time we’d probably work around it, but hundreds of thousands, maybe millions would starve to death in the West before we got through and the Taliban would rule planet Earth by then, or the Chinese, or a coalition of the two, or something else equally awful.

However, leaving aside the motive of self interest – Saddam Hussein was and asshole! It’s just a simple fact. We didn’t do any of it right and we’ve screwed up endlessly since, but the fact still remains, the guy was a total bastard and, whatever they think at the moment, the vast majority of Iraqis are better off without him. Then there’s the Taliban – they have to be some of the worst, bigoted, dictatorial, evil shit on the planet, so whatever happens to them, us, or even the innocents (in the short term) – those people are just vermin and have to be eradicated. There is no decent alternative!

Ideally, one might say that these sorts of operations should be under the control of the UN, but that is just a toothless talking shop that will wring its hands whilst millions are exterminated in periods of “ethnic cleansing”, genocide, torture and enslavement by vile regimes. Someone has to be a world policeman! In the absence of anything better, I would prefer it to be the West, rather than some Taliban warlord!

Then there’s the “youth of today” question. Of course the vast majority of young people are pretty much decent, upright citizens and morally a lot better than some of the bankers, financiers and similarly awful people who have landed us in our current financial problems through nothing more than greed. But (in the UK in particular and probably also in the US, plus to a lesser extent across Europe) PC legislation and out of control welfare, together with bigotry, corrupt and inefficient policing and inadequate educational facilities have produced a sizeable minority of mostly young vandals who would destroy our societies and everything we have and care about – terrorising the elderly, the young, families and decent people everywhere, spreading violence, drugs, rape, mayhem, murder and every other crime in a totally indiscriminate rampage.

Such young people often start off by being out of control as young as six, seven, or eight and then grow into teenagers and young people who just don’t give a shit about anyone or anything else but themselves, their own sense of self importance and their whims of the moment. It a small but growing threat that, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, you’ll be lucky not to wind up dead just because they think it’s funny, or you are not one of them, or you even are, but they don’t like you that day!

Make no mistake, WE created this problem with daft liberalism and silly PC legislation that was full of good intentions and almost no understanding of reality! But it’s much too late to try to put the clock back now. We can change the future, but we can’t put right the damage we already did, just by being nice to these people. I believe in the rights of every individual of a society at all ages. What I don’t believe is that there is such a thing as your human rights per se – to anything! It’s a nice idea, but totally impractical. You have the rights that the society you live in grants you and I agree there should be a degree of commonality about that in all societies (although there often isn’t). But, in my opinion, we all have a duty earn those rights by being decent members of that society.

It’s really very simple. It’s straightforward practicality and there’s nothing difficult or highly moral about it at all. If we don’t, any of us, contribute to and broadly support our society, then it will not be able to protect our rights within it, so we’re entitled to nothing. If we let it happen, those that will not join in and be involved with society could ultimately (quite easily) bring our whole civilisation crashing down – just like the Arab’s oil (or the withholding of it), or the Taliban’s evil lust for fundamentalist world domination by fear and indoctrination.

We should not let any of that happen! Doing nothing except wringing our hands at the unfairness of it all is NOT an option!

Well, I Resisted

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2009 by AF

I resisted the temptation for as long as I could, but the Sarah Palin thing turns up everywhere and it is a whole lot more important than a lot of people seem to think, so I caved in and wrote this.

I commented on a post on a political blog as follows:

Not that I’m advocating it, but with a dictatorship, what you see is more or less what you get.

With a democracy there is always danger. Some single thing happens and suddenly you can find yourself with a swing to extremism – be it to the left or to the right. If that occurs at something like election time, watch out!

Palin is all you say and, as many have commented here and elsewhere, she’s great media fodder and poking fun at her is almost a national sport at times. But she could be dangerous! The wrong event at the wrong moment and she and all her ilk would be swept to power. What would that mean for the world”

I think that judgment is more valid than a lot of people realise…

Sarah Palin seems to me to be a rallying point for a whole batch of the oft called “loony” right in the US – and that’s not good. When bigots and others with extremist views – does that make sense? Are all extremists not bigots by definition? But I digress – whilst extremists are a disparate bunch, they are often rather upsetting, but that’s life and they’re entitled to their opinions however unpalatable they may be to most of us, but they are little threat. Given a charismatic personality to follow, the nature of the beast changes (and she is charismatic, if somewhat brittle and given to faux pas on a grand scale – and she’s got tits too – rednecks go for tits). She is also very good at the sound bite thing as well.

Sarah Palin is the darling of a certain section of the American political right. Facts don’t get in her way. If it sounds good and will gain her more adulation, then she’ll say it. By definition, extremists don’t listen to reasoned argument. If a speech or even a phrase fits in with their prejudices, their ideology, then they’re not likely to let the inconvenience of mere facts spoil a good angle.

Like I said in my comment, it only takes the wrong event at the wrong moment and a big chunk of normally rational, considerate, decent people will swing towards something they would usually hate. Imagine if 9/11 had occurred a month before the US08 Presidential election – would Obama now be President, or would McCain and Palin be in the Whitehouse?

That scenario feels like George W on speed to me and fills me with horror. As I said, democracy is what we revere and believe in, but we should never take it for granted, because it can be very fragile and fraught with great danger!