Tag Archives: Injustice

The Problem with Freedom, by George Monbiot

Comment to this “reblog” article:

We, as a word species, possess some great buzz-words we love to use as much as possible.  They are “feel good” words that are so deeply traditional that they require no thinking at all…none.  That they are a Pandora’s box of confused meaninglessness doesn’t enter our mind in the least.  These are feelings and conversation boosters prescribed by our Matrix to explain everything that evidence, observation and common sense would have the nerve to tell us, isn’t so.  Enter the fix-it words: love, family, nation, God, democracy, motherhood, freedom.  Claim to be in league with any of the above, or on a mission to uphold these concepts, and shut up, or crush, all opposition.  Great words, until you set them down, one at a time, and start examining them, their meaning; your relationship to any one of them.  Of course we’re not supposed to ever do that.  If we did, it would indicate that we actually doubt these great concepts, we’re not sure that they are truly absolute in value.  “Do Not Enter” says the Matrix sign.  Believe, don’t think. 

But what if you do think about them?  As George Monbiot points out here, what is the real meaning of freedom?  Well, it depends who is talking about it.

The Problem With Freedom – monbiot.com


The Problem With Freedom

Posted: 07 Apr 2017 01:05 AM PDT

Freedom is used as the excuse for ripping down public protections on behalf of the very rich.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 5th April 2017

Propaganda works by sanctifying a single value, such as faith, or patriotism. Anyone who questions it puts themselves outside the circle of respectable opinion. The sacred value is used to obscure the intentions of those who champion it. Today the value is freedom. Freedom is a word that powerful people use to shut down thought.

When thinktanks and the billionaire press call for freedom, they are careful not to specify whose freedoms they mean. Freedom for some, they suggest, means freedom for all. In certain cases, this is true. You can exercise freedom of thought and expression, for example, without harming other people. In other cases, one person’s freedom is another’s captivity.

When corporations free themselves from trade unions, they curtail the freedoms of their workers. When the very rich free themselves from tax, other people suffer through failing public services. When financiers are free to design exotic financial instruments, the rest of us pay for the crises they cause.

Above all, billionaires and the organisations they run demand freedom from something they call “red tape”. What they mean by red tape is public protection. An article in the Telegraph last week was headlined “Cut the EU red tape choking Britain after Brexit to set the country free from the shackles of Brussels”. Yes, we are choking, but not on red tape. We are choking because the government flouts European rules on air quality. The resulting air pollution frees thousands of souls from their bodies.

Ripping down such public protections means freedom for billionaires and corporations from the constraints of democracy. This is what Brexit – and Trump – are all about. The freedom we were promised is the freedom of the very rich to exploit us.

To be fair to the Telegraph, which is running a campaign to deregulate the entire economy once Britain has left the EU, it is, unusually, almost explicit about who the beneficiaries are. It explains that “the ultimate goal of this whole process should be to … to set the wealth creators free.” (Wealth creators is the code it uses for the very rich). Among the potential prizes it lists are changes to the banana grading system, allowing strongly curved bananas to be categorised as Class 1, a return to incandescent lightbulbs and the freedom to kill great crested newts.

I suspect that the Barclay brothers, the billionaires who own the Telegraph, couldn’t give a monkey’s about bananas. But as their business empire incorporates hotels, shipping, car sales, home shopping and deliveries, they might be intensely interested in the European working time directive and other aspects of employment law, tax directives, environmental impact assessments, the consumer rights directive, maritime safety laws and a host of similar public protections.

If the government agrees to the Telegraph’s proposed “bonfire of red tape”, we would win bent bananas and newt-squashing prerogatives. On the other hand, we could lose our rights to fair employment, an enduring living world, clean air, clean water, public safety, consumer protection, functioning public services and the other distinguishing features of civilisation. Tough choice, isn’t it?

As if to hammer the point home, the Sunday Telegraph interviewed Nick Varney, the chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, in an article claiming that the “red tape burden” was too heavy for listed companies. He described some of the public protections companies have to observe as “bloody baggage”. The article failed to connect these remarks to his company’s own bloody baggage, caused by its unilateral decision to cut red tape. As a result of overriding the safety mechanism on one of its rides at Alton Towers, which was operating, against the guidelines, during high winds, 16 people were injured, including two young women who had their legs amputated. That’s why we need public protections of the kind the Telegraph wants to destroy.

The same ethos, with the same justification, pervades the Trump administration. The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is seeking to annul the rules protecting rivers from pollution, workers from exposure to pesticides and everyone from climate breakdown. It’s not as if the agency was over-zealous before: one of the reasons for the mass poisoning in Flint, Michigan was its catastrophic failure to protect people from the contamination of drinking water by lead: a failure that now afflicts 18 million Americans.

As well as trying to dismantle the government’s climate change programme, Trump is waging war on even the most obscure forms of protection. For example, he intends to defund the tiny US Chemical Safety Board, which investigates lethal incidents at chemical plants. Discovering what happened and why would be an impediment to freedom.

On neither side of the Atlantic are these efforts unopposed. Trump’s assault on public protections has already provoked dozens of lawsuits. The European Council has told the UK government that if it wants to trade with the EU on favourable terms after Brexit, companies here cannot cut their costs by dumping them on the rest of society.

This drives the leading Brexiters berserk. As a result of the Pollution Paradox (the dirtiest corporations have to spend the most money on politics, so the political system comes to be owned by them), politicians like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have an incentive to champion the freedom of irresponsible companies. But it also puts them in a bind. Their primary argument for deregulation is that it makes businesses more competitive. If it means those businesses can’t trade with the EU, the case falls apart.

They will try to light the bonfire anyway, as this is a question of power and culture as well as money. You don’t need to listen for long to the very rich to realise that many see themselves as the “independents” Friedrich Hayek celebrated in The Constitution of Liberty, or as John Galt, who led a millionaires’ strike against the government in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. Like Hayek, they regard freedom from democracy as an absolute right, regardless of the costs this may inflict on others, or even on themselves.

When we confront a system of propaganda, our first task is to decode it. This begins by interrogating its sacred value. Whenever we hear the word freedom, we should ask ourselves, “freedom for whom, at whose expense?”.

http://www.monbiot.com

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“Behoovement”

  [words from  ~burning woman~  by Sha’Tara]

This short post comes from a comment I made on  https://goodmarriagecentral.wordpress.com/

 So much horribly polluted water flowed under the bridge of non-change during the US presidential campaign that saw the best contenders forced to the sidelines by the elites and MSM.  I know, that acronym looks like a disease, and it is: It stands for main stream media, which many of us now refer to as Lame Stream Media and those who feed it, as their Presstitutes.  Do they deserve such an opprobrium?  Oh yes, and more.  

The owner of “Good Marriage Central” blog  (which has nothing to do with marriage) coined this wonderful word:  “Behoovement.”   So I picked up on it and commented:  “Behoovement would make a great movement of self empowerment.

The comment basically took itself from there… It “behooves” me to move on my own towards my own ends and own future. I want nothing whatsoever to do with “collectives” or “groups” or any concept that takes individuals that never got a chance to develop their sense of self and omelette’s them in “the group” starting from kindergarten all the way to their sad and powerless collective ends.

When (not if, there is no if) I see a need I will not bitch or rant about it.  I will neither ignore it nor try to get a group together to deal with it, or pressure some other group actually responsible for the problem to come up with solutions to it. I will not work with, but only alongside, other individuals when appropriate, in solving social problems.  In most cases (as I’ve been doing for decades) I will consider the need, assess my own resources as they may apply to the need, then get to work resolving that one problem that prioritizes itself to my mind.

My personal approach:  there aren’t “homeless people” who become a collateral condition, there is one homeless person that needs my help. There aren’t “the poor” who remain faceless, nameless, hence have no feelings, there is one poor person, say a single mom with a ramshackle shack of a house that needs repairs to keep a roof over her children and herself and I can certainly deal with that.

In these the last of the disappearing “rich” worlds, there are still more people of means than not. It is up to these people of means to take responsibility for those around them who have become “without means” due to society’s negligence or downright exploitation. If these last of the rich do not volunteer to see justice is done from their own pockets, and with their own time; if they’d rather spend their wherewithal on entertainment and toys, and use blame to shrug off their responsibilities, then so be it. Let that be the kind of society and world the next generation inherits and selfishly continues to develop, until “Donald Trump” will seem a pretty mild intrusion compared to what’s really in store for the self-styled entitled.

That’s my statement in regard to being a change agent and making change.

When I think this way I’m reminded of the story of a reporter walking along a seashore after a savage storm. He noticed hundreds of starfish strewn upon the shore above the inter-tidal zone, dying.  Further along he saw a little girl frantically picking up the animals and flinging them back into the ocean. Perplexed, the reporter approached the girl and after walking behind her for a few moments, said to her above the noise of the retreating waves, “You realize that no matter how many you throw back in the sea, it won’t make any real difference to how many are going to die?”  Without interrupting her labour, as she flung another into the sea, she replied, “It makes a difference to that one.”

And that is how a self empowered individual must look at problems. I am not a group, or collective or “billions” – I am one.  There aren’t thousands of starfish stranded upon the shore, there is only the one I’m bending down to pick up and throw back in the water where it will continue with its life. 

If there is one thing that a too long life has taught me as an observer, it’s that institutions usually end up doing the exact opposite of what they are set up to do, and that’s because they are wide open to the corrupt nature that is innate to Earthians in general, but particularly to those who seek any kind of leadership.  As a history teacher taught me when I was very young, “Power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Those who refuse to see this truism do so at their own peril.  Some New Testament quotes I remember from my days as a very religious person.  These are from the gospel according to Matthew, chapter 5.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to every one in the house.

The point I am making with these quotes is, it is up to those who witness the child helping the starfish, to join her in her labour of love.  It isn’t up to her to convince them they should do this.