Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Sorry for bombarding you

I think it is just that I need a certain release – to be able to express how I feel – because it is rather strange and rather challenging. My father was strongly against organised religion. I proclaimed myself an agnostic at school and got myself exempted from religious assembly. It feels strange coming back to what I felt then. Realising that religions are human constructs is quite a simple thing and one that has taken an inordinate amount of time come about but it is like a huge cloud of confusion has been lifted. When you think about it, most religious founders never intended to found religions at all, but rather to express a certain viewpoint and object to certain abuses in the social system of their time. It was those around them who protected themselves by encysting it into a religion with all the hierarchy and complex dogma and ritual that goes with it. Muhammad is interesting in that he did set out to found a religion but that was probably the only way his views could be taken seriously.
In the modern world there are two deceptive and destructive systems that are unjust and pose a huge threat to the peace and well being of humanity and the environment.
On the one hand there is the western world which is dominated by the power of the banking system and rule by fear and technological control and surveillance. It claims moral superiority by purportedly encouraging critical thinking and open information – even though in effect it destroys that by a surfeit of consumerism and entertainment to make such critical thinking unattractive and unnecessary.
On the other hand there is the Muslim world which is dominated by a feeling of being attacked and insulted. It claims moral superiority over western sexual licentiousness and debauchery and the authority of Divine, unalterable law which cannot be challenged – even though by defending itself against attack it makes itself look completely silly. The trouble is that it is dangerous, murderous and cruel. The western world, of course, is also dangerous, murderous and cruel but has better PR.
The weakness inherent in both these systems is that educated people who have travelled can see them for what they are. They both depend entirely on the co-operation of their own citizens and subjects for the continuation of their respective mind control. Without that control they would both crumble.
Questioning. Not apologising. Not asking permission. Not obeying stupidity. Recognising when enormities are piggy-backed onto reasonable propositions and demanding they be treated separately. Not accepting disproportionate demands. Above all having the courage and habit of refusing things we don't want or need. This is the education syllabus that is needed to train the youth of the world to defeat these evil giants.

From AF
Tuesday 12 February 2008

Don't worry about it! I understand what you're talking about.
Actually, since living in America I have gradually developed a regretful and still patchy understanding (or perhaps illusion, since I do not count myself infallible) of its frightful consumerism. Now, I don't like overused words like 'consumerism' and when I hear them I tend to think they are being used in a fashionable knee-jerk manner, which they mostly are; but what I mean here is that in this country, vastly more than in Europe, profit and property seem the only values worth defending, and the only values that laws and institutions defend.
There is no longer a safe and reliable welfare system, there is absolutely no NHS[1] (did I tell you I have to pay 60 dollars a month for the pill?), hiring and firing laws favour employers who can easily get rid of loyal and long-term employees on the basis, often, of the recommendations of outsourced 'consultants' who purport to 'streamline' their businesses and ensure lower costs and greater profits whether or not they sacrifice everything else, employers will reject any applicant who has ever lost a job despite knowing  that it is only cost, not performance, that determines whether they are fired or not, tax laws favour companies and the rich and are ruinous to private individuals of low or medium income, taxes are just as heavy as in Britain but are almost exclusively used for the military (I have the figures) and almost not at all for the shared benefit of those who pay those taxes (this is when a tax surrenders its pretence of shared usefulness and fairness and becomes a tribute), rights can only be upheld by hiring lawyers whose fees are invariably prohibitive which means that only the rich can uphold their rights, rent laws favour landlords and make eviction ridiculously easy, politicians are effectively bribed (though by other names such as 'contributions' or whatever else) by fabulously rich companies, such as medical insurance companies, and therefore will never implement policies which might benefit private individuals against those companies (by using tax money for public health services and hence putting the tyrannical insurance companies out of business), laws exist that make certain types of insurance obligatory – hence protecting the insurance companies, which are legally empowered to take vast amounts of money from individuals but have great legal freedom in rejecting claims that they themselves assess, people can and do shoot trespassers on sight even though, as in a recent case, they might merely be trick-or-treaters (a man a couple of years ago got away with shooting a Japanese teenager who rang his doorbell for trick-or-treating – it's a wonder anyone consents to be a postman in this day and age), and there is a scrupulous observance of possible lawsuits, as well as copyrights, trade marks and the like, which makes many texts utterly ridiculous (‘one day, Sam was walking down a street drinking a coke™ when, right in front of McDonald's®, a Chevrolet™ skidded to a halt and two ethnic ungendered persons of the African-American community (*not a racial slur: refer to the Alteration of Vocabulary Act, BS666 of 1999) wearing fur coats (*no animals were harmed in the making of this young adults' narrative; this is not intended as a stereotype about African Americans habitually using the pelts of defunct animals as clothing; please refer to our legal counsel's address on the inside back cover of the book) jumped out brandishing Smith and Wessons™(*the authors and publishers of this book do not endorse this type of behaviour and are not liable for readers' emulation of it)’) and, by comparison, renders yet more poignant the gulf between the excessive respect accorded to property and the legal action possibly threatening it, and the callous indifference reserved for the powerless victims of social injustice, like the working poor who cannot afford the deposit on a one-room flat despite having two full-time jobs, in a country which incessantly praises the work ethic and is run by people with huge salaries and very short working hours.
Is that the longest sentence you have ever seen?
In any case, these things about America (the united states of, rather than the continent) disgust me and although, when coming here, I did not know about them or even imagine them and thought it possible that I might live here indefinitely, K and I are increasingly looking forward to the time when we will be able to leave.
Greed is the only character trait that is respected here, and the country is just too damned unfair. Greed is vulgar and selfish and neither of us can admire or even tolerate the type of person that thrives here, who cannot point to Germany on the map, has nothing on their bookshelves but manuals on wealth and interpersonal manipulation, and gets enormous tax breaks and benefits as a reward for being rich, when we with a far lower income and a far higher level of cultural refinement are compelled to hand over the full amount and live on the poverty line.
We are ever more disgusted by this and I for one miss Europe: it may not be perfect but at least it has free medical care and it takes responsibility for those rendered jobless by its economic policies.
The whole point of taxes is that they are meant to pay for services which we all need, so we are all prepared to contribute to the kitty knowing that it will be beneficial to everyone; here, although there are post offices and the like (which we of course do pay for every time we post a letter), most of these necessary services are privatised and must be paid for separately, generally with enormous prices because the companies that run them know that people can't do without them and must pay up, while the state is so powerful that it can make it obligatory to hand over tax money (and a severe crime not to) while not making it obligatory for them to demonstrably spend it on us.
Also, the domain of totally free things is shrinking day by day, and things which were recently free are being cordoned off and made payable by bright young things forever churning out ideas for government profit, whether it be national or local government. For instance, many parking areas in town which were recently free have suddenly been surrounded by walls and barriers with ping machines where people must queue up and fiddle with change and get little tickets, all grumbling about missing their movies or appointments because of the queue. This just shows that the unfreeness of these things is arbitrary and instituted purely out of greed rather than any functionality or principle of shared benefit.
We pay income tax, we pay local tax where we live and separately where we work, we pay road tax and a host of taxes on cars and petrol, and when we need a couple of hours' use of a small rectangle of one of the roads that we have paid for several times over, we are expected to pay again or be punished. It's not up to a vote, and nobody agreed to it; it's a purely arbitrary way of squeezing yet more cash out of the host species and into the parasitic government.
It's not so much that there's no such thing as a free lunch; it's that you can't expect to eat your lunch if you've only paid for it once.
Anyway, that's about enough bitterness for one day, but feel free to write whatever you wish to and at whatever length: I always listen and I'm a fast reader!
Don't live in America -AF.

Tuesday 12 February 2008

I am delighted that you want to leave Gringoland and I hope you can make your escape soon. It was because Airstrip One[2] is doing everything in its power to dismantle any pretence at being a welfare state – no correct that, ‘welfare state’ has nowadays taken on a pejorative tone – ...to dismantle any pretence at being a human collaborative society and emulate the enormities perpetrated in Gringoland that I left the place. In fact it is not so much the government of Gringoland but the government's masters, the English speaking bankers, petroleum and munitions industries that are the real oppressors. This is why I feel so uncomfortable teaching English and submitting to the incredible pressure put on people to learn it. It is not that I don't appreciate the language and its heritage, but it is because it is being taught only as the language of the masters so that the slaves and servants know how to obey. Reading and writing are not being taught or emphasised. It is all about being able to understand what others are saying to you. How to get into an English speaking university so that you can pay all the overseas fees and living expenses and get a piece of worthless paper which means you can get a better salary in an ‘international’ company. In many ways the YUK is the cuckoo in the European nest. De Gaulle was far-sighted in refusing the two Harolds[3].
Indonesia has the advantage for someone earning an income amounting to the same as the UK dole[4] to live quite comfortably and to be able to think and function without the feeling that megacorporations are trying to suck you dry. There are annoying aspects too but they pale in comparison to the state and corporate oppression in YUK and, by obvious extension, Gringoland. For me I only need to survive for three more years and then I can start claiming a local government pension which is miniscule and impossible to survive on in Europe, but which is pretty much the same as I am earning now. Indonesia is, at the moment, intellectually relatively free. It is one of the delights of teaching that you can try to subvert people into thinking. Difficult sometimes because they are trained to think like identical robots, but every now and again you get a spark of awareness. I would like to spend some time in France: Brest, which I loved when I visited, or elsewhere.
I hope K can get something soon outside Gringoland: even south of the Rio Grande. Serious escape plans must be drawn up. If I can contribute to the work of the committee, do tell me.