Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 WordPress Review for matthewsimonalexander’s Blog

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Advertisements

Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts… #4 (unfinished stuff around: ‘access to money would surely cut the majority of unethical and illegal behaviour around the world (more on this in a future post)’)

So this is that post, or at least a start on that post.

imagebot-29

What happens to all the ‘criminals’ in the post-revolution period? Well, to start thinking about such a question we need first to figure out what type of criminal exists. There’s no room to list them all in categories, etc., so we’ll have to put up with some generalisations, which isn’t great but…

Starting with the biggies of arms, drugs, and trafficking, whether sex related or not (and sex is such a troublesome word to use in connection with ‘trafficking’ but I’m not about to make up brand new terms – that would just be confusing). All of the big three listed here are primarily about money, greed, and exploitation. Take away a monetary system that is heavily weighted in favour of sociopaths, and what reasons are left to pursue such trades? None. Give such sociopaths access to as much money as they wish to have and watch as they stop dealing in arms, drugs, and people.

Move down the chain to those who steal things, whether corporate billions or TVs from houses. Do the same here and what motivation is there to continue stealing? None.

Now it’s the turn of the violent. A tricky one, full of complications that surely depend upon one’s sensibilities, but think of how violence is rarely a matter of pure violence but is connected with feelings of power over others, past history, cultural context, so many things that it would be hard to list them all. Think again of how less stressful life would be without the worry of monetary gain/loss. Think also of how those who feel they have nothing left to lose, or have lost everything important to them in the first instance, and consider the extreme acts they will commit, which rarely stack up in terms of common sense, because these are the only things they have any control over. To fuel their sense of power they may injure, kill, harm, and perform acts of cruelty and torture.[1] Remove their need to exert ‘power’ in such ways, by removing the problems associated with feeling ‘powerless’ within a system such as our present monetary system based on capitalist principles, and the vast majority will not choose violence as a result. For the minority who will, well that’s another thing to consider, but it will indeed be a minority.

[1] For a study of the human character in the form of a novel, heavily influenced by his own experiences, see Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The House of the Dead, available for free at Project Gutenburg.


Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts… #4

What might a new system look like? There’s no harm in speculating, so here goes.

rs_634x833-131016135028-634-newstatesman-russell-brand.ls.101613_copy

For those obsessed with the capitalist model and fearful of how things might pan out if widespread revolution takes hold, here’s an interesting alternative, potentially:

Given that money is a construct, not naturally occurring, but that lots of people do not see it as such, and therefore cannot imagine life without money/finance/transactions and so on, how about a revolution where money is available to all – as available to the homeless, the starving, the young, the old, just basically no restrictions where access to it is concerned? Such access to money would surely cut the majority of unethical and illegal behaviour around the world (more on this in a future post), and would continue to placate those who love the fallacy of a monetary system, so everyone wins, when you think about it.

Those who like to work can continue to work, and let’s face it, work does provide a certain routine that can be useful – if anyone reading this has ever had occasion to claim benefits for an extended period, or knows someone who does, you’ll know how miserable, repetitive (but not in a good way), monotonous life can be without a ‘purpose.’ And of course, jobs would still need to be done following a revolution, I mean we all need to eat, and sanitation is a good idea, but there would be greater emphasis on ethical ideas following such a revolution because when it’s not all about the money (and the possession of it, leading to hatred, war, famine, disease, etc.), the greatest ideas can take hold, using human potential for way better things than mining Alaska for oil, for instance, or for drilling asteroids and/or comets for diamonds, or for hoarding huge stocks of food in one part of the world whilst on the other side of the world millions starve to death. But anyway, the point is that for those fearful of revolution (and surely none of us wants the violence associated with The Glorious Revolution, or The American Revolution, or The French Revolution, or The Russian Revolution, or The Chinese Revolution, you get the point here?) the actual act of revolution does not need to be/look/seem so different from what happens in the world presently. But first we must just stop and consider for a moment how obscene it is that hundreds of thousands of people will, today and everyday most likely, be spending money in shopping malls buying stuff they really don’t need, when they stop and analyse things, whilst millions starve, die, are mistreated by others, kill each other with weapons of hate. Remove money from the equation, and this is ‘money’ that is not available to all, and many problems disappear.

So there’s a brief, of the top of the head type suggestion, inspired by Russell Brand’s Revolution.


Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts… #3 (a short one, but with a bit more tagged on as I’ve had a rest and feel a bit more alert now)

What interests me most about Russell Brand’s thoughts around revolution, and which is encapsulated in the following words, ‘like every aspect of this project, we’ll work that out together’ (again, p.31), is the ‘make it up as you go along’ attitude he adopts. Using, here, an American political term, Russell Brand may be seen, by some, as nothing more than a ‘flip-flopper,’ a term, I believe, once ascribed to John Kerry during Bush Jr.’s re-election campaign (2000?). But, isn’t such flip-floppiness preferable to the kind of rigid viewpoint that present day politicians adopt, especially when such fixity leads them to making awful decisions that lead humanity in all kinds of decidedly inhumane directions?

438787_1

I mean, think of it, could the following sentiment have panned out a little closer to its original intent if the followers of manifest destiny-type thinking had just changed their minds and/or course of action along the way?

What friend of human liberty, civilization, and refinement, can cast his view over the past history of the monarchies and aristocracies of antiquity, and not deplore that they ever existed? What philanthropist can contemplate the oppressions, the cruelties, and injustice inflicted by them on the masses of mankind, and not turn with moral horror from the retrospect?


Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts… #3 (a short one)

On p.31 of Revolution, when Russell Brand talks of ‘systemic change on a global scale,’ I am reminded of an article I read a number of years back where a group of Oxford graduates (if my memory serves me well) chose to live on £18k per annum, donating anything above this figure to good/worthwhile causes. I don’t know how successful this particular course of action was for those involved, but the thought of it stayed with me, and very much appealed to me because it offered an example of another way of living – one that does not rely on the ‘endless consumption’ model of late stage capitalism. I mean, when you come to think about it, apart from the essentials of food, shelter, clothing, etc., how much stuff do you actually need in your life?

5af08f4f1c5cbb57183ba2c3f8232f17

Russell Brand’s use of the Lakeside shopping complex, with respect to the excesses of capitalist living and the emptiness felt in the aftermath of needless spending (obviously, some won’t see shopping as needless, but hey-ho), is quite interesting and offers a chance for the reader to pause and think about our unconscious habits where the spending of money is concerned.


Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts… #2

The likelihood of receiving Revolution as a Christmas present has, I believe, taken a step in the right direction and so with only days to go before finding out if it will indeed grace the presence of my meagre pile of presents, I find myself wondering about the efficacy of conducting anti-capitalist rhetoric (which is what I’m expecting Revolution to be, given what I have heard so far) via that which is very much, both symbolically and literally, a medium of capitalist production (said book replete with R.R.P.). Not that this is in anyway an original line of thought because I have heard (radio) and read (online and in print) many arguments where Russell Brand is criticised for charging £x amount for the book, a book which aims to bring about massive change w/r/t the ways in which we live, because he would appear to be profiting from said book – in good old capitalist tradition, one might say.

revolution

Though this is an obvious place to begin a criticism of Russell Brand and his book, it strikes me that the possibility of making any headway without the very act of ‘selling’ his ideas to a willing public is slight. The reason I suggest this is all to do with ‘value,’ or at least the perception of value. To explain, let’s think about the amount of ‘free’ stuff knocking around the Internet and what it actually does to the consumer’s ideas of value. It would appear that consumers download free stuff at the drop of a hat, but then never go on to read such stuff because their perception of value of said stuff is not all that high/great. Whether or not this is actually, statistically true, or not, can be argued elsewhere, but that is what I am led to believe and I have a particular example with which to emphasize my point.

The Coming Insurrection is arguably as inflammatory as anything Russell Brand is capable of spouting, and in spite of its undoubted success in terms of units downloaded for free in PDF form, it is very easy to meet people who have never heard of it, or even heard of the hullabaloo that followed with the arrest of the Tarnac 9 (or 10) and the shockingly anti-democratic treatment these individuals suffer(ed) at the hands of French ‘authorities.’ One thing that needs to be clarified here is that The Coming Insurrection was published anonymously,[1] and there is no evidence that can be verified to connect any of the Tarnac 9 (or 10) with said publication. So even with the move to ‘pre-terrorist’ detention (wonderful, French government democracy at its best), and the stripping away of a whole host of human rights, it is safe to say that Revolution is more widely known than is The Coming Insurrection. Obviously, this is mostly to do with Russell Brand’s position in popular culture, because The Coming Insurrection is well written and worthy of critical attention, and therefore no less important in terms of its value.

So, to cut to the chase, what exactly is my point? Well, I am willing to suggest that what it takes to bring about a shift/revolution/change to the present system of capitalism is, perhaps, best borne from within the capitalist mode itself, in a somewhat Foucaultvian respect where ‘power’ is concerned. Capitalism is strongly defended as ‘the supreme’ way of living, by financiers, governments, despots, and all manner of not-so-nice individuals and/or groups, so it is likely that to counter such opposition, an opposition that I fear is gaining momentum as defenders of capitalism rally to besmirch Russell Brand’s ideas as I write this, it is necessary to use the tools of capitalism against itself: tools such as money, media, mass production. Capitalism has, and history proves this, assimilated all manner of subversive and deviant culture and made them its own by profiting from them. Why not, in an attempt at bringing down capitalism, use the profits gained through capitalist principles to launch an attack on capitalism itself? Is this not what Russell Brand is doing by presenting the world with this book, Revolution, replete as it is with all the hallmarks of capitalist culture?

[1] It was actually published by The Invisible Committee.


Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts…

This post, and the ones that will likely follow, all prefixed with ‘Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts…’, is inspired by the comedian’s turn to politics and the like. Having watched Russell Brand on Newsnight earlier in 2014, where Jeremy Paxman was particularly rude and dismissive of Brand (a weird attitude for Paxman to take considering that when Paxman interviews people such as Boris Johnson, a ‘buffoon’[1] of the highest order, he treats them with the respect you come to expect of an interviewer working for the BBC), I became interested in the message Russell Brand appeared to be promoting – and to that end I am hoping to receive his latest book, Revolution, as a Christmas present (and if that happens there will definitely be more Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts… (the local library, where I had hoped to borrow a copy, is inundated with reservations for the sole copy it possesses, thus, I’d be waiting a long time before getting to read it)).

p02d929n

This particular post focuses on one of Russell Brand’s current projects as he challenges ‘popular’ policy w/r/t drugs use. The documentary that aired on BBC Three on Monday 15th December 9pm, Russell Brand: End the Drugs War, was interesting in that it raised a fundamental question that exists around the area of ‘drugs:’ why do the users of some drugs become criminals in the process of using said drugs? It, the documentary, surely raised other questions and, judging by the reviews following the programme being aired, likely polarised opinion, not least because Russell Brand advocates the legalisation of ALL drugs. Whether one agrees with Russell Brand on this point, or any of the other points he raises, is, to some extent, by the by. What is most interesting is the fact that he is attempting to engage people (politicians and the general public) in matters that frequently fail to be addressed satisfactorily.

A major shift in drugs policy came about in America in 1914 with the passing of The Harrison Narcotic Act (1914). Laws in the UK became sterner following the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971), a move prompted, arguably, by the United Nations’ belief that UK laws were not stringent enough. Again, these are not necessarily what we should be focussing on. What is most important is the ‘turn’ from drug users being seen as a ‘health’ problem, to suddenly being viewed as ‘criminals’ liable to prosecution.[2] The incredible shift that took place to make this possible is interesting in terms of political manoeuvring, and the motives behind such manoeuvring, and Russell Brand’s documentary goes some way to addressing and/or highlighting this. So whether one finds Russell Brand to be ‘one’s cup of tea’ (likeable/affable/well-intentioned), or ‘not one’s cup of tea’ (annoying/naive/out-of-his-depth), it is hard to dispute the fact that he challenges and/or draws attention to current thinking where drugs, and drugs laws are concerned.

 

[1] The term ‘buffoon’ is used here to describe a person (Boris Johnson in this example, but there are others) who has been educated to the highest level, and is clearly not stupid, but who chooses to act like a fool for reasons I cannot discuss here.

[2] And here it is very important to distinguish between those scorers of scag (or whatever else), those emaciated individuals with a whole host of health issues that you can very much discern just by looking at their pitiful form, and those people who commit crimes whilst ‘on’ drugs (because not all drug users commit crimes – other than the crime of taking a drug). And perhaps we should also distinguish them from the suppliers and/or dealers of scag (or whatever else), for they are a very different breed of individual.


%d bloggers like this: