Monday, 17 November 2008

‘What do you call Assassins Who Accuse Assassins?’ The Rise Of Counter Culture, The Anti-Hero & Entertainment’s Hand In The Decline Of Polite Society

‘What do you call Assassins Who Accuse Assassins?’
The Rise Of Counter Culture, The Anti-Hero & Entertainment’s Hand In The Decline Of Polite Society
By Miles Weaver

This article also fits in as part of my ongoing ‘Saving Planet Earth’ as a critique on the ‘culture war’ and the blame that the entertainment industry is unfairly saddled with by the side that views themselves as the arbiters of moral value and taste.

The late ‘60s and ‘70s in Hollywood saw a very interesting sea change in cinema. Whereas the classic hero, so frequently encapsulated in the mould of John Wayne, had dominated the screen for so long, the late 1960s saw the likes Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper roar into town on choppers, smoking dope, flipping off the man and bucking the system. They rallied against political correctness, they fought back against traditional ‘American values’, they spoke out, stood out and refused to toe the line. These two men, accompanied by the somewhat unhinged Jack Nicholson, in ‘Easy Rider’, helped open the floodgates, ushering in a new generation and mindset in entertainment; they being the anti-heroes and the purveyors of counter culture.

In fact, in cinema, the anti-hero has gone on to become so mainstream that it is now the staple figure of the Hollywood action movie. It has become the upstanding moral citizen of a picture, defined as an ‘anti-hero- merely because (in so many cases) it has a lack of respect for authority. A true anti-hero, and a true counter culture figure, is rarely accepted by the by the numbers studio heads of Hollywood. Someone who criticizes the world around them, or who resorts to violence in a more indiscriminate manner is trodden down in favour of someone that uses violence only on ‘the bad guys’. While that figure has faded in Hollywood, throughout the world of entertainment; in music, comedy, literature, art, debate, to name a few, those characters and real life people are very much at the forefront of their fields, much to the chagrin of the ‘moral masses’ around them.

But why? Why have these figures, that rail so aggressively against the mainstream, that put profanity in their songs, tear down established icons of Government in their routine, or make confrontational comments about respected public figures in their work, why have they become the prominent figures, and the true cutting edge of entertainment? We are told, so very, very frequently by the purveyors of news, opinion and morals, that it is because of the declining standards of society, because of the lack of respect for establishment and order, because of a smutty entertainment industry that pushes sex and violence and rebellion as something that is cool. Wait. Hold on. If the decline of standards is to blame on these counter culture figures and these entertainers that so aggressively flip off your piously held morality, where do they come from? Where do they get their ideas from? It’s not out of a simple desire to shock, no. Nor does it stem from some desire to corrupt society. For they all live within that society. They are part of it. So where does this vicious circle really begin?

Let’s look at a little bit of comparative history. In the ‘20s and ‘30s mainstream cinema was dominated by the classical hero. Coincidently, this was a time of peace, mixed with a little economic turmoil. The public was placid, accepting of its Government’s behaviour and respectful of the pillars of society. Once the Second World War broke out, most mainstream films moved into war territory in support of their nation. Now, as we move into the ‘50s we start to see small hints of the anti-hero in several films, but nothing one would call direct counter culture. The Korean War is acknowledged in the media and is something that the public is aware of, but information is limited. The ‘60s hit, Kennedy is assassinated, the Cold War really gets into full swing and the Vietnam conflict begins proper. Students lead riots in Paris, followed by similar student protests around the world over Western intervention in Asia. The media is heavily involved in the reporting of all of these events. Coverage is occasionally graphic, but all three are things at the forefront of the public’s mind. Later in the decade, ideas that had been germinating for two years (and more in many cases) come to the big screen, New Hollywood is born, helmed by ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, ‘The Graduate’, ‘Easy Rider’ and ‘’Midnight Cowboy’.

Throughout the 1970s the New Hollywood movement goes from strength to strength. Films are openly anti-Government, anti-war and anti-status quo. True anti-heroes helm films. Comedians like Richard Pryor and George Carlin become mainstream, instead of fringe genius’ like Lenny Bruce was in the ‘60s. The devastation of Vietnam, the ongoing, merciless, depressing Cold War, the Watergate Scandal engulfs America. Britain begins to slip into economic turmoil towards the end of the decade. Once again, the media covers and saturates every major event. Coverage grows increasingly graphic and unashamedly uncensored. Governments strive for control over a media that is now free of inhibitions, and broadcasting much truth to the public. We see such masterpieces as the Godfather Parts I & II, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation (all films by Francis Ford Coppola, all of which confirm that period of his life as the greatest streak of unmitigated genius in the history of cinema), The Deer Hunter, Taxi Driver, Patton, M*A*S*H, Clockwork Orange, French Connection and All The Presidents Men; films which are unashamed in their graphic portrayal of society, civilisation, the nature and hypocrisy of men who claimed to be moral. The brutally critiqued the status quo and their government, while throwing a middle finger into the face of anyone that thought that ‘their side’ was anywhere near a moral high ground. Michael Corleone could be seen as cinema’s greatest anti-hero, a criminal overlord, ruthless, merciless and heartless, that the audience still finds themselves rooting for, because they understand his reasons. The Vietnam War ends in 1975, and is soon followed by blockbusters like Jaws and Star Wars. The Cold War, a lingering fear, subsides somewhat in its ability to terrify, there is relative calm amidst the public and the media. Heavy metal and punk cement a legacy of anti-conformism and confrontation.

The ‘80s see the Falklands Crisis, the American sponsorship of Contra Killers in Nicaragua which results in the deaths of thousands, accompanied by many other regime overthrows sponsored by the CIA throughout Latin America, all of which result in tremendous bloodshed. The media reports and exposes these atrocities, while also reporting on the Afghan and Iran-Iraq Wars in Mesopotamia. Augusto Pinochet cracks down in Chile, resulting in the mass internment, torture and disappearance of thousands. Mass unrest throughout Britain, resulting in the trade union strifes. The media reports all of this, point blank and unashamedly. Films become more gory, more violent, more graphic. Many film heroes have open contempt for authority (John McClane in Die Hard, Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop or Batman), and many icons of the period openly fight against that which is established as ‘good’. (A perfect example being Schwarzenegger’s Terminator). Films like Platoon continue to criticise the American Government’s behaviour over Vietnam, while comedians truly take the gloves off on both sides of the Atlantic and unashamedly lambaste President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher. ‘Alternative comedy’ is born; crude, crass, politically charged, aggressive and unafraid. Artists like Run DMC and NWA bring rap into the mainstream, shedding light on a totally unseen section of American life and bringing the true nature of race relations in America into cold reality.

It seems that the point is becoming clear now. In each decade Governments have become more and more eager to spread their power, influence and own brand of death throughout the world. In each decade, the news media has grown larger and larger in confidence and integrity, until it reaches a point where it was unafraid of exposing the true horrors of what our masters in the ivory towers were doing and tolerating worldwide. The coverage of the two Gulf Wars has only taken that level of exposure further, and has become ever more graphic each time. It is this writer’s opinion, based on the evidence I present here, that this is what has led to what many would call ‘declining moral values’, but which I call hypocrisy. Entertainment has only ever reflected the standards of the society around it. There is a reason why much popular entertainment in the most repressed countries is so innocent, naïve and child-like in comparison to our own. Their entertainment is kept totally inoffensive for the masses, because the masses are kept intellectually inoffended. They cannot learn the truth about their government without outside help, so domestic entertainment can only reflect that naivety.

The moral crusaders never seem to take up much objection when the newsmakers show pictures of men and women with their arms and legs blown off, however, they never get outraged when they see piles of dead bodies being unloaded into mass graves. As long as the statement ‘Some may find these graphic images disturbing’ is uttered first, they’re fine. But when they hear swearing, or see violence on television or in a film, or hear it in comedy or music, despite the appropriate warnings being given to them about who the content is suitable for, they get enraged. They are unable to put two and two together, and understand that entertainment only reflects the world around it. It is the nature of the medium. When the news becomes increasingly graphic, so does entertainment. When governments begin treating countries like training grounds, musicians, film makers and comedians start kicking back against the system.

And that is where the ‘moral fabric’ of society has unwound. That is where the anti-heroes of cinema have risen from. The glamorisation of guns and knives has appeared in the media because it appears every night on the news. Such weapons of killing are even advertised and glamorised in advertisements for the army. Perhaps if governments begun to act with some restraint and respect for human life, the entertainment industry would begin to show some more restraint, and greater respect for human life in its canon. One directly influences the other, and if there is a trickle down effect from entertainment onto the public, then there is also one from the highest level of society, down onto its entertainment. Were there less to attack, or were there less exposure of the dishonest workings of our democracy, then maybe there would be more restraint. But the decline of society’s moral are not being bought about by bad language or violence or sex in entertainment, it is bought about by those that commit such acts on a mass scale in real life, and those that report and expose it. Entertainment, even at its most base levels, reflects the nature of the society it is coming from. Entertainment is not killing moral decency in western society, it is merely mirroring the process that we tolerate as it happens.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

The Rant: The Mail & Morals, Sachs & Sluts, Brand & BULLSHIT.

In the midst of the worst economic crisis in living memory, one where banks are falling like playing cards into the arms of nationalisation, where the values of the international stock markets are dropping like stones, where thousands of people face a hard winter of high energy prices, fuel shortages and possible foreclosure and bankruptcy, where flash floods have trapped people, destroyed several villages in Cornwall and politicians are being investigated for serious breaches of the public trust and corruption, what is the most important phrase in the press at the moment?

‘He fucked your granddaughter.’

That’s right folks, in order to take your mind of the real problems you’re facing at the moment (as well as bolster their own falling sales) the national press – led by that bastion of right wing intolerance and ignorance The Daily Mail – decided to manufacture a controversy so inane, so absurd and yet so far reaching that the Prime Minister of the nation has commented on it, one of the BBC’s most valued and cutting edge stars has quit, the controller of the largest national radio station in the country has resigned in protest and rational people with independent thought around the country are slamming their heads on desks and fists through televisions as we speak.

A little context first. On the October 18th edition of BBC Radio 2 Russell Brand and guest co-presenter Jonathon Ross were meant to interview Fawlty Towers star (and that is the only notable acting credit to his name) Andrew Sachs. While recording the show (which was not aired live) the two were unable to get hold of Sachs, and, upon reaching his voicemail rambled a bit before Ross shouted ‘He fucked your granddaughter!’ Hilarity (allegedly) ensured. They apologised, then added fuel to the fire by calling Mr Sachs back a further two times, in both instances starting with apology, and then descending into playground humour to get cheap laughs. The BBC received two complaints. Sachs contacted the BBC and both Brand and Ross issued apologies.

I listened to the show on the Monday. I didn’t find the skit particularly funny, as it was just essentially two kids saying rude words to an older person. I found the idea of telling all about the sexual exploits of someone to a close relative to be a little tasteless and insensitive, but I can’t say it bothered me (nor am I any one to joke about tasteful humour). The sleeping giant slept, no one was bothered. Brand issued a public apology on his radio show the following week, while also criticizing The Daily Mail, who at the times were attempting to stir the story, for doing just that, as well as being prominent supporters of Oswald Mosely’s fascist Blackshirts and Chancellor Hitler’s exploits in Germany during the ‘30s.

Here things get interesting.

The Mail On Sunday (possibly with a vendetta on its mind now that Brand had once again exposed them for the racist, homophobic, right wing dividers that they are), went to town on the story, blowing it all out of proportion. By Monday morning, 10’000 complaints had been received at the BBC, despite the fact that the show was no longer available on its iPlayer service (shows remain on there for one week, and the 18th October show had been replaced by the 25th October edition). Where were all these people listening to the show, and what was their outrage?

And at this point things descend into farce.

See, none of these complaints, none of this ‘outrage’ came from anyone who had actually listened to the broadcast. They had listened to what the ever so fair and balanced tome that is The Mail On Sunday had to say, and they instantly jumped up to express their outrage. The Mail had manufactured an outrage. By Monday their papers were selling out everywhere, the rest of the Fleet Street tabloid gutter press were getting whiffs that this would be something big, and the sharks started circling. Calls for the sacking of Ross and Brand were made, demands that the BBC spend license payer’s money on tasteful programming, the Prime Minister waded into the mess (as did that ever so eager attention whore David Cameron). By Thursday the party of the opposition was calling for a formal commons debate on the matter. And I, laid back in my chair, roared:


Firstly, ALL these complaints (minus two) came from morons who had never heard the show, never witnessed the whole thing, and would never watch Brand anyway. Oh sure, The Mail and its simpering lapdogs of intolerance have hated Ross for years, finding his humour crass and inappropriate, particularly incensed by his massive pay check of £6million a year to do what they call ‘peddle smut’. Because sure, a paper that ran a glowing obituary column for the Grand Dragon of British bigotry, Bernard Manning has every right to tell other people what’s offensive or not. I had the debate with my mother, who was firmly on side with The Mail, saying it was unpleasant what they had done, and that an investigation needed to be made. I (not so calmly) asked my parent if she had listened to the program, which she said she hadn’t, and had then asked her where she had heard about it. She declined to reply, so I filled in the gap for her (knowing she reads the Mail) and her laughter, combined with the fact that she is a terrible liar, gave away everything I needed to know. She was going on hearsay and reported facts, and having her opinion fed to her rather than calmly stepping back and analysing things by herself.

Secondly, I will address these calls demanding for Brand and Ross to be fired. Well Brand, thankfully, has already seen the writing on the wall, and has quit the BBC, hopefully soon to do a national television interview where he will states ‘Fuck them’ and ‘Fuck the Daily Mail too.’ You may not like your taxpayer money going into the paycheck of arguably the nation’s most cutting edge mainstream comedy figure, someone who has bought millions of young listeners to Radio 2, a station that used to be reserved for the middle aged upward. You may also not like the comedy of Mr Ross, unarguably the BBC’s biggest star, with a Friday night chat show and Saturday morning radio heard by over 5 million people a week. You may find these people crass and unappealing, and you may not like you’re license fee being spent on them. But guess what? I think Eastenders is a steaming pile of crap. I hate the program. I think it’s cheap, badly acted, badly written, melodramatic, crass and insulting. I think it encourages people to spend their lives glued to the FICTIONAL day to day occurrences of other FICTIONAL people, and glamorizes violence and sexual promiscuity while turning sensitive issues such as race tension or paedophilia into cheap cardboard cut-out storylines that are replete with ‘juicy’ false reality that people then take on into their own lives as fact. I don’t like my license fee being spent on that garbage. But when I find an objectionable episode (that would be every one on television), I just change the channel. When I miss an objectionable episode (again, all of them) I don’t bother delving into the internet to try and find out what the fuss is about so I can be appropriately outraged. Nor do I write to the BBC and demand that stars or producers be sacked. I have a condition which prevents me from seeking out things that will enrage me and force me to call for the termination of peoples employment. It’s called common sense. The Brand witch hunters on the other hand have now robbed me and millions of other listeners of a pretty good and amusing radio show for no good reason other than they don’t like his comedy. Thanks for that.

Thirdly, I want to point out the rank hypocrisy at the heart of the Daily Mail’s coverage, and at the heart of the people that feel outraged by it. What do Joan Rivers and Jonathon Ross have in common? They both said ‘fuck’ on national television. My how people gasped! Joan Rivers said it on Loose Women of all places (and if you were outraged at that, think of what the title means. What do you think the ‘loose’ is referring to?) Jonathan Ross says ‘fuck’ regularly on Friday nights, and then said it on the radio as well! The horror. Grow up. You’re quite happy to roll out the complaints for these two naughty words (or if someone refers to those ever so unspeakable wee-wee and hoo-hoo parts) but I don’t see any of The Mail’s readers banging down the door whenever a Christian or Muslim preacher is given a national platform espouse homophobia or sexism. Or when bigots like Ricahrd Littlejohn are allowed to stoke the fires of racism and ethnic hatred that bubbles beneath the surface of many people in this country that claim tolerance. Nor did I find anyone complaining when an afternoon host on Radio 2 (I forget which one) uttered the ethnic slur ‘dago’ (an offensive term for Italians and Hispanics), and neither apologised or received more than 10 complaints. Where was The Daily Mail’s moral fucking outrage brigade then? Maybe they were too busy complaining about the number of immigrants in this country, or were trying to cook up hatred against gay friendly bars in their area, or were starting lawsuits to try and get buses banned that promote atheism as an equal belief system to any of the other popular desert myths.

Fourthly, I would like to address one person, Georgina Bailie. This ‘Satanic Slut’, who did ‘fuck’ Russell Brand, went from being someone who okayed the broadcast of the show, to being someone dismayed by it, wanting to protect her poor grandfather (who, by the way hasn’t been seen by or cared about by the British public ever since he stopped playing a racially offensive Spanish stereotype for 12 weeks 30 years ago) from prying eyes and further harm, to hiring everyone’s favourite garbage vulture Max Clifford, posing semi naked for The Sun and selling her ‘story’. Giving oh such classy interviews about how bad Mr Brand was in bed (which is far worse than merely stating she slept with him and will hopefully open her up to libel from the star), or how he was obsessed with her grandfather and his Manuel character (which I think says something about how unappealing she was in some way to the star, who – while have sex with her – could find the only interesting thing to do throughout the ordeal was to thing of Fawlty Towers sketches). Yes, what a classy, un-hypocritical human being she is. She’ll make pleas for calm, but as soon as the media bandwagon comes rolling around she leaps straight aboard with both tits out. Well Georgina my dear, don’t worry, you may be on the bandwagon now, but you’ll be evicted in about fifteen minutes.

I am outraged (in case you couldn’t tell) about everything that has been orchestrated by the out of control media. Meanwhile, as the simpering morons (that would be the wider British public) have screamed and shouted, Andrew Sachs has handled himself with class and dignity, asking only for an apology from Ross, Brand and the BBC, and that they apologise to his granddaughter for embarrassing her on national radio. That was all. No calls for anyone’s heads, no turning into an ugly, raging monstrosity demanding for a re-evaluation of the license fee, just calm, collective thoughtfulness. Isn’t that how a real British gentleman would act; with restraint and thought instead of throwing the rattles out of the pram and screaming about how society has lost its way?

And that is the final thing that is on trial here; society. This furore is entirely generational. The young people of this country (and those with half a brain) really don’t seem to be bothered by this. They may or may not have found the jokes to be humorous (I didn’t (though I found the sketch Brand created (that was cut from the show), about breaking into Mr Sach’s house to apologise, finding him and being so overcome with grief and wanting to give him some semblance of pleasure that he ends up sexually molesting him by accident to be hilarious), but they are not bothered by them. They haven’t turned into a seething mob. Meanwhile, the middle aged and elderly members of the nation are positively aghast at the whole thing (ask them why, they won’t be able to tell you (because they haven’t been told why)) and feel that the only way to deal with it is with strongly worded letters, official complaints, and pages and pages of rantings and ramblings about how low the BBC has sunk, how ‘in my day comedy was funny’ and how society is plumbing the depths of crassness for cheap laughs is the only way to deal with it. (Because people that found white men blacking up in order to talk in ‘Yes’uh masser’ voices really have every right to complain about taste). Indeed, The Mail itself seemed most angry that no one else was angry, and in turn had to rally its base of intellectually incontinent ignoramuses to shout and scream about it and to try and protect the values of Great Britain (that and the editor wanted to burn Brand for bringing up their documented support of fascism and National Socialism).

So there’s my two cents on the whole thing. I think it’s puerile, pathetic and pitiful. It deserves to be treated with critical thinking, which will expose it for the witch hunt that it is, aimed at distracting us from the big issues at hand in order to have something juicy to talk about. Economic misery isn’t as fun as Madeline McCan going missing, or public figures saying naughty words. Entirely manufactured, entirely intellectually bankrupt, entirely appealing to the worst common denominators amongst the ignorant in society and entirely full of bullshit.

The Daily Mail: ‘They fucked your country!’

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


Fixing Planet Earth


Monday 20th October 2008, marked a grim anniversary. That was the 2’000th day that had passed since President George W. Bush stood on the deck of the U.S.S Abraham Lincoln and declared

“…My fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”

Indeed, it was on May 1st 2003, 2001 days ago, that President Bush triumphantly declared to the world ‘Mission Accomplished.’ Hindsight is a powerful tool, and in contrast with what President Bush thought were victorious words, one can only imagine that to this day he is thinking the same phrase that was quoted in Ridley Scott’s 2000 movie ‘Gladiator’. “People need to learn when they’re conquered.”

Today marks a more hopeful countdown, that being that President Bush only has 90 days left in office, and on that day America looks likely to be swearing in the first African American President in its history. But what of the legacy he will inherit? What of Americas dual wars in the Persian Gulf?

The United States seems, in all its own conflicts, to have a major misunderstanding regarding the nature of war itself. While they proved to be useful and courageous allies in the First and Second World Wars, they have since bungled and botched the management and intentions of every war they have been involved in. In the Korean War America lost 390’000 soldiers between 1950 and 1953, and the conflict ended in stalemate. The Vietnam War saw 8’744’000 US soldiers die between 1965 and 1975. While they seemed to accomplish many of their objectives during the first Gulf War (a war managed by many European nations instead of the US alone), America left Iraq in ruin, and its people at the mercy of an enraged Saddam Hussein, who went on to commit mass genocide of the people that the US had told it would support in a revolution. The War on Terrorism (including the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts) have so far cost the United States somewhere in the region of about 5000 soldiers, with a total 1’150’000 civilian casualties in the above nations and Somalia.

What is it that the United States doesn’t seem to get? It is, one could argue, that very few men will ever understand, something that can only be truly comprehended by the men and women that experience it. For George Bush, Tony Blair or Saddam Hussein to send their troops into the theatre of battle it is comparatively easy. For they have never known and experienced the true horror of war. They have sat behind desks and commanded others, while brave men go off to fight, die or be killed in a haze of misery, bloodlust and brutality. War is humanity’s darkest response, the mass movement of soldiers and the mass enslavement of a population in order to assault, free, defend, overthrow or destroy an enemy.

It is a fundamental necessity to understand why war is fought. Truthfully, honestly, it must be understood. Rarely are wars every fought for the true freedom of people. There have only been two major instances in the past century that such occurrence have taken place, that being the Great War of 1914 – 1918 and the Second World War of 1937 – 1945. Those wars were truly fought for freedom. The current conflict in the Persian Gulf, named Operation Enduring Freedom, is being waged for political and economic reasons. The genius of terrorism is that the few can assault the many, David can attack Goliath, but the US’ response of bringing a bazooka to kill a fly is wrong. Wrong, that is, if it were actually fighting the terrorists alone. Regime change was what was sought, replacing hostile, anti-western, hardline Islamic dictatorships with ‘democratically’ elected leaders who would be supportive of the needs of the rest, supplying them with – and allowing them to control - land, energy (oil specifically), business contracts and political influence. War is an incredibly lucrative venture financially, stimulating economic growth, as vast sections of a nations infrastructure are put to work to produce supplies for the war effort. It also – in many cases – creates great support for the Government waging the battle, as few people ever want to see their nation on the losing side of a conflict. If it were a simple endeavour, it would produce a compliant, hard working, supportive domestic population, while allowing a nation to expand its sphere of political influence, gain territory, new energy reserves, major business contracts and produce subservient foreign Governments that will always put the interests of another country before their own.

But war is not a simple endeavour. It runs at a huge human cost. Disregarding the incredible damaging effects it has on the surrounding environment, and putting aside the inevitable civilian casualties (the focus of this essay is on the fighters of war, not its collateral damage), it is the men involved in battle that suffer some of the most irreparable damage. Outside of the tremendous physical cost that war extols on the pawns that get strewn across its board, tens of thousands already having been maimed for life in the current conflict in the Persian Gulf (compared to the 5000 dead), there is an arguably even greater threat to the personal health of a soldier that is posed; that of psychological damage.

There is a certain state that soldiers are often thrust into before battle, a mindset that is encouraged by captains, admirals and generals. It is a psychological state that passes our upper human and mammalian brain and sinks to the very depths of our lower – reptilian – brain. Yet this state goes beyond the mere base instinct of ‘kill or be killed’, it mixes that most primordial of senses with a most human construct; hate. Soldiers are sent into the fields of battle in a bloodlust, encouraged not to show mercy, but kill, maim and destroy every single one of the enemy until none remain. Soldiers are whipped into a fervour in order to serve the strategic needs of others, and in this fervour they have been known to commit the most depraved, indecent and inhumane acts imaginable. They question not their urge to hate and take pleasure in the slaughter of their fellow man, but merely embrace it. And if they return from the battle, many find themselves left in a state we all post traumatic stress disorder. Milder forms of this disorder, usually known as battle fatigue or shell shock leave the sufferer fatigued, with slower reactions and thoughts, finding it hard to prioritise tasks, exhausted and unable to maintain initiative. It also can cause headaches, backaches, shaking, incontinence, heart palpitations, dizziness, nightmares, irritability, elevated anxiety, depression, substance abuse confusion and even suicidal feelings. This, bear in mind, is merely a lighter, less intense and debilitating version of post traumatic stress disorder, which is a full blown anxiety disorder that develops after exposure to terrifying events that threatened or caused grave physical harm. Sufferers not only experience similar effects to those above, but they find themselves in need of serious medical counselling in order to cope with the emotional and psychological consequences of the body being able to cope. Should soldiers find themselves lucky enough to avoid this state, they may find themselves addicted to the thrill and lawlessness of battle, and while many men and women eventually leave the armed forces of their nation and go on to lead normal lives (though the vast majority admit to frequent nightmares about their experiences), there are many that find themselves so dependent on the structure of military life and the psychological state of battle and training, that they are unable to leave.

But soldiers on the ground are only the pawns of any war effort, they can fight as hard and as valiantly as they want to (and they usually do), but they’re patriotism and determination to win will not grasp victory in any conflict. If there is no sound battle plan put in place, they lose. And when nations lose wars, the effects are devastating. One only needs to look at Germany to understand this, for it is a nation that has come to terms with what it did in the two Great Wars of the 20th century in the very recent years. The generation that was born a decade after the war are the ones finally running the country, and Germany is finally getting over its dark past. The same cannot be said for America, a nation that is still not fully able to get over defeat in Vietnam thirty years ago. When war fails, the damage to a national psyche – especially one such as America’s; built on overwhelming military might – can be massive. People become disillusioned with their Government, their military and most of all, the message and intentions of their country; for how good can democracy be against the red menace when you cannot even defeat tiny little North Vietnam?

Aside from the devastating effect on the populace, defeat in war leads to often grave consequences for anyone allied with the defeated, and the total destruction of the ideology they were fighting for. The dream of National Socialism and Fascism was crushed and has never recovered since World War 2, as was imperialism and colonialism. Communism suffered a crushing blow at the end of the Cold War, though its image was irreparably damaged as a political movement of evil long before then. Partners of the defeated suffer dreadful fates as well, Italy was stigmatised for years about its involvement with Hitler, the Eastern Bloc states fell into practical disrepair after the USSR broke up and only in the last five years have seen any kind of resurgence. Indeed, the price paid for losing a war falls not only on the head of the generals and politicians that lost, but on allies, neighbours and the populace as well.

A population is often most directly affected by a loss in war because they have been conditioned to think, not only are they morally right in what they do, but they are superior to their enemy in every way. Propaganda is one of the most important weapons a government can use in war, it encourages support among the public for the troops and their mission, and also – usually – bolsters the support for the Government itself, as well as allowing it to get away with more than usual (look no further than the Bush Administration and things like FISA and The Patriot Act here). Propaganda also often ensures a usually docile and compliant media, as the men and women involved in the supposedly bi-partisan machine often want to support their government and their nation before putting true journalistic neutrality to the test. The way the American media acted in the march towards the current conflict in the Persian Gulf is a textbook example of this, their eagerness to support their government and better their nation proved to be their undoing. For when the supply of information is so keenly controlled, and the information that the man in the street receives is controlled so very tightly, it is easy to control what people think, want and do, and thus gain support for your war, even if it is not something that is truly necessary for the nation.

Indeed, very few wars are necessary. In the last century there have only been two that the free world has needed to fight; World War I and World War II. These were wars of necessity and wars of protection, conflicts that ensured people would be free, able to live as they wanted and not fear persecution or death for their lifestyles or opinions. In these wars, the unfortunate toll that fighting takes on a soldier was an unfortunate by product. It was not something that shouldn’t be happening, it was something that would happen, because countless free men from Britain, America, France, Russia, China and a myriad of other nations threw themselves into the horror of battle in order to maintain the freedoms that we take for granted. Aside from the two wars though, we see very few that have been waged for truly honourable means. We have seen wars of politics (Vietnam), wars of pre-emption (a word that disguises the true intent of invasion (the current Iraq conflict)), wars of retaliation (the Argentine War) and wars for business (the Suez Canal debacle). These are manufactured skirmishes that serve the needs of a group of people or a government. They are conflicts that rarely operate separate from one another, but all tie into the central philosophy of creating gains for one or a few nations at the unnecessary expense of another.

Which brings us to the great conflict of our time: The War On Terror. The War On Terror is not actually a war at all. It has created wars - mainly because the countries that have been invaded refuse to roll over and submit to their invaders – but it is not, in itself, a war; for how does one fight ‘terror’? No, the War On Terror is a political tool; a finely crafted, cleverly worded disguise that allows a nation to remain at war indefinitely. The genius of the War On Terror is that its success cannot be measured. If the United States had called this global battle “The War on al Qaeda” the world would be able to assess its progress and say whether or not its objectives were being achieved. al Qaeda succeeding? Bad. al Qaeda disintegrating? Good. That would have been the smart thing to call this conflict. The psychopaths in al Qaeda were the ones that claim responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, so they are the ones that vengeance should be sought upon (though one could hardly have said that the US – through their foreign policies - did nothing provoke such retaliation against them). By calling it the War On Terror, it allows the US Government to wage war on anybody it claims is a terrorist, a definition as vague as any out there, for what constitutes a terrorist? Would it be a true stretch to call a terrorist someone who hates the United States and wouldn’t mind seeing it knocked down a peg or two? With the right propaganda and training, probably not, thus allowing conflicts against anyone that refused to toe the line that the US requires.

This is the true face of war. All war, any war. It is a political tool. The Second World War was started by Nazis with a political agenda, we free nations only fought because we had to. It was a war because we fought back, because we refused to let the forces of intolerance and – dare one say it – evil reign freely and unchecked. The Vietnam War, The Gulf War, The Zulu War, The Napoleonic Wars, all of them became wars instead of conquests because the natives fought back. They fought for their land, their heritage and what they thought was right. Other countries invaded them, seeking to enhance their political clout in the area, get their public to fall into line and give them an easy ride, to increase their economic prospects, fuel their business and create money and new land for them to exploit. Every war since humans began waging it has started this way. All of them. From the wars in ancient history between Egyptians or Kushiites, or between Persians and Greeks, to the conflicts between the Nazis and the Allies or America and Iraq, they have all come to pass because someone at the top of the tree wanted to take something someone else had. It is the true face of war; the ultimate end result of human greed. Unfortunately, it is the one thing that appears we cannot ever solve. Something that we have done since time immemorial, and something we seem destined to continue to do. For all our monetary, social and energy problems, for all the havoc we cause on planet earth, it may be the war that we and we alone create that will finally be the downfall of mankind.

Fixing it is something we will never do.

Monday, 13 October 2008

The Hysteria Of Paedophilia

“I would kill very slowly someone who did this to any of my children. Why cant they pass the law that says you touch our children, you are put to death straight away. I can garantee that if you are sentenced on monday and killed on friday there would be a lot less scum in the world”
“People who go into junior/elementary school's and get children who are under age for sex and use them for child pornography should get a life sentence in prison straight away. I'm fed up of our government not being tough enough on the pedofile's these days. I'm only 14 and already I'm sick of the Government giving pedo's a petty sentence e.g. 3 years. It should be for life. And the prison's should not have things like TV's or PS2's in them. They should just have a bed and a toilet. That's it. Nothing else.”

“At last there is someone talkin sense, why is everyone tryin to justify abuse.i joined this site thinkin if enough people with the same views something mayb done, obviously noti had been saddend with the amount of peolpe talkin as if its normal, mayb for them but i no if someone went anywhere near my kids i would bloody have em, we need to protect r kids”

What is it, out of all the sick, depraved, horrific things that human beings have done to one another, thought up, fantasised about and acted out of the past 6000 years of civilisation that makes people in the 21st century absolutely lose their mind about paedophiles? What is it that has created this insane, barbaric mob mentality that causes seemingly rational people to talk about the trampling of civil liberties, murder and torture with such apparent glee?

Why do people get so crazy when it comes to paedophilia? And we’re going beyond just a bit crazy, we’re talking about a mindless mob, high on bloodlust going through the streets and vandalizing the home of a paediatrician because they obviously don’t know the difference.

But let us look at this rationally. What is it? What causes it? What effect does it have? Obviously the first thing that reaches anyone’s mind when it comes to paedophilia is children. What people instantly think of is little girls and boys who are sexually abused by evil twisted perverts. This, unfortunately, is usually the truth of it. It says something about the makeup of the human psyche that we would take ourselves that far into depravity, but it happens, and children suffer physically and psychologically for it. While I am against this constant overprotection and hysteria around child safety (which there is a direct correlation to the social awareness and coverage of paedophilia to), I agree that this is one thing that all children should be shielded from. They do not understand what is happening, and it goes on to cause great trauma in later life. That is the best case scenario, for many times there have been instances of kidnap, rape and murder. It is, without a doubt, a terrible crime.

There are some, on the other side of the fence though, that claim to believe that it is not a crime. They claim that, in fact, it is merely an expression of an adult’s love for a child. One of the most prominent advocates of this stance is an organisation called NAMBLA – The North America Man-Boy Love Association. They claim that if a child chooses to engage in such acts with an adult, then it is perfectly acceptable, for it is two consensual human beings expressing feelings for one another. Now, this argument is easily shot down with three points; 1) Since when does society think an eight year old is mature enough and careful enough to weigh up decisions about what is should eat every evening for dinner, let alone be so considerate as to understand what love is and how it wants to express it. 2) No child of such a young age chooses to express feelings in a sexual manner. At such a stage in their life they have very little – if any – sense of sexuality. That is why boys think girls are smelly and girls think boys are yucky. There is no attraction, and those boys and girls that might become friends have no feelings for one another beyond innocent friendship. Even games of ‘you show me your parts and I’ll show you mine’ are done in an innocent manner, totally devoid of any sexual subtext. No, it is the adult, that would choose to inject any kind of expression of sexual love into an equation. It is the adult, with his somewhat developed psychology and brain, who is able to manipulate, coerce and convince a child that such an act would be fun, or a great way to show that we’re friends. The child does not choose to express love this way (if it even understands what such a thing is), it is coerced into it by an altogether more manipulative outside force – the adult.

But NAMBLA’s existence, while deplorable, does occasionally highlight an important point about paedophiles, one that the hysteria mobs often overlook, and one that I feel is extremely important. What, exactly, is it that causes a man (or very occasionally a woman) to become a paedophile? No one chooses it, just like no one chooses their sexual orientation or list of turn ons. The people that suffer from such desires, are, in a sense, victims of fate and genetics, for they have something in their brain that is wired a little differently, and turns their eye towards young children instead of developed adults. Look at the notion of paedophilia this way, through the prism of objective reasoning and science, and you realise that this argument that ‘All paedophiles are evil’ is simple hysterical nonsense. Are some paedophiles evil? Yes of course. And they are the difference, they are the ones who have such feelings and choose to act on them. Whether it be by looking at child pornography or engaging in such acts themselves. They know what they are doing is morally reprehensible and illegal, but they throw caution to the wind in order to pleasure themselves. They choose to commit these acts. There are those that have such feelings however, that choose not to act on them. Just as there are those with a range of kinks and fetishes that they choose not to act on, from the mundane (spanking, S&M and whatnot) through to the depraved (scat or vomit play), the illegal (necrophilia or bestiality) or the bizarre (arousal through wearing diving suits or being treated like a 1940s Arian in Poland). Some choose to act on these urges – whatever they may be – some choose not to. As long as they break no laws, which means in most cases not indulging in the act with a person who does not consent to, they are perfectly entitled to indulge themselves. Paedophilia however, is one such perversion that falls into the territory of the illegal, because a child can never give seriously considered consensual approval. But again, look at the condition through that prism; that these are desires that no one would ever choose to have. And that is the individual that makes the choice whether to act on such urges, in full realisation that their acts are morally wrong and illegal. The idea of tarring all with the same brush – an idea that is so reprehensible when it comes to ideas of race, nationality or sexuality – which is so popular when it comes to dealing with paedophiles, disappears.

We have established though, firmly, that paedophilia is a crime, both a moral and physical one. It is a terrible, terrible thing to do, that scars and creates severe trauma for the individual later in life, but why is it that this particular crime is given such status? Why is it that so many people think that paedophilia is the most unpardonable act, one that deserves either life incarceration, mental and physical torture and the death penalty with question? Again, objectively, ask yourself, is it really a crime that is worse than rape? Is it really a crime that is worse than murder? Despite the terrible after effects of rape or sexual abuse, at least the victim is still alive afterward. Many people say ‘You wouldn’t understand unless you have children.’ To which one can simply reply, ‘If I tortured and then murdered your parents, brothers, sisters, friends and even your pets in front of you, that would be a worse crime than your child getting touched inappropriately and left alive?’ The point here is that the grading of any such crime is silly, but most people have some level of sense when it comes to the severity of a crime. That always seems to be tossed out of the window when it comes to dealing with paedophilia, where people are willing to accept rumour as fact and convict without due course, despite there being many more terrible people in the world who would have received a far more considered approach to their crimes.

Indeed, it seems as though when it comes to the notion of ‘Innocent until proven guilty’, that corner stone of any enlightened justice system, is thrown out of the window when it comes to the case of the paedophile. Onlookers and listeners are happy to convict on the basis of hearsay. Why? Why is there often so much pressure on the judge in a trial to convict and ruin the life of a potentially innocent man or woman? If you were accused by any child of inappropriate touching, and were taken to court over the allegation, how would you feel with an entire community and network of people baying for your blood, eager to see your life ruined, simply over the notion of what a child said? You might be completely innocent, but in their eyes, on accusal alone, you are guilty and a disgusting creature. This is an important thing to understand whenever one looks at someone accused of such an event, when a community or sometimes even a nation is turned against you because of little more (in some cases) than an accusation?

Often, the flames of such hatred are stoked, prodded and enlarged by an external force; the news media. I truly believe they should bear a large load of criticism when it comes to the way that society has been trained to react to paedophilia. Look no further than the shrewd and insightful satire of Chris Morris’ Brasseye special (entitled Paedogeddon), that lampooned tabloid rags like The News Of The World (with their disgusting, intrusive, morally bankrupt, sensationalist and illegal “Name and Shame” campaign (The Sun practiced a similar vile ethos throughout the ‘80s and early ‘90s, outing closeted gay public figures for tabloid gain)), The sun and the Daily Mail for their hypocrisy and exploitative measures. Of course, a show so intelligent was roundly condemned by the tabloid press itself, who (incapable of ever taking criticism) attacked Morris and his show. The Daily Star printed an article decrying Morris and the show next to a piece about the then 15-year-old singer Charlotte Church's breasts under the headline "She's a big girl now". The Daily Mail also featured pictures of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, who were 13 and 11 at the time respectively, in their bikinis next to a headline describing Brass Eye as "Unspeakably Sick". MPs, ever eager to jump on a bandwagon, attacked the show in order to gain some exposure, with Beverley Hughes describing it as "unspeakably sick" (while admitting that she had not seen the programme) and David Blunkett (who also admitted that he had not seen the programme ‘due to being blind’) said he was "dismayed" by it. Although she did not criticise the show, Tessa Jowell was reported as asking the Independent Television Commission to revise its rules to allow such a controversial show to be prevented from broadcast even though she had not watched the actual episode of the show. Thankfully the ITC refrained from such delporable censorship, but it is the perfect example of how hypocritical, sensationlist and unscrupulous the media is on the issue, and how easily people will happily throw their morals, laws of the land and the rights of their fellow humans out of the window in order to attack the subject.

It was this temporary insanity which led to a mob in Newport to This included an incident in 2000, where a paediatrician had the word 'PAEDO' daubed in yellow paint on her home. What is it that causes this mob mentality? What is it that leads grown men and women, thoughtful, considerate people to say – with seriousness – that they will kill someone and enjoy it? How can they say that paedophiles should be castrated by wild dogs, or – as evidenced in the first quote of this article – be put to death within a week if even accused of such an offence. The calls of what they call ‘equal’ and ‘fair’ justice are not that at all, they are merely simple minded screams for vengeance. They are whipped into a frenzy against a commonly held evil and go rampaging through a town like in the days of old, when mobs would maraude through villages with flaming torches and weapons in an attempt to cast out witches, homosexuals, the disabled or black people. It reveals an ugly truth about human beings, that for all our thoughts of evolutionary superiority, left to the will of the people ‘justice’ would still revolve around an eye for an eye. They have no interest in understanding the problem or helping those that are afflicted by it and genuinely want help, that involves to much rational and careful thought around a sensitive issue, they are much happier to go with their emotions.

It is my opinion, that the people that so roundly dismiss all paedophiles as evil, sick monsters, that say they would throw away the civil liberties of the few in order to serve the raging, manipulated emotions of the many, are simple minded, and not very bright. Do not try to turn it on me by saying ‘How would you feel’ or ‘Well I’ve got a daughter/son and you don’t understand’ because if anyone ever laid a finger on my mother, father or sister I would be moved by such moments of mindless rage. I do not know if I could ever forgive a perpatrator, but I would never allow myself to sink to their level and CHOOSE to act on feelings that I know to be illegal. I would then be no better than the murderer, the rapist or the paedophile.

I may upset many people with this article, but my opinion remains the same, and if you have read through to this point, having been presented with a reasoned, intelligent point of view as to why the mob mentality is wrong, and why tarring everyone in a group is wrong, and yet still believe that ‘All paedophiles should be killed’ or that you would ‘Hunt down and torture to death anyone that touched my child’ then you know my opinion of you. A terrible crime should not be met with a terrible crime. It makes you no better than them. Just as they chose to break the law and harm someone, you chose to break it anfd harm them. I do not advocate paedophilia. Nor do I sympathise with any man or woman who chooses to commit such an act, but I do with those who feel such feelings, know they are wrong, have restrained themselves and seek help. I hope, that after reading this article, you might look at the situation with a bit more reason and composure, and at least try to understand the issue before so roundly condemning it. It was out of that media manipulated, mob mentality that the Holocaust, the Salem witch trials, the Inquisition or the Communist witch hunts of the 1950s were allowed to take place. Those deplorable moments were born out of that kind of fervour. It is a relic of our darker past, and that is where we should consign it forever.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The Holocaust

I have watched and read a great deal about the Holocaust recently, not intentionally, just by coincidence various bits of media crossing my path. The three main sources; I’m watching The Counterfeiters and Schindler’s List (which I’m watching for the umpteenth time because it is such a brilliant piece of cinema and Steven Spielberg’s finest work), and I’m reading If This Is A Man and The Truce, both by Primo Levi. “The Counterfeiters” is on sale in HMV and you can get the both Levi books in one edition for £5 including postage from Amazon. I highly, highly recommend all of them.

The people targeted by The Holocaust were Jews, Gypsies, Soviets, POWs, Communists, ethnic Poles, other Slavic people, the disabled, homosexuals and political and religious dissidents. You can bet that any non-Caucasian ethnicity would have been on that list too had the Nazis got their way. The highest estimate for the victims of The Holocaust was eleven million people. 11’000’000. That is the equivalent population of Greater London, Greater Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Edinburgh combined.

To me, there are two things that stand out about the Holocaust. The first, and the most terrifying, is that this vast, unnecessary loss of human life, this rampant slaughter fuelled by hatred, was committed by human beings against other human beings. Smart, intelligent people did these unimaginably barbaric, senseless things to other human beings.

It says something about our weaknesses and fallibilities as a species, that we could do this to one another, that we could be convinced to desire to turn men into beasts and become them ourselves. I am not saying that it exists in all of us, the ability to scheme and sketch such horror, but it exists in a few, the malfunctioning people in our midst: the men that would be pathological serial killers if they had not risen duplicitously through the ranks of power to lead a nation. And through their charismatic leadership, through their manipulation of the media of their time, through their rhetoric, control of knowledge and political destruction of the liberties of their people, they convince their populace and their soldiers to not only engage in but revel in monstrosities that do not even exist in the deepest corners of most men’s souls.

The soldiers that helped commit the horrors of The Holocaust were no different from the British soldiers or American soldiers that are fighting in Iraq. They were sent to kill the Jews, tripped up and brainwashed into serving a political ideal that was beyond their comprehension. They were serving their nation’s leader; they were serving their country with all the fervour they could muster. They were freeing the German people from the shackles of the evil and the weak that lay in their midst. Is that any different from our soldiers freeing the Iraqi people from the evil of a dictator and the killers that lay among them? I don’t think it is.

I am not equating what our soldiers are doing in Iraq to The Holocaust, merely that both parties were and are soldiers. They do not question their orders, they love their country, and they put their lives on the line to do it. It is not in their mindset to analyse the orders they are given, for does not every patriotic man believe that his country, his home, is the one that is right in a conflict? I believe that most often they do. And when the ruler of the country and his minions is quietly subverting the rule of law, misinforming the populace and silencing dissent (especially in a world before information ever travelled really freely), what can a soldier or a citizen think? They would not know what their Government was really doing. Would one ever question, when all they hear is propaganda and they do not realise it, that the rulers of their country are engaged in the most unspeakable acts of horror ever imagined?

Yes, the most terrifying thing about the Holocaust, in my eyes, is that in another time, you or I, any of us in such a controlled situation, without access to free, independent information, yes unaware of, we could be controlled in such a way. We could be brainwashed and convinced into being a part of such hatred.

The second thing about The Holocaust that stands out to me, the one that I find most shameful and distressing about the whole thing, is that we allowed it to happen. By we I mean both the victims and those of us that lived free, far away.

What enrages me, to a point, is that the people that were rounded up in the ghettos, the people that were marginalised and put away, they never really fought against what was happening to them. There were a few uprisings, but for the most part, the people involved never fought back. They let it happen to them. They never thought that their rulers could commit acts of such terror against them. It was naïve in a way; they never thought their government would make them second class citizens, they never thought they would take their homes, move them into ghettos and treat them like animals, they never thought there would be random, unpunished killings in the street by soldiers. Liquidation of the ghettos, the work camps and mass murder were only escalations of that. They saw the propaganda, they saw the way they were demonised, yet they never thought it would reach such a scale.

There was an acceptance that things would never get that bad. There was even an acceptance that they could get by, or could stand by dehumanised. By the time they reached Auschwitz or Dachau they were already broken. They stood by and allowed themselves to be brow beaten by men with guns. Brainwashed bullies. There was never any desire it seemed, never any real fight amongst the mass of the people, to stop this happening to them; to risk something and fight. Of course there were groups of people who tried to rebel, but there was never a real uprising of the entire population. Paul Johnson writes: "The Jews had been persecuted for a millennium and a half and had learned from long experience that resistance cost lives rather than saved them. Their history, their theology, their folklore, their social structure, even their vocabulary trained them to negotiate, to pay, to plead, to protest, not to fight.” I suppose their nature, and the naivety of others never led them to believe that a bullet in the head of the ghetto would have been several lifetimes better than a bullet in the head in Auschwitz, but is the right to be counted as and treated like a human being not worth risking death for?

And then there were The Allies. We stood by. It is believed that we learned the truth about The Holocaust in 1942. We were already aware of the ghettos, yet we did nothing. And then once we had proof from survivors about what was happening, we still stood by. For three years, we did nothing to stop this greatest of collective nightmares of the human race. Why? I ask. Why? By the 1st of February 1942, the United States Office of War Information had decided not to release information about the extermination of the Jews because it was felt that it would mislead the public into thinking the war was simply a Jewish problem It decided to sit idly by and deceive its own populace in an effort to get them to support the war. Had they known the truth, would they not have demanded action? Would they not have recoiled in horror and slept restlessly in their beds knowing that the mass extermination of a race of people was occuring? I hope with all my being that they would have.

Apparently, many of the The Allies, just like the victims themselves, never truly believed the stories of the gas chambers or the sterilisation experiments that managed to escape from the camps like abused children fleeing from a raging parent. It was thought to be war propaganda, viscious rumours to make the Nazis seem all the more terrible. It was just too unbelievable.

It was only in April of 1944 that The Allies began to take reports seriously. Before then the tales of escapees were just too far fetched. Never before had such unspeakable destruction of human life been witnessed or reported on such a massive scale; there was no frame of referance in our history that led us to believe that such evil could exist within the dark recesses of man’s soul. It was apparently muted that Auschwitz should be bombed, one has to wonder if that would not have been more humane.

David Wyman, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Massachusetts, has asked: “How could it be that the governments of the two great Western democracies knew that a place existed where 2000 helpless human beings could be killed every 30 minutes, knew that such killings actually did occur over and over again, and yet did not feel driven to search for some way to wipe such a scourge from the earth?” During his second visit to the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on January 10 of this year, President George W. Bush said to Condoleezza Rice, “We should have bombed it.”

I think it is difficult to say whether the camps should have been bombed, because methods of bombing at the time were so haphazard at the time. Personally, I feel that given what was happening in those prisons of the human soul, bombing may have been the more humane option.

And what do we learn now from The Holocaust? What is there about a war that happened sixty years ago, many of the survivors of which are now dead or in the twilight years of their lives. What is there that we, now living in a 21st century world of internets, twenty four hour media, instant worldwide communication, energy crises and global corporations can learn from this unspeakable event that was wrapped within the most destructive war the world has ever known?

To me, there are three things that stand out. That we must always, always question and never be afraid to question what it is that our governments and our media tells us. Never again can we let a leader, however righteous he may appear, control the media and the political system so fiercely. Never again must we accept the marginalisation of any section of society.

Never again must we allow ourselves to go quietly in the face of injustice and hatred. Never again must we permit our species to fall victim to the trickery of propaganda in an effort to mobilise their emotions against any people. We should not have stood for it then, and we should not stand for it now. Unfortuantely though, we do. We report but do not act against the acts of murder that Governments enact on their citizens in nations less fortunate than our own. We acknowledge the horror of The Holocaust, because it was immediate to us, it happened so close to where we are. But the atrocities that other countries are committing today are like smaller scale versions of such barbarity to the people involved in them. We can not allow their voices to be ignored like the victims of the extermination camps were ignored. We must speak out, pressure leaders for action and be prepared to actually, sometimes put ourselves out on behalf of those that are suffering. So many condemn such acts, and so many do so little about them.

And finally, the most resonating message that The Holocaust leaves, that all of us, every person on this planet, is a human being. We must remember that it was simple, common anti-Semitism, xenophobia or homphobia that allowed The Holocaust a foothold amongst the population of Germany. It was that ignored bigorty that no one ever really bothered with that become the soft flesh that its brutal, iron claws sunk into and received support in. From simple dislike came hatred. From hatred followed the second class status. From there the ghettos, and then the death camps. It all started from that simple, quiet, unspoken dislike for groups of people based on nothing more than how or where or to whom they were born. We cannot allow that to repeat itself. Because it will, one day, if we allow it. It happens still around the world. Rascism, homphobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia. It is not something we should tolerate or accept. Because it is a slippery slope from there, one that leads to the worst of human nature. And all it needs is one person with the charisma and the voice to gain a little support, and it could happen again. No one ever thought it could be possible in the twentieth century, we must never take such senseless hatred so lightly in the twenty first.

We must never let it happen again.

Saturday, 16 August 2008


I hadn’t intended to comment on the Russia situation so explicitly, but there’s nothing like the impending start of World War III to change one’s plans.

Up until yesterday I was pro-Russia in the face of an onslaught of Western propaganda to attempt to paint them as the aggressors in this whole Goergia/South Ossetia mess. The media and Governments of Britain and the US have been on a role of disinformation over the past week, despite Russia only stepping into the conflict to prevent genocide in the separatist state. Georgia has lobbyists working in the Governments of Britain and the United States (yes, like everything, politicians and policy are still up for sale in the ‘principled’ west), which caused the surge in propaganda.

Many have called out the hypocrisy of the US and UK in their attempt to attack Russia for “invading a sovereign nation in order to further their political agenda”, when we did exactly the same in the sovereign nation of Iraq (the Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain never (laughably) went so far to say “In the 21st century nations don’t invade other nations.” Video here: ). They have done this justifiably so, as it needs to be pointed out, but, in the last twenty four hours Russia has become equally guilty of the same hypocrisy.

In short, Poland has agreed to host ten missiles for the United States missile shield program, and Russia is very unhappy about it. So unhappy in fact, that they have threatened a nuclear attack against Poland.

While I was with them in support of the democratically elected separatist state of South Ossetia, they are now ignoring the wishes of democratically elected Poland. They are guilty of the same hypocrisy that the US and the UK have been demonstrating since Monday. This new development in fact lends a new slant to the Russian involvement in the Georgian conflict, one that looks like they may have been acting in their own interests alone all the time, and have just used the opportunity to crush the government of Georgia and bring them back under Russian rule.

While both Russia and Georgia have now signed the ceasefire agreement, committing a withdrawal of Russian troops with only limited patrols inside of Georgia, there has yet been no response from any western nation of this sudden nuclear threat. I advise any who do to tread very, very carefully. We are almost back on the nuclear precipice of the late 60s/early 70s once again. Not in many, many years have relations been so strained.

Rest assured, the Russian sabre rattling is foolish, any attack on Poland would lead to a united Europe and America turning Putin’s playground into glass. The worry is that this would only awaken the Chinese against us, and unite them with the Middle East against the West, leading to what I think it will be safe to say, will be the end of the human race.

Diplomacy is the way forward, and compromise is necessary (particularly on the part of the US, as one must ask the question why they even need a missile shield in these days of relative international peace) but with crooked morons in Washington and crooked morons in Moscow, both of whom refuse to back down (after all their penises are soooo big), the coming weeks and months may prove very interesting indeed.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Fixing Planet Earth: Religion

Faith. It is a quintessential human trait. A feeling that runs through all of us a tone time or another in our brief lives. When we look at a beautiful sunset, or out at the stars in the night sky and we sit and wonder; what bought us all here? What caused all of this, and us? What is the meaning of this life, and what happens when we die?

The questions we ask are those that no one can answer, no one has ever come back from the dead to tell us where we go, and no one can step outside of the limits of time and view the absolute grand scheme of this experiment we know as the three dimensional universe. So for an experience that is so shared amongst us, for a feeling that touches almost all of us at one time or another in our lives, why does it cause such a problem on this planet?

It is one of the great plagues of the human species, the war over who is right. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Atheists, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Mormons, Zoroastrianism, Baha’i, Agnosticism, Paganism, Candomble, Jainism, Rastafari, Unitarianism, Taoism, Shinto or Santeria. Break them down further and you have Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Sunni’s Shi’ites, Otrthodox, Reformists, Literalists or Spiritualists. And there is, among the most heavily followed of these faiths, a great deal of problems that spring from their devotees.

Primarily, we see the major global strife between Christians/Jews and Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, and all of them and Atheists. Why? What causes this? And how can it be solved?

Firstly, let’s clear one thing up; the holy books of every single religion were written by men. Not by Gods. These men may have been claiming to take direct or indirect inspiration from God(s) – in the case of Islam Muhammad receiving word for word dictation – but there is not a single shred of proof for this, only the word of these authors. Whether you believe them to be true or not is up to you.

So, now we’ve cleared up that the divinity of any religious text is only alleged and purely speculative (and there is no argument on that), let’s try to understand why religion is one of the great sociological problems of our time.

The main reason that the religious are such pests (and in using the term religious I refer to atheists as well), is that they are convinced that they and they alone are right. There is a deep seated refusal amongst the human species to say “I don’t know.” This comes in the shape of many atheists as well, who, while they admit that they do not know how this current flow of time and existence came to be, many of them categorically rule out that anything supernatural had anything to do with it, comforted as they are in the belief (a key word) that science can – and will – eventually explain everything. That is belief; that is faith. We may reach a point in heading back towards the beginning of time where everything just suddenly happens; all scientific knowledge breaks down and no explanation can be found, creation (for example) just occurs, almost as if at random and by magic. Then, I think it would be pretty safe to say, that something beyond the simple limitations of science was and maybe still is at work.

But if this were the way of our world, with everyone stubbornly acknowledging their particular sect’s superiority over all others, there would not be so many regional and global crises that occur because of religion. If there is one word throughout history that can go hand in hand with the institution of religion, it is war. Not the wars that are fought for business (that’s a different article yet to come), but the wars that are fought on faith and for faith. The war that says I am right and you are wrong. This kind of war has several possible outcomes; ‘You are a heretic, you must die.’ ‘You are a heretic, you must convert.’ ‘You are a heretic you must leave this land.’ All three spring from that belief that one group is right and the other is wrong, and God itself says so.

Because it is only when the religious congregate and organise that they become really dangerous. Many militant atheists would love to bring about the absolute death of all religion, believing the world to be a better place without it. Many Christians would love to rid the world of the atheists and the Muslims, the only two major groups that are a threat to their unrivalled power. In this blind conviction that you and you alone are right, and that the nature of existence itself proves this, humans have and continue to commit terrible, terrible acts of harm towards one another.

The most current, and gravest, example of the problem of religious conviction comes in the shape of the Israel/Palestine conflict. One nation claims that the land is holy to them. The other claims that it is holy to them. One group claims they were promised this land by God and that The Torah confirms this. The other groups claims that their religion has always been based upon this holy land and that their Prophet ascended bodily from a section of this land. Neither will relinquish their claim, neither will back down. The internal politics within these religions then break out. Israeli terrorists attack and murder Palestinian people, grabbing their land in the process. Palestinian terrorists fire rockets into towns full of people. A fringe faction of Israelis attempt to escalate the conflict in the hope that it will bring about the coming of The Messiah. A fringe faction of Palestinians escalate the conflict hoping that it will bring about the coming of The Hidden Imam. Christian America lends backing to Israel, as they believe too in the God of Jesus Christ. The Islamic states lend backing to Palestine, as they believe that God is named Allah and that Muhammad is his Prophet. And the rest of us peace loving people who have and want nothing to do with it, us Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Atheists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Jains have to suffer because of these two groups of people that refuse to share.

What are we all to do? The Atheist would naively say “Kill the ignorant.” The Christian would say “Kill the heretics.” The Muslim would say “Kill the infidels.” The Sikh would say “Kill the unbelievers.” The Hindu would say “Kill the blasphemers.” All are convinced they are right. None of them have any proof.

And proof is what keeps these foolish ideals alive. Proof, or lack of it, is what makes a Catholic know that anyone who doesn’t follow the Bible is going to Hell. Proof, or lack of it, is what makes an Atheist know that nothing will happen at all. Proof, or lack of it, is what makes a Buddhist know that they will be reincarnated, or maybe even reach Nirvana. It’s a foolproof system that means you can never be proved wrong, and that your enemies will always be made to eat their own words. That is where this ludicrous Christian notion of ‘saving’ people comes from. “I’m only doing it because I don’t want you to go to hell.” To which you should always reply, “Disregarding the Bible, where is there any proof that hell exist or that I’m going there?” The other oft-used argument is the “Well what if you’re wrong?” To which you should always reply “Well what if we’re both wrong and we both get reincarnated as slugs?” Wouldn’t it be a disappointment to a Christian that when they reached Heaven they learned that there is no hell, and that Hitler has a bar there? Wouldn’t it be a disappointment to a Hindu to learn that the reincarnation he was expecting doesn’t happen, and that all his existence is over and was for nought?

These are the questions that would solve the problem of religion. These are the questions that would solve the problem of religious war, persecution and hatred. To point out to the Israelis and Palestinians that they are fighting over land for which their only claim is that a) an invisible man promised it to them during an Exodus that is proven never to have happened, or b) was the alleged sight of where a man bodily ascended into Heaven in a book that was so open to interpretation in its original form that it makes “What is art?” seem like a yes or no question. When an Atheist shouts down a religious person, ask them, “How did the universe come into being?” And when they’ve explained the big bang, ask them “And before that?” It’s speculative. It’s all speculative. Whatever helps get you through this complicated, irrational, difficult and crazy shred of reality we call life is fine, but when you start imposing it on others, when you start claiming that you alone are right, when you start calling other believers stupid and when you start warring over it because a voice in your head told you that the other people are wrong, you should really step back, objectively and say ‘What incontrovertible proof do I have that they don’t?’ Ignore the belief, ask yourself for proof.

If theocracies, churches built on bigotry and coffee houses full of intellectual superiority did that, we just might get a little closer to that God that lies at the end of every great question we’ve ever asked ourselves.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Fixing Planet Earth: The Food Crisis

Possibly the most globally catastrophic effect of the West’s current mishandling of its economic stewardship is the impact that it is having on food and the access that humans have to it. Credit crunches, recession, gas prices, oil supplies and the bottoming out of the housing market, all these great economic woes are, at their very end creating what the global food crisis. Rising population + limited land + limited crop + limited finances = not everyone can eat.

Now, before you start worrying your own little head about how this affects you, you can chill. Anyone from Western Europe or North America can sleep easy. A recession could be a killer, it could tighten belts and cause great hardship for families and individuals, but no one (who doesn’t have the capacity to budget and live within their means) will be going hungry because they can’t afford food. You may have to shop at Morrisons instead of Sainsbury’s or M&S instead of Harrods, you might have to give up goose liver pate and daily helpings of fresh mozzarella (my own personal weakness) but you will never reach the point where food becomes so pricey that you cannot afford to buy any of it.

You’re a Westerner, the only group of people in the world where being fat is a bad thing. The only group of people that have developed allergies to food. Go to Ethiopia, I doubt you’ll find anyone with lactose intolerance or a strictly white meat diet over there. Being fat in over half the countries in the world be an achievement beyond the wildest dreams of the average citizen. So don’t worry, you will be eating at the weekend.

No, the people that are suffering at the ends of the global food crisis are those that need food more than anyone. It is the farmers, the abattoir workers, the fruit pickers and the shepherds; the men and women that live off the land, often in inhospitable regions, who sell more food than they eat, just to be able to afford the meagre amount that they live off of. It is they, those at the bottom of the ladder that produce the worlds food that are the victims of this crisis.

The explanation for what is happening is linked directly to the current energy crisis (article link here: and ties into an upcoming article about war and another regarding mutli-national corporations. The three things form the crux of the economic problem facing planet earth. The food crisis is the by product of inactivity/wilful ignorance over the food crisis and the economic disaster caused when war is used as a business tool.

The current problem is easy to break down (the figures are simplified guesses in order to illustrate a point). A farmer in Patagonia sells his meat for $5 a kilo. $2.50 goes on living expenses, $1.50 goes on eating and $1 is saved. His food, bought for $5, costs another $10 to transport from Patagonia to Wyoming, where it is processed and sold by Walmart for $20 a kilo to the average American consumer.

However, the current Gulf crisis is driving up oil prices, meaning the ship that transports the farmer’s meat now cost $20 to fill instead of $10. Walmart, refusing to take a hit in profits, use their economic bargaining might to force the farmer to drop his prices. The food he grows and buys for himself still costs the same amount of money, so for the $3.50 he’s now being paid, $2.00 goes on his living expense and $1.50 on eating. Life is tight, but liveable.

However, the problem of the energy crisis comes into play, as the cost of heating and lighting Walmart increases, as well as the cost of the gas to truck the meat from port to store. Walmart increases the price of its meat by $5 a kilo, meaning it is now sold to the customer for $25 a kilo. The energy prices have driven the company’s costs up by $10 however, so, using its economic might again, it forces our farmer in Patagonia to drop the asking price for his meat down to $2. Now, he has $1 to cover his living costs, and $1 to buy food. Yet the food he buys has still not dropped in price, if anything it has increased, as the cost of getting it to him has increased. Life is now tough, and getting enough food to survive is proving difficult.

And that’s the food crisis, in a simplified nutshell. The people that no one really cares about, the guys that produce most of the cheap food; those $3/£1.50 prime beef steaks that we refuse to pay a higher price for, are the ones that suffer the most. And no one knows about it. This is a social problem, caused by the media’s disinterest in reporting such cases, and preferring to focus on more salacious stories, or lay the blame at the victim du jour’s feet (currently Gordon Brown).

As mentioned earlier though, the food crisis is a by-product, it is cannot be solved alone. Maybe if people knew that their 8pence bananas were only that price because the guy growing them is struggling to survive then they wouldn’t mind paying a little more, but the food that funnels into the upper echelons of the human hierarchy is taken for granted, expected to be cheap, and any change would cause public outcry. The British or American public don’t care about starving farmers, because the news anchor on Fox or the editor of The Sun or Bono hasn’t told them to. The only way to solve the problem is by affecting the others; addressing the energy crisis, dealing with the problems of war and corporate might, and perhaps educating ourselves just a little bit better. If only knowledge were cheap food.

“And Here… We… Go!” The Lone Problem With The Dark Knight

It pains me to write this, because I love the movie so much, I think it’s one of the finest films to come out of the tired, turgid, dull and unadventurous Hollywood machine in almost a decade. However, there are two moments in the film that are unforgivable because they – when given a moment or two to think about them – shatter the entire mythos that Messrs Nolan have been building with their spellbindingly brilliant reinvented Batman movies.

The crime actually happens twice, though in different ways. The first occurrence, in the sequence that I felt was most worthy of being chopped – partly for the reason I am about to detail – was Bruce Wayne/Batman’s sojourn off into the South China Sea to go and play extraordinary rendition with the gangster Lau. The sequence (in my opinion) is more Bond than Batman, and is something that could and should have been dealt with within the confines of Gotham through sharper script writing. I know it was fun to see Batman travelling the world and in a different location, but his trip out into China causes the logical problem I am commenting on.

The second occurrence of this problem, comes far later in the film, I think not long after The Joker has been to the hospital. There is a moment when Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon (probably the most underrated performance of the movie) says “We’ve got to call in the national guard.” Or words to that effect. It is the second occurrence of the logical problem. The problem that single handedly destroys the logic of any superhero movie.

The problem is this, the moment you take Batman to China, or the moment you refer to bringing in the national guard, basically the moment you root Batman in our reality and not in his own, you expose the absurdity of the story. If the Chinese Government – in between barring former gold medallists with agendas from the Olympics – are harbouring a known financier of one of the entirety of Gotham’s criminal society (let’s take Gotham as being about the same size as modern day Chicago, where the film was set) do you not think the CIA or the FBI would be involved? Do you not think he would not have been able to just march out of the country? And do you think America’s only way of getting this fellow back would be Batman?

When Gordon mentions bringing in the national guard, after The Joker has caused the havoc he already has, killing off public figures, cops, civilians and politicians left right and centre, do you not think the FBI, the CIA or – God forbid – the national guard would not have been bought in a little sooner to deal with him? Why would they leave the capture of this terrorist up to an ineffectual city police force? If the national guard couldn’t stop him, why doesn’t he head to New York or LA? We know the Caped Crusader doesn’t mind travelling. Again, do you really think Batman is America’s only hope of stopping him?

Batman Begins never encountered this problem because it was grounded in its own reality. There was no US Government or national guard to bring in and save Gotham. It was just Batman and the GPD. The moment you mention the national guard or renditions in China, you put Batman in our reality and he becomes silly. Would the Government not try to track down the man who kidnapped and illegally extradited a known and wanted criminal? Would anybody in the US Government stand for this vigilante crap that Wayne is pulling? No.

The film is amazing, without a doubt. Finely crafted, suspenseful, superbly acted and – almost – perfectly written (I did not have a problem with the film’s length). But in putting Batman in our world in 2008, you destroy the necessity for his character. You destroy everything about him. You make him a psycho in a rubber suit running around catching criminals. He ceases to be any type of hero or even anti-hero and is little more than a loon that the Government would arrest and put away. You turn The Joker from a psychopathic criminal genius into a lucky loon – cheapening his work into little more than domestic terrorism - who’s only getting away with what he’s doing because the national guard, the FBI or the CIA haven’t been called in.

Putting Batman in a world with Chinese Governments and national guards puts him in a world where he is obsolete, because The Jokers and the Laus would be dealt with before they become a problem. Because that’s what happens in the real world. Hopefully, for the follow up – if there is one (I’m assuming it’s inevitable) – Nolan will disregard these passing attempts to try and make Gotham a real place in our world, and Batman a real character, and keep him in the fantasy world in which he belongs. Otherwise, you really have to question why a Government that wiretaps its own citizens, tortures suspected terrorists and bombs the shit out of foreign countries that might be a threat, wouldn’t just seal off Gotham and ultrasound scan the city to find the Batcave, the villains hideouts, and the silly writers who – to me – take a film of near genius and reduce it merely to astonishing greatness.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008



A very good friend of mine recently came into contact with the grim reality of death and my great aunt also died a few weeks ago. It made me think somewhat about the nature of death, and how we humans always, always react to it. Human beings are afraid of death, I think it’s safe to say. No one wants to die. Don’t you find that funny? Don’t you find it a little humorous? No one wants to die and many people are scared of it. Why? There’s a famous saying; ‘In life you’re guaranteed two things; death and taxes.’ A humorous little quip, but one that’s very true; for I can guarantee, with 100% certainty, that every single human being currently alive on this planet will die. I guran-damn-tee.

So why are we afraid of dying? Moreover, why are we ever surprised, taken aback or shocked when someone else dies? We know they’re going to die, just as we know we’re going to die. It’s guaranteed. We have no problem doling out our own brand of death on, say, pesky insects, creatures that just die suddenly because they happen to fly into the wrong room, so why are we human beings afraid of the same death visiting us as suddenly as we visit it on them?

Of course I’m taking a very stark view of things here, and I know that it is often the emotion of the loss that shocks us. But really, when you think about it, shouldn’t we be preparing for the death of all those around us? Shouldn’t we be gearing up our emotions for great loss? Again, we know people are going to die. We don’t even know when. So why not start preparing early, instead of waiting for old age or terminal illnesses?

Of course, it is the human condition that affects or perception of life and death. We do not think about the mortality of our lives, because it is scary. If there is one thing I can guarantee you no one knows, it is where we go, or what happens when we die. And that vast, dark cloud of the unknown, is what makes us afraid. Sure people can put their faith in religion and notions of the afterlife, or find content in being matter going back to being matter and then nothing more, but however you concrete you may think your beliefs are, you can never, ever be certain. No one’s ever come back to tell us of what lies on the other side.

So we try to ignore it, and outrun it. We try to make ourselves live for longer, or brainwash ourselves into believing in a magical cloud city in the sky. Like the antelope trying to outrun a pack of lions, we keep loping forwards, our time ticking away bit by bit, or steps slowly getting more sluggish as the number of breaths we have left and the number of heartbeats we have allocated slowly tick away. Eventually the lion will catch us. And then we die. We cease. We expire. Life ends, and fulfils its purpose.

That is the purpose of organic life: To end. That is all it functions for. In the nearly hundred thousand years or so that human beings have really existed on this planet, our lives have ended. Our time, however brief, feels like a great, long journey, but comparatively, it’s nothing. And by comparative I mean comparative to the age of the universe. All the organic life that we know for certain exists that in this universe has been around for about one billion years. One thirteenth of the entire age of the universe. Human beings, the only organic life that we know of so far to be able to engage critically and rationally with their surroundings, has only been around for a hundred thousand years. Mankind is nothing more than a blink, a sneeze, a shiver of existence and a gasp of breath for the universe.

We are all trapped by time. By finality. By the knowledge that our end is coming. And that is what we try to outrun. Not just by our personal race against death as human beings, but by our condition, by the nature of what we are part of – organic life. Life itself is nothing more than a self replicating system. A heartless mechanism that, when you look at it seriously and starkly, flies in the face of our species’ need to romanticise every second of our existence. In our tiny moment of awareness, we explore, analyse, catalogue and probe the world around us with our brains, all in turn feeding in to the eventual collective consciousness of humanity. Thus we end up with things like history, archaeology, philosophy, art and science. Disciplines that are centuries old, built up over countless years so that we come to share the same experience of them today. We humans seem somewhat incapable to comprehend that our hardwiring, our instincts, our function as living beings, is not to catalogue ourselves, achieve transcendence, Nirvana or whatever, but merely to reproduce. That is what life is, and that is what life does.

We kill each other so others cannot kill us, we strive to cure diseases and ailments, we create Gods and afterlives that wait for us with open arms, so we never really die, we just move to a different plane and live their forever and ever. Our consciousness that allows us to think these things, is really a mere by product of our evolution, and in turn, has turned into another tool for us to try and outrun death. We grow smarter, learn new things, develop new vaccines and thoughts and dreams and machines and strive to become the eternal, undying gods we created in the infancy of our species. The more we understand, the more we can deal with it, the more we can maybe change it. But we cannot. Nothing can. The purpose of life is to end.

We are deathly afraid of the unknown and unwilling to accept the harsh truth of existence. Reproduction is a flawed system, but necessary in order to maintain the existence of organic life. Without it (reproduction), everything would die off bit by bit. Life reproduces in order to maintain its own presence in the universe. That is why we see phenomena such as natural selection, it is the organic life process ensuring that it survives climate changes, cures for diseases (if we’re referring to germs) or allowing one species to become smarter than another. This unconscious system, concerned only with its own preservation. “Life finds a way”, as Jeff Goldblum once said. But eventually, everything; all life in the universe will end. Every fragment of organic life, cattle, humans, fish, birds, apes, germs, tries to outrun death and tries to stave off its claws. But nothing can escape it. We just breed in order to keep our species here, so that our kind may continue to run the race we can never win.

One day however, the sands of time will run out, and everything will cease. The counter will stop. Will it be reset? Could things begin again under different rules? Who knows. It is pointless to theorize, in fact, the only thing we can do is realise that that which we have now, the privilege to exist and be aware of it, is somewhat of a miracle in itself. Don’t be depressed by the idea of death, or by what I have said, as it is merely the hard truth of nature of the universe. All we can do is accept it, and in doing so, maybe one day as a species we will start living for now. Living for the moments we actually inhabit, as opposed to the eternity we wish to end up in. Maybe, if we all realised that they only time that we definitely know we’ll have in this universe is this that we’re experiencing right now, with these fellow living beings, all inhabiting the staggering coincidence that existing in this massive shared experience of organic life, then things would be a little better in the world. Maybe if we realised that this universe is not built up around us, and that we truly are on our own as life forms, then maybe we’d learn to stop bickering, and maybe we’d learn to get along.