There are many people in town
who can speak with more wisdom and knowledge then I can about
bio-diversity, green energy and conservation,
the better martialing of human and natural resources,
the better management of waste, transport and better ways of providing our food.
Perhaps there are also those who can address:
•how we move away from the supermarkets and junk food chains
to support our local producers, suppliers publicans and farmers
•how we can create local financial institutions under community control,
•how we can replace the concept of permanent growth with sustainable growth,
•and how we can find a civilized way
to accommodate permanent and growing unemployment .
What I will talk about is THE POLITICAL and SOCIAL context
which, as it is, hinders sustainability as it does, our democracy.
Many now understand that
we’ve left behind post WORLD WAR TWO governments
•which accepted a responsibility of care for their citizens,
and whose taxes and regulations
kept the moneyed interests at bay.
and that now we are in a world
with an all powerful media that continually masks
the worst excesses of the wealthy
while we are distracted
by an electoral and Parliamentary Punch and Judy side show
leaving citizen’s under represented
and subject to state bureaucracies and arbitrary corporate controls.
that have so gradually crept upon society
over the last 30 years,
make it difficult for people to see
it was not always this way.
Often people are motivated to change
through actions which increase their security or wealth
or when they become emotionally involved…
but thus far,
the most powerful appeal we have:
which is to stop stealing from our next generation,
is not working.
150 years ago
a Native American said
“we do not own the land,
we borrow it from our children”.
I have been to Srebrenica in Bosnia many times over the last 6 years.
It’s a small isolated town sitting in natural beauty,
not so different than Bridport.
But it has gone through a terrible civil war.
A Bosnian friend of mine said
“that after the war,
they repaired the bridges, mosques and churches
but not the people.”
One day, returning from Srebrenica,
I was driving through Skilling
“why the terrible reputation”?
It looks like heaven next to where I had just come from.
But it’s in the bottom 20% of deprived areas in the country.
I made a film about it
and was deeply shocked to see the depth of poverty
people live in,
often a consequence of things beyond their control.
this is familiar:
short tempers, emotions stretched to breaking point,
lack of concentration, people talking over each other,
and an entrenched sense of hopelessness …”
Signs of primary and secondary trauma,
so obviously a consequence of a civil war,
but also apparent in Skilling.
So you see, for me
sustainability & community based solutions
must be about imagining how all of us,
can create changes in transport, food, water and power
as well as in and for all members of our town.
The problem is that in every aspect of our lives
we are affected by ill winds arising in distant places
like in the Chicago futures market,
and from the Washington Consensus,
even given their remoteness
blow away our homes,
and our sustainability here in Bridport.
They are fomented by globalization –
a by-product of neo-liberal economics…
the economics of this government.
When I’ve filmed in Russia, Vietnam
or other place where there is hardly a whiff of our variety of democracy,
or anything like our seeming collective national wealth,
I can say I am very lucky to be here.
But our society,
as so many societies around the world,
is not working for the majority of people.
•The so-called national wealth
belongs mostly to a tiny group of the super rich,
a consequence of the clearly failed NEO LIBERAL economic policy
which has turned food, housing
and now healthcare and schooling into commodities
to be reckoned with,
not for the needs or wants of the people,
but rather for the profits and losses of the financial markets.
•Dubious on-going wars are fought,
creating huge profits for corporations
and terrible immiseration for millions,
•while the fog of racism,
disguised presently as a stance against immigration, misleads many
•and the fog of consumerism dulls our senses
•and here, the state is too ready to use violence and intimidation
against peaceful opposition
growing inequality is destroying lives
while eating away the humanity so precariously nurtured
in post World-War-Two European civilization.
How has this been allowed to happen?
When some people look in the mirror
they know they do not wish to rock the boat,
or they prefer to cling to twentieth century solutions for twenty first century problems.
But perhaps the worst offense for many
is what the philosopher Hanna Arentd wrote about Adolph Eichmann,
who participated in untold Nazi evil:
“that he was not an ideologue,
nor even evil at heart (although his actions were)….
that he was thoughtless”.
Over the last 30 years,
under the long shadows of Regan and Thatcher,
many have THOUGHTLESSLY stood by as observers
•while they have been redefined
rom being producers to being consumers
•while society has moved from community centred
to a me centered universe,
•while many have allowed psychology to replace history
as the way they explain to themselves who they are ….
•and many have allowed almost the entire vocabulary of their lives
to be transformed from love, memories and knowledge
to profits, wealth and fame.
Because of that,
our children are too often confused about life:
how will they make a living?
how will they pay their debts, buy a house, raise a family?
And more tragically, some ask, “what’s the value of life?”
This is not right…
it is immoral, and it is a sign
that the political class is rigidified
by being in thrall
to the huge wealth controlled by individuals and corporations
who pay for the politician’s campaigns and loyalty.
The politicians are not ours, they are theirs.
And they, the super rich, have thoughtlessly grasped more and more
without regard for consequences….
(Now 85 human beings own 50% of the earth’s wealth.)
For the first time since Henry Ford developed the concept of the virtuous circle –
in which employers pay employees
enough for them to be able to afford the products they make,
In this post soviet,
US dominated world
the wealthy ----
no longer worried about throwing the poor into permanent depression,
or economically dissecting the working and middle classes ---
have off shored industries,
flat lined wages,
are trying to strangle the welfare state
while financializing everything they can.
Their neo liberal dream
is too reduce the state to a hollow tube
through which their profits flow,
guarded by the police and military
paid for by our taxes.
As with Eichmann,
who saw no relationship between his actions and their consequences,
this gobbling of everything
is without regard for society, without wisdom
and is without empathy - and is therefore sociopathic,
and these sociopaths control our lives.
Hence the mess of our world:
the incompetence, corruption and awful laws and policies the politicians pass ---
awful because they are heartless and against most people’s and the earths wellbeing
--- and all of this affects every life in Bridport.
But why is it so difficult to see these things?
Almost the entire media and educational system
is owned or operated by people whose intentions
are to keep us trapped within attitudes
that favor their power and their wealth,
and to keep us accepting their imposed ‘truths’.
the Czechoslovakian playwright who,
amongst many other brave souls,
helped to bring down the Soviet Union,
“if the main pillar which holds up the oppressive system
is for the people to live in a lie,
it’s not surprising that the fundamental threat to the system
is people living within truth”
Even in beautiful Dorset
we cannot escape the reality that darkens the rest of the country…
And this is why:
an un-negotiated change in the social contract
between the citizens of this country and the minority elected Tory government
(24% of the total electorate)
has been foisted upon us.
They have masked this as the need for an imposed austerity
to pay a debt which they blame labour for
but was caused by
bankers illegally gambling on junk bonds.
The real purpose is ideological –
to reduce the size of government
and to sell everything to private enterprise (read as cronies)
as part of their disguised neo-liberal ideology.
The local consequences of this became clear
when I made that film about Skilling.
I learned what one does not read in the papers –
I saw first hand the consequences of this
of the states participation in the economy:
that every day,
in this, the 6th wealthiest nation in the world,
36 children go to one of our primary schools, hungry,
and 44 children live in continually threatening circumstances,
and children enter school not having ever sat at a table to eat
nor having knowledge about how to use cutlery,
nor how to manage their emotions
and often they are prescribed drugs
to manage poverty-induced problems.
Is this not a sign of a confused moral compass ?
That we live in a society,
that prefers to supress with drugs
rather than raise the children out of poverty?
Henry Miller, the American writer wrote
“that we will not have a true civilisation
until the last person is admitted to it.”
Whatever we do, whatever we demand
must be based in a moral code which accepts that everyone,
and I mean everyone,
must be included in any local solutions we attempt.
So, in all of this
can I imagine change and community based solutions for Bridport?
My list of wants is based on this:
•that the government and the super-rich are organised and we are not…
so we must become organised…
•that they are informed and we are not…
so we must embrace the facts to overcome the lies, obfuscations and false populist rhetoric.
•and that we,
as a caring community,
could being to develop,
step by step,
that could set an economic, civil, political and moral example for others
to make a better world
and to do this we have to turn away from the dominant
left brain, standardized, mechanical and bureaucratic ways of think
and re engage our humanity and our imaginations.
How will we ever know we are living within truth?
When we see
that all people are able to live a dignified life
without being continually assaulted by debt or officialdom
and when all people can share, according to their needs
vital resources as food, housing, heating,
and medical and educational services
and when all people are living with equality under the law.
One last story:
Recently my wife was asked to attend a seminar in Rajasthan
where she heard of a failing village
in which a meeting was held,
and in that meeting
each villager pledged to do one good deed a year for the community.
Within a short time
the village had gone from failure to recovery.
Please use the form to connect with me or use my email here.
ROBERT GOLDENS SHORT LIST OF NEEDED CHANGES
•I propose that all the town’s civic organizations should create a joined-up network
to see how we can help and support each other to support our neighbours.
•I believe whatever we do should be of an indisputable moral order.
•We should embrace all ages, races, creeds, colours, sexual orientations and abilities, but not corporate structures (which includes the churches), political parties or secret organizations. People who belong to these should be welcome but as individuals and not as representatives.
•We need to be more than a talking shop; we need to organise, mobilise and act. People need to be able to commit something to the group – skills, time, expertise, ideas, connections.
•We can take a lead from the Incredible Edible team in Todmorden to plant the town with herbs, vegetables, fruit plants and fruit trees whose produce will be free for all.
• We need to influence our Neighbourhood Planning Committee to develop a local sustainability projection a for power, transport and food. We also should influence them to accept a sub-committee of architects, town planners, artists, poets and others to provide a broader dimension to the plan.
•A man named Matthew Taylor spoke to Incredible Edible about the social aspiration gap. He described how, if people want a renewed future for themselves and their children, they need to recognise it will only happen if each and all would become involved in the change. Everyone which defines a community needs to contribute to it.
•Immediately we should make sure that there is no one in town without a bed
and no one uncared for.
Given my speech, what then is practical?
First we need to look eastwards towards the capital
to demand changes in the laws
and we need to organise to instigate changes.
1/ We should demand that whomsoever we elect represents our wishes and not the edicts of the party nor their whips…whips?
2/ that our representative moves for eradicating private support for election funds
3/ that our representative moves for the legal right for her constituency (us)
(not her party) to be able to recall and fire her at our will.
4/ that she moves for a law to heavily fine politicians and other government officers for misusing, distorting or abusing facts when addressing the public
5/ that she moves to have the same LAWS for the media.
6/ that she moves to have a truly progressive tax on wealth and to alleviate taxes on the poor
7/ that the justifiably owed corporate taxes be immediately collected
8/ that moves are made to stop the sell off of land for housing and public resources to foreign ownership
9/ that state bureaucracy’s provide regional offices staffed by local employees and that the needs of claimants are dealt with Inside a narrow timeframe
that staff are taught the meaning of the noun ‘civil servant’, and of the words ‘compassion’ and ‘neighbourliness’.
10/ that progress is begun to take the power to create credit (money) away from banks and placed in the hands of the treasury
11/ that the government institutes a national wage for all people above the age of 18 (16?)
12/ that student fees are abolished
13/ that marketing boards are created to oversee fair prices to farmers.
This to begin with, they are only first thoughts.
From London we turn towards our own town
•and first of all recognise that everything we do
will begin with being good neighbours,
•and that we work to be aware of and support the needs of the elderly,
the young mums with children,
the children who need mentoring,
the people who need to learn about food,
the unemployed who’s skills can be utilised.
That we actively organise to involve, excite and empower our neighbours in our campaigns and activities for the the changes in law as above.
Again, these are only first thoughts.
1/ ON THE PRESS
The mass media blindly support the ideology of corporate capitalism. They laud and promote the myth of American democracy—even as we are stripped of civil liberties and money replaces the vote. They pay deference to the leaders on Wall Street and in Washington, no matter how perfidious their crimes. They slavishly venerate the military and law enforcement in the name of patriotism. They select the specialists and experts, almost always drawn from the centers of power, to interpret reality and explain policy. They usually rely on press releases, written by corporations, for their news. And they fill most of their news holes with celebrity gossip, lifestyle stories, sports and trivia. The role of the mass media is to entertain or to parrot official propaganda to the masses. The corporations, which own the press, hire journalists willing to be courtiers to the elites, and they promote them as celebrities. These journalistic courtiers, who can earn millions of dollars, are invited into the inner circles of power. They are, as John Ralston Saul writes, hedonists of power.
Chris Hedges has written twelve books, including the New York Times best seller
“Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012),
2/ JOSEPH ROWNTREE FOUNDATION REPORT
The report shows 13% of pensioners are living in low-income households, compared with 21% of working-age adults and 27% of children. People are counted as being in poverty if their household income is less than 60% of the median income for UK households after housing costs – making £130 the weekly threshold for a single adult in 2013.
THE POWER OF POWER
"There are thousands of oil, gas and coal producers in the world," Richard Heede, the author of the journal article, told the Guardian. "But the decision makers, the CEOs, or the ministers of coal and oil if you narrow it down to just one person, they could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two
From the academic journal Climatic Change
47.6% of the population are on or near substance income
…and in Bridport we see no sign of decreasing unemployment,
and no sign of rising wages,
but we do see a constant threat to our bus services,
•we see teachers struggling against education policy
decided in political meetings
rather than by teachers and children
•we see an attempted sell off our health service to private enterprise,
•we see rising food, water and power prices,
and an increase use of food banks and homelessness
NEO LIBERALISM roughly defined
The ideology which is ironically called Neo liberalism,
in a nutshell:
•promotes the privatization of almost everything
from airspace above buildings to water to education
•and privatisation of the nation’s resources and services
including health and education
in the name of a so called ‘rational’ free market economy.
•It dreams of a single tax rate for all,
meaning the rich would pay the same as the poor,
•and it dreams of reducing the size of government
and to use the butt of what remains as a conduit to serve business interests.
•It wishes the average tax payer to carry the burden of paying for war
•and amongst other things,
for the tax payer to finance what they call corporate externalities –
meaning they use the roads to transport goods and we pay for the repairs,
meaning they destroy a lake and we pay for the clean up,
•And finally, manifesting a cruel 19th century sociopathic mind-set
they wish to eradicate the welfare state.
1/ A debate in House led by Steve Baker (C)…20 Nov 2014 supported by Meacher D
This is worth looking at briefly to see the attention or rather lack of concern amongst our lawmakers, and then of to the POSIVE MONEY site, who promoted this debate. I suggest that we become affiliated to them.
•1980-2010 money supply increased by 30 fold –
31% went into mortgages increasing the cost of housing
20% into commercial property
32% into the financial markets
8% into credit cards
8% into businesses
so 83% into non productive wealth owned by the top 10% of households
with only 8% into the nuts and bolts economy
2/ POSITIVE MONEY http://www.positivemoney.org
3/ also see THE GRIP OF DEATH by Michael Rowbotham
4/ THINKING THE TWENTITH CENTURY and POST WAR both by Tony Judt