About OUFI

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London, United Kingdom
Welcome to my Blog. This Blog provides a platform for free expressions on issues of importance that appeal to the independent mind. Matters of political, moral and social concern, that may agree with or contravenes our free and well-intentioned thinking, have free reign on this blog. Friends and colleagues can express and respect different opinions on current or historical issues that at times may run counter to established worldview. “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.” - Voltaire

Monday, 24 October 2016


The years 1789 to 1794 was the epoch-making five years that were to form the turning point of the French Revolution.  The Third Estate went to build the Nation as a body of people who join to live under the common law.  From it sprang the Declaration Rights of Man that went on to underscore Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

It may surprise you despite the heading this post is not about religion although religion runs through it, I would rather rein in the argument to social conformity and Law of Secularism principally in France.  Hence to read this post against a background of recent controversy concerning the banning of wearing burkinis on a beach and its likely hood of causing nuisance and disturbance especially in the light of the last few terrorists’ attacks in that country.  The multi-folds of this argument support the consequent ban on the Bourkini and face cover along the following lines:

a) Blatant disregard for the law of the land
b) Provocative display of religious symbols.
C) Laïcité is not coercive or restrictive.

According to Wikipedia Laïcité, is the absence of religious involvement in government affairs, especially the prohibition of religious influence in the determination of state policies. According to Oxford Reference, Laïcité exists in varying forms depending on the level of influence of religion and religious beliefs stipulated by government guiding principles, politics, law, and public life. In some countries, such as France, there is a complete separation of religion from state affairs (a form of secularism known as Laïcité). Demonstrating, amongst other things, to limit if not issue an outright ban on the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols in public government institutions such as schools. It does not prevent or prohibit people's right to freedom of religion and belief. Secular states have two key features: 1) their legal and judicial processes are out of institutional religious control and 2) they constitutionally establish neither an official religion nor atheism. Laïcité is non-restrictive to freedom of thought and freedom of worship.  The absence of state religion and separation of state and religion some consider as a prerequisite to freedom of thought and drawing in minority interests.  Other countries that have adopted Laïcité or its hybrids are the United States, Turkey, Mexico and others including ironically for a Middle Eastern country, The Lebanon.

The stress is on égalité where the Equality of all is to establish a simple citizen on equal terms to all other citizens, devoid of ethnic, religious or other particularities.  Citizen, in the context of the French Revolution, is the key that abolishes patriarchal and hierarchical constructs of Society of Orders.

It is generally asserted that French secularism secures freedom of thought and freedom of religion. On the other hand, many would argue that Laïcité is coercive and is an infringement on the right of the individual.  It implies a subtle form of anti-clericalism and inhibits religious expressions.  Rather than promoting freedom of religion, it prevents the believer from observing his or her religion. Personally, I strongly refute this argument since effort for equality, France as embedded in its constitution constantly aware not to include religion in public and hence though a Catholic country the government as always distanced itself from Religious exhibitionism.  Conversely, the law is also active in the protection of minority rights and is supportive in funding of religious institutions irrespective of denomination.  It restricts government and institutions from any would be prejudice against any one's religion while it tries to minimize the chances of radicalisation.

French constitution seeks more of a universal acceptance of tradition just as much as the Gregorian calendar, for example, is accepted universally.  What it tries to prevent is stepping outside the universally accepted norm to distinctively making a statement.  Conversely, from religious neutrality perspective, the law works for the protection of minority rights.  It restricts government and institutions from any would be prejudice against any one's religion. It makes an effort to contain the radicalization of Islam, and the law acts as a deterrent by extending its reach to include an excessive show of religious emblems.  Laïcité can further be interpreted embodying restrictive religious aims not to allow a Divine authority to dominate the state and to extinguish any outward sign that can lead to that.

Hence, it is also a flawed argument to suggest that a Nun, in formal dress, should not be on a beach.  As far as the Catholic Church is concerned it stipulates a Nun must make her presence visible in everyday life, hence a Nun’s Habit, just as much as an Islamic Imam is identified by his mode of dress in public.  And, is irrespective whether or not a Nun is allowed on the Beach as in Nice, France. Contemporary culture often very secularized is increasingly sensitive to the language of signs and symbols to embellish with Bourkini; a symbol that bears clear witness they belong to a particular religion is interpreted as extremely provocative.  Culturally, many would invoke the idea being discreet with one's religion as a necessary part of being French.  The Islamic hijab, Sikh turban, (large) Christian crosses, and Jewish Stars of David and kippah should be banned from public schools. Such a ban came into effect in France in 2004.  Moreover despite many consider France a Christian country the law also banned the broadcasts of Catholic and Orthodox Christmas night liturgies.

For further validation to my argument, I need to highlight the objection from yet another perspective. The outward appearance of distinctive clothing bracketing a certain individual to a religious affiliation is a political statement.  It bears the psychic phenomena of self-distancing more engrossed with identity formation bordering on self-construction.  It tries to signify possible distinction between Equality of an individual in society as opposed to a difference of that individual.  Showing outward signs of failure to integrate into the broader community and failure on the part of the person to benefit from standard discourses of Enlightenment to ‘find themselves’, without prejudice to the universal norm.  To opt out to a concept of self-distancing while unconsciously allowing separation, delimitation, and spatial partition.

Religion in Democracy, the practice of which need not be contradictory to the term so long as the points hitherto considered, are acknowledged for this argument. In opposition, it is worth noting, generally, in Muslim countries Religion and the State were united in pursuit of Islamic righteousness. However, in porous social democracies, meaning and appropriating application of Laïcité is in flux. They also allow Laïcité to extend its reach to cover the constant changes and evolving system of values organizing the relationship between civil society and the state.   Laïcité is not asking to 'exit from religion' or to withdraw from the world held by one's religion and its creedal references but to give collective meaning to societies’ members.

Clause 4 of the ‘Rights of Man’ states: Liberty consists in being able to do whatever doesn’t harm another.  Thus, the exercise of each man’s natural rights has no limits other than those which guarantee to the other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights; those limits can only be determined by the law.

(Accepted by King Louis XVI of France)

Friday, 21 October 2016

Atomising Morality

Straight away I explain, this post will be about the importance of The Individual and Individual Rights over a common misconception that there is a universal moral code many who believe binds the order of society.  It will also take under its wings the vagaries of Morality some continue to resist their acceptance but preclude the different Ethical norm that calibrates our behaviour towards fellow human beings or to nature at large.   The notion of the Enlightenment that gained pace in the eighteenth century through the efforts of Philosophical giants such as chief editor, and contributor to the Encyclopédie Denise Diderot along with Jean le Rond d'Alembert and Voltaire who were its leading light.  The age of the Enlightenment was the key that unlocked the concept of Individual Rights released Man from the notion of Belief and into the secular world we know today.  To help get this post off the ground Atomising Morality is the same as saying Moral Relativism a subjectivist view where the truth or justification of moral judgments is not absolute, but relative to the moral standard of some person or group of individuals.

Moral diversity is entirely due to moral truth or justification, which is also relative to a culture or society. It is high time for a multiculturalist society that is presently seeing a transforming Europe inculcate the idea that all moral values had equal or relative validity. Realisation and acceptance of diversity of culture including those considered primitive were the eventual pointers in the second half of the twentieth century on the occasion of the United Nations debate about universal human rights. Not forgetting, of course, the relative feminist values and the sphere of medical concerns.  It is a fact there are in-depth and widespread moral disagreements across different societies, and these differences are much more significant than whatever agreements there may be. Moral judgment can differ as much as to say ‘Polygamy is morally wrong’ may be true relative to one society, but false relative to another.

My starting point in all of this is to go back the Classics when the sense of Virtue in the fourth century Athens, was identified to one's advantage to adapt at least Justice as a character trait.  The Cardinal Virtues Plato settled on were Prudence (Wisdom), Fortitude (Courage), Temperance (Discipline) and Justice.  The antonyms were Foolishness, Inconsistency, Wrath and Injustice.  All were considered universal and the option most likely to lead to flourishing existence.  The moral code that acts as the wellspring to individual morality is ‘Why be just?, and What is the right thing to do ?’ This ought to be the catalyst that translates differently to suit different cultures in how to arrange the ‘good’ listed earlier both in themselves and in their consequences.   

The continuous social reconstruction mainly in Northern Europe and Northern America has also caused the disintegration of religion which up until then was in some respects the binding force for a collective understanding of moral behaviour.  That said religious inferences blurs when traditions and conventions provide a truer condition that cultivated those seeds in what Kant calls "The Categorical Imperative" towards the "autonomous Will."

The end of World War II gave way to the birth of a New Europe, and it was the turn for the European governments to serve the wishes of the individual.  A new order and a new kind of society propagated and a new conception of Man was incubated ready to meet the ‘Golden Age’ laying out the premise of appropriate freedom.  “If what each of us shall do and become is without alternative, the notion of choice is illusory, and it is the opportunity to choose that the meaningfulness of the above questions depends on.”   It was time for a new war of ideas and social revolution, a tendency to reassert the primacy of the individual placing individual choice in the most direct and inescapable form. “To render myself passive in this world’ wrote Sartre in Being and Nothingness (1943) ‘is still to choose the person I am.’ 

The 1960s were a time of sweeping social and cultural change, affecting most areas of life. It was a time of unprecedented affluence when for the first time the mass of the population began to enjoy what had hitherto been luxuries: televisions, cars, foreign holidays, refrigerators, and washing machines. It was a time when youth became more assertive, challenging the authority of parents, teachers, and social conventions of every kind. The revolt had a political dimension, which found powerful expression in the student movement of the later 1960s, culminating in Paris in May 1968.  The old order seemed to be totally discredited, and a new age of freedom and democracy had dawned. But much more lasting in their effects were changes in ways of life and personal morality, symbolised by deliberately unconventional clothes and hairstyles, by the use of illegal drugs, and above all by a rejection of the accepted norms of sexual morality.  More generally, the prevailing ethos of individual freedom, informality, ‘doing your own thing’, and rejection of hierarchies of every kind presented the churches with a major challenge.  Breakdown of moral attributes meant increasing disbelief in church ordered moral guidance, and this on a general level may have caused the greater level of unchristian beliefs.  Changes of Morality were, therefore, becoming more concerned with individual behaviour. 

The common thread running through the ‘cultural revolution’ of the 1960s was the demand for greater personal freedom, and the consequent rejection of those moral codes, doctrinal systems, social conventions, and systems of authority which seemed to stand in the way. 

"This revolt had at least three dimensions, which could overlap, but equally could be totally independent of one another.  The desire to enjoy the benefits of affluence, in the form of more material goods, greater mobility, and more leisure; an egalitarian political radicalism, which challenged existing systems of authority and hierarchy; and a desire to experiment, to seek new experiences, and to liberate the senses, unconstrained by Puritan taboos. The drive to enjoy the fruits of affluence most often led to religious indifference." Hugh McLeod (1997), ‘Fragmentation’ in Religion.'

Atomic individuality is associated with modern social contract theory.  Under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher neo-Liberalism was to emphasise that point where at times the concept bordered on ethical subjectivism.  The individual is becoming conditioned by new values of freedom and the values he adopts measured by initiatives of each person.  The sum of which has been more good than bad and that shows in the entrepreneurial spirit generated over the last decade and more to say nothing of keeping the government on their toes.  That goes hand in hand with motivation, inventiveness and innovation that had it remained in the cloisters of Classic morality would have made man’s achievements impossible.  

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Dump Trump!

The word Phenomena has an interesting concept.  Rummaging through the pages of Oxford English Dictionary, (OED, I find Phenomena to mean  "A thing which appears, or which is perceived or observed. A particular (kind of) fact, occurrence, or change as perceived through the senses or known intellectually; esp. a fact or occurrence, the cause or explanation of which is in question."  This definition prompts much of the subject of this post; indeed the support for the Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump is a Phenomenon based on imagination, perceiving, ultimately the essence of that support is in question.  So the post will be about ‘phenomenology’ the study of the theory of this particular phenomenon.  I found out later the question, in this case, is not Trump as some people may believe but the changing American Society and the ‘question’ is embedded in refusal to change.   Any one of his ilk will do. 

American Society or to be exact White American Society gripped with fear.  The Republican Party that has always stood for Law and Order, holding steadfastly to conservatism and traditionalist American principles has done its job far too well.  It now finds itself being rejected by the non-white majority, mainly voting for the Democratic Party more amenable to societal changes, which will now be the dominating voice in the American political arena.  Moreover, Trump has become the new ‘aisle’ that has traditionally divided the Senate but with a difference where Republicans find itself sub-divided as it has done before.  “There were no longer two parties in the senate—there were three, and the two of these counted as Republican becoming more bitter against each other than against the common enemy across the aisle.” C. G. Bowers, (1918).

Trump is a demagogue espousing the fanciful cause of the people who are against most of those that are different.  Hence he has attacked all those that do not agree with him or critical of policies.  His oratory has alienated Women, Muslims, Hispanics, Gays & Lesbians, African Americans, Catholics, accusing the media of ganging up on him and believing the election rigged against him.  To the point that in 19th October Las Vegas, during the last face to face debate, he demeaned the principles of Democracy totally averse to accept the verdict of the US Presidential Election on November 8th, 2016.  

He is also an authoritarian which makes his popularity is even more puzzling.  As a student of History, I inevitably turn to History for an explanation of this phenomenon, and in particular, I turn to Germany of 1933.  At the time one of the most sophisticated and intellectual societies in the world turned freely, blindly and irrationally to an overwhelming support of a demagogue. Lead by a Socialist Nationalist leader who aroused enough pride and nationalist passion of the German Nation to drive them to ruin eventually. What attracted them, having survived the Great War of 1918 and the Hyperinflation that followed, was fear of uncertainty and the unknown and fear of change.  Unconsciously perceiving a belief in a leadership no more that praying without theological consideration or driving while not giving a second’s thought how the engine works.

Likewise, and by all accounts, Trump is a political agitator who appeals to the passions and prejudices of the mob to obtain power or further his interests.  His rhetoric further defines him as an unprincipled or factious popular orator who carries much of the cause for a dividing American society.  An atavistic and a throwback to a political party formed in the United States in 1892 to represent the interests of the entire population embracing populist advocacy to public control and holding free institutions to account. 

Hence we go forward to find out why White America is gripped with fear and flirting with Authoritarianism and is attracted to extreme and bizarre views. What is more absurd is that his popularity is across social and demographic divide – income, education and religiosity which usually any one of them can define a Republican candidate. Research has shown those who fear change and a desire for protection from change possess a “psychological profile…that is characterised by a desire for order and a fear of outsiders.” McWilliams Hence they seek an authoritarian figure for protection.  The correlation in the support for Trump points in that direction and primarily citing immigration for playing a significant part in unbalancing the status-quo.  What is happening though is that same group is driving a wedge in American Society.  It is also polarising the GOP voters between these who hold orthodox views from those who are extremists.  Research also “predicted a looming and dramatic transformation of American politics.” (Hetherington and Weiler).  A development if need be to challenge threats with force, forming barricades against outsiders totally beyond the grain of traditional American welcome and belies the notion of America as a nation of immigrants.

Whether to propagate his vision to potential voters of such extreme views can upend American politics is hard to predict. One thing for sure that there is a section of the population that exist, admittedly not enough to seat Trump as the President of the United States and commander in chief of the United States Armed Forces, but the scars of intrinsic and indoctrinated ideologies he leaves behind would be difficult to heal.   They will be to Hillary Clinton and those who follow to repair the damage left behind.  What is worse is that what happens in America soon distils into Europe when already in Britain, France, and Germany where multiculturalism had supposedly taken roots, are crying foul of immigrants.  The idea that a Presidential nominee could come out with “We’re going to be so vigilant we’re going to be so careful, we’re going to be so tough and so mean and so nasty” is akin to Fascism.  With French Nationalist leader such as Marie Le Pain in France nearer home also stoking the fires, prophesizing on similar lines, we need to turn to the defunct Weimar Republic for instruction on how not to do it.  Dump Trump!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Is Iraq Cracking up?

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi on a televised broadcast on Monday morning 17th October 2106 declared the start of the liberation of Mosul, north of Iraq, which since June 2014 has been under the control of ISIL following their audacious and lightning invasion of the city of approximately 1.5 million people. "The hour of victory has come; the operation to liberate Mosul has started. God willing, we will meet in Mosul to celebrate the liberation and your Salvation from Daesh so we can live together once again, all religions united and together," Hope and optimism expressed to the suffering people of Iraq, many of whom will experience vicarious pleasure to hear such noble words.  Two years in the making; this operation, spearheaded by Iraqi forces, Peshmerga militia ground troops backed by no less than American, French and British Airforce. Beside such staggering military firepower, there is also a conglomeration of units from 60 countries to drive out the dreaded evil ISIL hopefully to bring the end of a continuous cycle of violence that has plagued Iraq for so long.

Peace cannot come quickly enough to this beleaguered country made up of 35 million people, a heterogeneous population that has endured so much strife and suffering.  Indeed, there has never been so much death and destruction since the American invasion in 2003 as there has been in Iraq’s turbulent 100-year history when it was inorganically constructed back in 1923. The hope, of course, is directed to that end but unfortunately, achieving peace in Iraq political lexicon, as experience has shown, can never be so linear.  The big question will be the sustainability of peace and whether the people of Iraq can ever find common ground for religious tolerance a rudder towards cohesiveness and political harmony.   Aside from existing squabbles and corrupt government ISIL would have left a legacy of upheavals: military, security, social, economic and political, the government of Iraq need to surmount.  Along the way neighbouring Turkey from the North and Iran from the East have also built up militias to safeguard their respective political ideologies ready to use force.   Belligerent agents aside, the government of Iraq need to come to terms with a kaleidoscope of interested groups, led mainly by narcissistic personalities that have come together from amongst the violence of the last decade and more. They support populist religious, political and tribal leaders, between them, can splinter any intentions of peace efforts.   Indeed individualism can have a nasty meaning in Iraq, likely to scupper any peace initiative that may fall short of their personal ideological or financial interests. Time and again this has become emblematic of regional politics that has so often proven the stumbling block for peace in Iraq as much as it is an elusive commodity in the rest of the Middle East.

For analytical purposes, it would be interesting take a close look at the interested parties aside from Sunni Turkey and Shia Iran acting as backup principle patrons.  There are a plethora of interested militias: separate Shia Militia backed and financed by Baghdad government without legal hold over them, The Nineveh Guard, Iranian-backed Militia, Kurds Militia; KRG, PKK, Turkey backed Sunni Militia, Syria back Militia who all hold Mosul vital to their interest.  Some are also there to safeguard their influence along the Turkish and Syrian borders.  With so many parties involved with overlapping interests, the picture becomes confusing where the parties concerned could easily stumble into renewed round of violence. Additionally, in the presence of proverbial Arab emotions running high, coupled with a lack of unbiased arbiter or peacemaker makes the situation highly combustible. With so much at stake high-level negotiation is vital; there is bound to be a morsel of understanding to lighten the opacity of dissonance. 

If all else fails, let democracy decide how this jigsaw fits and put religious extremism to the test.  As in Europe: Scotland, Britain and elsewhere, let the people take a decision in a referendum whether they want the country to be divided on religious grounds and should this division is on the Sunni and Shia conflicting ideologies.  If indeed the result is a YES for a division, as would be expected, finally to prompt the next question the desire whether each side to affiliate with Turkey and Iran respectively.  There remain the Kurdish issue that needs resolving.  Although the majority are of Sunni Faith their nationalist ideology is far from Turkish interest but for a landlocked region, though geographically endowed with oil and beautiful landscape, it's hard to see how they can prize nationalism and semi-autonomy at least without concessions to its neighbours.

The alternative as it stands today; Iraq is rich in resources but almost a failed state. Where more or less the government is there by name only, anarchy rules and where the law applies to the highest bidder.   Since where there is prevalent ubiquitous belief in superstition and jealousy that carry ominous significance, the country can re-establish a starting point. As India before it with Mumbai and Chennai, to throw the Colonial name ‘Iraq’ into the dustbin of history and change it into something that might yet hold a bright and promising future for its people.  However, from a realistic point of view, given circumstances and factors involved, the kinetic challenges we see today will dwarf in comparison to Bismarckian Realpolitik essential to sort out the quagmire we call Iraq that yet to follow the road signs to real peace. To my knowledge, though, political pragmatism and Democracy never killed anybody.

Therefore it is Time for the Iraqi nation to be at peace with itself - Inshallah.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

How far are we from a civil war in France?

How far are we from a civil war in France?  

Another attack and another massacre to hit French soil last week, Nice, which must make France as number one target for ISIS at present in Europe.  This time, a white truck drove across The Promenade des Anglais at the height of celebration of Bastille Day and peak season at the French summer resort.  The result was a massacre in which at last 84 people, including several children, died. The evening started when people gathered to watch the fireworks display on France's national day that ended in a massacre. The driver, was later identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a 31-year-old French-Tunisian resident in Nice, was subsequently shot dead inside the vehicle.

President François Hollande’s, declaration immediately after the Nice massacre: “This is undoubtedly a terrorist attack; the whole of France is under the threat of an Islamic terrorist attack”. A statement such as this coming from a lame duck president can only feed the right wing element in France towards division and antagonism, fuel the Rightist party over the precipitous to racial confrontations. Additionally, these statements will be attempts to re-introducing religion and religious identification into secular societies making them more sympathetic to Islamic institutions.  I believe there is the truth that most young Muslims are not Muslim they are as secular in fact as their white schoolmates. “But because it is convenient for governments and administrators to classify them as Muslim, they often become so out of resentment.” Tony Judt.

"We are going to reinforce our actions in Syria and Iraq," the president said after the Nice attack. Such rhetoric is mere to shore up his failing presidency. Also, surely Syria and Iraq by now must be the wrong target when he should be looking nearer home.  On the other hand looking inwards might increase the dissonance and destroy the likely hood of reconciliation between a dividing and dislocating minority of 4.7 million Muslims or 7.5 percent of the population. 

With France facing a possible but imminent danger I can only assume that another two or three such atrocities would finally tip the balance to outright confrontation. 

A position had been reached to question how long is that fuse making it fair to ask How far are we from a civil war in France?  

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Divorce is easy, a settlement not so!

If you thought as is widely known there are no shifting tectonic plates under the British Isles, you would be wrong.  On the early hours of Friday 24th of June 2016, the ground shifted with cataclysmic proportions.  How far the destructive waves of the resulting tsunami pans out only time can tell.  British people or to be precise 52% of those who took part in the Referendum voted to exit from the European Union.  After 45 years of marriage albeit rocky at times, Britain is now seeking a divorce from a union that has served it so well.  A wound is self-inflicted and unnecessary. To some extent the British government has to apply this instruction but that is the easy bit.  To settle the differences with the EU will be harder; sailing through uncharted waters with no radar.  There are no precedents and no arbitrary institutions to mediate between the grieving parties. To add to the woes, the new Prime Minister, who would follow Mr. Cameron in October, has to trigger Article 50: a formal notice to leave.  He will have foreign relations to grapple with and seismic economic issues as well as the need to calm the inevitable internal strife within the county and turmoil in his or her party.

Referendums are utterly useless and inherently undemocratic.  In the words of Margaret Thatcher, it is a “device of dictators and demagogues”.  In this day of Social Media, people are being bombarded with headlines and soundbites; many would hardly have an opinion to consider or formulate let alone discuss a substantial subject.  Neither a tool for deciding on a complex issue.  One of the  Founding Fathers was a leader of American independence from Great Britain and the second President of the United States John Adams called it “tyranny of the majority,”

So how did we come to this and what now, Britain?  However, since the British public has voted to Exit, this article will challenge such a decision and consider the ramifications on British Economic and socio-political formations.

After a gruelling campaign by the Leave, a side called Brexiteers and the Remain camp both giving wild promises and economic gloom and doom and engaging in scaremongering the British people voted 52% to Leave and 48% to Remain in the European Union. Both sides used alarmist language bordering on the mythical if not downright lies.  The Brexiteer leadership promised to “take back control” including Sovereignty and restrict the flow of immigrants pledging to save £350billion to reinvest in the NHS rather than net outflow contribution to the EU.  The remain claimed every family will be worse off by  £4000 if Britain leaves.   Also, many other claims that are hard to say or predict but mainly based on misuse of statistics.  The important thing is that the electorate has made a decision and what we now have to consider is whether that decision is legally binding on the British Government and what are the likely consequences for Britain, Europe and indeed for the rest of the world.  Also to note The Three Musketeers, Boris Johson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage leaders of the Brexit campaign had not even considered ‘the afters strategies’; how to tackle the exiting aftermath.

No doubt the fallout will be tremendous but as in all these things, one has to gather the remnants, limit the damages and go forward the best way possible.  The internal political implications are immense and judging by the pacifying nature contributed from the politicians of all colours the priority is uniting the country once more. The starting question, however, is whether the Referendum is binding on the government.  The simple answer is a decisive NO, but merely advisory.  Moreover, its principle and verdict although democratic its substance leave reason to doubt.  Whether the acceptance of this Will ground on moral or constitutional judgment is far from clear at this stage.  Indeed, there is doubt whether the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has ever been ratified therefore invoking it remains baseless.  Grounded on vague assumptions on how a country can leave the EU as in the happy moment of entry; exit then was not seriously contemplated.  Complications may also arise when warding off other members from a possible Leaving contagion in efforts to protect the Union.   It is also important,  in the turmoil of inevitable haggling over interpretation, of terms or inferences members needed to guard away from adversarial stances.

What could it mean for Britain? Tom Short of the Guardian Newspaper, rightly point to; “Sterling, Scotland, the Irish border, the Gibraltar border, the frontier at Calais, the need to continue compliance with all EU regulations for a free market. The re-issuing of passports, Brits abroad, EU citizens in Britain, the mountain of legislation to be torn up and rewritten” no doubt there will be much more to add in the days and weeks ahead.  Faced with 62% of the electorate who did not vote to leave leaving 38% who did is not a mandate to exit the EU.  By many expert accounts the Exit poll more than suggests a populist motion of censure with the establishment, with David Cameron as Prime Minister, and for the older generation, embroidered more by nostalgia than hard facts.  Whether there is a legal mechanism to renounce the referendum must be left to the lawyers and QC’s to arbitrate over.
Economically the victory by the Exit camp may be pyrrhic and the costs to the unity of the United Kingdom that has withstood wars and upheavals of many kinds since its inception in The Act of Union 1707 is likely to disintegrate.  Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland First Minister, has already advocated a possible “new referendum on the table” further adding that that “Holyrood could try to block the UK's exit from the EU.”  The Northern Ireland question seems to have woken up from its slumber where we may surprisingly have unfinished business.  The fear will be the Republicans wanting to renew their cause re advocating old grievances that could draw us all back to the violent late 1960’s and 1970’s the height of religious conflicts.  There is also the proverbial Gibraltar question, its relation with Spain and its economy’s dependence worker flow from Spanish mainland; vital to the well being of the locals who voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU.  Within 24 hours of the exit vote, Spain has requested joint running of Gibralter’s affairs.

The enormity of the costs of economic consequences can not be underestimated. Britain, as a highly industrialised nation imports over 60% of its food it is very sensitive to a sterling drop in value.  Aside from holidays abroad becoming more expensive this can easily result in the rise of food costs which will inevitably put pressure on high street consumer prices.  Such volatility may indeed lead to market instability exerting pressure on wages and inflation.  The Exit action will also have a sour relationship with EU 550 million consumer-rich none tariff single market.  Its leadership will be free to exercise their protectionist policies make it difficult for foreign owned producing plants to base their manufacturing in the UK. The probable scenario will see Head offices and factories and jobs uprooted which will, at least in the short term have an inexorable pressure on property prices as I see it.  Although the Stock Market has somewhat stabilised from its ills of last Black Friday, June 2nd, it nevertheless emphasis is weighted on the negativity that the international community associated with the Exit vote.

Immigration became another self-realising prophecy despite there is not enough substance to justify it but used as an alarmist argument.  Some sections of the public took this as licentious rants for racial abuse.   Lord Mandelson, who says “they [Voting Public], were exploited by the Leave campaign's relentless focus on immigration.” Also, Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel 4, asked Farage leader of the Ukip party"How many of those people in the poster made it to Britain? None." Found no response.  Other than political divisiveness this marked an escalation of ‘white man’ to ‘come out of the closet’.  Such deep scars need healing which will undoubtedly prove more troublesome to plaster over than mere differences of opinion.

Considerations to the above must highlight the importance to review this costly vote or indeed since there is so much doubt on its legal entity enough to reconsider.  If it is not binding, Parliament must revoke it or from the perspective of percentage figures I have quoted above not to ratify it.  Indeed invalidate reasons to invoke Article 50 as well. To see the vote for what it is; anti-establishment, populist derived more from demagoguery that logic or rational argument and above all from gut feeling rather than common sense. It is imperative over all parties, Whitehall, Berlin, and Paris to calm down, if not negate the vote to delay the process of intent on article 50 and to renegotiate with the European Union.  If reform needs to go to the roots of the Brussels to redefine their relationship to reach new agreements then so be it.  Europe is for Europeans.  Inevitably this will mean compromise and linear duality taking under its wings zero sum directives as with all negotiations.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

We are in Control!

This article concentrates on one theme - Sovereignty

“The poor quality of debate on a topic as complex as EU membership carries the risk that this crucial vote is decided not on the basis of the best available information and analysis but on gut feeling and short-term mood swings. This is no way to decide upon fundamental issues of democracy and sovereignty for years to come” Brexit, the Politics of a bad idea.

Edmund Burke, one of my most revered conservative British statesman, in his sentimental observation to the French Revolution in 1790 said that British constitution is made up of layer upon layer over the centuries.  He added, “British Constitution is far from being a political convenience[…]it was the fruit of tradition”.  Since then although many objections raised against the appointed House of Lords to curb its powers, its ‘constitutional’ structure has remained.  Parliament has remained supreme for both Houses represent and provide the anchorage of British Democracy as well as Britain’s administration of its juridical structure. 

The Brexit camp argues in their EU referendum campaign that Britain has lost its sovereignty, and even its democracy.  Boris Johnson, the ex-mayor of London, says that “EU membership is incompatible with parliamentary sovereignty.” Staying out means to take back control of a so-called inexorable and iron grid Brussels’ bureaucracy.  When signing the entry into Europe in 1973 Edward Heath, the then Britains Conservative Prime Miniter assured the public there is “no question of any erosion of national sovereignty”, and that Parliament can at any time confirm this by holding a referendum.  However, we need to bear in mind that a country can be wholly sovereign but hardly has any influence.  With some measure and as will all negotiation, it is a zero sum game because overall it is very difficult to distinguish between local rules and parliamentary laws on some lesser important matters.  For example alliances such as NATO membership creates an obligation to go to war if another member country attacked. 

It is wrong to argue, as some do, unelected bureaucrats impose that EU law in the European Commission. “In fact, although the Commission proposes draft legislation, it is adopted by the Council of Ministers, consisting of elected national governments, and the elected European Parliament.” Members of The House of Lords are unelected, and so are judges who form part of our laws setting precedents.   The EU, maybe supranational, but elections (including European ones) fought on national issues. In fact, voters can throw out the elected leadership at any time if they were to exercise their EU voting rights more often.  What at times may seem undemocratic is when those elected members shift alliances by compromises but that is part of procedures of shifting alliances under a coalition government structure, the British find unusual. There is no question of taking back control. 

It is not longer a question of autonomy and without it, Britain can never be free.  The control we have is through our appointed representative.  They have no power that the directives instilled in them by our national government.  The Brexit camp wrongly believes that ultimate power rests in Brussels.  It is important to note, however, that Britain today manufactures only 14% of its GDP most of which owned by foreign companies.  These include goods from heavy industry to food, clothing, cars, etc.  Britain also depends heavily on food producing countries for most of it food imports. Also, since it can not print its money as this also is done privately owned international banks, one can not blame Brussels for the contents of our sausages or the type of Bananas we can import.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Let the Past Speak for Britain's Future...

Let the Past Speak for Britain's Future

This article concentrates on one theme: Economics

It was in 1973 Britain finally gained entry into the Common Market giving the EU its old name.  Edward Heath, the British Conservative Prime Minister, had steered British entry into the EEC in 1973.  Support for joining was by emboldened when 67 percent of the electorate voted yes to continued membership in the referendum of June 1975. With President Charles DeGaule, out of the way, France finally acceded to Britain’s entry.  At that point Britain was experiencing rising labour costs, strikes and an overvalued currency before the oil crisis that came in October following the Arab–Israeli War or Yum Kippur war.  With most of the Western Europe recording record figures Britain’s economy, by contrast, was in the preceding eight to ten years experienced a corresponding deterioration in the balance of payments and the outlook was anything but bleak.  It was a time when earnings rose by 9 percent and productivity by only 1 per cent. Never in Britain's history has so large a gap recorded between wages and productivity.   “By the conventional accounting, this leaves us [Britain] with real first-line reserves of a mere £88 million (as against liabilities of over £4.000 million).” In spite of further efforts to reduce inflation, the pound continued to lose value, reaching a record low against the dollar in June 1976.  Germany and America by way of the IMF financed Britain to the tune of £3.9Billion. 

The economic instability was so bad this is how Dennis Healey, the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed the mood of the people “I wouldn’t have your job for a million pounds, why on earth do you want to be Chancellor of the Exchequer at a time like this?”.  This extract from his budget speech of 12 November 1974, “...existing price controls squeeze them [private companies] much harder than anyone ever intended, almost to strangulation in some cases”. He went on  "we could all be set for a great slump on the size of the 30s and an international trade war which would sweep away the framework of international cooperation.” The fear was that Britain’s postwar modernity – embodied in technological advance, economic growth, consumerism and individualism – appeared in doubt.   Britain’s national economy had staggered from crisis to crisis for most of the post-war decades.  This situation finally culminated in the Winter of Discontent’ of 1978/79; major trade unions undertook a series of angry, concerted strikes against their ‘own’ government: rubbish went uncollected, the dead were left unburied.

This community spirit, led by Germany saved Britain from defaulting on its loans received a ‘Bailout’.  Since joining the European club whether, by agreement, negotiation or downright arguing, Britain’s economic health turned for the better and had access to a tariff-free market.  Since joining the EU, Britain’s relative economic performance has improved; GDP per capita has grown faster than France, Germany and Italy since 1973. Some people will rightly argue that all this improvement not solely credited to the EU but at the same time, it needs to be noted British entry has not damaged British growth. Some also believe, in this global age, it is just as easy to trade with Australia as it is to trade with France.  Aside from this dubious observation, The Dominions such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada have since 1966 joined up in trading agreements independently with other countries.  Many of them are members of The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) some Economist goes so far as to describe it a trade “one of the most ambitious free trade agreements ever signed.” Currently, 44% of our exports go to the EU, and 48% of foreign direct investment into Britain comes from the EU.  EU exports to Britain per member remains small to the point of insignificance if special privileges requested.  As a highly industrialised nation Britain imports most of its food locally, almost at its doorstep; Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy and France non-dollar countries that can otherwise drain its dollar reserves.  This radical transformation has all the signposts for the way ahead into the future.  Additionally, ‘collective’ spirit and integration are key to resuscitate the Community’s role as a possible bulwark against financial disorder.  Will all that disappear with a Brexit? Clearly not. But it will be adversely affected. This is from an Ernst & Young survey of foreign direct investors (the companies that build factories and offices here) last year:

With 72% of investors citing access to the European single market as important to the UK’s attractiveness, the referendum has the potential to change perceptions of the UK dramatically, posing a major risk to FDI. Our survey indicates that 31% of investors will either freeze or reduce investment until the outcome is known.

Voting IN is security for the generations to come. Yes, Britain is stronger in Europe.  

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Britain is stronger in Europe

This article concentrates on one theme - Immigration.

In Britain, as in the United States, we see British Democracy is tending to turn inwards.  With its increasing national problems such as the widening of economic disparities, it is abandoning its international interests.  Britain along with the global trend is in the middle of its worst economic stretch since the 1930’s.  The populists are decrying that such harms caused by others such as immigration, therefore, placing their ills on racial and cultural reasons. Hence, history shows with such broad backlash and worries in the background a shift to the right normally takes place. Today we see most of the Europeans going in that direction with France leading the way. Nigel Farage,leader of the UK Independence Party, in fermenting fear, is capitalising on this as much as possible in the hope that it draws him away from the cold and into mainstream politics.

During the interwar period of 1918 to 1939 financial crisis led to political polarisation and fragmentation but this time, even the austerity measures that Greece is experiencing has not steered the Greeks away from Europe.  The same for Britain, where according to Ipsos, a pollster, 49% those likely to vote for Brexit cite immigration and not so much anti-Europe or economic frustration.  What is developing is not so much as kin culture but socio-political culture laced with an Anti-drive verging on hatred.  The Brutal murder last week of Jo Cox, British Member of Parliament, is one ugly symptom.

Brexit victory, based on fear of immigrants, I am afraid will result in a divided society.  A society that will have an inexorable interest in its own cultural and religious awareness growing intolerant and extreme while advocating individual rights. This split in direction is often, enshrined in socio-culture and religion and where prejudice will reign supreme. Anti-immigration, as key to blame for subverting British democracy, will be a nationalist vote, and at best it will be right of centre.  Additionally, this broader view of racial anxiety conceivably caused by less educated 'white' competing with immigrants for jobs.  For Brexiteers to vote out citing immigration as their primary reason, immigrants will find an echo in Mr Trump's proposal to bar Muslims because some might be terrorists.

Nationalism can be an ideological danger, especially when lurking behind its primary objective of political action that can easily transcend to unrestrained power.  A glance at the political developments of right-wing nationalist parties in the last century should be enough to set alarm bells and ought to be underlined as sinister intentions.

Farag's contribution to the Immigration problem is one blunt tool policy, more suitable to cavemen, and has no place at the table of a modern multi-cultural society.    Fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of different beliefs historically are some of the pillars of British Constitution. An attitude of ‘Right or wrong, this is my country’ will create a dangerous precedent in British Politics.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Is Marxism a failed Philosophy?

This is a short reply I gave to a friend recently.

Is Marxism a failed philosophy? An interesting question to which I hope I can lend some justice.

Let's examine the fallout since its Hegelian Dialectical conceptualisation of Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis that fundamentally embodied the framework within a perceived economic structure. Indeed, from this vantage point, one immediately sees that the Marxist temple has been deserted and now stands barren of its would-be pretenders.

Marxism, as reinforced by The Bolsheviks and Lenin, are both dead. Stalinism is dead. Sovietization is dead. Both, as adopted by Vietnam, and exemplified by the killing fields of Cambodia and The Khmer Rouge are dead. Maoism is dead. Contemporary china'mism' is today masked communism, where Capitalism at its incipiency killed off all traces of the Proletariat and where Class and The Bourgeoisie are both still alive and well. Lastly North Korea, a fossilised communist state, where Totalitarianism owes its system to a hodgepodge of Fhurerism - Allegiance to ONE.

According to Friedrich von Hayek rightly in my opinion Central command economy, embodied in Marxist Philosophy, for its final Thesis breeds control which leads to domination, Despotism, and Totalitarianism. According to Hanna Ahrendt totalitarian and socialist inspired regimes can also result in Right Wing Fascism as in Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Nazism- both embryonically rooted in Socialism. The interwar years between 1918 and 1945 all such coloured ideologies including all forms of Marxist philosophy were tried out and rejected only to see the triumph of Capitalism eventually reconfirmed following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1992 which then ensured Marxist philosophy's final capitulation in the reunification of Germany.

So yes, Marxism in all it's mimesis and given hybrid paradigms are dead and buried deep enough to ensure against its resurrection.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

ISIS: The Invisible Enemy

ISIS: The Invisible Enemy

“To empathise with those most different from one’s own moral culture, without necessarily sympathising. This is our call to comprehend. If we can only grasp why otherwise normal humans would want to die killing masses of other humans who have harmed no one, we might ourselves better avoid killing and being killed.”

Scott Atran, Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University in England

Like with any other totalitarian movements we need History to lend us a hand not only to understand ISIS but help us define it.  Many ideas have been put forward addressing this particular phenomenon in many columns; this blog is no exception.  This part will look at its broad socio-political argument, likely causes and ideological sustainability within it's perceptual religious and political lenses.  I try to establish how terror and destruction are natural, indeed vital, state activity and its lifeline. Significant in that aim the horrendous historical mistakes that were to cause a turning point, with consequences unforeseen at the time, fundamentally changed Middle East History if not the world.

The shedding of the Ottoman yolk at the turn of the twentieth century was within reach, and the Saudi and Wahhabi Nationalist dream for the independence of Muslim Arabia was a promise yet to realise. However, like many dreams and hopes they are likely to become nightmares.   The final emancipation when it arrived came packaged with Christian ribbons: inside the infidel’s sphere of influence.  Iraq placed under British Mandate in contradiction to US President Wilson’s January 1918, 14 points peace settlement of self-determination which promised, “nationalities which are now under Turkish rule […] unmolested opportunity of autonomous development”. Despite American objections British forces occupied Baghdad and Jerusalem proclaimed that they came as liberators, promising Sharif Hussein of Mecca and his son Faisal, an Arab State, an Independence and Freedom cloaked in Statehood and Sovereignty.  Alas like many other assurances given to the Arabs, these promises wrung hollow.  To add insult to injuries the realisation of 1916 Sykes-Picot agreements, The Balfour Declaration dated 2 November 1917 in which the British gave what was not theirs to give, was another insult to an already grievous harm.  Here is what US secretary of state Edward Lansing wrote in a memorandum of 9 May 1919 that: “… It may be years before these suppressed peoples can throw off the yoke, but as sure as day follows night, the time will come when they will make the effort.”  In the event, the San Remo Resolution of April 25, 1920, was fatally flawed.  The name ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is a clear marker to the aggressive intentions.  To be sure this is more than a stirring political dissatisfaction but more of a cultural revolt rooted in a historical context.

Far too many grievous harms and great travesties of justice the Muslim Arabs and their ‘religious islands’ have had to endure through the centuries. In all likelihood would carry deep scars going forward but sadly emboldened by the gratification of revenge in its quest of National regeneration. The hurt post-WWI was enough to unite for the first time the Shia-Sunni divide.  Battles raged against British mandatory rule with their collaborators including Nuri al-Said and his brother-in-law Jafar al-Askari that had earlier placed Faisal, a discarded material, on the throne of Iraq.  An agreement was finally reached and ratified on October 3, 1932, when the League of Nations voted unanimously to admit the Kingdom of Iraq to membership.  The reluctance to do so says Susan Pedersen in her paper, the community “feared that the primary victims of independence might be some segments of the Iraqi population itself.”

According to Al-Jazeera and other publications “As the man in charge of the so-called reconstruction effort in post-Saddam Iraq, [Paul] Bremer ordered the disbanding of the Iraqi army and banned members of the Ba'ath Party from holding public office. These measures, critics say, were directly responsible for Iraq's descent into chaos.” Indeed confusion and humiliation for taking away a traditional Sunni government control to pass on to Shia authorities that were not used in instruments of government let alone parliamentary democracy. With Iran’s Shia vengeful standpoint this was the ideal scenario for widening its sphere of influence on political as well as on religious grounds. Sectarianism was a fundamental determinant that has so far destroyed thousands of lives and still on-going ten to twelve years later. This turnaround significantly lent a hand in creating radical Sunni Islamist political and terrorist groups.

One needs to define the movement objectively free from emotional encumbrances and subjective prejudices. It is vital to go beyond the ad-lib of ISIS challenge but to understand what it is that ISIS is challenging.  We can then value its cause and evaluate its weakness, by association, its ‘under-belly’.  For some, the very name has now become synonymous with beheading, murder and terrorism – evil. The spread of their interpretation of Islam has also subjected its opponents in multi-dimensional psychological warfare that have so far met with outdated and hitherto, ineffective one dimensional and defensive weaponry.    Treating the Islamic State as merely a form of terrorism or violent extremism masks the menace. For sure will make no headway to counterbalance what has so far clearly unbalanced, western strategy in their single dimension hit back. Daily on the lips of every man woman and child ISIS must be the most written and spoken four letter word and ‘Islam’ as the corollary.  ‘ISIS’ has come to rival ‘America.'

ISIS idealist intent options are to create a globe-spanning jihadi archipelago that will eventually unite to destroy the present world and create a new-old world of universal justice and peace under the Prophet’s banner.  To that end it adheres to an extreme interpretation of Sunni Islam and seeks, through jihad (holy war), to establish an Islamic state ruled by a caliph (a religious leader) and the strict interpretation of Sharia (Islamic law). Originating in 2004 as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), ISIS became so brutal that even al-Qaeda disowned it in 2014. Particularly brutal were its beheadings of Western hostages, which it broadcast on the Internet, and its massacres and forced conversions of Christians and Yazidis in northern Iraq.  By autumn 2014 it was well entrenched; led by an Iraqi ex-army personnel Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, it had 30,000 fighters, including 8,000 foreigners from Chechnya and Europe, and was the world's best-funded militant group, with $2 billion in cash and assets.  It was believed to receive financial support from individuals in some Arab Gulf states and had become self-financing through the cash and bullion it looted from banks in conquered towns and gas and oilfield revenues. The leadership took full advantage of the civil war in Syria and the schismatic turmoil raging in Iraq. In April 2013, al-Baghdadi merged his forces in Iraq and Syria to create the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS, or ISIL).

To Setting up a state with a name ‘Islamic’ is a shrewd political move and to cap it with a Caliphate is also a political movement as a religious synonym to a cult figure; an incumbent on all followers of Islam to follow.   Despite the fact that Muslim scholars and movements from across the Sunni Islamic spectrum have rejected the caliphate, but without a central body for Islam, they can only throw an element of little doubt that can dangerously ignite further sectarianism, breakaways and dissensions each aided by terror as a weapon in favour to rhetoric or discourse.  Farid Senzai says "The Baghdadi caliphate is rejected by most mainstream Islamists because they feel it damages their cause to establish an Islamic system through peaceful means," Such mild and unqualified condemnation desperately lacks conviction.  As I see it, there is a definite build-up of forces of attraction through empathy propagated by common religious beliefs often this is translated in ' terrorist cells'.  They hope this fanatic “blood and soil” revolutionary ideology would sweep away decadent and discredited western ideals, borders, and institutions to replace them with a new baseline of Arab Koranic and disciplined cohesive society.  For some especially the young and impressionable it is seen steeped in excitement energy and novelty generating renewal and reborn pride.  It remains; the cornerstone of this proliferation is terror enshrined with repressive and regressive apparatus of religion.

To understand ISIS religious cleansing is to look at historical models and briefly at National Socialists – Hitler’s Nazi party, in Germany, during the inter-war period.  Ethnic cleaning fuelled by an ideology of racial superiority impacted by racial cleansing.  Immediately after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933, his vague totalitarian ideas were set in motion. Europe and America did not see his macabre coming for the bigger enemy at the time was Communism where Fascism was lesser of two evils.  As today with ISIS, the world completely underestimated the challenges the ‘Caliphate’ doctrines were about to unleash on the world stage.  ISIS ideology was also similar to an ideology that, one way or another was responsible for a war that caused nearly 60 million.  We must also remember nearing the end of 1932 the Nazi party enjoyed massive electoral support not necessarily brought about by coercion and intimidation and fear.

It is very likely that supporters of ISIS at every level do not need to know what their leadership is thinking; they merely have to imagine it.  What it was they came to understand what the Koran was saying was embedded solely on a hermeneutic interpretation that was given by their so-called theologians as their version of the truth.  Truth as they saw it.  The followers’ limitations ventured no room for knowledge, to decipher the Islamic scriptures but to merely believe the word of their God on their terms. In other words, to do the atrocities on the idea what the decision makers would want them to do rather than from a universally acknowledged Koranic directives.  Which also means murder by any means or at any time is justified by their Islam.  Most probably they are conscious of their expected execration by the world but to a large extent by those who would not understand the ‘cleansing’ motive or the Koranic significance of such actions.  At the same time, the community’s attempts at indoctrination were multidimensional giving plenty of thought as raw material for constructing social attitude and its enlivening effects to penetrate deep into the psyche of the likes of Jihadi John and his ilk – The Enemy Within!

Despite the fact that ISIS has come to polarise Islamic society nevertheless for many Muslims, irrespective of the intensity colouring their religious belief, bombing the Islamic state can never be a sideshow.   The swathe of territory conquered at unscrupulous speed is nothing short of emulating the lightning spread of Islam in the Eighth century. The current air strikes serve ISIS’ cause in their relentless propaganda to win the 'lost' hearts to their Faith." - The Sympathisers.  Little does the West realise, for some Islamists, they are also bombing Islam’s ancestral heritage. It does not need number-crunchers to figure out how much mayhem 0.25 percent or less of 1.5Billion of potential suicide bombers can cause.   Despite many Muslims denials that ISIS is un-Islamic; at a stroke, ISIS would re-authenticates for many its substance by reciting the Koran.  Hence, to counteract this imbalance, there is a need therefore to diffusing or dilute its ideological character.  It needs to implode by an enemy within unseen and unobtrusive to dislodge the dangerous myths embedded in their beliefs that substantiate the pillars of their Islam.    The orthodox Islamic world needs to defend itself from the “un-Islamic”.  Not only from those radicalised but also who are harder to detect, those who sympathise and carry grudges – The Invisible Enemy.

To preserve the Enlightenment that has so far reached its fringes, Islam, therefore, needs to be ready, willing and have the capacity to expunge from its backyard the intoxication that has infiltrated its beliefs and values. Every effort must be taken to counter these ‘on-a-roll’ of loose cannons from causing further damage to an old established orthodoxy of Faith.  Islam needs to find one cohesive voice, a central agency brave and responsible enough to de-legitimise, de-authenticate even to
de-Islamise the movement to drain it to impotence in outlook and ideology.  The setting up of an ecumenical council to ensure explicitly ordered social and political hierarchies bounded by law. There is every chance this will demoralise the faithful, more importantly, prevent armed splinter groups from causing further harm; dissuading them from continued use of religion as carapace to avenge grievances and to murder.  To initiate major social change, advocate prioritisation of reform over the slanders of proselytism, homosexuality or woman's infidelity.  The esoterics needs to establish a template with final infallible authority on the interpretation of the scriptures.  The old structure may be one-sided and unbalanced and is nearly in ruins but what matters for this moment, not to despair, but to rebuild.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Who knows what...


There you have it, folks.  Are we seeing the degeneration of actual news gathering or mere prejudice purposely being passed on as newsworthy journalism? For those who take in what supposed to be facts from a trusted media then to find much of it is dressed up and warped is hard to make.  Without the sharp-eyed hawks around most of the rest of us who otherwise get carried away by biased information in efforts to shape a certain status-quo.  Encouraging British or Western praise or disparaging remarks as Anti- Arab or Anti-Russia: ‘strategic’ ‘clever’ and ‘accurate’ British bombing but ‘damaging’ ‘killing innocent civilians’ Russian air strikes and so on.  Yes, you got the picture.  That’s indoctrination disguised as mainstream journalism these days; one has to read constantly against the grain and with a bucket load of scepticism.  The above BBC issues are just some examples but more like it to follow I am sure.  

The article about Palestine refers “For the second time in just over six months, the BBC has been forced to admit that its flagship news and current affairs program -Today - has misled its audiences over the situation in Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

“This week, in response to complaints from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and numerous individuals, the BBC’s editorial complaints unit ruled that the broadcast had breached the corporation’s editorial guidelines on accuracy and misled listeners.” 

In other words, the BBC lied, with no apologies given which mean quite likely you will see or hear more of the same anytime soon.  Lying has always been accepted by the general public but when it get downright and rotten then gets into propaganda territory or at best misinformation. 

Today's propaganda comes packaged in nuanced messaging coming to us in subtle format and unintrusive. Gone are the days when propaganda was more in your face whether the independent sort like advertising or the more institutionalised government sponsored.  What we see aesthetically we ought to perceive mentally no allowance for errors of judgements.  In contrast today's discreet messaging, focused and consistent, coming to us through the multi channels of social media.  Take a look how we have moved on or have we?:

Bolshevik attraction to Famine and Class War

'Papa' All caring otherwise murderer Stalin

Megalomaniac Hitler One Germanic Nation

Join the Superior Race.  Quickest way to have White Skin

Saddam, King Nebuchadnezzar II no less

Saddam man of action our old conquering hero


 Needless to say, none of the examples above contained a grain of truth.

I am no longer sure what or who to believe in this fog of information we are being bombarded with on daily basis with art-like hand-outs.  The BBC only came clean because they were found out.  Did they know they were telling lies - you bet!

There is also a prominent use of language where semantics are vital.  The media find carefully chosen words full of subtle bias to swing our opinions and shape our argument.  Here are some examples: some they ‘defended’ while others ‘attacked’; when others ‘bombs may have killed’ when the other side ‘were responsible for killing’;  ‘shot’ passed for ‘were assassinated’.  America ‘achieved’ while Russia ‘they say they made’.  Without stopping and thinking about the nature of their euphemism. Not many of us do, we tend to be happy wrapped up in our little but confused maze of knowing but without actually thinking. I am sure if we were to express our western culture in public, whether in Russia or China, we will be pushed to the nearest exit.  

What we see, read and hear is not only mind informing but also mind forming indoctrinated innocently, consciously or not, driven by one like-minded judgement and opinions, we become part of the ensembles of an informed public.  All carried forward by innuendos, implications, and rhetoric.  All the while not realising of course that it is not information building but bias building.  Our culture, even our moral judgements, are always being targeted and contradicted by ‘new’ 'cultured' and ‘progressive’ thinking by a mostly unwanted material.  However, after the constant feeding of the same information by an assortment of biassed media sources; what was doubtful at one time magically transforms as truth.  We become principled unable any longer to use our inherited social ability to reason or find where the 'truth' lies.  One’s original or natural opinions or idiosyncrasies are expected to fit reluctantly with mainstream thinking if only to escape from being side-lined. What was once a lie becomes the static social norm. Suddenly justifying the ethics of seeing reason by following mainstream opinion finding comfort by staying with the fold; unthinking and herd-like.  Unconsciously bogged down by a maelstrom of ideas but happily ensconced with being well ‘informed’.  Carried away by the illusion of what I am thinking must be right because all others think the same, yes, ask anyone syndrome. 

If you think all of this has been all a load of bull s**t bias you may probably be right but how was I to know any different.  Maybe the BBC, CNN or even The Sunday Times know better, but I doubt it because they are full of it...

Hey, stop the world I want to get off!   

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Catholicism into Capitalism won't go.

“With the possible exception of Nuclear weapons, capitalism is the most powerful of human inventions.”
Edward Luttwak, (Political Scientist and Historian)

There is a distinct fusion of Christian teaching with Socialism.  I shall try to have a look at rudimentary evidence to such a claim if any and to assess its echoing responses in the light of Pope Francis recent preaching and moral theorising by many Catholics against an uncaring capitalism.  A contentious position to an ideology profoundly entrenched in individualism. To many, it constitutes efforts to avoid altruism against a traditional Catholic; some will argue monolithic, teachings. In the same vein, I look at how far Capitalism is considered a sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church akin to Divorce or Homo-Sexuality.

Let us take morality as our starting point.  Many people tend to think that morality springs from religion yet remain oblivious to ideas that before the advent of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and other religious denominations, people did not spend their time killing each other but learnt to live and hunt together as caring communities.  Evolutionary theory as much as the history of money as embedded in the progress of the human race would not have you here reading this otherwise.  An increasingly universal thought stresses that morality is a product of selfishness and an egocentric dictum.  Controversially, Freedom of Will, according to many, is God’s greatest gift, primarily cultivated Man to differentiate between what is good and right and automatically discriminates between the evil and wrong respectively.  For contemporary society, however, Free thinking creativity is the trademark of individualism, at the root of Liberal Democracy that provides much of the fuel of Capitalism.  Although Man’s egocentric inherence obliges him to be competitive, that is always the paradoxical ingredient of the natural world - survival of the fittest!

These are the charges by the Catholic Church against Capitalism.  Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his encyclical published by the Vatican released in July 2009, “where the pernicious effects of sin are evident,”. On May 24, 2015, Pope Francis encyclical on climate change included all aspects of human life with particular emphasis on a better distribution of wealth”.   Let us not forget; these Encyclicals are made under the auspices of Ecumenical councils making them irrefutable, underscored by the Pope’s infallibility.  The doctrine of infallibility means there is never going back on them.  Amongst other things they had this remarkable passage “The Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute or inviolable but has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property”.  Pope Francis also makes a bold statement calling upon world leaders to fight unrestricted capitalism, which he called "a new tyranny." The church explicitly advocates “a social mortgage on all private property, so that goods may serve the general purpose that God gave them.”  With that in mind Catholicism has thrown down the gauntlet of its basic terms for social life and social justice challenging society to consider these ideas as fundamental; to implicitly endorse a transnational political culture.  Such collectivist and paternalistic ideas are very hard if not impossible to adhere to in the face of non-existent or accepted universal doctrine. Comprehensive enough to legitimate such notions and much of it, despite religious obedience and spiritual ‘improvement’, goes against the grain of human instinct to trade as well as against an individual’s pathological greed. 

Whatever colour, socialism, as an ideology, stands in sharp contrast to Capitalism’s fundamental concern with making profit and accumulation of capital, both principles that create progress within a dynamic environment.  Despite the Popes’ encyclicals, although in many respects hostile to capitalism, they must not overshadow the fact that an individual, the entrepreneur, is the engine which ultimately creates wealth for society- poor and rich.  Besides, there is no getting away from the fact that there are winners and losers in the global economy, but it has over the last two hundred years proved, despite its cyclical dips, the power behind an economic agility and elasticity of The Free Market. Time and again it proved amenable to necessary social change that is more often good than bad. Such an economic and social revolution cultivated its roots in Calvinist Laissez-faire and notions of the Enlightenment; both served to emancipate the Individual from the fetters of tradition.  

Generally speaking, humans are not irredeemably self-centred, dogmatic, or driven by what Hobbes called, “a perpetual and restless desire of power after power”.  But at the same time, maybe paradoxically, I accept the notion that man can be unreasonable.  Without coercive conformity, tax concessions or self-status aggrandisement, it is doubtful whether he or she have altruistic intentions to society towards common benefit.  In accordance to Keynesianism, State induced fairer share either through higher taxes on the wealthy or increase in welfare for a more even society to balance ‘the spirit level’ of unfair advantage, or to referee society so the lucky few do not take a bigger piece of the pie.  Such a recipe would be music to the ears of Pope Francis but a view largely scorned by tax escapees.  Among nations with sharp increases in top-heavy inequality, such as the U.S. and the U.K. they offer an especially revealing contrast. The top 1%’s income share soared in both countries, the UK and the USA,  In fact, the wealthy minority have tripled their share of the economy.  Since 1980 and through the mid-1990’s poor households made little progress because what is increasing evident is that the ‘glass keeps getting bigger’ mostly the effect of avaricious and self-interested consumerists.

Jesus preached; “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”, aside from possibly claiming the separation of Church and State but curiously to liberate ‘Pharisees and Herodians’ (the Elite), from spiritual and physical dependence on greed.  Christ chased the moneylenders from the Temple …drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, he poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; Take these things hence; make not My Father's house a house of merchandise”. Aside from establishing his authority, he was also showing his visceral disdain on Capitalism (today’s term) and his aggressive stance clearly marks out the different mixing of God’s spiritual demands (The Temple) to that of financial rewards. The term is loaded against both; personal interest for money and the eventual accumulation of wealth by the church. Such messages towards wealth creation are a grave indictment against the Catholic entrepreneur who in his or her daily routine has inadvertently prioritised making profits over the house of God and his commands. 

The Vatican has a lot to answer.  Starting chronologically from a historical perspective, collaboration with Fascist Mussolini regime in the 1920’s, The Lateran Pacts (a treaty, a financial settlement and a Concordat) established the Vatican City as a sovereign state.  Mussolini’s Italy compensated the Pope for the loss of Papal authority and territories pre-1870 due to the Risorgimento.  The compensation amounted to the tune of 750,000 Italian lire and an additional 1,000 million Italian lire in state bonds; and the Church was granted certain privileges, providing it did not encroach on the activity of political parties (see the previous paragraph). Meanwhile, during the later 1930s, the Church became concerned by Mussolini’s links with Hitler. Assets were quietly shifted abroad as the Vatican began to countenance a post-Fascist and post-Nazi world order with the United States of America at its hub. By the way, we are talking old money here.

Today, Bank of the Vatican’s figures, which apparently finances its ‘spiritual’ element shows profits skyrocketed to €69.3 million ($77 million) from €2.9 million a year earlier as at 20th of May, 2015 with a logical drive for profit maximisation.  Apparently the Vatican with an estimated worth between $15 billion to $20 billion, a GDP per capita is $365,796 – making it the richest state on the planet.  They do spend on charitable purposes but a paltry amount when compared to the $100 million spent by Turkey on one Mosque centre in Maryland, Washington from a $2billion annual budget set by a government directorate of religious affairs, or the ‘Diyanet’. Also there Saudi Arabia devoting billions of dollars in their relentless spread of Islam in Europe and The Americas.

As for the Catholic Church’s stand on Capitalism, it is evident enough “An economic system is good only to the extent that it applies the principles of justice taught by the Church”.  Pope John Paul II clearly stated that “It is a strict duty of fairness and truth not to allow fundamental human needs to remain unsatisfied and not to allow those burdened by such needs to perish." – Tacit discouragement of Social Darwinist ideas.  In other words, given the Catholic Church holding such beliefs, it holds a monopoly on both Justice and Truth.  An implication that it is not up to the individual to be the final judge how much wealth to accumulate but this must remain within the church’s juridical reach; a prerogative of the Church to make that judgment and to rein in that greed.  What this also seems to suggest that these guidelines are allied to impositions on freedom of conscious.  A fact that appears to imply that business profits according to church teaching are incompatible with profit maximisation but equally has set an imperative that the benefits are of service of human freedom in its totality.  Many of these principles I find very loose and desperately need qualifying but for now, can only be in the abstract.

How far, these encyclicals, banal ‘catholic’ directions of controlling the sins of desire, pride, envy, and greed sit comfortably with Capitalism of today amid the evolving concepts of freedom is debatable.  This overview especially when viewed against the background that saw the eventual triumph of the individual over society so admirably translated in Liberal Democracy.  This piece has attempted to discuss this issue from a layman perspective and examined how far-removed, or otherwise, social interpretations of Jesus’ sayings when applied to today’s way of life.  Joining Christian social teachings with modern science and industry where many interpret, but invariably not publicly admit, that “greed is good”.   Bearing in mind there are no hard and fast rules about the hermeneutical interpretation of The New Testament we, therefore, need to consider the implications that can inadvertently become paradoxical to an entrepreneurial Christian society.   That while acknowledging an unrestrained greed, innocently enjoy a way of life that in a sense is incompatible with their sincere religious belief.  After all, for many the ultimate goal of life is the accumulation of wealth, whether this is interpreted as a sinful act or at best a bad perspective on the rich is very much an individual effort when consummating his or her financial gains.