Category Archives: Politics

The New Age of News

For some, YouTube is just that place where cat videos and fail compilations exist, and nothing more, but in reality, YouTube and a variety of other internet-based companies, some funded by Discovery, are attempting to revolutionise the way we perceive our entertainment and news. There is no field more prominently changed already than that of news channels and the corporations that run them (into the ground). Giants of the previous age like CNN and Fox News are losing credibility as their agendas are called into question, their accuracy of reporting falters and their previously enjoyed real-time-updates-even-when-nothing-is-happening methods are falling into antiquity. The age of privately controlled news is dying, and I say thank [Insert deity here, otherwise substitute with H. P. Lovecraft], because it takes a great deal of enthusiasm and pro-activity on the part of the viewers to facilitate such monumental changes. For that, I must address my utmost respect to the people behind this change – the viewers as well as the producers.

Rising up to replace these rusting titans are YouTube-based channels like SourceFed and DNews. They are news channels which seem (as far as I can tell) to hold little obligation to any demographic, country or company (although I doubt they would produce a scandalous story about Discovery). They can be viewed anywhere for free. Their demeanour is that of young, creative and idealistic people – people who would dare to challenge monopolised giants like CNN, and win. While major news networks lose viewers by the hundreds of thousands each passing year, SourceFed has reached 1 million subscribers and enjoyed over half a million views in the year that it has existed. There is no telling what will happen from here. Never before has such a thing existed. If we live in a world where fully established corporations can be pushed off their thrones by the young, creative individualists of the postmodern age, then I daresay we have found the ideal capitalist world! Unfortunately, such circumstances do not exist often.

All we have to do to allow these extraordinary events to happen is to give these newcomers moral support, and it literally is as easy as it sounds. Pressing a like button, sharing a video or writing a blog post about them can go a long way towards helping them, if you consider the long line of views that might stem indirectly from your small and easy contribution.

We can only dream of what monumental influence this quickly. It is one of those phenomena which we are fortunate enough to experience, its origins owed to the vast dynamics of the internet, a realm which, fortuitously, has not been dissected and compartmentalised by the powers that be.

But that will depend on you…

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Democratic Amendments – Reconsideration of Old Laws

Hello and sorry I haven’t posted anything for a month. Let’s just say it’s been a monumentally awesome holiday without much incentive to sit behind a computer screen.

This is the first of several blog posts where I will build upon my ideas of where democracy and/or mixtures of political systems in the postmodern era should be headed. This includes – but is not limited to – systems either developed exclusively with my noggin or derived from something interesting I saw, which will result in my analysing and critiquing the idea in depth, as opposed to explaining it from scratch. I’ll be using mostly the USA government and systems for convenience, since they seem to set the standard for Western politics along with the UK.

It is my understanding that politicians in a parliamentary meeting tend to waste many an hour month arguing about things that don’t matter, or being on holiday or at home. They typically have a 40 hour workweek, or as they say, an 80 hour biweekly schedule, which allows for flexibility. That is a typical 8 hour work day. As far as I’m concerned, a politician in a high position such as Senator or House Representative should be working harder. After all, the results of their efficiency and decisions have a direct impact on their country, and in the USA’s case, the world, and I believe anyone would agree that these politicians do not exactly have a reputation for ruthless efficiency and remarkable progress through their daily routines. The purpose of this somewhat accusatory rant is to ensure that you, the readers, understand that politicians have the time and energy to do more – and to do it more effectively.

In this first post of such a series, I wanted to outline something simple which outrageously doesn’t exist in any system I know. It stems from the very basic idea of keeping laws simple. One way this can be achieved is by revisiting old laws in order to renew, amend or discard them as needed. Perhaps, a law should only be considered valid for a hundred or so years. Before it expires, it must be revisited by Congress and scrutinised. Perhaps a law governing the industrial age or a First World War agenda carries no relevance today, and as such may impede the country in some way. Not only would this serve to ensure an  up-to-date and relevant legal system, but it would serve to clean up and simplify a country’s unnecessarily convoluted laws.

If there’s anything that destroys a country’s ability to encourage capitalism and individualism, it is an archaic legal system that only serves to hinder its people. Not only does it make the average citizen’s life difficult, but it also provides pathways and loopholes for a government to manipulate its populace. As long as there is a high level of obscurity in law, there will always be criminals and governments alike who will take advantage of the average citizen’s ignorance to achieve their own ends. At the same time, convoluted laws make business difficult. If we wish to live in a globalised capitalist economy, we need easy, simple laws. In corrupt governments, departments may complicate their own laws to achieve that very same objective, making everyday business so difficult that progress through the system is impossible without a degree of bribery to government officials. It is the grim reaper of capitalism.

Remember, whether you agree or disagree, I encourage you to comment if you have anything to add.

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Modern Marxist Mistakes

This is essentially a post about a very typical characteristic of people today who claim to be Marxists, yet still cling to consumerism because it’s simply too convenient to abandon in the name of living up to one’s ideology. So they aren’t Marxists really, just capitalists who complain about capitalism. Also, bear in mind that I’m talking about postmodern, not modern Marxists. The title just worked out nicely.

The grand German Mac daddy of all things communist, Karl Marx. Ironic, considering Germans have always avoided Marxism like the plague.

The grand German Mac daddy of all things communist, Karl Marx. Ironic, considering Germans have always avoided Marxism like the plague.

Here’s my experience of them, which I believe to be quite accurate.
The typical postmodern Marxist is an academic. We all know that students in university tend to be bent far more towards the left than other members of society, probably due to their lifestyle, which is financially humble and also very comfortable and sheltered. Furthermore, a student typically has no fiscal responsibility to anyone except for himself. I believe students are subconsciously conditioned after a couple of years in this environment such that they do not appreciate how different life is in the real world. Thus, socialism, perhaps extreme socialism, might seem more familiar and practical than the life of a suburban middle-class SUV driver. No doubt, they’ll receive a rude awakening when they leave college, start a family, and realise what real financial responsibility is, not to mention that they can no longer depend on their parents if they need new cars. Hence the socialist mentality is gradually replaced by a heavy and more sincere consumerist lifestyle. Ideology matters little when you’re gunning for that new house in that nice neighbourhood. Go figure (six-figure?).

Some of these students become politically ‘Marxist’ before the ideological pathways in their brains are obliterated by their affinity with new, shiny, expensive things. These are, in my opinion, the stereotypical postmodern Marxists. If you are reading this, are a Marxist and do not feel you are accurately represented by the aforementioned description, then I do apologise. One can only experience and understand so much in 18-19 years.

So what are the ideological thoughts of these people? I don’t want a lengthy post, so I’ll stick to the primary cause for their allegiance with socialism, an approach which is fatally flawed. Many of the guys I’ve talked to tend to think capitalism is bad because of its requirement of ‘constant growth’, which I also happen to believe is true. They say that the world’s resources are being depleted by the capitalist consumer, and that this will ultimately plunge the world into chaos once something essential like oil runs out. This is indeed founded on truth. A typical first world consumer, as I’ve pointed out in previous posts, might consume several times the electricity, water and food of a typical impoverished person in a third world country.

Here’s where the disagreement (read: fatal flaw) emerges. The postmodern Marxist lives under the delusion that redistributing wealth will somehow cause the world to stop consuming resources.

The problem, however obvious, can be highlighted with the following parable I just made up:

John is a consumer. However, he grows disillusioned with his lifestyle because he consumes far more than he needs to survive, which he feels is wrong. So he participates in a Marxist revolution and the whole world goes communist. Now, John consumes a tenth of what he did before, and what he used to consume is now being shared between five other people whose standard of living has risen in proportion to how much his standard of living has gone down. John is now a fully-fledged Marxist. But he realises too late that, despite having redistributed his resources, the world as a whole is still consuming the same amount of resources and will ultimately run out of something, just as it was going to before, except now the world has no incentive to find a solution, because Marxism is centered on the principle of staying the same, rather than growing. Only now does John realise the absolute necessity of constant, dirty, unfair and unbalanced economic and consumptive growth which is typical of a capitalist system.

The moral of this story is that capitalism does not consume resources: people do. They are not going anywhere, which is why the typical postmodern Marxist is incredibly flawed by blaming capitalism for the fact that resources are being consumed at a phenomenal and indeed unsustainable rate ^_^

This has been (Post)Modern Marxist Mistakes with Savva Pouroullis.

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Fascism and Democracy (and why neither is out of the fight yet)

I’ve always asked myself if there will ever be a political system which truly benefits humanity. I found that there were two ways to look at it.

On one hand, a political system could be geared towards total efficiency and dedicated to the long-term survival of the human species. With this in mind, one must imagine a world where this is the highest priority in a governing body, superseded by absolutely nothing. In such a world, what place do freedom and individualism have? Not even a back seat, actually. They are not needed. In fact it’s quite the contrary. However, in a world where security means everything, freedom cannot exist, for where there is freedom, there is a little ‘chaos’. Bear in mind that I’m using all these terms very lightly and in a broad sense. With ‘chaos’ comes the ability for someone to destabilise a system, and a governing body with the interest of security would not want that. On the other hand, you have the truly free society, where crazy, weird stuff happens everyday, and the government keeps its nose out your life and just makes sure the potholes are being filled in. In such a world, you could get your face eaten by a madman, be sued for spilling hot chocolate, or tell the government that they suck without much fear of being locked in a cell in Guantanamo Bay, where there’s only one kind of meat-based food.

Let’s get back to topic. To summarise, I believe the two paths a country can go are either towards fascism, or towards total democracy. Whether it will ever reach either one is questionable, if not impossible. I don’t think either can exist for long, anyway.

Let’s move on to fascism first, and see why a country would want to even dip a toe in that pool.

This world would by default have to be totalitarian, ruthless and honestly quite miserable. It’s comparable to that of the world described in the foremost dystopic literature, such 1984, or the film V for Vendetta (I’m not sure whether or not it’s a book adaptation). In these worlds, life is indeed tough. In order to counter the toughness, the people forsake their freedom (which they think will be a temporary situation) and hand their lives over to a fascist/communist group, which gladly cements itself in place. When the hard times are over, the institution remains. People grow accustomed to it and stop struggling. This is the typical process by which any self-respecting fascist group would do it, since just forcing it on the population can only lead to insurrection, as Uncle Sam learned the hard way in Vietnam. In a modern Western society, we are quickly taught the disadvantages of such a system, which I am confident you all know well. Let’s get something straight – I don’t like fascism, because it attempts to implement artificial selection, which I believe is not ideal to a functioning society. I also believe Communism (or any form of far-left socialism for that matter) is pretty much the same thing as fascism. BUT, the advantages it offers are not objectively ignorable, just because we currently live in a relatively ordered and peaceful global era.Here are some interesting characteristics of fascism which might make it attractive to a government or people.

1) A socialist aspect of fascism is required in any war situation, because if you need 10 million bullets, and nobody actually manufactures bullets on a regular basis in the beginning of the war, you have to force those locksmiths and brass handle-makers to start making bullets instead. This is the most widely known and acceptable advantage of such a thing. Indeed, the epitome of freedom and democracy, old Uncle Sam, took control of industry during WW2 and told everyone what to manufacture. So did Britain and every other country fighting a war, ironically using the very same methods they were trying to purge out of the Nazis and other nationalist extremists.

2) Conscription. Yes, yes, this is a thing that is used in many democratic countries, etc. But I consider it a trait of a military state, and thus a trait of fascism. Remember, just because it’s fascist, doesn’t mean it’s not being used by anyone. My own  country of origin has military conscription, because we have a lumbering giant right up north of us that would love to sink its teeth into the second half of our country. I recognise this as a fascist element. I also recognise its necessity.

3) Total security – Fascist states have no moral obligations to respect their own people. Because of this very simple fact, they can and will do whatever is necessary to prevent any threats against the country from become more than a mere nuisance. Typically, this element is represented by secret security councils, spy agencies and souped-up military spending. Back in the days of Apartheid, this concept was taken to the extreme in a place called Vlakplaas. The atrocities that occurred there by the hands of a secret security branch of the government represent how far some fascist governments are prepared to go for information. And we all say it’s in the past, but the thing is, it’s still happening, in ‘democratic’ countries, no less.

Killing Nazis has officially received the Chuck Norris Stamp of Approval.

Killing Nazis has officially received the Chuck Norris Stamp of Approval.

However, fascist principle come in many shapes and forms. The Nazis were obviously not seen for what they really were by many of Germany's citizens.

However, fascist principles come in many shapes and forms. The Nazis were honestly not seen for what they really were by many of Germany’s citizens. Sounds familiar.

The Italian guy who failed to be a Macchiavellian. More like a Macchiafaillian, AmIRight?

The Italian guy who failed to be a Macchiavellian. More like a Macchiafaillian, Am-I-Right?

Damn true, my good man. Today the world is still under threat, perhaps more than ever, as the image of fascism slowly fades from people's minds and they forget what it looks like. At least when they were fighting Germany, the average citizen was passionate enough about freedom to actually critique their government for trying anything too dodgy.

Damn true, my good man, even though you probably meant Russia. Today the world is still under threat, perhaps more than ever, as the image of fascism slowly fades from people’s minds and they forget what it looks like. At least when the democratic people of the world were fighting Germany, the average citizen was passionate enough about freedom to actually critique his government for trying anything too dodgy.

And now, let’s take a look at democracy, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and why it is the dominant system of government in the world today. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms which have been tried from time to time (good old Churchill said that in a speech).

Democracy entails handing power over to the people, more specifically the majority of the people, regardless of their ability to use it to their own benefit, or their intention to be involved in politics at all. Democracy originated several times in several places, but most notably and successfully in ancient Greece, more specifically in Athens, where oligarchy had previously been the system of the day, while the Spartans were living it up in a communist lifestyle and the Thebans were… oiling each other. The main point is that democracy was not originally designed as a group of semi-disinterested people choosing a sovereign leader who would pretty much be expected to solve everything within a few years. Real democracy is referred to as Direct Democracy. This means that every citizen takes an active role in government and debates new proposals for laws and actually elects (the equivalent of) every person in the cabinet/Senate House/Congress/whatever your country uses. Modern democracy is hardly as ‘democratic’ anymore, mostly due to the logistical impossibility of getting several million people to vote for every member of parliament and maintain an up to date knowledge of the goings-on in a parliament which might be situated hundreds of kilometres away. But electing a single president or prime minister is the most reasonable option left, so let’s get right to it.

Democracy has both advantages and disadvantages, as do all political systems. In a world where freedom is supposedly the top priority of any population, democracy is certainly very important and the most desirable system out there. Here’s the reason it isn’t perfectly cemented and is in danger of being replaced by something a little more sinister:

The more democratic a country becomes, the more chaotic and individualist it becomes. This means there is a higher probability of crazy, unpredictable things occurring. This can be exemplified in the internet, which is not a country, but is a realm in which near-total anarchy reigns. By anarchy, I mean absolute democracy! If you comment in a way that is not liked by many people, they can individually contribute to removing your comment by down voting it, etc. Parallel to that, anyone can pretty much do or say anything with little consequence. Of course, the larger crowd will drown it out with their own 2 cents. But that’s the essence of freedom, isn’t it?

Implementing Control Vis-a-vis the Citizens’ Demands – Chaos and unpredictability are any government’s nightmare, and democratic or not, a government will attempt to implement some form of control. That’s understandable. That’s natural. But where is that line meant to be drawn? How important should the citizen’s rights be, as opposed to maintaining order? This is perhaps the most difficult conundrum a governing body has to face, especially if their intentions are good. It is my belief that the citizens themselves must choose for themselves, collectively and decisively, without room for any governing body or media network to decide for them. What do I mean by this? The question: Do I want freedom, or do I want security? Because I cannot have both in disproportion. The more security, the less freedom and so-on. The citizen, the individual must take a side (After careful thought). Upon taking a side, the citizen must act, debate, argue and explain his or her view. This is the responsibility of a democratic citizen. By doing this, a government can be made aware of exactly what the citizens want and change according to their wish, even if it disagrees. That’s the way the cookie crumbles in a democracy.

Implementing Control Behind the Scenes – This is a big one. The USA has been caught totally red-handed recently by traitor/enemy of the state/hero of freedom Edward Snowden. Forget your opinion on him.  He’s not important. What is important is the information he released. I honestly can’t believe the lack of reaction the citizens of the USA have had to the subsequent info that came out from the leaked data. But that’s a whole other blog post. Even the Nazis couldn’t out-fascist the American government on this. The reason I say that is because the Nazis all knew what they were getting into. Their opponents were ready to leave the country in protest and their supporters thought they were being saved from the clutches of their captors. They (some, not all) welcomed the control, the regimented nationalism, the racism and the renewed military might, but the Americans are totally unaware! If you were to ask a random stranger on the street, they would most likely tell you that the USA is the most free and liberated country in the world. Now that is absolutely masterful fascist practice. A democratic government will often attempt to do this, and it is indeed a fascist principle. It’s probably the greatest threat to genuine democracy in the world today.

The Responsibility of the Citizen – The most neglected principle of democracy is a citizen’s total obligation to be politically active. This does not mean turning up once in a while to cast a vote for one random person whose image has been distorted either by his own media projects or his opponent’s. Genuine democratic involvement means scrutiny of your own government: making sure they do what they promised to do. It involves debating and explaining your political views to others, as I mentioned earlier. Most importantly, it involves Not Taking Shit From Your Government, lest they forget who elected them in the first place. Unfortunately, nobody remembers this anymore, nor do they practice it or teach it to youngsters. I grew up unaware of this, all through my high quality private education. I had to figure it out myself, in my own time. That’s wrong. That’s a good example of how distorted democracy is growing, and why it is getting weaker. This explains why governments can actively spy on their people and torture enemies of the state in offshore prisons while still successfully claiming to be  democratic and free.

I think I’ve ranted enough here. I’m all out of breath anyway.

If sufficient debate is generated, and enough interest is shown, I’ll continue the series on this. There’s so much to write about, it’s dizzying. It’s also  quite strenuous to write these things, as it’s hard not to wander off on a tangent. I must have deleted half the volume of this post because I had spontaneously written a whole paragraph on an unrelated topic that could solicit its own post.

I encourage any and all viewers to comment, argue, disagree and quarrel. Debating is a responsibility, not a right!

Savva

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Dystopia (And Why it still exists)

You’ve heard of utopia – a place where everyone is prosperous and lives freely. Unicorns roam the streets and humans don’t murder, steal or cheat. The streets are clean and the wars are only a distant memory, a legend of an imperfect era.

Well, surprisingly, nobody really cares to think about this place anymore, especially in the last hundred years. Perhaps those two world-encompassing conflicts and the subsequent threat of total nuclear destruction slapped people out of their trances and the smell of reality came rushing back.

No, the hot topic of post-modern thought and literature is now focused upon utopia’s rebellious, infinitely more interesting cousin, DYSTOPIA. It is a world where fire rains down from the heavens, food is rare enough to solicit ambush and murder, women are raped, men are slaughtered, children are worked to death, and war and destruction are constant companions. Disease ravages the countryside. Smog canvasses the city. Fascist groups are jostling for power at the expense of the impoverished population. There is only one thing to which everyone clings: hope.

What can I say? I suppose humanity just loves a challenge.

Image

Remember that awesome movie series that you watched far too many times? No? That was just me then? Okay.

Needless to say, Hollywood has had a field day with the concept of dystopia, where the unsung hero to defies the odds to bring some semblance of hope back to humanity. It’s a refreshing turn from the traditional “Hero kills every bad guy in a big explosion and miraculously, none of the good guys die” scenario.

However, I want to explore the fact that our world can still be described as dystopic.

Let’s first establish that Utopia is ridiculous. It is impossible on every level, to such a degree that no living philosopher that I know of believes in its possibility. It seems they all just gave up on it. Dystopia, on the other hand, is very real and easily applicable to large periods of human history. I’ve already described the futuristic, Sci-Fi version of dystopia. Now, let me describe the industrial revolution and then WW1 in England, and see what you make of it:

London is a seething mess, growing rapidly without an end in sight. The growing urban class is far too large and unemployment soars. Most young women resort to prostitution to make enough to survive. Their unwanted children are either aborted or grow up alone in the streets of London. They will probably end up either criminals or chimney-sweeps and will die of lung-disease within a few years. Alternatively, they are recruited to work in crammed coal mines for 18 hours of the day, where they will either die also of lung disease from the poor ventilation or be crushed if the mines collapse. Riots are common, but so are the brutal retaliations by the government, which seeks to repress the population for as long as possible to minimise labour costs and keep profits high. The skyline of London is filled with factory chimney smoke. There is no regulation.  They produce uncontrolled amounts of poisonous waste that they dump in rivers. On many nights, ash rains down on London from the smoke released by these factories, colouring the snow a dark, murky grey. And just when these appalling conditions seem to have an end in sight, and the government takes notice of the horrible conditions of its country, a war with Germany seems imminent. The entire world is pulled into this conflict, which revolves purely around the multiple empires jostling for power over their colonies. What was first thought to be a three week affair turns into a five year nightmare. Leaders of the world don’t have a clue how to deal with it, and their attempts to prevent it from ever happening again will eventually lead to yet another, unimaginably worse war.

WW1

^^ So, does that look kind of dystopic to you? ^^ It happened less than 100 years ago.

Finally, the war is over. Six million men have died, mostly from gangrene and sitting in cold, waterlogged trenches where the tea freezes if you don’t drink it in 15 minutes and rats the size of cats steal your meagre rations. They come back home to England. Many of them have amputated limbs or have lost their eyesight to gas attacks. Others shake uncontrollably from shell-shock.

The authorities vow to make things better. They improve living conditions and assign more power to unions. Workers are allowed to protest and women are enfranchised. The world seems to be getting better. But don’t be fooled. All they did was assign the hard work to other countries in Africa, Asia, and South America, where the population is treated as sub-human, and worked to death just as the people of England were only a few decades ago. But you don’t know about it. You buy cheap steel and fruits imported from other countries and believe life is good. You can afford to buy a refrigerator, a motor car, a tennis racquet.

Don’t be fooled. For every person who lives a life of comfort, there are probably about 3 or 4 others who barely survive.

Now, here comes the difficult part to stomach. We like to give to charities, play our part in making the world a better place, try to help those less fortunate. Those are all familiar phrases which inspire good in us. And by all means, continue. The poor populations of third world countries could certainly benefit from this small, if somewhat inadequate leakage of resources back to their origins. However, a cold fact which we do not (read that as: ‘don’t want to’) acknowledge is that those people we see in dire need of water, food and shelter are in those situations because we live consumer lifestyles, because we use more water to bathe once than they do to live for a week. We eat more, drink more, consume more electricity and use more resources of every kind to fuel our lives.

Did you know that there is enough fresh water on Earth to sustain all 7 billion of us with surplus? Indeed, there is. There is also enough food, enough fuel, enough electricity and enough living space. But a small fraction of the world consumes almost all of those resources. That small fraction is you and me. The consumers, they call us. The elite, the prosperous, but most importantly, the lucky.

We live in this reality. We don’t bother to acknowledge it, and probably never will. We will give 10% of our salary to a charity and forget about it, but we will not live on a ration of water and food, use carpooling extensively, live ascetic, humble lifestyles so that others can do the same and think it a luxury. It’s quite sad, really. I feel guilty.

Here is the reason I condone it (at least I’m not a hypocrite), and still possess a smartphone (among many other consumer products) which I know was produced in a sweatshop where people work 24 hour shifts for terrible pay and try to kill themselves on a regular basis.

If we were to do what I previously mentioned and distribute resources evenly so everyone could be fed, it would also halt technological progress, which would be worse, because even if we did use our resources in moderation, if we didn’t have aggressive capitalism to develop technologies and find news ways to make our resource consumption more efficient, we’d eventually run out of something and the world would be plunged into the same economic chaos that the USSR experienced in the 80’s, and then this would happen:

Chernobyl

So tell me, are we indeed living in a permanent dystopia? Because nothing’s really changed in the last 200 years. There is an elite class that lives comfortably with plenty (that would be us) and the vast majority of the world which lives in appalling conditions and is essentially enslaved to cheaply produce goods for us (the rest of the world).

Perhaps we’ll one day stumble on a submissive alien race so we can outsource our labour to them and finally experience prosperity for all humans. Would you be down with that? Then for every happy, prosperous human, there would be ten aliens somewhere working to death to produce our stuff.

Please share your thoughts in the comments. I want to hear your opinion.

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Filed under Philosophy, Politics, War