Saturday, June 25, 2016

This Place We Call Europe

A part of Eurasia, a multitude of nations
A corner of the globe that's spawned so many invasions
Divided on many fronts, relieved to have a union
We called it peace but who were we foolin'?
You may paper the cracks but it was long falling apart
Blind yourself to the injustices that were there from the start
Yet remember when all's said and done and you're feeling forlorn
This place we call Europe has yet to be born!

Now, it's from the border of the two Ireland's hail I
And already I hear you asking "which side?"
So you can put me in a box, put a label on it
Forget we're all European and think you're in credit
Credit where credit's due, what say you my friend?
Are you still thinking of your pocket and how much the banks will lend?
Or are you asking yourself what can be done
To bring real harmony, to bring real love?

For there are crooks in power, whether in Brussells or London
In league with the Devil they spare but no one
To make us fodder for corporations, steal what they can
If you're not awake to this, you've your head in the sand
Did you know the word Tory comes from the Irish for criminal?
Many a crime they've gotten away with but our reaction has been banal
Like the Blairites of New Labour and all neo-liberals of Europe
They threat us like fools and tell us to shut up

We'll shut up no more, we'll take back our lives
That's if we're serious about stopping these crimes
Environmental destruction, war, economic collapse
The rich get richer; they've led us on a merry dance
To stop the tide of fascism we need a real union
Joining all the folk of a continent in democratic institutions
We'll start over again in solidarity not scorn
This place we call Europe has yet to be born!

Now you may think I'm mad for dreaming so high
Tell me what the alternative is if the limit's not the sky
Being shafted from all directions, a taste of the barbarism to come
Look what they done to Iraq and imagine it was your home
The EU and its leaders are in thrall to the US Empire
In all of human history has there been anything so dire
As that bottomless pit that consums all in its wake
We're reaching the you realise what's at stake?

But fear not ye sheltered liberal, there's hope for us yet
Throw off the chains of dellusion, face up to the threat
Though the corporate media will twist, lie, turn all to distortion
No one can be left behind on the march of progression
We face the choice now, whether to occupy ourselves with triffles
Or stand and be brave about something that matters
Take the bold step and ensure equality for all
It's then that Europe could be a beacon for the world

Fuck me my friend, is that already the time?
Are we still at this place of infighting and crime?
What happened to Greece was just the start of the commotion
We're next to be sacrificed at the alter of capitalist consumption
The 30s in Germany were a warning from history
And still we sleepwalk to a future so gory
That the lessons of the past pass us by is the norm
This place called Europe has yet to be born!

Manchester is in Europe and that's a geographical fact
You don't need the EU or Westminster to tell you that
Freedom will come when the imperial yoke is thrown off
Whether its from the European elites or Tory toffs
Internationalism will happen when we're on an equal footing
A federated Europe instead of widespread looting!
Democracy from the bottom-up, no hatred or spite
To guard against their reaction, we'd have to try with all our might

As I pen this from a finca in Spain, abandoned to nature
I marvel at the bounty and what we endure
There's so much that distracts us from all that's important
To get back to our roots and cooperate, we'd surely have abundant
To live lives fulfilled, to meet our potential
Free of greed and fear to a world without exclusion
But these are mere words I know, they've been said before
It's only action now that can open the door

A continent-wide movement, sweeping all curruption aside
We're better than this cry the masses, we'd slowly turn the tide
To a future where we could face our children with pride
Through all the troubles and whatever the outcome, at least we'll have tried
A vision of hope, no longer being weary
We'd decide our own fate, be able to see clearly
That we're all one, we'd hesitate no more
This place we call Europe has yet to be born!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Free Scotland...and Ireland?

As I write this from the other side of the world in Vietnam, the people of Scotland are going to the polls to vote on their future. From a country that’s no stranger to the wrath of an imperial power, I’ve been following the Yes campaign with admiration and a growing excitement. All my life I’ve desired an end to the UK state and almost out of the blue, it’s a real possibility. Growing up in the borderlands between the two Irelands, British army checkpoints, patrols, watchtowers and the incessant hum of helicopters were all a constant reminder of what it meant to be ruled by a far-away, unaccountable, illegitimate power. This was the reality of the ‘unity’ of the ‘United Kingdom’; an Orwellian unity enforced militarily to ensure a sectarian statelet remained under her majesty’s rule. Today, the army has gone from the borderlands but political deadlock in the form of the peace process has offered little hope for further progression; entrenched sectarianism has kept both sides stunted, unable to move beyond the narrow parameters of ‘power sharing’. Scottish independence could change all this.

Imagine (not hard at this stage) the result of today’s poll is Yes. Imagine the UK government decides to accept the result on the condition that the Scottish government agrees to key terms including the partition of Scotland. The border counties and wealthy areas of Edinburgh are to remain part of the United Kingdom. This new Southern Scotland will take in as much land as possible while ensuring that the No-ers are the majority of the population. Yes-ers must accept their new status as second-class citizens. Another condition is that the Scottish government has to swear allegiance to the Queen and ensure that Westminster’s key business interests north of the border are not threatened. The large landowner estates are to remain untouched in the new Scottish Free State. And what if the Scottish government refuses to comply with Westminster’s demands? Well, Scotland will be faced with “terrible and immediate war” from the British state if it doesn’t take what’s being offered. If you’re finding it difficult to imagine all this, there’s no need to strain yourself…just think back the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921.

Through the fog of the official narrative (i.e bullshit), the reality of what happened in Ireland is often forgotten now but it has echoes in the behavior of the British crooks politicians over the past few weeks. Like the forces of Mordor, the establishment has rounded on Scotland with a combination of platitudes and thinly-veiled treats, supported by its subservient state and corporate media. If only it was 1921, they wouldn’t have to pretend to be nice…they could just threaten terrible and immediate war. It’s so much harder these days, what with having to rely on the BBC and the rest of the ‘mainstream’ media for propaganda. Plus, they’ve got their hands full causing carnage and plundering the Middle East…it’s no surprise they’ve taken their eyes off the ball when it comes to their own backyard.

The history of the Republic of Ireland offers Scotland a good case-study and warning on how not to run a country.  Although proportional representation is an improvement on first-past-the-post politics, it isn’t the fix-all solution proponents make it out to be and a quick glance at the political situation in the 26 counties proves this. Politicians still lie, cronies still plot and the media still distorts and omits the truth. Unless there is an organized mass movement from the bottom up, which holds those who make decisions to account, there can be no true democracy. The Republic may be the poster-boy of a well-behaved, IMF/EU colony where austerity is the norm, but in the minds of all those who yearn for real freedom, it is a laughing stock. North of the border, needless to say, the situation isn’t any better. A deeply divided land, where the main parties endorse a cruel neo-liberal agenda, the possibility of an independent Scotland has confused politicians as it has done for those south of the border. This new political reality offers a vague threat to their complacency and comfortable position and like the politicians across the water, they’ve been caught napping.

What happened to the real prospect of a United Ireland? Out of all the excellent articles on Scottish independence, I’ve read none suggesting this possibility could be any closer with a Yes vote. There’s been a lot of ‘I wonder what will happen to Wales and Northern Ireland?’ and suggestions of independence for both those ‘countries’, an argument that fails to see that ‘Northern Ireland’ is not and never was a ‘country’. “But what about the Protestants who want to remain part of the UK?” comes the predictable reply to the question of a United Ireland. That’s the thing…there won’t be a UK any longer due to Scotland’s remarkable freeing itself from Westminster’s shackles.  It won’t exist, like Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia no longer exist; cheerio UK! Unionists will face an identity crisis and I wish them all the best adjusting to a more accommodating future and riding themselves of illusions of grandeur. It’s unchartered waters and no one can predict the consequences for the 6 counties and the course of events but it’s clear that a United Ireland will be an inevitable consequence of the break up of the UK. It won’t happen straight away but once the reality sinks in on all sides…the natural momentum will be in this direction. Talk of Northern Ireland as an independent country is absurd, as is touting the longevity of a fUK (former UK) in the form England, Wales and NI. A united, federated Ireland, safeguarding the rights of all should be worked towards if there’s any chance of peace and prosperity on the whole island…and I argue this not from a nationalist perspective, but from an internationalist one. The hope is that England too will throw off its shackles and become a federated, democratic country, as will Wales. An independent Scotland should be a catalyst for a people’s movement. The initiative should be seized now, when the time is ripe for positive change. As contradictory as it sounds, a new Scotland could mark the beginning of a point of no return towards a world where borders are broken down and the people of different geographical locations cooperate, heralding a fairer and more equal planet that collectively steers civilization away from its doom-laden  path to destruction.

Of course, all this depends on a Yes vote. I have no idea how it’s going to go. The polls and the bookies are telling us the No side will narrowly win, while the voices of Scotland who are witnessing the public mood are confident the Yes side will win by a healthy majority. The precedent of Quebec narrowly voting against independence in 1995 provides a note of caution. In the event of a No, the momentum of people’s participation in real politics will either continue or dissipate, depending on how people chose to act. Whatever way it goes, there’s a choice to be made: either sit on your arse and complain or stand up with yer pals and fight for a better world. You aren't going to be offered that better world by those at the have to take it. By tomorrow we could see the beginning of the end of the defunct UK/Republic of Ireland states and the start of a progressive process of radical change for all the peoples of these isles.

Alba gu bràth!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

An International Organisation for a Participatory Society?

The following has been posted in the online edition of The Occupied Times of London. It was written collectively by myself and some other members of the Greater London Chapter of the interim International Organisation for a Participatory Society

 How does one approach the creation of a new world in the face of such confusion, cynicism, ignorance and alienation? The left has failed at offering an effective, unified resistance to rampant neo-liberal capitalism. Weak from the many assaults from the establishment and the constant propaganda of the corporate media, the progressive/radical movements and organisations plod along fatigued from incessant external and internal conflict. The divided strands of radical individuals and groups don’t stand a chance against the clinical structure of the elite with all the apparatus of the state at their disposal. The Occupy movement has gone some way to refresh the left and offer new hope…the Thatcherite mantra There is No Alternative has never sounded so hollow in the face of people coming together with a common purpose to show how a different, more sane way of living can emerge from the most difficult of circumstances. In this respect, the Occupy movement has much in common with (and yet can learn a lot from) much of the destitute of the world who struggle as whole communities as a means of survival. In our materialistic Western society, we often forget or underestimate the value of mutual aid, respect and spiritual health. Our egos are trained to take over our minds and put the selfish, superficial needs of the individual above all else. Even those of us who keep our egos in check and battle the predatory values of capitalism, be it the conscientious political activist, caring social worker or the wise old neighbour next door, fall victim to self-indulgence occasionally.

 How then do we overcome our own conditioning and move from an oppositional force on the margins of public discourse to a wider movement with majority support and participation? At the beginning of 2012, leading activists from all over the world (including Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, David Graeber and others) came together to attempt to answer this question and formed the interim committee of the International Organisation for a Participatory Society (IOPS). The core values of this new, ambitious organisation were agreed to be: Self-Management, Equity/Justice, Solidarity, Diversity, Ecological Stewardship and Internationalism. These values would determine the vision of the organisation which would treat the Political, Economical, Kinship and Community/Culture spheres as being of equal importance to one another as part of a philosophy of complementary holism. In other words, all aspects of life should be considered in offering a vision for participatory societies, forming a network spanning the local, national and international. Self-determination for all peoples, whether in Shrewsbury or Shanghai, Lagos or Los Angeles wouldn’t contradict cooperation between the local and global. A bottom-up structure would facilitate this network of individuals and communities, groups and projects, to form a truly participatory world where every person could reach their full potential.

 Needless to say, such an idea seems utopian to many but this is what means to think of a better world. We set the parameters; we decide our future, unhindered by what is promoted as realistic or acceptable by elites and their cronies. In April, the interim website of IOPS was launched to help fulfill this vision. Partially inspired by Occupy and the decision-making processes of its assemblies, IOPS aims to encourage people to deliberate online and face-to-face. Local, Regional and National Chapters in a framework of nested councils would link whole countries and continents showing how they can function horizontally, where real power is held by the people in a truly democratic way. We hope that in this initial stage, IOPS can help provide a platform for the Occupy movement, improving organisation and advocating the worldwide expansion of the activities and core values at its heart.

Obviously there are many challenges to such a radical, international organisation. It is our hope that existingcampaigns on many fronts can use IOPS to broaden and sustain their activism beyond local/one-off/single-issue campaigns. Being at the interim stage of the organisation and having most of the members on the interim committee from either the United States or Europe, it has a long way to go to be truly international in the sense of having the participation of members in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The website has been translated into 9 other languages so far and is continuing to look for volunteers to translate yet more. The name and logo or the site is also interim….this is all open for democratic discussion and will be open to a popular vote once there is sufficient participation internationally. There is also the issue of excluding the illiterate and those without regular access to the internet but this problem can be overcome at a later time if the organisation grows in such numbers internationally that it reaches critical mass and ensures its core values are effectively promoted to all. Once we effectively organise, the main obstacles are the governments, corporations and financial institutions. Their power is illegitimate – more and more people are become conscious of this and crying out for something that realises all their hopes. Once this becomes global, the old order would crumble under the weight of popular resistance and solidarity. Our main challenge is convincing ourselves that we are capable of winning a better world. If we do that and organise relentlessly to achieve our goals, all this may eventually become more than an impossible dream.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Freedom and Democracy in Fallujah

"The total number of victims is still unknown. In fact, many of them are not born yet." IPS
 “Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukaemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by US Marines in 2004, exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study.” Independent
Remember Iraq? That country that was crippled by Western sanctions and then mercilessly attacked, occupied and thrown into sectarian strife and civil war, remember? You don't hear much about it these days, never mind the the specific details of what life entails for the unfortunate souls of certain shattered cities in the country. The US government doesn't want you to know the truth about what happened in Fallujah. This video was repeatedly taken down from YouTube without any explanation. If the horrendous consequences of the use of depleted uranium by the US military in Fallujah became widely known and understood, more people might question future wars of conquest. The lost generation in Fallujah could easily be the lost generation of Bradford or Derry or Portland in years to come. Don't think they wouldn't use this weaponry against their own populations if things got out of hand. We're heading in that direction. On the periphery of Empire, the dark-skinned people can easily be sacrificed for imperial ends, all in the name of freedom and democracy, with the corporate media largely complicit in this rendering of innocents 'non-people'. They have the power to determine what is worthy of news and what is not. But this will come back to haunt the peoples of the West when they are on the receiving end of the tyranny to come. That is unless we speak out and act now.

With 'humanitarian intervention' on the rise again and the drum beats of war beating louder for an attack on Iran, opposition to Empire is more crucial than ever. Many were fooled by the propaganda on Libya that enabled that country to be attacked and carved up by western backed militias, often aided by al-Qaeda. Many more are fooled by the message that we 'need to intervene' in Syria, as if 'we' (i.e Western elites) were interested in anything but stealing other countries' resources and keeping their populations subjugated. Fallujah shows what happens to a place that dares offer resistance to the US when it has decided to occupy a foreign country. Afghanistan is still experiencing the same brutality. Drones have killed countless civilians on the borderlands with Pakistan. Fallujah is just one tragedy in a series of tragedies on an epic scale. Obama continues Bush's war of terror without looking back on the devastation in its wake. It is inevitable that this insatiable desire for never ending expansion and exploitation will result in the entire imperial edifice crashing down, as has happened with all empires, but this time the damage to the world could be apocalyptic given the multiple environmental, economic and social crises we face. We can't afford to ignore the continued expansion of the US Empire.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cambridge: Jolly Good Old Boy!

Isn't it scary lovely. I've spent a long time in England (mainly in Surrey and London) but being in Cambridge actually feels like you're in England... or the stereotypical version of it. Aesthetically it feels somewhat protected from the worst excesses of corporatism/neo-liberalism.Wandering around the place it's obvious that the powers that be have some respect for it, unlike most of the rest of the country where rabble like myself live. I felt I was intruding on their privileged playground, but if you ignored the fact it's a bastion of elitism (along with Oxford), there are worse places you could spend an afternoon. It's also sobering to see where the the moneyed class send their privately-educated kids to develop their superiority complexes. The stats speak for themselves.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Exile in London

A year consumed between the hours of 9 and 5. Even outside the hours of wage slavery, there is no space: underground connections, stony faced automatons, red buses, endless polluting traffic, fretting about spending. Parks and the likes offer occasional rest bite but you get spent eventually. Spending life and cash, preoccupied with the logic of the market even if you denounce it. The divisions of this city are blurred: exploitation and alienation transcend privilege and class. Although the rich often pretend otherwise, they are surrounded. The same goes for the poor. 2 cities overlapping, and it's not always easy to tell which one you're in.

'You did an excellent job. You've seen how we work. Nowhere else works like the cities,' he said. 'It's not just us keeping them apart. It' everyone in Beszel and everyone in Ul Qoma. Every minute, every day. We're only the last ditch: it's everyone in the cities who does most of the work. So if you don't admit it, it does. But if you breach, even if it's not your fault, for more than the shortest can't come back from that.'...........
.........HE WAS RIGHT. I imagined myself in Beszel now, unseeing the Ul Quma of the crosshatched terrain. Living in half of the space. Unseeing all the people and the architecture and vehicles and the everything in and among which I had lived. I could pretend, perhaps, at best, but something would happen and Breach would know.
'The City and the City', pp 370-371, China Miéville
Cool, cloud covered days, the remnants of a wishy-washy winter give way to a sun blessed week. Clear skies a reminder that freedom is something more than a mere dream. Gliding through the more 'interesting' parts of the city in the mild warmth of a Saturday in Spring, the roar of the jet engines above have a more familiar, soothing sound.

A turn in the weather. A trip away from London through endless estates, suburbia and industrial waste-space. The blue skies are still there - you just can't see them for the clouds. Great dark clouds reflecting the colourless colonisation of life below.

Corrugated iron grid fences lining railway tracks and adding mediocre fortressing to the stolen land of corporations. Thousands, maybe millions of miles of it - mass produced for a mass-produced enclosure, sectoring the all-pervasive concrete. Scar on scar on a scarred environment.

Pylons, loading bays, warehouses, yards. The urban periphery and those unfortunate enough to live amongst these neoliberal ruins - they can't afford to move elsewhere. Elsewhere: somewhere away from the saturating grey.

This is progress. It doesn't have a beginning or an end - there is no memory here. Welcome to the echo chamber of banality. A Europe more vividly dull and meaningless than its continental counterpart, nearing its critical mass. The crash won't bring celebration on the streets - just panic at empty supermarket shelves and whole communities suddenly realising it's too late. The hollow, make believe world they sleepwalked through in abundant times was an illusion afterall. The shell of civilisation bruatally exposed to the coming revenge of nature.

Giving the blog another go

After a 3 year absence Fionn is back. I'll try to last longer than a month this time before getting distracted. I've yet to define a real purpose for this blog - is it a reflective personal journal for my political ramblings or a resource for those interested in radical political and creating a better world than the current 1984-like one we inhabit? Fuck knows. Maybe a mixture of both, or something more frivolous. I'm hoping with a bit of patience it'll evolve into something more coherent anyway.

It was created at a time when the deadening impact of unemployment was taking its toll - aimlessness had me in its grasp. Years of drifting across Ireland, Scotland and Spain interspersed by periods of fortnightly visits to the dole office finally pushed me over the edge and into the more tangible life of full-time work, where I'm kept busy but stressed. All the more stressed for having moved to London. I don't yearn for the dole again but having been in the big smoke for over a year, it's time I left and returned to the less materialistic life of a drifter.