Sunday, 8 March 2009

Solving the credit crunch

We know that the economic quandary we find ourselves in at the moment is as a result of the greed of a few privileged people, the banking corporations, and the system of governance we have in place, and since it is obvious that this greed, which by the way is a basic instinct thrown back from the days of early man when survival in a harsh world was the driving force behind almost every action, has been fueled by the inadequacies of the socio-economic system we have in place, then it doesn't need a mathematician to figure out that we need to change our current socio-economic model in order to effect a real and lasting solution.

So what are the models we have? Well, no point making a list because the majority are just variations of three main models: communism, socialism and capitalism, which all fail for a single reason - none of them is capable of finding the right balance in allowing the individual the freedom to express himself or herself in a manner that fulfills their unique potential that will at the same time be subject to and in compliance with the demands of the group - the group being in this case society. In other words, the group which is a single unit in its own right must evolve, develop and make progress. It must fulfill its own unique potential. However, the individuals who make up the group are also groups in their own right as well. Each individual is a group of billions of cells working together in total unison of purpose under the direction of the Mind. This group of cells that is man, has to fulfill its own potential. It has its own aspirations and must be allowed to pursue them.

Finding the right balance between man and society will eliminate at a single stroke the deficiencies we have in society today - war, poverty and the class system. It will elevate man to the next level of evolution - the discovery of self and all the ramifications that go with it.

So, how do we do this? The answer is simple in theory but as we would expect not as trivial in practice. We must move from a demand based socio-economic model to service based model. Why? Because demand, which is a natural phenomenon but is open to abuse by human beings through the creation of artificial demand that targets specific sub groups to the detriment of the rest, should not be used to preempt service. Instead, service should be made to feed demand. In this manner we would have a model that marries service - because it would reflect the inherent need to express the uniqueness within each individual, to demand, which would reflect the inherent need of society to express its own uniqueness.

And how would we achieve this in practice? Well that is a discussion for another day.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Credit Cruch - An economy on its knees

Switch on the radio, the TV, get on the internet and one finds the media airwaves replete with news of the worsening global economic crisis we find ourselves in which has come about as a result of what is now generally agreed to be the unchecked unregulated implementation of a flawed financial model. A model that has its roots in the capitalistic mantra of accumulation of wealth as the only way to advance the lot of man.

Of course we conveniently forget that the accumulation of wealth by some must result in the dispossessing of others. And so it surprises me that people are shocked that we find ourselves in the crisis we are today. It isn't rocket science to understand that in a system where 5% of the population earn a total income that is equivalent to the income of the remaining 95% such a system will eventually fail. It isn't rocket science to understand that the people in this 5% bracket need the people in the 95% band to make the money that they do. In other words, those in the top 5% live off the rest of the population. If this is not a recipe for disaster then I don't know what is. History is littered with lessons of the masses pushed to the brink of despair, hunger and misery, rising up in desperation and taking back power from their wealthy overlords very often in bloody uprisings. While I am not advocating such, it would be stupid to ignore such warnings for the simple reason that the signs are everywhere.

The government of this country and indeed of other countries have been so unanimous in their conclusion that I'm inclined to smell a rabbit. They say the collapse of the world market was due to a few greedy speculative investors. The crisis was global. It had nothing to do with any member of their government nor did it have anything to do with their perpetuation of agendas for economic superiority. And the solution? Oh well change a few laws, redefine the roles of banks, and voila! the problems will magically go away.

Excuse me...what a load of nonsensical drivel. The collapse of the markets is symptomatic of a systemic phenomenon - inequality. Financial inequality! Our societal economic model is predicated on a premise of demand that defined by the financial institution. Cue the recipe for disaster... Money is the vehicle for quantifying demand. The value of money is determined by the financial institution. The distribution of money is controlled by the financial institution. When one sector of society dominates all others in such a fashion the notion of even distribution of wealth becomes nothing other than a pipe dream.

What this means is that irrespective of whatever promises we are made to swallow by the government, as long as this economic model persists we will keep repeating the mistakes of the past and experiencing the problems of the present. And each time with more drastic consequences.

The question then becomes: what is the solution? what model do we use? How can we restore societal equality in the true sense of the word.

See next posting.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

The Implications of Reviewing the Abortion Act of 1967

There is ongoing debate at the moment concerning what path the review the 1967 Abortion Act should follow. Central to the debate is the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology who have just published a report on their findings concerning options that could be considered when government gets round to reviewing the act. At either end of the debate we have the pro-choice and pro-life lobbyists. It is encouraging that the question of whether a law that was passed 40 years ago is in need of review is not one that is being debated. And rightly so. The British society has seen enough progress and development since the 1967 Abortion Act was passed into law to render many aspects of it obsolete.

There have been quite a few articles written over the last month with regards to the ongoing debate. For example, Ellie Lee, in her article in the Pro-Choice forum, puts forward a list of reasons – all of which I agree with, why the abortion law is in dire need of a review.
Lord David Steel, in his interview with the Guardian puts forward the notion that abortion is being used as a kind of contraceptive pill. This notion is naïve in many respects, key of which is that it seems to suggest premeditation on the part of the women who decide to terminate their pregnancy. Studies have show that this is categorically not the case. The majority of pregnant women who decide to terminate do this for any number of reasons, most of which are influenced by socio-economic reasons.
Jennie Bristow, in her article in the spiked-online website, questions the usefulness of science in its ability to understand the complexities of the pre and post abortion process that every pregnant woman who decides go through with an abortion is faced with. Jennie Bristow blames what she calls “bad science” for creating more confusion in the abortion debate and giving pro-life lobbyists a lifeline with which to wage the war against abortion. It is easy to share the sense of frustration that comes across in her article at the pivotal role that seems to have been given to science by all involved in the debate. Nevertheless, referring to “bad science” is a bit naïve because there is no such thing as bad science. There is just science. It is simply a tool - language if you like, that we use to try to understand the dynamics of our own existence and that of the environment in which we live. Science is a process of collecting and analysing data by comparing it with an expectation that is founded on a logical and rational premise. Thus, the results of science can be interpreted in as many ways as there exist an expectation of what the results should be. This is where it becomes a potentially dangerous tool in the hands of lobbyists with narrow-minded agenda.

It is interesting to note that in all the articles written, all the questions that were put forward revolved around the theme of who should have precedence in deciding how the existing abortion laws should be changed – government, doctors, science or the pregnant women themselves. However, not one of the articles has asked probably the most important question of all; What role does our current understanding and indeed definition of the term “life” play in influencing the debate. This is a complex question that requires careful consideration. It is obvious that our perception of the world we live in is a direct reflection of our understanding of the human being, the environment and the dynamic interaction between the two. In other words it is our experience of the self and the external environment that defines the world around us. And it is this understanding that colours our moral and ethical outlook and places boundaries on what we define to be right or wrong, good or evil.
To complicate matters further, it is generally agreed that whilst science defines to a large extent our understanding of the world we live in, it is not yet advanced enough to understand thoroughly the complexities of the Mind and how Mind works with Matter to define how we realize our own existence. Consequently, it is difficult to arrive at a general consensus of what is meant by the term life. At what point is a cluster of Matter – which is what the human being really is, said to be alive? When it breathes in air for the first time and cries out loud as in the case of a newborn baby? Or when it kicks in the womb? The reality is that science currently associates life with the exhibition of certain properties of Mind – cognition, response to stimuli, and so on.
This is a limited view of a limited picture of the nature and reason of our existence and should not be used as a primary argument to influence what direction changes to the 1967 abortion act should take. Yet, it is the backbone of the arguments used by pro-life lobbyists.
The good news is that over the years there has been a change in public perception of what is meant by the term life. Thanks to the combination technology, the media, the advent of oriental philosophy and so on, this change in awareness has accelerated rapidly over the last ten – fifteen years. Increasingly the human being isn’t just seen as the sole repository of life... this has also being extended to the environment around us. Holistic Medicine and Alternative therapy are two examples of educational disciplines that advocate the use of therapies like Acupuncture, Feng Shui, Meditation, Neuromuscular Therapy, etc, all of which have the goal of harmonising on some level, the link between the human mind, body and the external environment. In other words, we are forced to redefine our understanding of the concept of life.

With regard to the law itself, to my mind, any argument on proposed changes by government must place emphasis on protecting the rights of the individual to free choice. The question of morality and ethics must always come second – not an easy task because of the entanglement between all three; human beings almost always make choices that are influenced by their moral and or ethical outlook. This however doesn’t alter the fact that in any democratic system, any law that is passed must accomplish the twin tasks of taking into account the rights of the individual and aligning it with the goals of the system - harmony, growth and development. This is the essence of democracy. This has to be the backbone of any argument presented by pro-choice lobbyists. Of course if the implementation of that freedom of choice has the potential to impact negatively on the system, for example, too many unwanted births would place unbearable burden on the resources of the system, then it is to be expected that the system will take steps to prevent this by curtailing to varying degrees the rights of the individual. Luckily in the UK today this is not an issue. The system in place to counsel, guide and provide a medically safe environment for pregnant women is more than adequate enough to accommodate abortions should they choose go down that path.

To summarize, yes the 1967 abortion law is in dire need of review primarily because it curtails the right of choice of the pregnant woman. The government can only raise its head proudly if it upholds the principles of true democracy at all times which is to ensure freedom of expression and equal rights to every citizen within the limits of its resources.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

The dilemma of Africa

History has shown that a large percentage of the problems that African societies are faced with today originated from Africans being unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time sitting on a land that was and still is replete with vast natural resources. It was the close proximity of these resources that drew the eye of the Europe during the expansionist period of the 15th, 16th and especially 17th and on through to the 19th century. The European explorers, who acted out the twin roles of ambassador and spy, formed the forefront of the British, Spanish, French and Portuguese empires bent on expansion and economic dominion, as you would expect any thriving nation to do.

At first, the inhospitality of Africa’s terrain – the desert and jungles, made for an unattractive prospect. Malaria also proved a formidable enemy. It struck down all non-indigenes with a brutality that gave pause to the enthusiasm of the explorers. This changed with the discovery of quinine by Livingstone. In the meantime, Africa provided a much sought after currency for Europe which needed cheap manual labour to drive the agricultural industry which was the time the primary determinant of economic might. Thus was born the slave trade.

The abolishment of slave trade in the 19th century did not in any way slow down the interest of Europe in Africa because by now Europe was in the grip of a manufacturing revolution. Manufacturing was the future and the powerful nations wisely saw that whoever controlled manufacturing could control global economy. Again, Africa was the perfect target by virtue of its proximity and natural resources – tin, gold, diamonds, copper, iron ore, etc. Thus, scramble for Africa began anew. The English, Spanish, Dutch, French and Portuguese nations vied with one another to establish stakes in territories. They achieved this with the use of vague promises, deception and eventually overwhelming military force. Africans of course had very little say in all this. They had inferior military capability. All resistance was brutally crushed. The enemy was here to stay and there was nothing they could do about it. In the end, Africa was carved up into colonies, states and countries, in line with the interests of the colonial powers. When power to self-govern was given back to Africa, it failed miserably for two reasons: Africa had grown up to quickly and were thus as children when it came to matching the developed nations in terms of economic and political nuance on a global scale. The second and perhaps the most compelling reason is that the developed nations, by virtue of their experience and economic nous, endeavoured to ensure that Africa stayed committed to acting out the role of supplier of cheap natural resources to the West in return for manufactured goods. Africa was sucked into committing itself into trying to sustain a lifestyle that it could neither afford nor reproduce.
This is the source of all the problems in Africa today. Insurmountable debt, poverty, and wars have contributed in decimating the region further.

What is the solution to this? It is simple. Africa cannot compete on the global stage because it is still unable to harness its resources to make the transition from simply exporting its resources to the highest and most friendly bidder to retaining these same resources and using them to drive its own manufacturing industry. Africa must harness her own resources and do all in her power to drive her own manufacturing industry. This is not a pipe dream because Africa has vast reserves of cheap labour and natural resources, vital ingredients to drive the manufacturing industry. This is the only way it can establish enough leverage to compete on the global stage.

The Middle East and Asia

The nations of the Middle East and Asia, just like Africa, have a distinguished history of empires that have contributed much to the Sciences, and the Arts. However, going back over the last three hundred years it is without doubt that the Middle East and Asia could so easily have faced the same problems Africa went through at the hands of Europe. The reason why this is not the case is simple. Asia was too far way and had a hostile terrain with no obvious abundance of natural resources, while the Middle East had a very hostile terrain – the dessert, and certainly had no natural resources to boast off.
And so by the time crude oil was discovered, the Arabic nations had learned from the African situation and had taken steps to counter any attempts by the West to dictate terms of trade. The remoteness of Asia had enabled it to escape in a large measure the domineering influence of the West. This gave each Asian nation the room to dictate the pace of its own growth, thus making it easy to join the ranks of the developed nations with a little help from the west, for example Japan and South Korea, or simply by brooking no interference whatsoever and utilising its own natural resources, for example China and North Korea.

What this tells us is that the world is a stage against the backdrop of which are the various clusters of nations, each vying for dominance in accordance with the dictates of the principle of evolution and in response to the phenomenon of demand. It has always been thus. It is the human nature. Some nations have the short end of the stick while others have the juicy end. From a global perspective, the issue then becomes not why this is so today, but how a balance can be found so that each nation has an equal bite at the stick.

Is this possible? In a random system, NO it is not. However, in a system where the elements that compose it are sentient beings with the power of choice that are capable of consciously interacting with and more importantly, CHANGING the self and environment through interaction, YES, it is definitely a possibility. How? One has to realise that each nation is an independent entity that is subject to two types of interference – internal and external. The idea would then be to keep the external interference to a minimum. The effect of this would be that from a global perspective, no one nation will be given the opportunity to define a personal yardstick with which to measure global economic progress and development. This makes sense because the evolution of any nation of people is a dynamic and organic process. Therefore, the perception of concepts like development, progression, wealth, and so on will vary from nation to nation depending on a variety of factors like geographic location, traditional and cultural values, etc. This being the case, it is obvious that the existence of so many differing cultures and belief systems will serve as an obstacle to the so-called peaceful and global equality propaganda that is touted by the G8 nations who have personalized the definition of the concepts of development and progression to the exclusion of the views of all other nations. This is the dilemma of the 21st century. Humanity need to come to terms with this quickly or risks self-destructing.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Humanity - the Next Step.

The human race has come a long way. The twenty-first century brings with it endless possibilities. These possibilities are double-edged however; technology and a fledgling globalisation philosophy have shrunk the earth so much so that the boundaries separating cultures, races and ideologies are becoming increasingly obscure.

We stand at a threshold beyond which is the next phase in the evolutionary journey of the human being - the unlocking of the full potential of Mind and Matter utilising a single paradigm that fuses the core principles of all disciplines established by man in his attempt to understand the self, the external environment and the dynamic interaction between the two.

To cross this threshold requires a concerted effort - a great push if you will, on the part of every human being. The problems we face today - crime, poverty and inequality on a global scale are symptomatic of the flaws within the various systems created by man to establish a balance between the needs of the individual and that of the group. These problems need to be assuaged for two reasons: to prevent the implosion of our societies - we are already seeing the first signs, and second, to provide the impetus to cross the threshold.

The flow chart below is an overview of my vision of the challenges facing the human existence.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Teenagers - The Next Generation

The pressures of parent expectation, peer pressure, media intrusion and consumerism to name a few, mean that in society today, children more than ever are under pressure to conform to an ideal – an expectation that in most cases is contrary to their individual inclination. These societal pressures can differ significantly in weight depending on geographical location. For example, in Africa and other third world countries, family pressure and the demands of a strict traditional values have the greatest weight, while in Europe and North America, consumerism and media intrusion have the greatest weight. The common factor, irrespective of geographic location, is that all teenagers feel societal pressure of one kind or another. And how does this pressure affect the psyche of the teenager? It does so by making its presence known in certain anti-social behavioural traits, labelled mental and emotional disorders by science. This is an unfortunate mistake, because in labelling these behavioural traits as disorders, an intrinsic negative attribute is associated to the teenagers attempt to deal with their reaction to societal pressures. The consequence of this is that rather than focus on ways of understanding the reason behind the teenagers reaction to societal pressures, emphasis is directed at ways to remove the reaction itself. Thus, people are misled into believing that these so-called disorders are abnormal and therefore must be eliminated.

This is not the way to go. If these behavioural patterns are observed to cause the teenagers a lot of discomfort then in addition to focusing on understanding the reason for the discomfort, emphasis should also be placed on looking for ways to alleviate it. To achieve this, it will be necessary to understand whether these so-called disorders are symptomatic of poorly understood processes of the Mind In other words, are they to be expected? If we accept that there is a lot that is still unknown about the workings of the Mind then it is obvious that these disorders must be behavioural manifestations that stem from the workings of these unknown aspects of Mind.

Why is it important to understand the cause of the disorders? It is important because many of these disorders are directly responsible for many of the myriad problems in society, examples being crime, poverty and joblessness. This puts a lot of pressure on the system, thus limiting the potential for growth – ironic given that the system itself is responsible for creating and propagating the societal pressures in the first place.

In tackling this problem, the first point to understand is why the behavioural manifestations cause so much discomfort to the teenager given that it stems from processes of the Mind that are natural. The discomfort stems from the conflict that arises as the teenager tries to balance his/her experiences with social expectations of what he or she should experience. In other words, it is the expectation of society that gives rise to the tensions within the teenager. The tensions in turn manifest physically as the so called emotion/mental disorders, examples of which are, anxiety, paranoia, schizophrenia, anorexia, etc.

And so how can this be solved? The answer is simple. Remove the source of tension between the expectation of the individual and that of society, and one removes the mental/emotional disorders. How can this be done? Well, by focusing on delivering the right education and training to the individual in particular during the formative years of adolescence since this is when they are undergoing transition from childhood to adulthood and are thus very malleable. Doing this will arm the individual – in this case the adolescent teenager, with the right tools to; first, achieve separation of the self from the external environment and second, to learn how to accept and examining the self without fear or prejudice. To do this, the teenager must be taught to embrace all experiences without fear. This is the first step. The next step is to learn how to use the realization of these experiences to map the psyche of the self. This is crucial in learning how to uncover and indeed come to terms with all aspects of the Ming and body – both known and unknown. Having done this the individual has now accepted the self fully and is now in a position to plum the depths of his or her potential. The third and final step will be to achieve harmony between the self and the group by expressing the realization of the self through the group/system, i.e. the group becomes the vehicle for expression for the individual at all times.

To summarize, majority of the problems we are experiencing today in society are due to the tension that arise from the inability of individuals to express themselves in the face of overwhelming expectation of the group (society). In order to eliminate this tension, emphasis must be placed on educating the individual to face and embrace all experiences without fear or prejudice. Learning how to do this can be most easily achieved during adolescence because the teenager at the most receptive. The only environment that will be conducive to achieving this goal is an environment that is totally transparent. From this it becomes obvious that the principle of transparency is essential not only to all aspects of human life, but also to all aspects of society itself – government, business, institutions of learning and so on. This is best way to facilitate balance in society and harmonious growth of both the human being and the system.

Monday, 27 August 2007

The Rising Gun Culture in Britain

Gun culture in Britain today is on the rise and fast becoming a major problem. The news makes for grim reading. Today, crimes committed through the use of firearms are on the rise. The number of deaths from the use of firearms is also on the increase. But perhaps more worrying is the proliferation of gangs, many of them consisting of teenagers, acquiring and using firearms with no remorse. We have to ask ourselves why is this the case. Why is it that today, we seem to be witnessing an increase in teenage crimes involving the use of lethal weapons?

The reason for this it turns out isn’t so difficult. Society today gives every indication that it glorifies the use of extreme violence as a means of meting out justice. By society, I mean the government since it embodies the system responsible for maintaining and preserving societal structure. The British government, on the one hand, passes decrees and bills and what have you outlawing crimes committed through the use of firearms and yet on the other hand, it is responsible for sanctioning the manufacturing of these weapons and using them to invade other nations under the guise of meting out self-appointed justice. It is impossible to have your cake and eat it. If the government is responsible in any way, either directly or indirectly, for promoting or perpetuating acts of aggression for whatever reason, then it has no moral right to ask its citizens to desist from carrying out the same acts against each other.

Natural law demands that every individual answers to a group ideology and structure. This is at the heart of evolution. It is how we develop, not only as a unit but also as a group. Consequently, the thoughts and actions of any individual are strongly influenced by group ideology, especially in the most formative years of adolescence. And so, structures like the family, school, peer group, local community and the government are groups that each exert an influence on the individual. However, all groups within society answer to the master group - the government. Being the master group, any ideology it propagates will percolate down through all levels of society. For example, it is no mystery that in a family unit where both parents have graduate degrees, the likelihood that their offspring will get a university degree is very strong. The reason being that throughout its formative years, the offspring will be exposed to an ideology that promotes the acquisition of university education. This is simply the law of averages combining with group influence. Similarly, it is no coincidence that since the British government went to war in Iraq, under assumptions that were later proved to be false, gun crime has seen an increase, especially amongst teenagers. Why is the significant? Well, the government has admitted that it was a bit too hasty in rushing to war and sanctioning the use of lethal force that brought death to thousands. And yet, no one has been held to account for this. Instead, the war is still ongoing, getting messier by the week and doesn’t look like finishing anytime soon. This must mean that it is okay to go to war and bring death to thousands of men, women and children. Thanks to media exposure, the gory details of war are there for all to see.

To justify its decision to use lethal force on men, women and children of errant nations, the government uses phrases like threat to national security followed by unilateral decisions to eliminate the perceived threat. This ideology has ingrained itself in the minds of every Briton, especially the impressionable teenagers. It tells them that it is okay for them to shoot people in reaction to any perceived slight that is interpreted as a threat to ones well being.

How can the worrying problem of gun culture be solved? Well the best way is to start from the top down. The rest should then take care of itself automatically. By this I mean that unless the government reviews its own policy with respect to the use of weapons, aggression or lethal action against adversaries, real or imagined, the gun crime in Britain will keep on rising. The government needs to stop the production and distribution of any weapon of war. Only then can it have the moral mandate to enforce a ban on gun crime. In fact, it will find that with the passage of time it will be increasingly unnecessary to enforce the ban. This is because a ban on the production, distribution and sale of weapons will automatically result in a decrease in crime committed with weapons. This is the only foolproof way to eradicate the rising gun culture in Britain today.

It should be noted that eradicating gun culture does not necessarily mean an end to the problems that led to the act of violence in the first place. The weapon is simply a tool. Take it away and the problem will find an outlet through the use of another tool. Examining the source of the problem will be the subject of another post.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Democracy in Society

A perusal through any academic definition of democracy will reveal that there are various schools of thought with regards to the meaning of democracy, the primary sticking point being the inability to balance the will and freedom of the individual to that of the Group, where the Group in this context refers to Society. This is not surprising because it is impossible to equate the strength of individual’s will to that of the Group. Therefore this implies that the notion of the right of an individual to total freedom within any societal setting is a myth. Consequently, since it is impossible to place the will of the individual and that of the Group on equal footing, this implies that one must give way to the other. And since the Group arises from the combination of many individuals, this can only mean that the will of the individual must give way to that of the Group. Therefore, the problem of democracy then becomes not how to find the perfect balance between the individual and the Group, but rather how to ensure that while bowing to the will of the Group, the individual is able to achieve freedom of expression of the self, in keeping with the laws of evolution. This is of paramount importance in light of the fact that the human being is nothing more than a group of billions of cells, each of which has a specific purpose and contributes to a common purpose – the total well being of the individual. This coupled with the fact that society is a single unit composed of many people united in a single goal – to interact and evolve, means that the individual is entitled to freedom of expression of the self in the same way that society is through the Group will.

To summarize, true democracy requires that the individual bow to the will of the Group since this is at the heart of the principle of evolution. However, bowing to the will of the Group does not necessarily imply that the will of the individual is curtailed. It is possible for the individual to maintain freedom of expression while bowing to the will of the Group simultaneously. All that is required is that the Group must be transparent at all times. The tensions and problems in society today are primarily due to the attrition between the individual and the Group as they each struggle for self-expression. People find that they are unable to express themselves independently in the face of the overwhelming will of the Group due to a lack of transparency in the implementation of the Group will. All the problems in society can be traced back to this simple fact. The lack of transparency is a crucial flaw in all economic models, which in the end results in a few privileged people benefiting from the spoils of success while the rest languish in the abyss of perpetual dissatisfaction.

Therefore, to instil true democracy in society, the solution would be that all Groups in society begin the cultivation of the ideology of total transparency with regards to any issue relating to the welfare or well being of the individual. This solution is as pertinent for the smallest Group – the family unit as it is for the largest Group – the government. The implementation of this will give rise to a generation of people who will be able to identify very early on in their lives, who they are, what they want and what path would be most beneficial in the quest for fulfilment. This in turn will result in a society in which growth is uniformly distributed.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Transparency in Government

The importance of transparency in any government is an issue that cannot be overemphasised, not least because it is probably the only litmus test of democracy. Therefore, a truly democratic government should be one of total transparency. Unfortunately, we do not live in a truly democratic society. If we did, the government would be totally transparent it all its activities. It isn’t. One could argue, very strongly, that majority of the policies that have been implemented by the British government over the years that have gone awry were due to a lack of transparency.

Transparency of and in government is necessary for two reasons:

  • It is necessary to build trust between the people and the government.

  • It is necessary to give members of the public the opportunity to decide their own future, which is theirs by right.

The public had and still has no idea of what the government is doing. The government on the other hand makes, takes and implements decisions that have the potential to affect the lives of millions of people without appropriate consultation with the public, probably because it is of the opinion that the masses would not understand the pros and cons of policy making. Or perhaps because it feels that the mandate of the public grants it the authority to carry out such decisions. Both assumptions are wrong! The public is made up of intelligent individuals, majority of whom are literate and well educated. Surely if properly presented with the pros and cons of a policy that is to be implemented, such persons could be trusted with the capability of judging whether it would be in their best interests of not. No individual has the right to take unilateral decisions on behalf of an entire people, which have the potential of adversely affecting their well-being.

With regards to the issue of mandate, the only authority it confers to the incumbent politicians is the right and privilege of articulating and presenting to the people, the arguments – for and against, of any issue that is to be implemented in the service of the people. A mandate to run government does not give any individual the authority to decide the fate of millions. A mandate does not give politicians, or any government, the authority to act unilaterally. The reason for this is that in a system that is composed of numerous elements, uniform growth can only be possible with equal contribution from all elements. It is worth noting that the key word here is uniform growth. This is because the system as a whole can still grow even with contribution from only a few elements, but the growth will be non-uniform and to the detriment of some elements within the system. Extrapolating this analogy to the human society, if government implements any decision that has not been approved by consensus of the public, this would result in growth that will be non-uniform. In other words, the growth that occurs will favour a few and neglect the rest, and will give rise to discontent, which is itself the starting point of many of the ills we observe in society today – for example, non-uniform distribution of wealth, poverty, crime, war and so forth.

In fairness, it is necessary to point out that the human race has come a long way. This is due in no small measure to its innovative spirit and ability to adapt. In the great cauldron of creation, the results of all experiments, of which humanity is one, are valid. Therefore, one could argue that the world we find ourselves in today is what it should be, since from an absolute point of view, there is nothing wrong with it. However, from humanity’s perspective, not all results are desirable, no doubt because humanity would like to see that it evolves to its highest potential. This will not happen if it annihilates itself courtesy of implementation of decisions that are counter-productive to its uniform growth. This is the impasse humanity finds herself rapidly approaching. And which is reflected in all the societies of the world – especially in the so-called developed societies, of which Great Britain is one. Therefore, it behoves us to begin to find ways to correct for this. The fostering of a transparent government is one such way. It is crucial if this nation is not to implode under the tension caused by the ever-widening chasm between the haves and have-nots. The elimination of the dominance of the financial industry over all other sectors of society is another important solution.

So how can transparency be implemented in government – any government? Well there are two approaches to be considered: the practical approach and the ideal approach.

The ideal approach

In this scenario, transparency will be total. In other words, any decision that concerns the potential implementation of policy that could affect the lives of millions of people must be put to the people for their approval through voting. When it comes to the well-being of the masses, no decision or policy can be regarded as minor. They are all major. And should be treated with respect. The issue of voting for every major decision by the public cannot be the logistical nightmare that some dissenting voices might be quick to point out. The reason being, thanks to technology, we live in a digital age today where everyone has access to computers. Voting could easily be done at the touch of a single button, for as many times, and in as many days without detracting from routine duties. All that is required before hand is that the politicians in government do what their mandate requires them to do. And that is to provide full disclosure on the main arguments, for and against the implementation of the policy for which a vote is being asked. For example, in a policy proposing the implementation of a Bill to cut tax, the public would need to know who benefits and who will not, will it be the poor or the rich, the middle class or the upper class. Will businesses fail, will commodities become more or less expensive? Another example could be the implementation of a Bill to build, say, a new airport. The public will need to know who benefits, how many will lose their homes to make way for the runway, what will be the effects of increased pollution and noise levels on local inhabitants, how will the residents of the area benefit form incoming revenue, how will the rest of the country benefit, etc. These are just a few examples of policies that have the potential of affecting the lives of millions. People must be allowed to vote and have a say. The majority can never be wrong, in the sense that they accurately reflect the best possible progression for the Group.

This is the ideal approach, which is unpractical in the society we find ourselves living in today for the simple reason that it requires full disclosure on all the secrets being sat on by the government. Exposure of some of these secrets could result in breakdown of the governmental system. With no government, there’ll be anarchy. The high level of risk means that probably the only feasible approach is the practical approach.

The practical approach

This approach does not require immediate total transparency in all affairs of government. Taking into consideration the fact that the duties of government fall into two main departments: domestic and international, total transparency could be reasonably expected in all domestic related affairs while transparency in international affairs could only be expected for situations that do not compromise national security. The only condition under which total transparency may be expected in international affairs would be if all nations of the earth were to adopt the policy of total transparency. Such a situation would be ideal but impractical in the short-term as time would be needed for all other nations to join the transparency bandwagon.

It is unfortunate that the practical approach has to be given more weight than the ideal approach. This is due in no small measure to the web of lies, spin and deceit spun by the government for decades. Deception is a vicious cycle that has no corrective antidote. The only solution is exit with full closure. For a societal system that has its foundations built on deception, the only way out is to implement a strategy of exit in parts. This could take years, but in the end would be worth it because humanity would have put itself in a better position to remove the threat of self-annihilation.

Monday, 23 July 2007

The Distribution of Wealth

For many the issue of financial wealth is very important, not only because of the financial status associated with it, but also because it enables prompt access to invaluable services. Therefore, it is no surprise that in a society fuelled by capitalist driven economic model, the accrual of wealth plays a significant role in determining its progress. It is an open secret that in Great Britain today, the gap between the rich and the poor is at an all-time high. The economy has in effect being hijacked by a few individuals who pull the strings in order to dictate the pace of its progress. The result is that the upper class is accruing wealth at a faster rate than the middle and lower classes. Consequently, what we have is the development of a financial chasm separating the rich from the poor.

This state of affairs prompts the following questions: What factors control wealth? How is wealth defined? Why has the distribution of wealth become polarised into rich and poor classes? Is it possible to have an even distribution of wealth in our society?

In order to answer these questions, it is important to realise that wealth is defined intrinsically by value. When an item or service is deemed to have some value attached to it, it becomes important. The more value it has the more important it gets. The more important it is, the more the progressive instinct within each human being compels them to strive for access. This immediately creates a tension that leads to scarcity, with the consequent association of more value to the item in question. A vicious cycle is established. What this means is that he who controls value controls wealth. This in effect creates artificial demand. The most obvious step now would be to figure out the origin of this artificial demand in order to determine a way to counter it.

To do this we would need to go back to the beginning – the big picture so to speak. In doing so, we find that the existence of modern man, in response to the urge to evolve, has always revolved around three themes: the acquisition of knowledge, biological continuity and health. The acquisition of knowledge is what we are interested in because this is what man uses to consciously react to the natural phenomena of demand by attempting to understand the self and the environment and how the two interact. To this end, he started off with the formation of society, came up with rules to strengthen and protect it, before moving on to looking for ways to obey the urge to progress by trying to understand in greater detail the dynamics of society. Of course, this meant understanding his relationship with his fellow human being and with the environment. From this endeavour, the institution of economy was born and the various economic models put into play. Next came the institutions of science and technology– they found expression because they augmented the goals of the institution of economics. The same applies to other institutions dedicated to the acquisition of knowledge such as the Institution of the Arts and Crafts, Medicine, Nutrition and so on. This leads to the important conclusion that since all these institutions of knowledge originated as tools to be used to understand the phenomena of demand, they could all be classified as physical applications of demand. The phenomena of demand would then be a universal principle that humanity is able to apply in any way it chooses using any tool it pleases. The tools in this case would be the various institutions – economics, science, technology, Arts, and so forth.

And so coming back to the original question about the reason behind the financial class divide in society today, it becomes obvious that this is due to the dominance of the institution of economics over all the other institutions. So why has the institution of economics being allowed to run away with the prize and dictate to the rest of society how it must evolve? Surely, this is a pertinent question given that if every institution is simply a physical application of demand, then they should all be given equal weight with respect to their function in serving as an outlet for the phenomena of demand. A logical answer to this question would be that the institution of economics, in its bid to articulate the dynamics behind the interaction between the various elements of society, i.e. people, sectors and institutions, decided on using money (the so-called legal tender) as the defining tool to quantify the exchange of service between these elements. Consequently, since the institution of economics was responsible for coming up with the rules and regulations that defined the usage and availability of money, this implied that it in effect controlled the growth and evolution of society. This is wrong! It is wrong because natural growth in any given system should be dependent on equal contributions from every element within the system. If any element were allowed to dominate, it would result in the polarisation of growth within the system. In order words, the growth within the system would be unevenly distributed.

It is obvious to see now how our society became polarised into classes of wealth. How do we solve this? The solution in this case appears to be a simple one; remove the agents of polarisation and this would result in the even distribution of wealth. To achieve this, it would be necessary to re-define our societal perception of wealth. The current definition of wealth as equating to financial/monetary surplus must be discarded in favour of a one that is a direct function of the successful application of demand in a fluid and dynamic system. In other words, the medium of exchange that has been traditionally used to quantify the exchange of services should no longer be an external object. Rather, it should be intrinsic and non-physical. The medium of exchange would be the services themselves. This would lead to an even distribution of wealth, in which growth in society would become a direct function of the exchange of services in response to genuine demand from the people, sectors and institutions that make up the societal system.

To summarize, in order to effect the even distribution of wealth in society, the dominance of the institution of economics, which currently dictates the terms of exchange of services, must be removed. This can be done by shifting from a model promoting the quantification of the exchange of services with a physical, external object – money (legal tender), to a model whereby the exchange of services, in response to demand, is quantified by the service itself. This would usher in an era of wealth by even distribution and would remove monopoly of the market by a small segment of society. In addition, the proper implementation of this model would result in a gradual but inevitable transition from a consumer oriented society held hostage to artificial demand, to a service oriented society reacting only to natural demand.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

The deception of Politicians in Government

To most people who lead regular lives, by that I mean people in the middle class working category who work 40+ hours a week, pay their taxes and respect the law of the land, the word politics is synonymous with lies, deception and broken promises. To people in the lower class working category, the perception is even worse. Politicians are regarded on the one hand as beacons of hope and on the other as the embodiment of lies, intrigue and abuse of power. To people in the upper class echelon – the business moguls, CEO’s and the filthy rich, politicians are seen as pawns, tools to be used in advancing personal wealth. Looking at all these different perceptions, one thing becomes immediately obvious, in no class are politicians regarded with respect. They are instead looked upon with disdain for trying to provide an important service to society, and this especially if they are directly involved with government.

Why is this the case? Most would agree that the mechanism of government is vital for the smooth operation and cohesive progression of society since any system must have a focal point from which the coordination and organisation of the system is exacted - or else they’ll be chaos. The government constitutes such a focal point and as such is of vital importance to the continued growth of any societal system. Growth in this case would mean that every member of society would enjoy equal access to economic wealth and prosperity. In other words, the distribution of wealth must be uniform. This clearly is not the case today with the gap between the rich and the poor widening daily. The wealthy upper class never had it so good while the poor and lower classes languish in abject misery. In a system that gets most of its sustenance from taxes levied on the middle and lower classes which together make up over 90% of the workforce, it beggars belief as to why the wealthy who make up less than 10% of the workforce should be allowed to make away with the spoils of growth and progress. That this should be allowed to happen is a bitter pill to swallow.

So who is to blame for this sorry state of affairs – the government of course! Who runs the government? The politicians! So why are politicians, despite their best intentions, the object of such vitriolic condemnation from the two most important work sectors of society – the middle and lower class?

To understand the answer it is probably best to consider as a case in point, one of the leading figures in British politics for the last 70 years – Tony Blair. In 1997 in the run up to elections and just before he took office, Tony Blair came across, without exception, as unique among politicians. His zeal and firm convictions of equality, justice and liberation were firmly etched on his face for all to see. There was a sense of hope for the future that was augmented by a landslide victory at the elections. As a politician there is no stronger statement of ones mandate than a landslide victory. Fast forward ten years to 2007. Tony Blair who has just left office – 23 days ago to be precise, cuts a very different picture from the bubbly, dynamic personality with positivism oozing from every pore that stepped into the Number 10 ten years ago. Today Tony Blair is a broken man, a figure of mockery both here in the UK and abroad. The reason for this is not because of the things he achieved while in office, and they were quite considerable. No, the reason is because of the things he promised to achieve but did not. The reason is because of the lies, the deceptions and the unilateral decisions he carried out in the face of all opposition and in direct contravention of his promise to listen to the voice of the people. The reason is because by the time he left office he had lost all respectability. The realities of office brought Tony Blair crashing back to earth, so that in the end, he became not “the unique politician” but an ordinary politician just like the rest of them.

So why did one of the world's most respected politicians leave office with his reputation in tatters? Did Tony Blair underestimate the enormous demands of his office? Did he underestimate the strength of government? Or did he simply overestimate his own ability to bring change to government and the people? The answer is that Tony Blair and all politicians for that matter, overestimate their ability to effect change in government and consequently society. This is in part due to ignorance in the art of governance and the dynamics of government, and partly due to mastery in the art of deception through the use of white lies.

The ignorance stems from the inability to recognise that any ideology becomes limited in expressing itself the moment it steps on to a given path. This is because a path by definition is constrained by the boundaries that define it. And these boundary conditions by default extend to anything that seeks expression on the path. Consequently, in relation to politics and government, the politics constitute the ideology and the government the path. Therefore every politician must use the tools of government to express their ideology with the result that the expression of any new ideology has the potential to be severely restricted in its expression. And so someone like Tony Blair comes in to office thinking that he has everything under control only to find that the task of supplanting the existing ideology with his own is a lot harder than anticipated. And this is where the white lies come into full play – the use of half truths, promises that couldn’t possibly be fulfilled in the time spent in office and the enactment of convoluted Bills that are made to look like something new and beneficial but in reality are no different from pre-existing Bills. These white lies are a blatant attempt by politicians in government to cover up their inability to fulfil the promises made on the campaign trail.

So why do politicians make promises that they know are likely to be broken since history has shown that this is what their predecessors get up to every time they find themselves running government? The answer – Greed and lust for Power! Politics is a career that demands servitude to the masses. Ironically politicians are less concerned with the servitude aspect as they are with enhancing their career prospects.

And so we come back full circle. What is the solution? One could argue that the fallibility of the human nature in a sense exonerates the human being from its actions, but only if the consequence of the actions adversely affect the lives of only a few people. Where it becomes inexcusable is when the actions have the potential to affect the lives of millions. In such a situation, total transparency is not only the best medium for running the top political job in the country, it also constitutes the direct link between the government and the masses. It is the only way government is likely to get support for any of the decisions it makes, since no major decision would be taken without the express will of the people. In this way politicians would be seen to perform their duties fully as it should be, in service to the people.

Monday, 16 July 2007

The Web of War

When the word war is mentioned, at least in the western world these days, the most common reaction is one of anger. Anger generated by the fiasco that led to the current war going on – the war in Iraq. People are upset at the audacity of those in government to make, take and execute decisions concerning the well-being of men, women and children with impunity and without regard for opinion of members of the public by whose mandate they were put in office to begin with. In other words, the majority of people associate war with the abuse of power.

So what exactly is war? What is the cause of war and how can it be prevented? Contrary to popular perception, war isn’t just conflict. War is extreme conflict that has the sole purpose of subduing an adversary using the most lethal means necessary with a high probability of ending in the cessation of life – in other words, death. This is the definition of war stripped down to its barest essence. Ignore the glamorised version fed to us by those in power that purports war to be a necessary tool that can be used to bring about peace, justice and growth. This is utter nonsense. Nothing, no action, can justify the taking of life. We do not have the power or the ability to create life and therefore we do not have the right to take it. Yes, modernization has provided mankind with the tools to understand how to put together the right conditions to aid the manifestation of life – organic or inorganic. History tells us that mankind has been unable to escape the tantalising bewitchment of war despite its best intentions. There always seems to be a new war brewing around the corner. A good example is the war by the United States led coalition in Iraq that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives since its inception. Estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives since the conflict that started out as a self appointed, almost messianic mission to oust against Saddam Hussein from power went underway. The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina between the Serbs, Croats and Muslims which claimed of hundreds of thousands of lives in the early 1990’s with many more millions displaced from their homes and villages is another example of the horror of war. The same scenario was repeated in Kosovo in the late 1990’s. Rwanda, 1994, in one of the most bloody and shameful episodes in African history, Hutus wiped out 800,000 Tutsis in just 100 days! The killings were carried out for the most part with machetes attesting to the depths of savagery the human being is capable of sinking to.

And the reason for all these wars; petty arguments, territorial disputes or simply the rabid desire of a few fanatical individuals to willingly push through the implementation of their grandiose ideas without care of consequences. All these reasons seem benign when compared to the damage they cause. The resulting loss of lives that follows just doesn’t seem commensurate to the trifling nature of the events that led to them in the first place. The sad thing is that most humans that get caught up in war realise this and yet seem powerless to stop the rush of the tide.

And so we have our answer. War is caused by the greed of men who lust after power and consolidation of territorial rights, business rights and any other perceived right that promotes the placement of the self and or individual identity above all others. The combination of such individuals with government makes for an extremely lethal cocktail that can only have one result – conflict. When human beings on opposing sides of a conflict engage with the intention of bringing death to the enemy, a line is crossed that vanishes on the act of crossing. It becomes impossible to find ones way back. One has no option but to keep on fighting to the end. This is the web of war. This line is not a physical line marked out on the ground that can be erased and redrawn at will, it is a line that exists within the self. It is marked out in the mind by choice and conscience. And once marked cannot be undone for the simple reason that the track gets hidden by the deluge of mental trauma and emotional upheaval within the self that results from the chaos of conflict. This is the reason why war, the taking of human life can never be justified – no matter how well intentioned.

How can war be stopped? Well, we know that human nature being what it is, is still saddled with the less desirable traits of greed, lust for power and servitude to consumerism. Consequently there will always be conflict. But conflict is not war. Knowing that there is a trap is the first step in evading it. To prevent or rather, to reduce the probability of war occurring to a minimum, the tools of war must be removed from play. The G8 nations must immediately cease the production and distribution of the instruments of death, i.e. weapons. The G8 nations must also engage in the destruction of all its arsenal of weapons. If the flow of weapons is interrupted and stopped, war will cease. People will be forced to come to the table and negotiate terms amicably. A man who has lost members of his family to the evils of an on-going war is unlikely to come to the table to negotiate because he doesn’t know how. In his bid to exact revenge and justice, the emotional and mental trauma of losing his loved ones will have erased the passage of his crossing in his conscience. So that he is unable to find his way back no matter how much a part of him desires to.

The question then becomes: how feasible is it for the G8 economies to cease production and distribution of weapons? The reality today is that the global weapons industry is a thriving multi-trillion dollar industry that provides job opportunities for millions of people. This being the case the G8 economies are unlikely to scrap it for fear of falling into an economic black hole. Such a move would more than likely trigger a domino effect that could herald a period of economic depression from which it would be difficult to recover.

And so we come full circle – a vicious circle. To stop the cycles of never ending wars humanity must first re-examine its understanding of the meaning and purpose of economy. It must decide if it is willing to pay the price that will result from abolishing the production and distribution of weapons. It must do this or risk consigning itself to the scrap heap of creation.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

The Problem of Demand

Society today is a paradox. On the one hand it is in rude health - modernization, technological progression and the steady stream of innovative discoveries that push back the boundaries of knowledge all attest to this. And yet on the other hand, it appears to be on the brink of imploding – as evidenced by the prevalence of poverty, crime, war and aggressive diseases. And so the question becomes how and why has it come to this? Is humanity on course to wipe herself out or is she on the verge of something great.

The key to this answer is to understand the nature and purpose of that which drives and controls society. This means understanding the nature of demand. So what is demand? The phenomenon of demand is an attribute that is inherent in any societal system. It derives its existence of the property of diversity, which is itself a natural consequence that arises by virtue of the presence of the uniqueness of each element that make up a given system. In other words, since any system in nature is composed of many elements, each of which is separate and subtly different from any other element, this automatically creates diversity within the system. And when this scenario is extrapolated into a societal system, which is composed of sentient, self-aware organisms such as man, diversity gives rise to demand because the each element recognises its deficiencies relative to the strengths of the other
elements and strives to correct this perceived imbalance.

The desire of humanity to address the urges of demand has given rise to the various economic models we have in existence today. The proliferation of crime, poverty and war show that that humanity hasn’t really made a good job of it. The reason for this is simple, the economic models are all flawed in some crucial way. To understand what this flaw is, it is necessary to examine the philosophy behind the main economic models in use today – capitalism, socialism and communism. For simplicity, will ignore every other economic model since they will be in most cases a combination of one or more of the main models.

The model of capitalism, stripped down to its barest essentials embodies the concept of a free market. It assumes that the market is a spectrum with the consumer at one end and the supplier at the other. The model requires that the system be self-sustaining. So far there is nothing wrong with these assumptions since in this case demand would be a direct reflection of what people actually need. However, where it becomes flawed is in its assumption that for the system to be self-sustaining this requires that the consumers must be kept wanting. This goes contrary to the phenomena of diversity and introduces a loophole that can be exploited. And so elements within society use their strategic position and influence to interfere with the natural phenomena of demand by acting as self-appointed stabilizing agents. Thus in societies today that boast predominantly capitalist economies, demand is not a direct reflection of the actual needs of the people. It is an artificial demand, which in essence is another word for consumerism. In other words, consumerism is demand created artificially by government, businesses and unscrupulous individuals with a strangle hold on the market. The effect is twofold; first it continually widens the divide between those who have and those who have not – poor and the rich, and second, it starves people of their true demands. The presence of slums and ghettos side by side with wealthy suburbs is a symptom of this divide. It is apparent in the presence of crime, diseases, and disaffection that is rampant within the so-called technologically advanced economies of the earth. On a global scale, it is apparent in the divide between the rich and poor nations where the poor nations are used to serve as fodder to feed the rich nations. This leads to the conclusion that the economic model of capitalism is flawed because of the inherent flaws in man – nothing else.

With regard to the models of socialism and communism, since the ideal of communism is buried within that of socialism they can in their most fundamental forms, be treated as one and the same thing. In their most fundamental form they both rest on an ideal that is designed to negate the effects of consumerism by taking away control of the market from individuals and placing it in the hands of a centralized system. The idea being that the needs of all would be treated on an equal footing. The result would then be the provision of specific services to the people without prejudice or bias. These specific services would take the form of a centralized welfare system, benefits system, and state pension and so on. Debates on the potential pitfalls of such a such a model has over the years led to emphasis being placed on controlling the degree of centralization. This has spawned numerous models all of which answer to the same fundamental principle – to take away power from the individual and place it in the hands of the group. However these models are also flawed for two pivotal reasons. Control is not placed in the hands of the group. It is placed in the hands of a few individuals who purport to represent the group. And since human beings are inherently flawed – greed, and power to name two of the most damning attributes, then it means that any socialist or communist economic model is doomed to failure. Secondly, the creation of specific services through the centralized system implies that the system has anticipated the needs of the people. This is a flawed argument because it goes against the principle of diversity and in turn creates artificial demand by starving individuals of their true demands – their needs and desires. In this respect it also creates a form of consumerism, i.e. artificial demand. This is true of any economic model that proposes to work through a centralized system.

To summarize, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the capitalist, socialist or communist economic models. Each model has the capability to aid humanity in satisfying the natural urge of demand. However each model becomes flawed for one reason only – the weakness of human nature. The conclusion would be that if humanity wants to give herself any chance of eliminating poverty, disease, war and crime, she must look inwards and bend all her powers to really understanding the self. She must look to understand the origin of the self and attempt to understand the nature of the forces that have given rise to humanity's existence in the first place. She must finally look to understand the key to that which controls these forces. These are non-trivial requests but they are crucial for the progression and survival of mankind.