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Keep the engines of capitalism working? Or find a beneficial alternative?

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Following the summary of yesterday’s article by the Times’ Jenni Russell, a second analysis is made by John Wight in the Huffington Post article. He writes:

“The liberal order has collapsed and no one should mourn its demise, for on its tombstone is engraved the disaster of Afghanistan, the murder of Iraq and Libya, and the unleashing of an upsurge in global terrorism and religious fanaticism on the back of the destabilisation wrought across the Middle East in the wake of 9/11. Married to a refugee crisis of biblical dimension and the closest we have ever been to direct military confrontation with Russia since the Cold War, these are the fruits of this liberal order abroad.

“Meanwhile at home its moral and intellectual conceit has produced obscene levels of inequality, alienation, and poverty, exacerbated by the worst economic recession since the 1930s and the implementation of that mass experiment in human despair, otherwise known as austerity, in response.

adams-common-good“Tony Blair, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton epitomise this failed liberal order – leaders who perfected the art of speaking left while acting right, presenting themselves as champions of the masses, of ordinary working people, while worshipping at the altar of the free market, cosying up to the banks, corporations, and vested interests”.

  • Are Brexit and Donald Trump ‘unleashing the dogs of racism and bigotry’ as John Wight fears?
  • Is hope in Jeremy Corbyn lost? Wight thinks he failed to understand the danger posed by Brexit and mounted a dispassionate and lacklustre nature of the campaign.
  • Was the manner in which Bernie Sanders folded his tent after Hillary Clinton won the Democratic Party nomination in decidedly dubious circumstances was tantamount to a betrayal of the passion, commitment and hope that millions across America had placed in him?

He emphasises that politics is not a mere parlour game and says that both Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders are fully deserving of criticism for taking positions and an approach which has suggested that for them it is, continuing:

mlk-live-together-smaller“Demoralisation and defeatism is never an option”.

Agreed, but there are better prescriptions than those he outlines in his final paragraphs.

Jenni Russell sees ‘the anguished question’ as being how to remedy the acute problems of inequality, while keeping the engines of capitalism working.

Should we instead try the engines of co-operation, peacebuilding, mutuality and increasing self-provision?

 

 

 

 

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Trident: based in Scotland, despite consistent and clear opposition from civic Scotland and a clear majority of its elected politicians

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An article in the Friend (25.07.14) by Glen Reynolds is summarised here. It looks at the referendum debate and beyond the rhetoric on Trident –an affront to basic decency with its indiscriminate and inhumane destructive power’.

The Yes campaign argues, in a White Paper, that ‘Scotland has been home to one of the largest concentrations of nuclear weapons anywhere in the world, despite consistent and clear opposition from across civic Scotland, our churches, trade unions and a clear majority of our elected politicians’…

The idea is that the ‘peace dividend’, or money saved, would be allocated to Scottish shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde, with diversification between civil and military defence projects away from a nuclear focus and towards social welfare projects, not least in times of austerity.

Reynolds argues that possession of this nuclear deterrent has “become the price of the invitation to the so-called ‘top table’ of ‘dishevelled international diplomacy’

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The new Scotland of the Yes campaign hopes to follow a different path, aiming to rid itself of participation in illegal wars and of the cost of Trident, which is estimated to be at least £100 billion over the next thirty years. He continues:

“Put the politics to one side – it is about a growing realisation of a prospect of changing values. It is about taking the opportunity to make the profound and transforming choices that impact on what Scotland is, how it is perceived in the world and how it stands proud to strive for social justice in the twenty-first century. It is about the practical evangelical witness it makes.

Many independent nations in NATO have decided not to have weapons of mass destruction on their soil

The referendum provides a choice for people in Scotland also to decide to be free of nuclear weapons, and resonates with many as a pertinent issue of faith. Reynolds explains:

“The value system around the Trident debate encompasses what, for me, is a profound change towards a different system of values and social policy to be found in the decision to opt for independence. It is about how you engage with the world as your neighbour”.

In the referendum debate, the ‘No’ campaign refers to the UK’s ‘independent’ defence policy: but who has ultimate control?

The system is certainly not British: the fifty-eight Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles operated by the royal navy (from four vanguard-class submarines) are American. The USA makes them, US-designed electronics and computer programmes are embedded in every aspect of the Trident system, America owns the software patents, licences, maintains them and provides the satellite intelligence to target them.

Unless the US president authorises it, neither Scotland nor the UK can have control over their ultimate security

wikileaks graphicAccording to a US diplomatic telegram released by WikiLeaks, Barack Obama handed over the unique serial numbers of the UK’s missiles to the Russian security agencies as part of an arms reduction deal (despite the strong objections of HMG). Many regimes may now know exactly what we have and what it can do. This means that the system has little deterrent value and intelligence agencies all over the globe must know this.

Trident does not protect us now – even if it once did – and Scotland could demonstrate its new social policies better by spending this money more wisely.

Pax Christi, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament,(CND), Christian CND, the Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW) and Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) have set up a petition:

‘We urge her majesty’s government to cancel present and future spending on another Trident nuclear weapon system and to spend some of the money saved now and in the future on coastal protection and inland flooding defences.’

This is just one recent example – investment could take place in education, jobs and welfare in Scotland, and wherever it is needed most.

Glen is a Franciscan minister within the Secular Franciscan Order, and a member of the SNP. For the last fifteen years he has been the legal consultant for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT).

American & British ‘democracies’: fit only for the 1%

As concern rises over the latest London/Delhi revolving door revelations we turn to an article written by Edward Luce, Financial Times commentator and columnist based in Washington, which was given the headline: ‘America’s democracy is fit for the 1%’.

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In the grossly unequal British and American economies, where 1% own a large proportion of the national wealth, the 99% should also worry about their 1% democracy.

The article opened with ‘uncomfortable truth’: “Both US parties are up for rent, and patriots of all stripes should be troubled” and goes on to fear that the US Supreme Court is likely to remove post-Watergate limits on campaign finance.

Luce gave examples – one reproduced below:

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 Old and New World corrupted

Luce points out that America – forged in opposition to the aristocratic corruption of Europe – has more entrenched inherited wealth than in almost every corner of the old world: “so too are legacy places at Ivy League universities that were once such wellsprings of US meritocracy”.

Both David Cameron and Barack Obama campaigned on a promise to address this form of corruption, but – apart from minimal regulatory changes in both countries – inequality continues to grow and the lobbying/PR industry flourishes.

In effect, is ‘one person, one vote’ being replaced by ‘one dollar, one vote’ in both countries?