Controlled opposition and why I am giving up Street Activism. 

Before I embark on what this blogpost  is actually about it should be noted that this blog, the RevSoc Facebook group & Page, as well as The ‘Fake Democracy’ Page will continue as normal and aims to improve on its content over the next few weeks.

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I have been going through a metamorphosis of sorts over the past few years. Either that or a mid-life crisis, I am not sure which. 

A few years back I began to explore the world of activism, political ideology and truth seeking. I can’t begin to recall what started me out on the journey but I know it began on Facebook of all places. The likelihood is that something popped up on my timeline and peaked my interest and then, following that, the snowball began to roll. 

This coincided with what has been one of the most life changing events in my time on this earth. The event in question is of a personal nature and it’s not that the event has been a burden nor one where I retain any bitterness, but it has been difficult to adjust, difficult to comprehend and above all simply, life altering. 

This could explain the beginnings of that metamorphosis or mid-life crisis, call it what you will. The life altering scenario playing out before me coupled with the realisation that not everything in this world is at it seems on the surface. I was effectively asleep and I was waking up to a whole new way of thinking whilst simultaneously waking up to a whole new way of living. The two were bound to clash. Weren’t they?

My journey has, now looking back on it, been one of serious endeavour and yet at the same time a complete joke. 

I have felt the need to label myself at various points in time. I have donned the label of libertarian socialist in a bid to remove myself from this same-old word of politics we live in. Then came, in no particular order, Anarchism, Minimalism, Anarcho-Primitivism, Communism, I even touched on spiritualism before swiftly returning to the fold of finding the right ideology that would best fit my world view. Problem was that in reality, I had no clue what my world view was. How could I? How can anyone? We know a fraction of what there is to know. As it turns out, it’s impossible to be right on every front unless you’re of the nature not to question your own world view and if you do that, are you not as much of a ‘sheep’ or indeed ‘asleep’ as the very people we claim to be more awake than? To truly hold that last view point, you have to question your own views and opinions otherwise you’re no more correct than anyone else in the world. 

At the same time as trying to understand my world view in politics, I was uncovering the conspiracies and truths that are out there and there are plenty. It turns out that a lot of the conspiracies are not actually conspiracies at all. (Although it should be said that some are just ridiculous and with little foundation). 

So in my quest to find ‘me’ I embarked on this journey with vigour and I threw myself into it at every level including attending a few demos. After all, what good is an activist that doesn’t put his or her boots on the ground at least once in a while?

In 2013 I attended the Million Mask March, wearing the traditional trade-mark Vendetta Mask (yes, it’s not actually an Anonoymous mask), but if truth be told I felt like a first class knob wearing it, so I decided that the next time I would go without one. 

 

Above: Million Mask March 2013
 
In 2014 I went on the TUC March. On this Demo I decided to join the Black Bloc. Even with my new ‘mask’, a scarf and baseball cap, well, let’s just say I soon realised two things, 1) At my age outrunning a police officer is best not done if your usual fitness regime revolves around walking up and down the stairs multiple times a day and 2) Black Bloc is futile with anything less than several hundred at least, let alone less than 50. 

 

Above: TUC Demo 2014, Black Bloc
 
In 2015 I decided to give my own protest a go. I thought I had a wonderful idea. Something that would perhaps even make the mainstream press, something direct without the risk of arrest, or at least a very limited probability. 6 months it was in the works, 6 months being advertised around and some of the promo videos that were done for it were well received. Turned out I may as well have been kicking myself in the testicles. 14 is the ‘official’ tally that turned up specifically for that event. 14. I guess I should have asked people to wear a mask. Maybe that would have attracted more people? Heck, I even took my own new mask to this one. This was a proper mask, snood style, skull print on the front that goes over the front of your face. Did I end up wearing it? Did I fuck. 

 

Above: Peoples Protest with Occupy and ‘Feed the Birds’ 2015
 
It seems that unless you have a gimmick, or unless you are a group with money behind it to really sell it to the people or maybe someone of ‘importance’ backing your cause you may as well piss in the wind for all the good your efforts will make. 

I have self defined as a terrorist of the state. Chances are that the state really don’t give a shit about this particular terrorist. 

Over the last few years I have seen multiple group and organisations including UK Uncut and The People’s Assembly arrange protests or call for Revolution or radical action. The only radical action I have ever seen take place is… 

… Nope. None. A few road sit down protests that disperse on sight of police is hardly radical is it? Nor is Occupy singing a few songs and occupying a statue. Radical has never really been in the equation.  

The last serious assault on the order of things was back in 2011, the year the students overran a Conservative building in central London. (The one where some idiot threw a fire extinguisher off the top floor down to the ground below). Brilliant. It really was. That though was also short lived and ultimately has changed nothing. The Conservatives were still re-elected in 2015. If the students had a message. No one was listening. 

Then we had the recent Russell Brand debacle. “Don’t vote. Revolution!” Was his mantra. Well, it sounded good. I was on board with that. Then about 1 week before the general election in 2015 he told everyone to vote Labour. If you follow his posts on YouTube now, it’s as if he is turning all spiritual. I am not sure Brand knows anything anymore. 

Part of me has come to think the People’s Assembly are nothing more than Labour supporters pushing the party behind a cloak of ‘change’. I think UK Uncut are toothless as are Occupy. I think a lot of the groups are possibly orchestrated to limit the impact on the government. How else can you explain that when on the day of The State opening of Parliament after the Election in 2015, two large demonstrations were being organised. Far from aiming to cause maximum disruption by being there during the pomp and ceremony of the Queen coming to parliament, both organisations arranged their protests to take place hours after the fact and not even at Parliament. What the fuck! Doesn’t that just smack of Controlled opposition? 

With that recent disillusionment came a clearing of the fog. It didn’t happen over night but more over the course of a couple of weeks. I had begun to question the very people I am meant to be supporting. Then came what might be the proverbial flick of the lightswitch. During a conversation with a friend I realised that it doesn’t matter who you support. What ideology you follow, what demos you attend. Tomorrow will continue as normal. You, me, them, us, today we will fight hard for justice on many fronts then come tomorrow we will take our kids to school, pay our bills, go to work or watch the TV. Life goes on and the truth is, that if you, like I have done, let it all consume you, if you follow every injustice and wrong in the world you will be at best spreading yourself too thinly to give any one cause the attention it deserves and at worst driving yourself to within an inch of your own sanity. 

You and I don’t have to be a certain way or follow a particular movement to know what’s wrong in this world. We can all do our bit when something imparticular crops up but we consume ourselves with the horrors of this world without making any particular impact. 

Could it be that I am just going through a cynical period in time? I think not. People have been talking of Revolution since 2011 (in my limited time with this knowledge) and yet we are no closer. The Turkeys voted for Christmas in the 2015 General Election, so ‘they’ are not getting the message. Nothing we have said or done as activists has got us anywhere nearer to the change we want to see and need. 

The next big Demo is on June 20th in London organised by the People’s Assembly. I wish everyone all the best but I won’t be there and I will eat my snood if anything of significance happens. Chances are whatever happens, you will be being led. Led along a path of dumbed down expressionism. To follow this lot is arguably as bad as following mainstream media. 

For me no matter how hard ‘average Joe’ tries to form a real people’s movement, a genuine people’s army, it’s just not happening. The people would rather at best be led by certain groups without question. After all, UK Uncut have officially had over 800 actions since their inception. We are no closer to change now than 800 actions ago. 

I  currently sitting in between two schools of thought. One is the ‘within the system’ scenario where we should campaign for the Swiss form of democracy. If you haven’t heard of it, I suggest you start campaigning for it. It puts Proportional representation in the shade. Then there is the ‘outside the system’ suggestion, a return to 70’s and 80’s direct underground action. It’s something we have lost. Yes it has its flaws but it definitely has more of an impact than what we have been doing the last 10-20 years. Even 1 million people’s marching against the War in Iraq couldn’t prevent us going to war. 

So what of me, am I leaving this all behind? No. Just re-addressing the balance. Realising that one man can’t change the world and that neither can a whole movement. Not one that we have seen so far at least. So what am I doing banging my head against the brick wall? Who is that benefiting? Certainly not myself and no one around me. 

It’s not just as simple as this. There are many reasons why it make sense to come to the conclusion that I have but there are far too many individual aspects to go into here in this blog post. 

I still have certain political beliefs and a utopian ideal perhaps, but i am going to stop running myself into the ground. After all, if 6 months hard work brings just 14 people together. Then count me out of the boots on the ground stuff. I’ll just stick to the online educating of the masses to the corruption. Thing is, when you have woken someone up, let them take whatever course it is they need to take. Trying to convince someone to your way of thinking is not a positive thing and actually turns you into a replica of the state. 

Me, my sanity, my family. If you can’t help Whats closest to you then you have already lost half the battle.

Help people, help others. Just remember to help yourself. You have one life. Be wise with it and with your time. Dont let it consume you like it did me. 

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The Homeless ‘are an irritant at best’ for the Government.

Rough sleeping is a problem. For everyone. A problem for the people themselves, a problem for the people who have to put up with drug and alcohol induced issues, a problem for the government. However whilst the problems may be many the solutions are really quite simple. It’s just a matter of what’s a priority for the government. The issue of homelessness can be stopped pretty much overnight (although you will always get a handful who do at least on the surface appear to prefer the street life. But there is also a reason for that)
For me there should be no other more basic worthy cause than providing two things for the people, no matter what country. A permanent roof over your head and enough food to live a healthy existence. Anything else is secondary. If the government is not providing those two basic things then there is something wrong with the system. How can it be viewed any other way. 

People will argue that they either don’t deserve it because of their drink or drug habits or that they cause anti social behaviour when they are given a place. 

It’s important to address both of those unique issues. Many people who become homeless are like you and I, maybe they once had a place of their own and held down a job. In my old line of work I spoke to one homeless person who had both of these things and had only been homeless for a short while in comparison to others, but it all started when he lost his job and couldn’t afford the rent after his partner left. He couldn’t get given a place for the fact he hadn’t been homeless for long enough. 

A lot of substance abuse starts after people become homeless. Imagine yourself in similar circumstances and that hope that you will be given a leg up by the system soon enough only for those hopes to be dashed again and again. The psychological impact will be great and often what follows is the lack of what otherwise would be reasonable thought processes. Substance abuse is something that can happen to anyone given the right cocktail of circumstances much the same can be said for homelessness itself. The old saying goes that we are all just one wrong step away from that same position ourselves. Once you are in that self destructive process you may find they eventually offer you a place, usually in a hostel of some kind and here is where things can be just as bad as living on the street if not worse. 

 

Graham House, Thames Reach Hostel in Vauxhall, London.
 
Can you imagine what a hostel would look like if it is full of people that have been on the street for too long? The people who have already succumbed to those substance traps? Some of the most vulnerable in our society reside in these places, and you, now being finally offered a place to stay have to now share at close quarters corridors and ‘living rooms’ and kitchens with some of the most world weary people in our society. This is why many people end up back on the streets. Couple that with the ‘rules’ of the accommodation in question. Maybe they have curfews or they demand that the staff control your finances for you, only allowing you certain funds per day or per week. Maybe alcohol is banned from the premises and whilst a few of these rules may be in the best interests of the residents, it’s another limitation of your life, and you are addicted. Through little fault of your own circumstances, you are now an addict living with people you may consider in a far worse state than you and you have come from the relative freedom of the street to a rule ridden hell hole. Deal with that? Could you? You may be lucky enough not to have been trapped in the addiction cycle or touched a drop of drink which would make that scenario even worse. Scary perhaps. What cost to leave and go back on the street? 

Could you even blame the residents in the Hostels? After all, the system likely waited too long to help and they became lost to it the day they first took their poison of choice. Now, living in a hostel, with limited freedoms, no job prospects and no money or life to call their own and an inability to harbour any ‘aspirations’ as the Tory (and Labour for that matter) party like to use the term to ensure that you know exactly the difference between the people they like and the people they dislike. If you haven’t got aspirations, you’re useless. We’re not talking any old life aspirations here, we’re talking aspirations to work and pay taxes. God forbid you don’t want to have any part in a capitalist system, you are as good as dead to the government and if you’re either a street person or someone left to rot in a hostel, you really are as good as dead because you have zero potential. 

 

Picture from the Guardian, previous resident at Thames Reach hostel in Vauxhall, London
 
In some ways there is little hope for the people already lost to the system, all we can do is perhaps take pity and support them where we can but what of the next generation of homeless soles? Is it inevitable that they too will sink into the abyss that is the dark streets of our cities? Probably. Unless a government decides to invest. Unless a government decides that under its watch, no citizen will go needlessly homeless nor hungry. 

Of course though that costs money. It really doesn’t have to, but then we wouldn’t be living in a capitalist society. We do, for now, and that means the government has to stump up the money. Where would it come from though? I suggest the same place that the estimated £40 Billion for HS2 comes from or the earmarked £20 Billion for Trident or the recent £20 Billion on Cross Rail 2 or perhaps the £15 Billion upcoming road improvements but you see, these improvements means more ‘wealth creation’ for the government. Defeating hunger and homelessness produces small reward. Sure, more people would work and bring in taxes but that would be small fry compared to the ‘wealth creation’ that infrastructure improvements bring. So sod them. If people become homeless it’s just a thorn in the side for the government. An irritant at best and they can always ‘clean up the mess’ later. 

 

View of the Financial centre of London
 
There is a new system in place in many councils now where if a homeless person is deemed at serious risk of mental health issues then their housing needs will be met as a priority over someone who is about to be made homeless. So for example if you are about to be kicked out of your home and are expecting to be rehoused, don’t. Because if a homeless person has a mental health issue then chances are you will be left to go homeless and using this system, you don’t get rehoused again as a priority unless you are at risk of a mental breakdown and there may well be a long queue of people in front of you. So whilst this system is meant to help get people into housing that need it most it serves to only create a new line of homeless people, a line of homeless people that never needed to be there in the first place. You can find the information for this via this news article.

Giving everyone a roof over their head would give people aspiration in life and in work, going people a roof over their heads is viable. It doesn’t even have to be a regular house in a regular street. There are many projects appearing where pop up houses can be installed that have enough space to live in, all the basic mod cons at a fraction of the cost of building a house. They don’t even have to be placed in far away places, out of sigh from the rest of society. They can be aesthetically changed if needs be and done in a way that doesn’t create poverty ghettos like council housing has often done in the past. Which in turn has given residents of council estates a bad reputation for similar reasons that homeless people have a bad reputation. 

No one denies that homelessness brings with it problems, societal problems as well as financial and life problems for all those involved, but the point is it need not be that way. If the government acted to address this it would not take a leap of faith to realise that so many issues surrounding homelessness could be solved overnight if only we lived a more people focused existence. 

It all boils down to one thing at the moment. Cost and jobs and the balance of doing something or not doing something about it. The government chooses to do nothing because it doesn’t recognise humanity as a primary issue. Money and capitalism comes first. It has to. Capitalism exists for the purpose of making profit. If profit stops then the system collapses as has often been seen during eras of boom and bust. (Remember when Labour said Boom and bust was over? What do you think the 2008 financial crisis was?), and due to the ability of governments to print money on a whim in the name of quantitive easing, those book and bust periods never quite manifest into a full scale collapse so we will always see book and bust and this financial crisis won’t be the last. 

If we lived a socialist lifestyle.. Well. That’s another blog post but in short. There would be no such thing as homelessness. 

Are Immigrants to blame for the poor weather?

The British public may soon start blaming immigrants for everything from the failing NHS to the weather. Well, many already blame the failing NHS on immigrants so maybe it won’t be long before they start blaming them for the weather. 

“Coming over here, stealing our sunshine and sending it back home to their families” 

      How very dare they! 

Let’s not concern ourselves with the fact that immigrants officially contribute as much if not more to the economy than they take out of it. Let’s not concern ourselves with the fact that immigrants make up much of the NHS workforce. No. Let’s instead focus on why the immigrant ‘problem’ is not a problem, because the state of our finances and the state of things like the NHS has one route cause at its heart. Government. And It has nothing to do with government policy on immigration. 

Here we explain why you UKIP’ers, with your love for this nation have got your pants on back-to-front and why you floating voters who backed the Tories in May have been led up the garden path. 

Thursday 4th June, 2015. You may have missed it but the £14.8 Billion Cross Rail programme, a new train line running East to West right across London and beyond was completed. It started in 2009, one year after the World financial crisis began and the drilling of the tunnel itself did not begin until 2012. The first passengers won’t use it until 2018. 

Cross Rail 2 running North to South across London is already in the works although it is estimated that it will not be completed until 2030 at the earliest. This project is costing an estimated £20 Billion of which the treasury is prepared to meet half the cost. Here is what Boris Johnson said about where some of that money will come from via the Guardian Article;

‘Johnson suggested funds could be found by “smashing open the jam jars” of public sector pension funds.’

Nice. 

 

Proposed route for Crossrail 2

That’s just Crossrail. What about HS?

High Speed Rail (HS) first started with the building of the Channel Tunnel rail link (CTRL) in 2003 and was renamed ‘High Speed 1’ in 2006. It opened at the end of 2007 and cost £5.8 Billion.

HS2 is more well known and is currently in the works. It will connect London and Birmingham initially before continuing north to Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester. The cost is anyone’s guess. According to the link above the initial section between London and Birmingham will cost up to £17.4 Billion with the entire project estimated to cost £30 Billion. 

However in June 2013 that estimate rose to £42.6 Billion and according to Wikipedia; ‘it was revealed that the DfT  (Department for Transport) had been using an outdated model to estimate the productivity increases associated with the railway, which meant the project’s economic benefits were overstated’. 

Boris Johnson has warned that the cost could reach £70 Billion and the Institute of Economic Affairs have said they estimate the final cost to be £80 Billion.

Building won’t begin until 2018 and is not expected to be open to the public before 2025. The government are also planning to link HS2 to both HS1 and Cross Rail at a potential minimum cost of just under £1 Billion. 

Finally.. At least when it comes to HS there is HS3. A proposed route connecting Liverpool to Hull via Manchester and Leeds. This is still very much in the planning stages and there are no firm details including wether to use existing lines and if there is any need for the speeds to technically be High Speed at all. There are no official Costings either however proposed improvements for Northern city links go as high as £6 Billion.
 

That’s the rail system out of the way, what about the roads? Well the government approved road improvement schemes across England at the end of 2014 to the tune of £15 Billion. 

Finally just to really put the icing on the cake, the Replacement of the Trident Submarines. The costs vary but you can start at £23 Billion just to procure the replacement system. There has already been work done on successor submarines and that already runs into a few Billion including £1.2 Billion spent just last year. That though doesn’t take into the estimated cost of running the programme over a 40 year life span which would top the bill at around £100 Billion. 

Why is all of this important to know? The cost to save the NHS?

£8 Billion. Or at least so say the politicians 

Look at the money above that is being spent or has been spent on infrastructure compared to how much we need to save the NHS. Most of the infrastructure money will have been spent around or during the years of the financial crisis. 

The main rail links will serve London primarily and as such only a section of the country will benefit. HS2 whilst will be helpful to some people it has already been suggested that the projects benefits have been wildly over estimated including by politicians and the Northern City rail improvements may not even be high speed after all. 

We continue yet again to rely on the expansion of our Road systems to fix the same old problems of increased car usage. 

So, when you’re sitting there concerned that the failing NHS is caused by health tourists or immigrants flooding the country, it’s important to remember what the issue at hand is. It’s not that the immigrants are preventing the NHS from being fit for purpose. It’s that government is choosing not to fund it. 

The NHS is expensive, yet a State funded health system is of no benefit to politicians when they can afford the best private health care. The tories are making every attempt to privatise the NHS by the back door, they have talked of bringing in charges to see your GP and their claim of recruiting 5,000+ GP’s has been proven false by Owen Jones who stated on BBC Question Time that it takes 7 years to train to be a GP. Longer than the Conservatives have been in power. So you can thank Labour for those extra GP’s.

Also consider that the Corporations still continue to get away with paying minimal tax into the UK economy but the Tories won’t address this ongoing problem. Billions of pounds could easily be recovered but just like blaming immigrants for the NHS crisis is silly, the government will focus on the poor when concerned with unpaid taxes. They will blame those ‘on benefits’. Yet it’s neither the immigrants nor those in receipt of benefits that are the problem, it is our own government. Your government. 

There is no need for austerity nor poverty. It’s all a lie.

Oh and Immigrants are not to blame for the weather either.