marnanel: (Default)

There was a protest against austerity in Piccadilly Gardens, in the centre of Manchester, last year. A friend of mine was on a bus and heard someone say, “I wish these people didn’t keep protesting all the time, I need to get to work!”

Keep them busy and poor, and they won’t have time to think about revolution.

When I was a small kid, I was always hearing about politically active students. But that was when students routinely got grants, and before college tuition fees. Most students didn’t have to work. Now I don’t know any students with spare time to speak of.

Keep them busy and poor, and they won’t have time to think about revolution.

Every time the railway workers go on strike, I hear people saying “I get paid less than them for longer hours. They’re so selfish, asking for better conditions.” They never seem to figure out the cause and effect, but they’re too desperate to keep their jobs to even think about strike action.

Keep them busy and poor, and they won’t have time to think about revolution.

what if

Apr. 18th, 2017 05:33 pm
marnanel: (Default)
The Lib Dems run an anti-Brexit campaign. The Tories win the election but don't have a majority. The Lib Dems offer to join a coalition on the condition that the government drops Brexit. Theresa May agrees that this is an acceptable price to stay in power, and gets to drop A50 without losing face.

(Probably not really her plan, but I like the plot)
marnanel: (Default)
At times like these, I find Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address to the nation an inspiring read:
Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
marnanel: (Default)


[Content note: mention of road accidents, and death of children]

Now more than ever, we on the Left need to change people’s attitudes towards the poor and marginalised. Persuasion has three parts:

  • Why should you listen to me?
  • Here are the facts.
  • But let me tell you a story…

(Why should you listen to me about this? Because I’m a writer and I study the structure of stories. Also, because this pattern has stood the test of time: it was set out by Aristotle in 350BCE.)




Who’s speaking: You. Or not. Don’t assume your job is to speak up for the oppressed, if you’re part of the oppressing group. That generally results in speaking over them. People won’t listen, and they won’t have heard from oppressed folk either. Instead, find someone of the oppressed group who’s speaking up for themselves, and use your privilege to amplify them.

Facts are vitally important, and they’re what we do best. We have fact-checkers and myth-busting websites coming out of our ears. But people don’t listen to facts alone.

Stories, worldviews, are the framework for facts.  If someone’s been sold a lie (“immigrants are taking all the jobs and houses”), they’re sold a story to put it in (which starts with “there’s a shortage of jobs and houses”). Then when you point out the number of houses standing empty, it doesn’t fit the story. So it gets ignored, or twisted into something you didn’t say. The answer to false stories is to spread true stories.

Not convinced? Let me tell you a story.


Once upon a time in 1964, the road safety people ran adverts saying “Don’t drink and drive”. They gave statistics. But the adverts weren’t very effective. So they tried a new idea.

The existing story was “Driving drunk is difficult, so I’m more of a man if I can do it.” The new adverts gave them a better story: Here’s a kid who can’t sleep because her father killed someone. Kill your speed, not a child.

And why should we believe what we’re hearing? Because we’re hearing it from actual people who had been injured in road accidents. Even though the people were fictional characters, it still persuades. And now drinking and driving deaths are one-fifth of what they were 40 years ago.


Persuaded? Share it and persuade your friends.


marnanel: (Default)
Lessons for the left

1) Our intel failed.
All media is biased, but we read the stuff biased towards our own viewpoint and ignore all the rest. We need to keep up to date with the media biased against us, for two reasons: a) despite the bias, it might be reporting on something we wouldn't otherwise know; b) we need to know what the right wing are hearing, so we can counter it.

2) Electoral politics is important, but it's only one tiny part.
People matter more than polls. We need to spread love and peace where there is fear and hatred, and that can't be restricted to election season. In particular, whenever the right's policies hurt ordinary people, as they will, talk about it to those people. Hear their stories; tell them ours.

3) It's not a game.
Many people on both sides talk as though we're having a football match between the red team and the blue team. I was once at a count where candidates from the left were saying that the opposition's policies would bring hunger and homelessness. The opposition party just booed. They need to learn that there's more at stake than honour, or even principles: people are going to lose housing, heath, and food because of this vote.

4) Angry white people won this election.
Take hope in the fact that white people will be a minority soon! In the meantime, how can we dissolve and deflect this anger, this prejudice, and this fear?

5) Right-wing voters aren't fools.
They're misled, they've been duped, but they're not fools. If you talk as though they were, they'll just assume the left is a load of smug bastards, and hate us more. Especially if you talk about voters without a degree as if they were voters without a brain.

6) People need stories, not just facts.
The right has sold them a story about scarcity: money is scarce, housing is scarce, jobs are scarce. It's a lie: the scarcity is artificial. But people can't accept facts that don't fit into their stories. So, tell them a new story, a true one, and give them facts to support it.

7) Every revolution brings a counter-revolution.
We've done fairly well in the last few years, and this is the predictable backlash. As I said, it won't last, though while it lasts it'll bring injury and death to the most vulnerable people. Let's make sure it doesn't last long.

8) The left is more than just "not Trump".
And this is our chance to move the window further left. Everyone can make some difference wherever they find themselves. Everyone should be as strong as they can. That includes you.

9) Nobody's ever said "no" to Trump in his life.
More people voted for Clinton than Trump, which means there's a lot of us to say "no" as loudly as we can. Help out the ACLU, because freedoms aren't free. And the midterms are in 2018, so make sure he starts to hear a lot of "no" from Congress then.

10) Four years from now
...in 2020, there will be elections in both the UK and the US. This is where we win back lost ground. Go for it.

Comments welcome. If you liked this list, share it: thank you! (Edit: this list was written by me, Thomas Thurman, since people were asking)
marnanel: (Default)

I was reading this two days ago. It needs saying today.

“Men use up their lives in heart-breaking political struggles… not in order to establish some central-heated, air-conditioned, strip-lighted Paradise, but because they want a world in which human beings love one another instead of swindling and murdering one another.” - George Orwell, 1943.
marnanel: (Default)

If I had to choose either Strasbourg or Westminster to run this country, I'd choose Strasbourg. It has a better separation of powers. Someone asked what I mean by that, so I'll explain more fully.

A bit of civics background-- sorry if you know this already: There are three branches to every government: the legislature which makes laws, the executive which implements those laws, and the judiciary which deals with people who break them. In a carefully-designed system such as the American federal government, the three branches act as checks on one another's power. (In the US, executive=President, legislature=Congress, judiciary=federal courts.) This means that it's much more difficult for one or two people to fuck up the system.

But in the UK and the EU we don't have a complete separation of powers. In particular in the EU we have the executive (the Commission) having the sole power to propose bills to the legislature (the Parliament). This is undemocratic, and it's a problem. The legislature can veto bills, so it acts as a check on the power of the executive. But it cannot act alone.

In the UK, however, the problem is even worse. In our case executive=Downing Street, legislature=Parliament, judiciary=courts. Parliament was originally a check on the power of the King (when the King was the executive). But for the last few centuries, the Crown's ministers have effectively been the executive, and these ministers are always drawn from Parliament. A PM must necessarily almost always be able to order Parliament to do anything they wish, because they must belong to the majority party in the Commons, and MPs almost always vote as the whips tell them to.

So if for example we happened to get someone as PM who was determined to starve the poor and destroy the NHS, there's nobody at all who can stand up to him. In the US or in France it's routine for the legislature to say no to the executive (and vice versa). But it's near-impossible in the UK.

Except...

...there is, at present, one organisation which can say no to the PM.

That organisation is the EU.

That is why I'm voting Remain.

 

pig blood

May. 28th, 2016 03:19 pm
marnanel: (Default)
[blood, guns, Islamophobia]

February 2016: Trump tells (untrue) story about General Pershing stopping terrorism by shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/feb/23/donald-trump/donald-trump-cites-dubious-legend-about-gen-pershi/

May 2016: Texans are dipping their bullets in pig blood. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/texas-men-train-to-shoot-muslims-and-dip-bullets-in-pig-blood-so-victims-go-straight-to-hell-a7053086.html
marnanel: (Default)
#voted.
Outside:
"Hello, I'm the Ukip candidate."
"Not at all my thing, I'm afraid."
"Oh, don't worry, I'm on the liberal wing of Ukip."
"The...?"
"Everyone says we're about racism! It's not about racism! It's about space! Like, I proposed at national conference to send a cruise ship to the Med to pick up the migrants and check their papers. Better than letting them drown!"
"Well, yes, better than letting them drown."
"But let me tell about healthcare tourism! People from all over the world come here and get treated free."
"It's not that common for..."
"Pshaw! Have you been to Salford Royal recently?"
"Then why did I need to get health insurance when I lived in the US and came back to the UK?"
"That's what I mean! Foreigners shoulf have health insurance!"
"We have to go now."
"Thanks for talking to me! So many people don't."
marnanel: (Default)
REVEALED: Corbyn's links to apple thieves

REVEALED: Corbyn's links to apple thieves
• Caused original sin
• Family held apple shares
• Responsible for fall

Jeremy Corbyn is descended from notorious apple thieves Adam and Eve, the Telegraph can reveal.

Speaking today on condition of anonymity, a senior Labour backstabberbencher. told of his shock at the hypocrisy.

“Adam dared to question the ways of God. Clearly that was only the start, since Corbyn has now dared to question the Prime Minister's tax returns.

“And don't forget, as soon as she ate the apple, Eve learned that she was naked, and hid herself. In all the years Corbyn has been a member of Parliament, I have never seen him naked. What does he have to hide?”

At press time, God was unavailable for comment. (cont. Genesis 94)
marnanel: (Default)
In 1733 a bill went through the Commons to reduce land tax by 75% and replace it with duties on tobacco and wine-- shifting the burden from the gentry onto traders, shopkeepers, and ordinary people. There was a backbench revolt; horror stories appeared in the press; the PM was burnt in effigy in London; the government almost lost the next election. The political process hasn't changed very much in three hundred years.

contemporary illustration

More: http://mason.gmu.edu/~ayadav/historical%20outline/excise%20crisis.htm
marnanel: (Default)
In the Telegraph today, a strange pairing of ideas:

1) Left-wing kids think they're thinking for themselves, but they're not, the Left has brainwashed them: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/secondaryeducation/10216388/Its-no-wonder-none-of-my-friends-are-teenage-Tories.html

2) Right-wing working people are thinking for themselves, but the Left think the Right has brainwashed them: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyyoung/100223531/guardian-robot-simply-cannot-understand-why-generation-y-arent-all-good-socialists-does-not-compute-does-not-compute/
marnanel: (Default)
"The peasants have no bread."
"Let them eat cake!" (brioche)

Marie Antoinette didn't actually say that. The story spread because people were so worried about bread, which was the staple food. You might well spend 50% of your income on buying bread.

We were talking about this, and Kit said that the modern equivalent would be:

"Minister, the people say rents are too high."
"Well, they should just buy houses!"
marnanel: (Default)
Something I said at a party at the vicarage last night:

People ask why I'm an anarchist. The reasons are a bit like my reasons for being a vegetarian. I believe this would be a better world if we gave up eating meat-- and that humanity can't survive unless we do. Once, perhaps, our civilisation was at a stage where eating meat is necessary, but we've shown we've got beyond that now. But now and then, in a world where most people still have to eat meat, I might agree to eat meat too for the short term-- with caution that it doesn't become the long term. It's easy for the best to be the enemy of good.
marnanel: (Default)
I don't give a damn whether Labour is electable under Corbyn-- the next election's too far off to worry about. What I *do* care about is having an effective Opposition, and that's something I'm certain he can provide. Six PM's questions a week, the chance to choose who's on the front benches, and a guaranteed place in almost every political TV show-- given a year or two, he'll move the Overton window enough that today's estimations of who's electable will be irrelevant.

I don't believe for a moment that Labour can't gain power with Corbyn as leader-- we can't know, because there hasn't been a Labour Party that was much distinguishable from the Tories since the nineties.

No, I don't think Corbyn is the second coming of Marx. I don't think the Labour party is going to do a great deal of good for ordinary people any time soon. I don't believe electoral politics will deliver enough change to fix the system. But I do believe that the parliamentary Labour Party can do more good in the world than they're doing right now.
marnanel: (Default)
TW child abuse, sexual assault

so, this is what i have to say about Josh Duggar.
Q: what's it called when you hush up your own children being raped to preserve your reputation?
A: it's called Omelas. and if you, like Mike Huckabee, care nothing about walking away from Omelas, i don't want to know you. that's all.
marnanel: (Default)
Some politics:

There has been talk of repealing the Human Rights Act recently. This is the legislation which makes the European Declaration of Human Rights binding on the UK. The EDHR is nothing to do with the European Union-- it was created after WWII as a check on states becoming totalitarian in the future. So repealing it worries me.

I keep hearing people say, "How can we let the Human Rights Act apply to murderers? What about the human rights of the people they killed?" But if the Human Rights Act applied only to "nice" people, it wouldn't be necessary. It exists to provide a baseline for absolutely everyone, no matter how much the state or the public dislike them.

Amnesty is getting a petition together against the repeal of the Act. I've signed it, and if this worries you as much as it worries me, please sign it too. You can find it at http://keeptheact.uk/ .

Anyone reading this post to the end deserves a cup of coffee, so I've put some on.

marnanel: (Default)
Odd thought: many people have noticed that the BBC and others give undue bias to UKIP over the Greens. Something odd is going on, and people have often suggested a UKIP mole. But I wonder whether it's actually someone from the Labour Party. UKIP is likely to split the Tory vote; the Greens are likely to take people from the centre-left. So centre-left voters are unlikely to be distracted by UKIP and unlikely to hear from the Greens, putting Labour in a good position to win the election. (Of course there are those who think UKIP is a centre-left party, but then they'll learn the truth when they hear them speak.)

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