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“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

Former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower Speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

I’ve watched Comic Relief, and I’ve listened to the current debate on environmental issues. I’ve looked at the problem in pensions, healthcare, education and I’ve written extensively trying to explore them on Thinker For Hire and I’m still left with the question – Why?

I’ve heard people with shed loads of money implore those of us with less to help the majority who have absolutely none. I’ve seen Tony Blair take part in a sketch on Comic Relief where the punchline used was “Am I bovvered?”, I wasn’t sure whether the irony was deliberate, it was certainly sick. It reminded me of the time Gordon Brown, holder of the pursestrings in one of the eight richest nations on the planet joined us claiming to want to be part of making poverty history. Or the time Bob Geldoff had the gall to tell us – we who marched on the G8, who risked (and many got) arrest and harrassment in Auchterader, that we were underestimating what Live8 achieved in terms of the pressure it put on the G8 leaders. Live8, that concert organised to coincide with what was supposed to be a day of action in Edinburgh, that people allegedly intended because they wanted to do something about the world and nothing at all to do with seeing a bill of live acts that would have made Glastonbury feel priviledged.

What drives me to complete catatonia is the lack of any cohesion in the strategy to actually do anything about the causes of the huge chasm in wealth that leads to the majority of the world having nothing more to look forward to than a wretched life. Debt relief is all well and good if you are going to write off the systems that cause the developing world to rack up the huge debts in the first place. Otherwise it is a cynical exercise by the richest nations to offer an empty gesture of writing off money they had no hope of getting anyway in order that they can lend more at further ridiculous interest rates and sell their defence systems and weaponry and ideas of privatising utilities and national industry.

Why does Comic Relief only help Britain and Africa, what about Central and Southern America, what about SE Asia, what about the Middle East? Or is it coincidence that the areas of extreme poverty left are the ones often perpetrated by the US? The ones where the hallmark of the West is not only indelibly stamped but recently so. After all one could apply the same logic to Africa but there is definitely a sense of bourgeois magnanimity in having given these countries independence from their colonial masters (in a state sometimes that resembled a former policy of scorched earth). The West is almost coming in Patrician-like as if to say – “yes you’ve fucked up, we told you that you’d never be able to govern yourselves, now we don’t want you back, (underlying message – we’ve taken all you have to offer and anything you have left you’ll give us without us having to actually do anything for it.) but we’ll throw you the odd pennies to keep you in water and occasionally even sanitation.

It is nothing more than a conscience assuager, it makes those with far too much feel better about themselves, they feel it adds value and virtue to what could otherwise only be seen as selfish and worthless lives. In generations to come what good have the stockbrokers, the bankers, the property owners, the company directors done for humanity, what help have they provided in the fight against global poverty and disease, the lack of education, and access to drinking water across the world? What have they done to address the woeful healthcare systems across the planet, some struggling to keep up with demand whilst others clean themselves into oblivion because they are too expensive to be used by anyone but the ultra rich?

It is merely used by the status quo as a vehicle to prevent us from looking at the gross inequality that embodies the world in the 21st century. For some the world is surrounded by opulence and we are cossetted by it and it numbs us into apathy and submission because we have the luxury of apathy and submission.

I do not balme the many people who try, who give their time and their energy to the schemes, after all without them there would be nothing at all, I just wish them to be as angry as I am about their exploitation, annexation and assimilation by the establishment, the same establishment that holds within its power the ability to do something about this and yet chooses to line the pockets of the apparatchiks

Now the question is why is this the case, why is the world this way?

The lack of social cohesion acutely the case in the West within and across countries and generations comes from the fact that the current generation in power, the “baby boomers” have pretty much had it all and seem intent on ensuring that they are the only ones to do so. These people grew up in an era with the Welfare State, free primary, secondary and tertiary education and will enjoy a final salary pension scheme alongside a state pension

It must be stressed that this does not apply to all people. The only baby boomers who have been able to take advantage of this have been those who could afford 2nd homes, or shares, or private healthcare. The trouble is that those who have not are as disenfranchised as the rest of us.

Because of the way the tax system has been structured by the incumbants there will be a large block of older people who live their early retirements in a degree of affluence whilst the younger generation stare down the barrel of the pensions gun, looking very realistically at the prospect of working until they drop.

Of course the older generation have traditionally been consistent in voting whilst apathy in the younger and disenfranchised is rife. As I heard a Conservative MP once said those who have something to conserve are more inclined to vote Conservative. However that conservation has proven to be a very selfish thing.

The Welfare State has been increasingly dismantled, education is no longer free, primary and secondary education are a postcode lottery whilst tertiary education is now the perogative of the staunchly middle-classes who see it only as a check box on the way to their graduate recruitment schemes. Universities are talking about ’employer engagement’ and ‘research that matters’ ie is of importance to industry. Education, self-embetterment and the value of thought and philosophy have been thrown out with the bathwater of humanities subjects on campuses all over the country.

Is this really an example of a system that should be held up as a beacon of what capitalism can accomplish? I remember on frequent marches we sang the chant “This is what democracy looks like” well, we were right then, and, I’m afraid you can apply the principle at large. Look around you, this is what democracy looks like, if you’re satisfied then quite simply you aren’t looking hard enough.

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