Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Kingdom of God and the Revolution - Part 1

What is the revolution?

Historically whenever one group of people finds themselves oppressed, exploited and belittled by another they usually begin to conceive collectively of a time when the situation will change. Either for a brutal reversal of the situation or of a new world where people treat each other with dignity and equality. Examples can be found in ancient Jewish apocalyptic literature or the stories told by Black slaves which featured a thinly veiled version of the world around them told with the main characters represented by animal figures, sometimes resulting in the animal figures representing the slave masters being torn apart. There are many others.

Under the current world economic and political system, a system called capitalism by the majority of English speakers, most fully formed of the ideas about revolution have been laid out by radical socialists (especially anarchists and other libertarian socialists).

Socialists of all brands believe that the current system whereby the majority of people have little economic, political or social power are used and abused for the purposes of those who have it all is wrong and should be overthrown and replaced with something better. Many socialists also realise that even those people who do wield the power are themselves possessed by their own master, capital or, as Christians have understood it the demonic force of Mammon.

Capital is not simply equal to money. Capital is money which is used to generate more money. It is money which is invested in private property (property which is neither occupied nor used by the capitalist) which is protected by the state, or is advanced as interest bearing loans. It returns as rent, interest and profit and sometimes directly as taxation and it has grown because it has been used as a vehicle for stealing the wealth of people who actually do the work. It leaves most of the workers in a state where they only have access to just enough resources to be able to survive. This isn't just something that naughty capitalists do when they break the rules, this is the basis of the entire world economy.
Eventually this system will fail. The workers (which largely = everyone who works for a wage in order to get by) will put an end to it and replace it with a system where the economy is run democratically for the good of everyone. 

Capitalism in it's purely economic form comes as part of a package of other systems of hierarchy which are linked but are also separate issues in their own right such as the domineering of the state as well as a social hierarchy in which people are categorised by skin colour/ gender/ sexuality etc. and those people who fit into more categories that come further down the food chain end up being used by those further up. All of this has to go. 


What is the Kingdom of God?

The Kingdom of God is a theme of Jewish apocalyptic literature which was taken up by Jesus. Jesus taught that a time was coming where the old order, at that time of a world dominated by the imperialist Roman empire was going to be overthrown and replaced by a society of God's design - one where love is the foundation for social relations, not a struggle for dominance. Early Christians wrote that creation was going to be "liberated from decay" (Romans 8:21) and that the Kingdom of this World would be transformed into the Kingdom of God (Revelation 11:15). Jesus talked about it in even more direct and practical terms when he quotes Isaiah in Luke 4:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

The year of the lords favour was a reference to a Jubilee year, where debts were forgiven and property was returned to it's original owners. So we have a massive redistribution of wealth, prisoners being set free and even physical ailments like blindness getting cured.

The Christian church has tended to spiritualise the reality of all this away. Making out that the good news to the poor was mainly to do with the fact that they would be rewarded in heaven, that the prisoners being referred to were prisoners to sin and the bling were those who couldn't see the truth. The reason for this horrible misrepresentation has been due to the fact that throughout most of it's history the church was in service to 'the empire' of it's day. Whether that was the Roman empire or the Christendom of medieval times or even as a justification myth for 19th century European colonialism and all the horrors that went with it. 

It's only been more recently that the capitalist system has no longer had a need for Christianity's justification myth, and has come up with it's own in modern liberalism that we have come blinking back out into the light and been able to see the last 16 centuries for what they have really been. A betrayal of Jesus and his message on a grand scale by the church (obviously not including everyone, there have been many notable heroes - or saints - who stood up to all this). 


What is a coup?

A coup is where one group knocks another one of the top spot but leaves the power structure below them in place.

An Eschatological Revolution.

The coming of the Kingdom of God can and should be understood and spoken about as synonymous with the coming revolution for Christians. The revolution is our eschatological hope. It is not a coup. The task of the church is to begin to deconstruct and drive back the forces and powers of this world, looking forward to a time when God will sweep our efforts into completion and smash hierarchy, oppression and exploitation to pieces. The coming Kingdom of God will not be a coup, God is not going to swoop into the top spot and bump Satan off into the fiery pit. God is coming to transform the world and to turn everything upside down. When you read the New Testament with this understanding in mind it actually makes a lot more sense.

(I'm calling this part 1 because I imagine one day I'll have more to write about this so I'm really just leaving the door open for a sequel). 

Friday, 2 September 2016

Against Cultural Capitalism

Intro

The far-right claim that Cultural Marxism and political correctness are destroying western society. It's a delusion. Cultural Capitalism not only sounds better with it's nice little alliteration but it's the real culprit. Cultural Capitalism has got into our heads to the extent that it seems to justify all kinds of horrors and causes us to assume things as a given and as normal, when they're actually weird and new. It causes us to accept things that we should hate and to be calm when we should be angry.

This blog post will take a look at some of the real heritage of British people and see what has been at the root of it's destruction as well as how people resisted.

Culture wars?

"Cultural Marxism is succeeding in its war against our culture" wrote Paul Weyrich a pasty, sweaty looking, now dead American conservative, in 1999. In his famous letter he went on to advocate that his followers "look at ways to separate ourselves from the institutions that have been captured by the ideology of Political Correctness, or by other enemies of our traditional culture".

It would be nice if we could stop this here.

There is nothing of any substance in the rest of what he wrote. There is nothing precise which would suggest what it was that he was actually trying to stand up for. No, it was just the ramblings of a control freak trying to push his vague, fringe ideas out onto the unsuspecting public by invoking the scary name of Marxism. Not only that, but his 'take home message' was that conservatives had already lost. All that remained was to organise a retreat without too many more casualties.

Pathetic really, it would almost be cruel to draw further attention to the whole thing.

The trouble with just dismissing time-wasters like Paul Weyrich is that they never actually did retreat into obscurity as was promised, not in the US and not here in Britain either. They stuck around, hovering on the edges of society like voyeurs gazing at the action. Their fascinations have centred especially on things that looked like resistance to the heirarchial structure of society that they were desperately trying to tell everyone was 'traditional'. Even though they claimed to hate feminists, black people who stood up for themselves, organised labour, gays etc. they focused their attention on little else. This is why, for many of them, the subjects of their obsessions came to represent a fetish that they are profoundly embarrassed by. This in turn has only made them more zealous.

So the need arises to provide a response. A limp arrow has been shot, let's fire back...

Who were we?


First of all; who is the 'we' that's going to be discussed here? I'm addressing so called 'white people' , particularly the white working class in Britain.

We know that all around the world there are other groups of people with their own native cultures which are a great source of pride and identity for them. We may be aware of cases when, confronted with imperialism, these people have reasserted their cultures and defined them intentionally as being opposed to capitalism and Western colonialism. But what about our heritage? Did capitalism dominate so early and so thoroughly here that any opening resistance that we put up to it, whilst it was still completely alien to us, has long died and been buried?

The far-right like to talk about heritage and traditions because they know that these things are important to most people but let us not allow the deluded racists who talk about 'white pride' and 'traditionalism' to try to tell us who we were. If we do let them tell us who we were it will affect who we think we are now, so it matters. The good news is that we can discard their ideas just as Paul Weyrich's ideas because it's their hatred/fetish around feminism, anti-racism, anti-capitalism etc. that really defines them. They don't offer anything of any real substance and they know very little about any kind of traditional culture that has existed in this part of the world. So, all that is really needed is that we tell our own story and watch it sweep away the crumbs of their crumbly ambiguity. Cultural Capitalism will be revealed as a modern creation, invented to get in your head and convince you that all the things you should hate and resist are just common sense and inevitable parts of the world we live in. 

Diversity

The joke political party Britain First will enthusiastically tell you that they're standing up for "this nation" but they're just the source of some of the most explicit rhetoric, most politicians make the same mistake. So, with a sigh, I suppose the first thing to point out, just as the people of the various native American tries have to do when they are referred to as 'American Indians'; that we can not be thought of as a homogeneous unit.

Claiming to represent the national interests of Britain, is almost as bad as accepting the label 'white', who wants to be 'white'? 'White' and we are 'British' are specific political definitions only. On one level they are sort-of meaningful because they are taken seriously in the society we live in (and we can't live in a fantasy land) but on a deeper level they're utterly void.

The British Isles, as it sometimes called (the name in the Celtic languages usually translates to 'West European Isles'), is an archipelago in the North Atlantic, on the North Western edge of Europe (from here on in referred to as 'these islands'). A number of very distinct cultures have developed here historically. If you could go back in a time machine and ask them how it feels to be 'white' they wouldn't have a clue what you were talking about!
The Highlands of Scotland.
Language is one of the primary vehicles for culture and to get a sense of the diversity we can see that as of now there are 8 still-living languages that originated here. Each attached to a particular group of people who, in many cases also had their own dress, their own music, their own sports etc:
  1. English (Germanic) - spoken by around 60 million
  2. Scots (Germanic) - spoken by around 1.5 million
  3. Welsh (Brythonic Celtic) - spoken by around 700,000
  4. Irish (Goidelic Celtic) - spoken by around 95,000
  5. Angloromani (Romani)- spoken by around 90,000
  6. Scottish (Goidelic Celtic) - spoken by around 65,000
  7. Cornish (Brittonic Celtic) - spoken by around 500
  8. Manx (Goidelic Celtic) - spoken by around 100
If we were to include the Channel Islands there are a further 2 J√®rriais (1900) and Guern√©siais (200).  

Assuming that there isn't a huge amount of people speaking multiple languages there are almost 2.5 million people who regularly speak a native language other than English on these islands.

One of the most recent areas where Cornish was spoken as a community language.

Historically there were even more:
  1. Welsh Romani - A mixture of Welsh language and Romani language spoken until the 1950s.
  2. Norn - A north Germanic language spoken in the Orkney and Shetland Islands until 1850.
  3. Pictish - Spoken in areas of Scotland up until around 12th Century.
  4. Cumbric - A Celtic language in Cumbria spoken until 11th Century (some words still in use now particularly by Shepards, especially the numbers).
Already you might be getting a sense of why it's worth knowing a bit more about who we really are. It blows Britain First's sad, impoverished representation out of the water.

The English language(s)

Even within the English language itself it's very clear that there is diversity. In my opinion the language known as English is better understood as two languages mashed together. Notice how there are two words for almost everything: 
  • help/ assist
  • old/ archaic 
  • buy/ purchase
  • ...the list could go on and on...
A lot of other languages don't really have that. In all cases the words that sounds a little bit 'colder', more precise but also more detached are the Latin based ones - or what should be known as a modern form of Anglo-Norman. The warmer, more everyday sounding word is the one that has it's roots in Anglo-Saxon. Just think of the difference between what you'd expect if you were offered a "hearty welcome"  or a "cordial reception". Working class English speaking people, ever since the Normans installed their ruling class over us have tended to use the Anglo-Saxon words, even though we're now bilingual and are capable of using modern Anglo-Norman around certain types of people when it's necessary (like at a job interview). 

The land

These islands have the second most unequal distribution of land in the world. 66% of it is owned by only 0.36% of the population. Only around 2% of it is actually built on, yet according to the right wing Cultural Capitalists... "we're full".

Primitive accumulation

Burying the Child by L L Davidson - The Great Irish Famine
The story of how our land was taken away from us and turned into 'private property' is a long and brutal one. Everywhere in these islands it involved extreme, systematic violence. In Scotland and Ireland, the first countries subjected to colonialism by the English elite, it reached genocidal proportions. Soldiers marched thousands of people a day off the land that they had always worked and lived on. Huge famines were caused and over 1 million people starved to death and millions more were forced to become refugees.

Scottish families were evicted en masse and their houses destroyed
What was happening was the very final act of destroying our real traditional ways of life based around small villages and the open field system and common lands (historians such as J.L and Barbara Hammond treated feudalism as largely this traditional set up just with a layer of exploitative landlords stacked on top) or as clans. Karl Marx called this process 'primitive accumulation' and wrote that "The history of this, their expropriation, is written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire".Without it, and all the immense pain and suffering it caused, the actual economic system known as capitalism (or, Industrial Feudalism) could never have worked. Marx again wrote: "They conquered the field for capitalistic agriculture and made the soil part and parcel of capital and created for the town industries the necessary supply of a free and outlawed proletariat".

But they weren't free, their condition came very close to resembling slavery. Many of those people who were forced off their lands were literally sold by agents, to capitalists in the towns working for 16, 18 or more hours every day. The average age of death in these cities sank as low as 20 years old, or even less.

Some comfort can be gained from the fact that we, before Cultural Capitalists managed to tame most of us, were an absolute nightmare to employ. E.P. Thompson records that we were in the habit of striking the overseers in the factories, wandering away from our work, beating up bosses that abused our children and so on...

Fighting back

"As for this little fire, don't be alarmed. It will be a damned deal worse when we burn your barn"

(A threatening note left at the site of an arson attack against an expropriating land holder in England in 1830).

Irish land war
So we have a story of the many diverse groups of people on these islands who, all at around the same time were ripped away from their traditional ways of life with extreme violence (and it must be said, mainly at the hands of the English elite and their local helpers). Over a million starved, millions fled as refugees and those who remained ended up as wage slaves in the cities, dying after a few years of misery. Cultural Capitalists don't want you to think about all that, and they certainly don't want you to know that the common people fought back.

Scottish land war
The people of Ireland and Scotland rose up in revolt, known as land wars. In England there was everything from rioting, to attempted uprisings, destruction of capitalist machinery, threats, individual terror attacks. Everywhere there were attempts to assassinate those people know locally as the biggest culprits.

Ned Ludd - English folk hero
Even much later on as the decades wore on the memories of the lost land and the lost traditional ways of life remained with the sons and daughters and even the grandchildren of those people who had been first expropriated from it. E.P Thompson wrote: "Faced with hard times and unemployment in the brick wastes of the growing towns, the memories of lost rights rose up with a new bitterness of deprivation".




Our Propaganda

A 'World Turned Upside Down' print
In the times before you could make anti-capitalist memes on for your Facebook page the people of these islands found ways to express their discontent in catchy messages. One of the most popular was the 'World Turned Upside Down' prints. They contained pictures of things like fish, fishing for people, trees cutting people up with axes, wives beating up their husbands etc. the point of these was to show that they could conceive of another world. That they were well aware that things were not necessarily bound to be this way forever.



An anti-capitalist meme with top-text and bottom text
An other similar theme that common people brought up traditionally to help them think about another world was what the English used to call Cokaygne, a mythical land where no one had to work and everything you could want was close at hand. Pictures of it show peasants lying drunk on the floor with food and drink all around them. This was something that they could shove in the face of Cultural Capitalist types of their own day.






Conclusions
The history of capitalism's attack on our traditional ways of life bears little difference from the way it has attacked the lives of other groups of people around the world. Also our efforts to resist were very similar. The difference is that it happened here first and we have been living under this system for the longest. We have forgotten that there can be anything different to capitalism which makes it harder for many people to pick up the fight. Cultural Capitalists know nothing about our heritage and traditions. What they do know a bit about is the history of our ruling class which, unless they really do belong to this, they falsely identify themselves with. It's no good dreaming of a return to the good old days if you would have been working yourself to death down a mine if you'd been alive at that time.