Armed forces day


by Rumbold
27th June, 2009 at 9:08 am    

While Armed Forces Day sounds like a nice idea in theory, I do fear that it will be used by the government as a way of avoiding the big questions. Not just how long Britain will be in Afghanistan, but more basic concerns about the mental health of soldiers and their poor equipment. As the excellent Defence of the Realm points out, the government and Ministry of Defence have long made every effort to cover up problems rather than deal with them:

“The Ministry makes a considerable investment in coroners’ courts, supplying “liaison officers” whose task it is to “assist” inexperienced coroners in reaching the “right” verdict, helpfully supplying MoD documents and witnesses, while ensuring that hostile evidence is kept at bay.”

Whatever you like of the war in Afghanistan, no-one but the Taliban benefits from soldiers having substandard equipment. Soldiers with poor equipment become more distrustful of the local populace, which increases the number of times civilians are arrested or even killed by jumpy soldiers.


              Post to del.icio.us


Filed in: Current affairs






46 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. unslugged

    RT @pickledpolitics: New blog post: Armed forces day http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4981 #armedforcesday


  2. pickles

    New blog post: Armed forces day http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4981




  1. Chris Baldwin — on 27th June, 2009 at 10:22 am  

    Soldiers, it must be said, need a trade union!

  2. Boyo — on 27th June, 2009 at 12:12 pm  

    “Soldiers with poor equipment become more distrustful of the local populace, which increases the number of times civilians are arrested or even killed by jumpy soldiers.”

    Forgive me if you were in the forces, Rumbold, and know better than I, but this argument appears spurious to me.

    The British army has a fine tradition of sub standard equipment, yet have a far lower “friendly fire” rate than their American allies.

    I was with the army in Kosovo and well remember the entry of the jumpy Americans kitted up and crouching behind their emplacements while our lads went among the people in “soft” hats etc.

    Equipment will never be good enough, but at the end of the day it comes down to soldiery. The Taliban, with their rusty Kalashnikovs and not much else, are a formidable fighting force for example.

    As for the rest of your argument, I’m afraid it’s rather silly to be frank, like much of the PC bollocks that has currency today – of course soldiers suffer from mental health issues etc, they always have, cos war is, well, hell. Imagine what Britain must have been like after the first and second world wars when generations of men returned home traumatised, yet also they had to get on with it, and did society really suffer? Or is the suffering made worse by this endless, ill-informed navel gazing?

    The quest by the PC brigade to seemingly smooth over unpleasant reality – to our 24 hour news coverage which shies away from presenting the reality to a human rights act that ignores the harsh realities of life – doesn’t remove the problem, it just makes it worse.

  3. joe90kane — on 27th June, 2009 at 5:51 pm  

    The quest by the PC brigade to seemingly smooth over unpleasant reality…
    - I quite agree.
    A good example being Armed Forces Day with all its parades and celebrations. A far cry from what they are doing to their victims in their illegal occupations being carried out under the orders of the British Government.

    …to our 24 hour news coverage which shies away from presenting the reality…
    - You seem to forget that when they do present reality and question it they end up jobless,like Andrew Gilligan, or dead like Peter Kelly (although he wasn’t strictly in the corporate media, he just spoke to them when he shouldn’t have)

    …to a human rights act that ignores the harsh realities of life…
    - If British solders aren’t fighting to uphold the law and international standards of human decency, democracy, civilisation and behaviour as enshrined in human rights acts then what are they doing?

    Maybe they should rename Armed Forces Day to the Re-Militarisation of the Fatherland Day as reminds me of images of Hitler’s re-occupation of the de-militarised Rhineland.

  4. joe90kane — on 27th June, 2009 at 6:10 pm  

    The quest by the PC brigade to seemingly smooth over unpleasant reality…
    - There is also the case of Piers Morgan when he was editor of The Mirror newspaper.

    He printed images of Iraqi torture victims of the British Army.

    Piers was fired from his job for doing his job.

    No subsequent investigations were ever undertaken by the army despite promises to do so.

    Once Piers was fired everything was quietly forgotten.

    Whether these were genuine images of Iraqi torture victims, or fakes as was alleged by the PC Brigade of the British Establishment, no one to this day knows.

  5. billericaydicky — on 27th June, 2009 at 7:05 pm  

    Well said Boyo. It is necessary to have been in the British Army to understand the ethos of a very protective organisation. Unless you have been there it is not possible to comment. 23877661 Sgt Billaricaydickey. You always know the bullshitters, they claim they can’t remember their Army Number.

  6. Boyo — on 27th June, 2009 at 7:19 pm  

    “what are they doing?”

    Fighting Britain’s enemies. I was against Iraq because you can’t impose values on people (unless you are prepared to do so absolutely as we did in 1945). As for Afghanistan, i was all for taking out the Taliban because they protected AQ, but as they completely screwed that up by focusing on Iraq I agree the war is a bit of a mess. There are no values or morality in war – there never have been. We fought the Nazis not to fight fascism or save Jews but survive. All the rest was bullshit, that our leaders (and governing elite) seem to have swallowed wholesale sometime, making them appear like hypocrites and gifting the very people who threaten our interests.

  7. Boyo — on 27th June, 2009 at 7:24 pm  

    I mean, all this business about torture… what bullshit. In the past they’d have just shot looters. In Kenya they castrated the Mau Mau. It’s how wars are fought – trying to fight them according to CNN and human rights legislation bears no resemblance to reality. There is a profound gap between the dogma spouted on all sides here and the reality experienced on the ground, be that of Afghan peasants who can get more for their crop by growing poppies (and why not if some Western twat wants to take smack?) to squaddies fighting for their mates, to small-cocked Western islamists who project their low self esteem through the length of their beard.

  8. joe90kane — on 27th June, 2009 at 7:35 pm  

    Unless you have been there it is not possible to comment
    - What’s the point of our brave boys protecting democracy and civilisation except to protect us all against all the various Hitlers who’ve threatened civilisation as we know it – such as Hitler on the Nile (Gamal Abdul Nasser), Hitler on the Euphrates (Saddam Hussein ) and the worst of the lot, Hitler on the Ganges (Ghandi).

    Unless ‘civilisation’ has been there, there’s no point in it making any comments.

    The only comments that are the exception to this rule, that are acceptable and make any sense are by our brave boys who who are completely illiterate.

    Hence the reason they make good cannon fodder and have no idea what they are talking about, even to each other.

    It is necessary to have been in the British Army to understand the ethos of a very protective organisation
    - Himmler said a similar thing about, and to, his SS. I won’t bore you with a quote. I doubt you’d be able to appreciate the ‘irony’ given the seeming literalism, and hence illiterism, of your understanding and way of life.

  9. joe90kane — on 27th June, 2009 at 7:48 pm  

    There are no values or morality in war – there never have been. We fought the Nazis not to fight fascism or save Jews but survive. All the rest was bullshit…
    - Apart from the ‘bullshit’, this is almsot exactly what Hitler says in Mein Kampf.

    The British Government didn’t need to declare war on Germany in 1939 – I don’t know if you know that.

    It wasn’t a war of survival.

    Hitler was always willing to make an accommodation with the British Empire. So much so, he issued his famous ‘halt order’ before Dunkirk to allow the British Expeditionary Force enough time to escape intact, in order to prove to the British Government his genuine willingness about coming to a mutual understanding about the co-existence of the British Empire and his now newly formed German Empire.

    Or am I going to fast?

  10. banthebindi! — on 27th June, 2009 at 7:54 pm  

    “to small-cocked Western islamists who project their low self esteem through the length of their beard.”

    are you speaking from experience ?

  11. joe90kane — on 27th June, 2009 at 8:07 pm  

    Come on now banthebindi!
    let’s stick to what we do know and leave the unexpressible joy of what it means to be in the british military to those who experienced it but don’t have the necessary communications skills to be able to tell the rest of us what it was like except to tell us to shut up.

  12. comrade — on 27th June, 2009 at 8:36 pm  

    Sunny

    Imperilist Armed Forces Day is appropriate name.

  13. Shamit — on 27th June, 2009 at 10:17 pm  

    Can we just not express our grateful thanks to the armed forces or do we have to deride everything.

    I am with Boyo on this one.

    Comrade — you should be ashamed of yourself.

  14. munir — on 27th June, 2009 at 11:13 pm  

    “Can we just not express our grateful thanks to the armed forces or do we have to deride everything.”

    But the sad reality is the wars the UK army is currently engaged in are not defensive wars or about defending us in anyway.

  15. Boyo — on 28th June, 2009 at 7:06 am  

    what if i am banthebindi? ;-)

    you’re an idiot joe, with as much grasp on the reality of WW2 as your website has on the reality of I/P (but i am certainly not going to derail this thread on that). I’m not surprised you’ve read Mein Kampf, mind. You probably fail to understand Hitler in the same way he failed to understand Nietzsche

    i agree with munir, which is a first, in so much as iraq was probably the cock-up of the 21st century and the failure, as a result, to go in and take out AQ in Afghanistan and get out has probably made matters worse. One only has to read the first Flashman novel (go on – it will make a break from Chomsky) to understand how Afghanistan really works.

  16. comrade — on 28th June, 2009 at 7:30 am  

    Shamit

    Comrade — you should be ashamed of yourself.

    I have not occupied any country, killed million in the process, I did not go to India, Africa and the rest of the World, and subjected its people to torture,famine, hunger,rape. I did not create the State of Isreal, by ethnic cleaning the Palestinian People of it Land. I did not train the Taliban at Sandhurt.

    No shamit, I have got nothing to be ashamed of, I am not a Imperilist, but internationlist,

  17. Boyo — on 28th June, 2009 at 7:49 am  

    Comrade. I pity you.

  18. Rumbold — on 28th June, 2009 at 9:10 am  

    Boyo:

    I am proud that our armed forces don’t have a high ‘friendly fire’ rate. But surely it stands to reason that more vulnerable equipment makes one more vulnerable.

    “Equipment will never be good enough, but at the end of the day it comes down to soldiery. The Taliban, with their rusty Kalashnikovs and not much else, are a formidable fighting force for example.”

    I am thinking more of all the roadside bombs/IEDs that are there because our troops are in badly designed vechicles. One vechicle has the front wheels directly under the driver’s seat. The result being that if it drives over a bomb, the driver will bear the brunt.

    “As for the rest of your argument, I’m afraid it’s rather silly to be frank, like much of the PC bollocks that has currency today – of course soldiers suffer from mental health issues etc, they always have, cos war is, well, hell. Imagine what Britain must have been like after the first and second world wars when generations of men returned home traumatised, yet also they had to get on with it, and did society really suffer? Or is the suffering made worse by this endless, ill-informed navel gazing?”

    Sorry, I don’t accept the ‘suck it up’ mentality when it comes to things like this. Although we have no detailed studies, we know that one of the major effects of the first world war was to make us much more relucatant to confront Hitler- people remembered a generation of young men being wiped out. Iraq and Afghanistan are also the worst sort of wars- endless attacks by people who look the same as the civilian population, an enemy who counts killing women and children as success, hot, harsh conditions, and no clear plan (how does one win?).

    Joe90kane:

    The photos that Morgan printed were faked. He even admitted it.

    Billericaydicky and Shamit:

    I am not criticising the army. I wanted to point out that the state might try and use a day like this to sweep real issues under the carpet.

  19. comrade — on 28th June, 2009 at 9:16 am  

    Boyo, I pity you too. just leave at t

  20. comrade — on 28th June, 2009 at 9:17 am  

    Boyo, I pity you too. just leave it at that.

  21. Dave S — on 28th June, 2009 at 10:01 am  

    Comrade @ 16:
    Well said.

    To all those who have been in the armed forces, and say that the rest of us “don’t get it”…

    Imagine if instead of joining up to fight “the enemy”, people all over the world absolutely refused to be told who to fight, stopped doing what their “leaders” said, and took the time to get to know other people under the assumption that we are all humans, and that we must all share this planet together in peace?

    I’m afraid it is you who “don’t get it”.

    There are no “harsh realities of life” other than the ones we create for ourselves and then convince ourselves that others around the world must believe in too.

    Well, I have met a whole lot of people from a whole lot of countries, and the one thing they we had in common was our basic humanity.

    Why believe what you are told to believe by politicians and the media? They never have an honest agenda to push, and are always interested in power.

    But the vast majority simply want to live in peace, and this could be very easily achieved if only we’d stop allowing the manipulative bastards in power to tell us what to do.

    Remove power from the equation and insert humanity, and we could have worldwide peace, today.

    I’m afraid we “get it” very well indeed.

    Anything war can do, peace can do better, and if people would stop signing up to fight, it would be impossible to have war.

    There are several things that need to happen in order to make this possible:

    1. Stop letting politicians be our mouthpiece, and instead relate directly to people from all countries on an even footing. This means we must give up our “privileges” and work to improve the quality of life for all people worldwide, in a way which does not have our desire to exploit them for profit underlying it.

    2. Abolish our own military and dismantle all our weapons. Because who is going to fight us when we have no military? We must lead by example, and eradicate our own creations of war.

    3. In the longer term, decentralise power completely, so that there is no central state which can be attacked and conquered. Anarchy will protect us from war – although I know this concept is hard to understand.

    Become uncontrollable – just stop doing what you are told – and nobody will be able to control us. Then live in peace with your fellow human beings, and help each other to achieve a good quality of life.

    This could be achieved pretty easily with even half the resources expended on war – it’s just that worldwide equality isn’t terribly profitable.

    But when the only response to talk of war is talk of peace, the message will soon spread worldwide.

    Think globally, act locally = change yourself.

    Otherwise, all over the world, there will be people just like you who talk and think of war, and turn that into their reality because they simply refused to believe that another way was possible.

  22. chairwoman — on 28th June, 2009 at 10:17 am  

    “2. Abolish our own military and dismantle all our weapons. Because who is going to fight us when we have no military? We must lead by example, and eradicate our own creations of war.”

    Excuse me a second, I must wipe the tears of hysterical laughter from my eyes.

    You absolute blithering idiot! Of course nobody would “fight” a country with no military. They wouldn’t need to. They could just arrive, with their military forces, and take over.

    What is this, pacifism for cretins year 1?

    Please don’t misconstrue this as aggression, nor mistakenly assume that I am in favour of any of this country’s recent, or current, conflicts in the Middle East, but a county without a military to protect it is like a house with permanently open doors, an invitation to thieves and invaders.

  23. Dave S — on 28th June, 2009 at 10:18 am  

    Oh, and for what it’s worth…

    By all means call me “naïve” if you like – but I’ve never been naïve enough to join the military and go to war because someone else told me there were enemies to fight.

    I have nothing against those who were previously or are now in the armed forces – nothing whatsoever.

    But as a peaceful human being, it is my duty to dismantle the assumption of war whenever I find it being peddled as the “harsh reality of life”.

    The reality of life can be whatever we want it to be, if we want it badly enough.

  24. chairwoman — on 28th June, 2009 at 10:20 am  

    “I’m not surprised you’ve read Mein Kampf,”

    Of course he’s read Mein Kampf. He probably also thinks he’s a Socialist.

  25. Inders — on 28th June, 2009 at 10:22 am  

    Has Pickled Politics gone to Glastonbury and ingested some mushrooms ?

    Politics is the art of the possible. Any ideology which relies on every person being nice to each other will fail.

  26. Dave S — on 28th June, 2009 at 10:33 am  

    Chairwoman @ 22: What would there be to steal from our house, if we shared everything and helped each other worldwide so that we all had the same chances in life?

    There is no need to steal that which is freely given, and neither would there be any thieves if they knew that they could count on their birthright of a fair share of the Earth’s resources, and control over their own lives.

    The reason we have war is that when there is so much inequality in the world, it is easy to find people who will fight to take back what was meant to be theirs.

    So let’s start by giving everybody a fair chance at life – which starts by giving up our own privilege, and recognising that we are no better or worse than any other human beings alive, and that we should all have an equal share in the world.

    Incidentally, I am not a pacifist. I am just someone who can differentiate the protective use of force versus the punitive use of force.

    Do you normally throw insults at other people when you don’t understand their point of view?

    If it’s easier for you to write me off as a “cretin” than to take the time to perhaps ask a few more questions to clarify the parts of my opinion which don’t make sense to you, then I’m afraid there’s not much I can do to convince you.

  27. Dave S — on 28th June, 2009 at 10:39 am  

    Inders @ 25: Anarchy does not rely on “every person being nice to each other”, which is why anarchists collectively take direct action to deal with those who act in ways which exploit or harm others.

    But just because you can’t rely on others doing it, doesn’t mean you can’t practise it yourself.

    There is a huge difference between the protective use of force versus the punitive use of force.

    Your comment about magic mushrooms is interesting too. There are various substances – magic mushrooms being one – which can help us take a big step back from the “harsh realities of life”, take a look inside ourselves, and find peace with what we see, and with each other.

    Given that is the case (and I can attest that it is from personal experience), then is it any wonder that the government and those who want power over us would seek to make access to those substances illegal?

    If magic mushrooms could bring us world peace, would that be any bad thing? Is war a more sensible option?

  28. Inders — on 28th June, 2009 at 10:47 am  

    I’ve gone through my teens and early 20s experimentation, thank you very much Dave. I’ve decided I’d rather live in the real world. Don’t muddy the issue, legalisation of drugs is nothing to do with anarchy. I will however give you a tip on your trip, anything that makes sense when you’re high, but doesn’t when you’re straight, forget about. Delusion.

    Direct action against those who act in ways to exploit or harm others ? What if the ones you wish to correct are stronger then you are ? Who decides what needs correcting ? Anarchy would rely on more force then even the current system does, not on others but on each other. For further reading… Homage to Catalonia.

  29. chairwoman — on 28th June, 2009 at 10:51 am  

    DaveS – Sorry about the cretins comment, that was a cheap shot :)

    It would indeed be wonderful if the world operated in such an idealistic manner.

    But I am somewhat more pragmatic than that, and what if the regime that wanted what we would freely give, was a regime that wanted to enslave us?

    There have always been greedy people. Otherwise we would all live a Utopian existence, and there would be no need for money.

    I’m not sure if the figures are right here, but I have no doubt that I will be corrected if they’re not, but if all the wealth in the world was distributed equally among the world’s population, at the end of a week, most people would have little or nothing less, and 5% would have the lion’s share.

    And that’s why we need a military.

  30. chairwoman — on 28th June, 2009 at 10:55 am  

    “If magic mushrooms could bring us world peace, would that be any bad thing? Is war a more sensible option?”

    I have dallied with this substance in a different lifetime, and it didn’t make me feel particularly peaceful.

  31. Shatterface — on 28th June, 2009 at 11:33 am  

    Dave S (21): Sorry, but your solutions only work in a world in which everyone else are also anarchists; and the Spanish Civil War showed that anarchists are willing and able to form armies when necessary and even fight in countries to which they do not belong.

    Anarchism takes issue with the INITIATION of conflict, but even where we are not under immediate threat ourselves and a case cannot be made for self-defense, there are occasions when the defense of others may justify fighting.

    We can argue about the justification of war on a case by case basis but anarchism its does not preclude armed conflict for the benefit of others.

  32. Boyo — on 28th June, 2009 at 12:14 pm  

    Hm. Utopian deaths beat old-fashioned imperialism hands down – shall we start with Hitler, Stalin and Mao? They even make Britain’s criminal negligence during the Irish and Indian famines look relatively innocent. They even put King Leopold in a good light…

  33. Rumbold — on 28th June, 2009 at 12:38 pm  

    I have a lot of respect for Dave S, even though I often disagree with what he says. He believes in something and tries to live his life that way.

    I do think he is wrong about the military though. Human beings tend to be good naturally, but temptation and circumstance will always lead to some doing bad things. Now, it is a shame that the world is this way, but it is. If Britain became a pacifist nation it would simply make us a target.

  34. Dave S — on 28th June, 2009 at 12:45 pm  

    I don’t have much time to reply now, but I’ll try to as best I can:

    Inders @ 28:
    Isn’t it a bit egotistical to claim to know what the “real world” is? I think my point still stands, that the “real world” can be anything we want it to be, if we want it hard enough.

    Then, as a separate point, that magic mushrooms (and other psychoactive substances) can provide a very valuable tool for understanding ourselves, understanding each other, and finding peace – which is no doubt one of the many reasons they are outlawed. (Because people finding inner peace is not conducive to power structures, profit and warmongering.)

    Direct action does not have to involve the use of force – see Ghandi, for example.

    I’ll see if I can track down “Homage to Catalonia”. Still, anarchist thought and understanding has come a hell of a long way since the Spanish civil war, and a lot of past mistakes have been (and are being) learned from.

    Chairwoman @ 29:

    what if the regime that wanted what we would freely give, was a regime that wanted to enslave us?

    I’m not sure that question makes sense? If your hypothetical regime would enslave us, then it is not asking us to give something freely, but just taking it from us.

    My point on this matter was that it is because humans have created systems of society which are very unfair, and result in the few stealing from the many (eg. rich minority world taking resources from the poor majority world, and benefiting from their poverty), and that this is why we have war.

    That if we equalised the distribution of resources and autonomy over our own lives and communities as far as was humanly possible, so that everybody could afford to live and let live, and so that nobody was exploited for anybody else’s gain, then there would be a lot less reasons for war.

    As you say, there have always been greedy people – but they are a minority. After all, if we are all so greedy and acquisitive, then why is marketing and advertising such a massive industry?

    (I mean, we all know how crap the police are at catching people. Why not all just go out and steal all the stuff we supposedly want? Why? Because we actually don’t really want, and because the vast majority don’t steal from each other in spite of the law – not because of it.)

    Beyond our basic needs in order to stay alive, most people do not want to acquire loads of “things”, and indeed, find it hard to make use of more than a certain number of “things”. For the most part, we are pretty happy to potter along with our lives, and leave others to do the same.

    Anarchy would return excess, unused “things” to the community, and make it impossible for any individual to amass more than they could actually make use of themselves.

    In a society which put people first, in which we made time for one another instead of competing for artificially limited resources, people’s self-esteem and community-mindedness would be sufficient that they wouldn’t want to encumber themselves with the acquisition of lots of “things” anyway.

    Yes, humans can be greedy, but this greed has been accentuated and increased a thousandfold in order for capitalists to make profits, and for politicians to be able to divide us against each other, and thus have power over us.

    Our society has been engineered in order to control us and make us dependent on companies and on the state to meet our basic living needs, but most people are not actually that greedy, and in a better type of society would be even less so.

    For the few “hardcore” that remain, they can be dealt with compassionately and non-violently within a strong community that can easily look after itself, and make it impossible for their greedy tendencies to manifest themselves.

    As for your theory on distributing “all the world’s wealth”, well, a few words on that:

    1. I am talking about creating a radically different social paradigm to our current one. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we can start by changing ourselves, and then allowing others the freedom to do the same.

    2. Underpinning your theory is the relatively modern assumption that the world is made of “stuff” which “belongs” to us. I do not believe this is the case, and neither do many of the previous societies from around the world, with notable examples like the native Americans who do not view the earth as a mere piggy-bank to be emptied as quickly as possible.

    We belong to the world, and are entrusted with custodianship of it, which we in turn will pass on to future generations.

    So I am not talking about “redistributing wealth” as such, but rather about not distributing anything – not taking anything, even – and merely living here and trying to create the type of society that we would be honoured to pass on to the children of the future.

    I don’t exactly subscribe to “property is theft”, but I do believe there’s quite a lot of truth to that. Equalise access to land and resources and stop viewing the world as “ours” to take away from, and maybe we’ll get to the point where we realise that we can easily contribute to ecosystems for the benefit of everyone, and that all can live an incredibly easy, utopian life.

    Chairwoman @ 30:
    Psychoactive substances are just one way for some people to find inner peace. Perhaps you could try a different psychoactive substance, or a different thing altogether. Gardening, meditation, painting, music, cooking, wood carving, cycling… there are thousands of ways to find comfort with who you are.

    (Incidentally, I’m not saying that I am 100% comfortable with who I am, but I’m certainly a lot better than I used to be.)

    Actually, it is in coming to accept other people for who they are, and to try not to judge them (again, I do slip up) where I have been able to find quite a considerable amount of peace within myself.

    Yes, I see the greedy, and the mean, and the violent, and the power-crazed – but I still understand that underneath all that, is a person who’s humanity I stand some chance of reaching if I make an effort not to judge them, and to communicate openly and honestly.

    Again, just in case it’s not obvious: I slip up often!!!!

    It is quite difficult to rehabilitate yourself away from your old ways of judgement, condemnation and assumptions about what other’s motives must be – but it is possible if approached with an open mind.

    Shatterface @ 31:

    Sorry, but your solutions only work in a world in which everyone else are also anarchists

    I’m not in agreement with you there.

    “My” solutions (they are not mine, but are as old as the hills) will work in a world where people believe it is possible for them to work, and change themselves to be in alignment with that desire.

    So maybe people like me will be pointing this out forever, but as that old Chinese proverb goes: fall down nine times, get up ten times.

    Despite climate change, peak oil, destruction of nature, the worldwide economic collapse, and there being even more hungry mouths to feed than ever before – I actually am confident that humanity will, through necessity if nothing else, begin to get things right within my lifetime.

    Maybe I am destined for disappointment, but better to maintain an unfulfilled hope for my whole life, than to give it up now.

    but even where we are not under immediate threat ourselves and a case cannot be made for self-defense, there are occasions when the defense of others may justify fighting.

    Hence my differentiation between the protective use of force and the punitive use of force.

    We can argue about the justification of war on a case by case basis but anarchism its does not preclude armed conflict for the benefit of others.

    I am not arguing that it does, but am merely seeking to vastly reduce the number circumstances where war is “necessary”, likely, or possible.

    That starts by changing ourselves, and our judgemental attitudes towards others.

    Further reading for anybody who is interested – the “Nonviolent Communication” work of Marshall Rosenberg, which begins with this book.

    I’m afraid this is probably all I have time for today, but I will attempt to respond to any other responses tomorrow.

  35. Inders — on 28th June, 2009 at 1:19 pm  

    The real world = the world as experienced and interacted with when you’re not artificially altering your brain chemistry. I understand drugs as recreation. I even understand drugs as self therapy. I can never accept drugs as a gateway to any sort of truth. Its called intoxication for a reason. Mushrooms will not break down the system and create a brave new world any more then alcohol or tobacco did.

    There are countless people from Huxley (whose ‘eyeless in gaza’ is a fantastic pacifist book) to Phillip k dick who chronicled psychedelics and their use and most of them come to the same conclusion.

    The native americans, warred. The europeans warred. The middle easterners and the africans warred. The indians warred and the chinese warred. All with different retrospective reasons, and different philosophies. All with the same basic reason. The same reason that bats cheat (the selfish gene, richard dawkins) or the ants war (wood ant wars, Mabelis). No amount of dope is going to stop it.

    If you’re trying to rewrite a few hundred thousand years of history and a few million years of evolution then good look. For now I’d rather concentrate on the few hundred years of liberalism and meditate more on concepts such as the social contract and the rights of man.

  36. Dave S — on 28th June, 2009 at 2:20 pm  

    Hah… seems I have time for one more reply after all!

    Rumbold @ 33: Thanks! Despite our many disagreements, the respect is mutual, and I’m glad we’ve come this far. I hope we’ll share a drink some day. :-)

    Inders @ 35:

    the world as experienced and interacted with when you’re not artificially altering your brain chemistry.

    Coffee anyone? Or perhaps you’d prefer some chocolate?

    We’re all wired to the eyeballs on things which alter our brain chemistry, it’s just we don’t view most of them as “drugs”.

    I mean, just imagine what the world would be like if millions of people – particularly those in positions of influence over others – didn’t start the day with an intense dose of caffeine?

    (Would we all stay in bed and do nothing? Would that be such a bad thing, really? We’d get up and sort ourselves out some food when we got hungry… now apply that as a philosophy for living! What more do we actually need?)

    I don’t believe there is such a thing as “drugs”, really. Anything we take into our bodies artificially alters our brain chemistry – even cheese, even bread, even water, even air (or lack of food, water or air, for that matter)!

    I know people who fall asleep after eating raw onions, and people who become easily enraged after eating chillies.

    There is no such thing as “the real world”, because to claim such is tantamount to claiming some sort of universal truth. There is just the world, and there is every individual’s interpretation of it, which seems completely “real” to nobody else but that individual.

    Nobody is more or less qualified than anybody else to determine what is “real”. (I mean, for starters, how do you even know that you are real?)

    But maybe I’m being overly pedantic here!? I do know what you are getting at, and I also don’t regard drugs as any kind of gateway to “truth”.

    I don’t believe in universal truths – only individual ones.

    But I do believe that certain drugs can provide a highly useful gateway to self-understanding for certain people (myself included), and that once some level of self-understanding is achieved, it’s a lot easier to judge other people a lot less.

    When you recognise that “reality” is for all intents and purposes completely imaginary and based on nothing but billions of individual views on “it”, then it becomes a lot easier to understand why someone else might disagree with you, and to attempt to find methods for increasing understanding and resolving any dispute.

    In fact, I had taken magic mushrooms a few times before I had this type of realisation. It was a combination of an incredible, almost religious experience of a trip, followed a few weeks later by a terrible, long dark night of the soul bad trip. I came away from all this somewhat humbled, and prepared to reconsider my place in the world and my interpretation of events.

    I believe that a nation of people who judge other people a whole lot less is able to empathise with others more, and is less likely to resort to violence. I believe this (and many other positives) are the reasons most “drugs” are outlawed.

    Labels are convenient ways for us to categorise and dispose of people using force without attempting to understand where they are coming from.

    I even go as far as to apply this line of thinking to “fascists”, which is where I differ from many other anti-fascists who happen to regard “fascists” as subhuman.

    I do not regard “fascists” as subhuman – merely as humans expressing their misunderstood needs or reaction to their sub-optimal circumstances, in ways which are tragically alienated from anything which is actually likely to meet those needs or change those circumstances.

    So the way to defeat fascism is to empathise and get to the root causes of what makes it happen – basically, that people feel their life needs are not being met, and at that point are easily convinced to scapegoat the “other” under the mistaken / deliberately mislead view that this will help resolve their needs.

    As for those who seek to lead fascists, well, aren’t they also just a product of a messed up world which could have done so much more to support them and stop their problems getting out of hand?

    Everything (EVERYTHING!!!) comes down to how we raise our children. (Which is why as the father of a 9 month old, I know what a massive responsibility I have to her to try and give her a better start and a better understanding of the world than I had as a child.)

    [...] For now I’d rather concentrate on the few hundred years of liberalism and meditate more on concepts such as the social contract and the rights of man.

    Fair enough. I don’t believe any past society was particularly utopian or peaceful, but can we not cherry-pick the bits of wisdom discovered by those societies, and attempt to mould them together into something better for ourselves, coupled with empathy and our “advanced” understanding of things?

    Surely we have reached an age where we know better than to scapegoat others, or to fight them?

    And yet, year after year, “our leaders” (they are not my leaders!) drag us into more and more conflicts – and for what?

    To protect our perceived sense of “privilege”.

    So let’s share out that “privilege” so we can all live as best as possible, and there will be no reason for war.

    It’s funny really – on one hand, I recognise that humans are just animals, and that we are ultimately no better or worse than any other animals.

    But on the other hand, I have some hope that we can do better, and I refuse to believe it’s not possible to create a better world for all to live in. I believe it is completely possible to rise above our “animal” urges, such as to kill and steal and so on for our own gain.

    It really does have to start with changing ourselves though, and how we treat others – including other animals and the natural world. I’m still – and will probably always be – working on myself.

  37. Rumbold — on 28th June, 2009 at 3:00 pm  

    Dave S:

    Heh. Are we allowed to have proper drinks (a nice cup of oxo), or will it be vegetarian?

  38. inders — on 28th June, 2009 at 4:11 pm  

    Yes yes, Dave.

    I’m sure ingesting caffine and ingesting mushrooms is exactly the same thing.

    I for one would feel perfectly comfortable with my surgeon performing heart surgery on me having ingested either before performing complicated, precise movements in my innards. Heck if he See’s flying bats (keep moving this is bat country), then it must be some sort of inner truth that needs to be cut out of me.

    Caffeine is a drug, yes. Its effects are mild. PCP is a drug, yes. Its effects are massive. Its really not that complicated. One will alter your mind significantly enough for you to hallucinate and see things that aren’t there. The other won’t. Neither will bring you spiritual enlightenment. One may make you think it has. And thats what makes it more dangerous.

  39. Arif — on 28th June, 2009 at 4:35 pm  

    How do I put this….?

    I have sympathy for people who go to war believing they are doing so in defence of other people’s lives – although I might not usually believe the justifications for such wars myself. This is not pity, but sadness for their unwished-for situation, recognition that their actions make moral sense in their own minds and an attempt at empathy and respect for them by someone who has not gone to war.

    I have sympathy too with their opponents in as much as they might feel exactly the same way and make similar sacrifices.

    And sympathy too, perhaps more sympathy (as well as pity) for the victims of those wars.

    When it comes to honour, I would wish to honour first those soldiers who, when recognising a particular war as aggressive, refuse their orders to fight in it.

    I would also honour those soldiers who have the self-control and integrity to behave according to the human rights standards they are told they are fighting to protect – even though it may make them seem ridiculous to their colleagues.

    I apologise for any offence people take at this, I do not want to insult anyone, but I feel that honouring soldiers for the fact of being soldiers, rather than their specific behaviour as individuals, makes me complicit in some way in the machinery of war – making the institutions of the army etc something proud and glorious rather than something undertaken with great reluctance by people who recognise they have been failed by the politicians who claim to want peace.

  40. Golam Murtaza — on 28th June, 2009 at 4:37 pm  

    Ha! From debating the role of the armed forces to debating mind altering drugs. (Not complaining guys – one of the cooler digressions I’ve seen in a while!)

  41. British, not racist. — on 28th June, 2009 at 11:40 pm  

    Britain/civilization must be in Afghanistan for as long as it takes. Probably a century. The peaceful Buddhist state was overrun by muslims & has since remained a basket case. Violent, misogynistic, terrorist, islamist.

    This hellhole must be purged of the evil of islamism. It spawned 9/11,
    the taliban & just about every post 1945 form of nazism imaginable.

    For human civilization to survive it is better that every diseased islamist be destroyed. Much better, of course, is it that they be shown the error of their ways & become genuine “moderates” – if they exist.
    Best of all, they should become secularists & do our work for us.

  42. Boyo — on 29th June, 2009 at 6:54 am  

    I see you’ve deleted the mad man, i quite understand. However it was a perfect example of how anti-semitism has infected some sections of the left – to be call a BNP-Jew (although not half as politely) perfectly summed up the hateful confusion that really goes on behind the slick argument.

  43. Golam Murtaza — on 29th June, 2009 at 7:34 am  

    Sorry about that Boyo.

  44. Boyo — on 29th June, 2009 at 9:24 am  

    Oh, doesn’t bother, just saddens me. You see it on both sides – i would like to think “British not racist” was a spoof, but…

    To paraphrase the NRA (and forgive me if i think they have a point) – religion doesn’t kill people. People kill people…

    I doubt the “peaceful Buddhist” Afghans were anything of the sort before Islam – they were pretty much the same, no doubt.

    Cultural customs are far deeper than religious ones. British extremists of South Asian decent are not really practicing Islam, they are simply projecting their insecurities by adopting the culture of the caravan, shaped by desert-life of the Middle Ages.

    If they felt spiritually and culturally secure, they would fit in more cheerfully, and probably be a lot more cheerful.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.