2018 05 – Newsnotes

Notes On The News

by Gwydion M Williams

Policeless policing?

“A shift in Britain’s drugs market [is] one cause of a nationwide increase in violent crime.

“Local dealers once controlled the drugs market in most towns. They would go to a city about once a month to buy drugs from wholesalers. In the early 2000s, London’s kingpins spotted an opportunity to cut out these dealers by recruiting their own couriers to sell crack cocaine and heroin directly to provincial consumers. Coppers call this new business model ‘county lines’, after the mobile numbers that faraway clients use to place orders. Crime bosses in Liverpool and Manchester began to copy their London peers…

“A new report by the Home Office links this shift to big rises in some types of violence. Crime has been falling for years but homicide, gun crime and, in particular, knife crime have gone up since 2014. Although knife offences are still most common in cities, above all London, the biggest rises have been in nearby counties… The share of murders where the victim or suspect was linked to drugs rose from 50% to 57% in the latest two years for which figures are available. Two-thirds of police forces say county-lines dealers in their area carry knives; others point to related acid attacks. Turf wars fuel violence, as does the need to enforce discipline over couriers.”[A]

But it does not help that the Tories stick to their anti-state obsession even as it visibly fails globally.  They don’t just cut welfare and the NHS: they also cut the military and police.  The military no longer do anything I see as useful.  But less police obviously makes life easier for criminals,

There is skepticism about Amber Rudd’s claim that she never saw a leaked Home Office violent crime report.[B]  See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil: do nothing at all about evil?  The lady is fully occupied by the urgent matter of flying pigs?

This same lady somehow managed to overlook that her department first destroyed documents that could prove the legal status of 1950s West Indian arrivals,[C] and then harassed them for no longer having proof of their legal status.

[This was written before Rudd’s resignation.]

Meantime Labour has shed its former distaste for law enforcement.  And could go further:

“Social engineering has a terrible reputation… Nevertheless, it can have positive results. Consider Iceland.

“In the early 1990s, the country had a problem: its young people were abusing drugs and alcohol, and becoming a social menace. When the authorities consulted addiction expert Harvey Milkman at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, Colorado, he proposed a seemingly simple solution. They should give teens the high they craved in a healthier form – sports.

“It sounded promising, on paper. The challenge was to get the kids to comply. A night-time curfew was imposed on 13 to 16-year-olds, and the state invested in sports, dance and arts programmes. Meanwhile, teachers, parents, journalists and politicians all took part in a concerted campaign to enforce a new social norm: excessive use of drugs and alcohol was no longer acceptable, and participation in sport and arts programmes was the expected standard.

“It worked. By 1998, substance abuse was in decline, and today the campaign is regarded as an unqualified success. The curfew is still in place. ‘Everybody’s proud of it,’ says Milkman. Icelanders even credit the new norm with contributing to their victory over England in the 2016 European football championship.”[D]

 

Windrush Generation – “We Don’t Take Truth for an Answer”

Everyone who arrived from the West Indies in the 1950s came at the specific invitation of the British government.  Including Enoch Powell, who was not at all bothered by large numbers of black nurses arriving later on when he was Health Minister (1960-63).

But when trouble arose in the 1960s, it was the Tories who toyed with the idea of driving out these troublesome non-whites.  It was officially ‘voluntary repatriation’ – but since no one had ever been prevented from leaving, it made no sense except as a cover for harassment.

“Smethwick’s Conservative MP, Peter Griffiths, had been elected in the previous year’s general election on the slogan ‘If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour.’

“The slogan helped buck national voting trends in 1964. Griffiths refused to disown it: ‘I would not condemn any man who said that,’ he told the Times during his election campaign. ‘I regard it as a manifestation of popular feeling.’”[E]

Labour did limit Commonwealth immigration, which might otherwise have brought tens of millions more seeking a better life.  Would have caused a general breakdown.  But Labour also made real and serious efforts to root out racism against non-whites already settled here.  This distinction has been missed by many black people, who often decide it is not worth voting.

Fast-forward to the 2010s.  Theresa May as Home Secretary pushed what was functionally a White Racist campaign, though technically it was against Illegal Immigrants, some of them East European.  We don’t of course know what she knew or what she intended.  But if she’s not capable of finding out what’s going on in her own department, that makes her even less fit than if she’s a covert White Racist.  There are always people who report oddities to senior management, sometimes idealistically and sometimes maliciously, but very reliably.  Harassment had been happening for years.[F]

And then, remarkably enough, the scandal goes public just when the Commonwealth is debating if Prince Charles will succeed as its head when the Queen dies.  The Queen broke protocol by arguing for it.  She may think of it as part of a royal legacy she inherited from her much-loved father, and hopes to pass on to her heirs.  Regardless, it was agreed.  And an end to the harassment of elderly non-whites who arrived in the Windrush generation was promised.

Promised.  Whether it will be delivered remains to be seen.  I’d expect calls for compensation to mostly fail.

But Labour should start targeting non-whites, who seldom vote Tory but often fail to vote.  Tell them of the Tory MP who backed the slogan ‘If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour.’  Say yes, this is indeed the case.  Or harmoniously mixed-race neighbourhoods, rather – that has mostly been the reality, despite Tory nihilism.

 

Is This the Facebook that Shipped A Thousand Lies?

I joined Facebook, because my brother and his family were already on it.  And found many other useful things, including intelligent political comment from a US site called Vox.[G]  And never used it for anything that I’d mind the whole world knowing about – it was obviously open to anyone.

For anything private, I would use e-mail. For anything secret, I would not use the internet at all.  Nor computers.  I don’t personally have any significant secrets, but back in 2000 I tried to warn others: “Just you, your trusted friends and a whole gaggle of police spies.  That’s how ‘libertarian’ the new technology of the Internet actually is.”[H]

Many who once forecast Liberation by Internet now admit that they were wrong. People are also noticing how the idealistic notion of Free Data is corrupted when it depends on advertising. If you are not the customer, you are the product.

My solution?  Make Facebook a paid service.  Or make it two-tier, as some sites including the photo-sharing Flickr choose to be.  You can join for free, but get more power if you pay.  For customers, rock-solid guarantees of privacy.  An end to harassment by advertisers:

“Every time you open your phone or your computer, your brain is walking onto a battleground. The aggressors are the architects of your digital world, and their weapons are the apps, news feeds, and notifications in your field of view every time you look at a screen.

“They are all attempting to capture your most scarce resource — your attention — and take it hostage for money. Your captive attention is worth billions to them in advertising and subscription revenue.”[I]

1960s radicals had issues with the state.  Believed the fantasy that the state was not needed.  Delivered themselves into the hands of greedy amoral commercial outfits.  Are baffled that their nice little idealistic schemes get taken over or swept aside by the power of money.

 

From Technocrat to Cashocrats

Many younger people blame the world’s imperfections on the Baby Boomer generation, rather than a greedy amoral More-than-Millionaire class.  I can’t prove it, but I suspect they’ve been fed this line, along with many other diversions.  But it’s true that a lot of Baby Boomers became hostile to the Welfare State system that had given them the good life.  Most voted Tory in 2017, when Labour under Corbyn wanted to give the next generation the same benefits that the Baby Boomers had grown up with.[J]  Only 27%, including myself, voted Labour.

The Baby Boomers also had things to rebel against.  The system they grew up within was technocratic – it wanted the world run by a bunch of remote experts.  And wanted everyone to be conformists, with harassment of those who chose to be harmlessly different.  Naturally there was a strong counter-reaction that created freedoms that young people fail now to recognise as major gains.

But the ideology of the radicals was incomplete.  They had the nice notion that children could gently ‘unfold themselves’ rather than needing to be moulded.  Sadly, this was not true.  What was true was that the moulding could be done gently and with the child’s cooperation, if done cleverly and with love.

Britain’s Eleven-plus – abolished 1976 – was an evil in the old system.  It selected the one-quarter of the population that would get a superior education and might go on to university.  My father once called it a system that assumed that the working class did not need to be educated.  And Chris Winch has written about the failure to provide Technical Education to teach visibly useful skills, rather than giving the discards an inferior version of academic education.

I have personal feeling on this: I failed and should have been shunted off as a discard.  My IQ showed I was at the top levels: I later became a Mensan.  Members qualify with a measured IQ of at least 131,[K] though above 120 it may not mean much.  Richard Feynman, genius and Nobel Prize winner, liked to tell of how he only scored 125 on one test.[L]

Why was I judged unsuitable?  Exam results showed I was not letting myself be processed into a High-Level Standardised Individualist.  I would have been denied a conventional education, except my father could afford private education and my elder brother did brilliantly in his exams.  I was let into the grammar-school system.  Eventually to university.  It takes a very rare combination of events to make anyone a serious thinker without at least some time at University.

Thanks to fee-paying education, many other Eleven-plus failures avoided being discarded.  Some then achieved the highest academic distinctions.  Myself, I didn’t get good exam results at any level.  But I reckon I’ve done some good thinking.

To loop back to the earlier matter of internet data.  I’ve had some personal e-mail harassment, along with generic junk like a recent offer from ‘Miss Zenab Warlord Ibrahim’.  I find this positive: I am being noticed.  But some curious messages denounced me for wasting the money my father paid getting me round the Eleven-plus roadblock.  I never bothered to put my time at a fee-paying school on Facebook, or any other electronic source.  And when I googled for myself, I found nothing much about myself.  So how did they know?

The person or persons identified my education as ‘Public School’ – a curious British term that arises from a long-abolished sector of Private Schools not subject to any outside scrutiny. Parliament in the 1860s successfully asserted its right to oversee of Eton, Harrow, and other noted fee-paying schools.[M]  For a time there were three sectors for educating teenagers – Public, Private and State.  But there was also a distinct growth of ‘Prep Schools’, mostly for 8-to 13-year-olds and intended to feed into the Public Schools.  A Briton should know the difference – definitely anyone in MI5, who are actually political police despite pretending to be just about illegal and terrorist activities.  It might have been US intelligence.  None of it bothers me much.

To round off, Manus O’Riordan kindly agreed that I could publicise things that happened to him and to his father, a noted Irish Communist who fought in the Spanish Civil War:

“My views are already an open book. My phone was tapped on an ongoing basis from the 70s, whether as a B&ICO or DSP. I also took that for granted from childhood re my CPI parents. On one occasion, when a magazine called ‘Bulgaria Today’ arrived for my father, inside the SEALED envelope there was also a copy of ‘The Garda Review’!”

‘Garda’ is the official name of the police in the Irish Republic, where police of any sort have a low reputation.

 

China – Trade Insults, Not Goods?

“The US ‘blame game’ with China is misplaced. Instead it should re-examine its reliance on a laissez faire economy with neither plan nor reason. Its resort to tariffs will increase costs without raising income and improving innovation.

“Current US protectionism began ‘still born’. The White House has already downgraded its tariff which targeted competitors. Moreover its $60-billion-dollar tariff on China affects less than 3% of its exports.

“Instead of seeking to blame outside competitors like China it would be wiser to learn from its experience and absorb its technological advances and its strategic investments in infrastructure and domestic consumption. Until the US reduces its military spending by two thirds, and subordinates its finance sector to industry and domestic households it will continue to fall behind China.”[N]

China meantime seems ready to fight.[O]  And may have figured that Trump is a blusterer with very little ‘True Grit’.  China strengthens itself, and works to remove inequalities:

“China’s manufacturing hubs of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong will work with the rust belt northeast provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang to help rejuvenate their economies, the country’s state planner said on Friday.

“In detailed implementation plans published on its website, the National Development and Reform Commission called on eastern China’s Jiangsu in the prosperous Yangtze River Delta to boost cooperation and share resources with struggling Liaoning as part of China’s latest efforts to revive the struggling “old industrial bases” of the northeast.

“Meanwhile, Zhejiang will take on Jilin province as an economic partner and Guangdong will provide support to Heilongjiang.”[P]

The provinces are in Northeast China.  What the West calls Manchuria, but Chinese official documents always avoid this name.  Understandably: Manchuria was a puppet state under Japanese occupation in the 1930s and it is not forgotten.  It was also industrialised by Japan, and had a lot more growth under Mao.  Has slid, but has a lot of potential.

As the Arctic melts, the sea-route over the top of Asia becomes a useful link from China to Europe and the eastern USA.  A boost for ports and regional production in the north-east.

 

Snippets

Korea

I don’t think it an accident that the Korean War never technically ended.  It leaves the USA free to resume the war if a good opportunity should ever occur.

Chiang Kai-shek’s threats to retake Mainland China from his exile in Taiwan are nowadays seen as ridiculous, if they are remembered at all.  But with US backing, it would not have been ridiculous.  In the end Nixon, having worked up much of the original hysteria against Red China, had the good sense to make peace in the early 1970s.  Ended the absurdity of Taiwan’s tiny government having China’s seat at the United Nations.

Now we have a South Korean president who would like to make peace.  Trump seems ready to allow it. Like Nixon, Trump has no significant enemies to the right of him.  He can make concessions that would be denounced as treason and betrayal if made by Obama, or even Bush Junior.

***

Wasteful Wars

Trump recently claimed that the USA had wasted $7 trillion in the Middle Eastern wars.

The liberal Washington Post reassured its readers that the waste was a mere $3,600,000,000,000 dollars.[Q]  Plus millions of Arab and Muslim lives, but who in the USA would care?

The same money might easily have been wasted on free medical care for every single US citizen, and many foreigners also.  Or if given to Russia in the 1990s, Russia would not have suffered drastic poverty.  Would not have turned against the West.

Of course, Trump would give it to the rich as further tax cuts.  A big cut for those best able to pay is the only solid achievement of his Presidency so far.

But don’t be surprised that US liberals are increasingly despised.

***

As Honest as a Fox

“I’m a former reality TV star who almost became a conservative pundit. I couldn’t stomach it…

“I was asked to read a script in which I said I was from a “small town in Pennsylvania.” It wasn’t true — I’m from Pittsburgh. When I mentioned that this description was inaccurate, they told me it didn’t matter as long as people thought I was from a small town. They wanted me to be more ‘relatable.’

“The blonde, naive, virginal Christian character they had cast couldn’t be from a city like Pittsburgh, and MTV wasn’t about to let facts get in the way of a stereotype. So I held my nose and read the script.”[R]

But later regained her personal integrity by refusing to pundit for Fox News. Meantime the BBC is increasingly biased.  It is weird that Britons need to watch Russian television to learn about things their government does not wish them to know: but it is so.  The BBC was once a national asset, respected for its fairness.  With typical short-termism, the Tories wasted this to give themselves a little boost.

***

Websites

Previous Newsnotes at the Labour Affairs website, https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/past-issues/.  Also https://longrevolution.wordpress.com/newsnotes-historic/.  I blog occasionally at https://gwydionmw.quora.com/.

 

References

[A]              https://www.economist.com/news/britain/21740415-city-gangs-have-expanded-nearby-counties-leading-turf-wars-unexpected-places-shift

[B]              https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/09/amber-rudd-home-office-violent-crime-report-leaked

[C]              https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/17/home-office-destroyed-windrush-landing-cards-says-ex-staffer

[D]              https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23731720-500-culture-clash-why-are-some-societies-strict-and-others-lax/

[E]              https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/15/britains-most-racist-election-smethwick-50-years-on

[F]              https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/20/its-inhumane-the-windrush-victims-who-have-lost-jobs-homes-and-loved-ones

[G] https://www.facebook.com/pg/Vox/posts/

[H]              https://gwydionwilliams.com/46-globalisation/the-web-is-always-insecure/

[I]               https://medium.com/@tobiasrose/the-enemy-in-our-feeds-e86511488de

[J]               https://gwydionmw.quora.com/British-Tories-rely-on-the-Old-and-the-Uneducated

[K]              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mensa_International#Membership_requirement

[L]              https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2016/11/08/richard-feynmans-iq-score-was-only-125-and-he-loved-joking-about-it/#18d6e8162c42

[M]             https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_school_(United_Kingdom)#Origins

[N]              http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/49130.htm, Or as a PDF at https://petras.lahaine.org/trumps-protectionism-a-great-leap-backward/

[O]              http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2138763/china-has-more-weapons-use-against-us-trade-war

[P]              http://www.scmp.com/news/china/economy/article/2139610/china-gets-richer-provinces-help-revive-rust-belt-economies

[Q]              https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/12/trump-claims-the-u-s-has-spent-7-trillion-in-the-middle-east-it-hasnt/

[R]              https://www.vox.com/first-person/2018/4/17/17247314/conservative-pundit-reality-tv-tomi-lahren-ann-coulter

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