Bernie and Jeremy

Bernie_Sanders_2016

I’m not American so there’s no way that I can vote for Bernie Sanders, Democratic Senator for Vermont, but I would if I could. And for the same reason that I’d vote for Jeremy Corben if he became leader of the UK Labour Party. If only the Democratic Party or the Labour Party were genuinely left-wing or at least not a kind of soft-centred alternative for the insanely right wing alternatives of the US Republican Party and the UK Conservative Party.

In many ways, Bernie and Jeremy are actually very moderate candidates and not merely because as people they have moderate and reasonable characters. They are both principled and unflashy, sticking to a compassionate and rational view of the world which would once have seemed slightly left-of-centre but now in a world gone mad thanks to the rightward swing in the Anglo-Saxon world since the 1970s, both now seem very much to the left. But they are only left-wing by comparison and neither could be considered radical firebrands. Their policies are eminently reasonable in a world where sea-levels are rising, millions continue to starve, the economic powers have learnt nothing from the Great Recession and are set on course for an even worse crash in the future and where the issue of equality is no longer an issue of envy but one of unsustainable instability.

These are dangerous times which the leading politicians and pundits of the right are intent on worsening. Austerity hasn’t worked, isn’t working and could never work. Instead huge volumes of government largesse in the form of Quantitative Easing has, rather than being used for the very real need for infrastructure development and to combat climate change has been channelled towards the wealthy and thence onto the Cayman Isles and Swiss Bank Accounts (and then re-invested into high rise apartments in Manhattan, impressionist paintings and luxury yachts which add no value to the greater economy whatsoever).

What do the rallies supporting Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corben represent? What does the rise of Syriza in Greece represent? In my mind, it is actually a sane and rational response to the way the poor are being punished by the rich, the young by the old, and any one who’s been displaced by the very nations that pretend to be the most compassionate.

After all, if you can’t achieve meaningful and constructive change via the ballot box to the major issues that are steadily leading us towards crises many times worse than those which caused the meltdown of the banking sector and moribund economic activity in the West, where else do you turn?

The answer is obvious. The rise of Islamic State, the relative popularity of buffoons like Donald Trump and the increasing isolation of the gated rich from the rest are all inevitable responses to the growing distrust and the appeal of superficially attractive solutions. And it is in this way that chaos lies, not by voting for those brave enough to articulate what is so evidently true and willing to risk the wrath of the right-wing media to make their case.

 

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Cecil the Lion

Cecil the Lion

Cecil the Lion

Nobody could have failed to miss the furore in the news recently about the shooting of Cecil the Lion. In fact, from the way the story has been received it’s almost as if it were an assassination rather than what Walter Palmer would consider to be a trophy killing.

Personally, I welcome the outrage that’s greeted the shooting. African lions are an endangered species as are any mammal, bird or reptile above a certain size that isn’t bred for food. The opinion that the lesser attention paid to the daily slaughter of humans around the world, not to mention the unbalanced treatment of the murder of white as opposed to Black, Asian, Muslim or Hispanic humans, reveals a kind of misplaced set of liberal ethics is quite simply misguided.

What this incident exposes is that whereas on the one hand, the majority of humanity now accepts that the carnage against wildlife and nature has gone too far and needs to be actively reversed, there is a minority, protected by wealth, education and nationality, who believe that they are above the greater good of the planet and can behave exactly as they wish.

It’s not just Walter Palmer, dentist and international pariah, who is at fault, it’s all those pampered, privileged people in America, Britain, and other nations in the world that treat the wealthy as somehow superior beings whose whims have to be respected. And so with a few thousand American dollars, these relatively wealthy individuals can jump on a plane, shoot an endangered animal, get their picture taken and fly home. Or they can eat Shark’s Fin Soup, use powdered Rhino horn as an aphrodisiac or use the might of the legal profession to allow themselves to dump toxic chemicals wherever they wish.

The whole world is on a precipice and more and more of us (disproportionately those not in the privileged West) now understand that climate change, environmental degradation and poverty are a great deal more important than keeping a couple of thousand asylum seekers out of the UK (scarcely a swarm), fighting a counterproductive war against terror (of which there is much more now than when the war began), following a policy of austerity where the suffering and pain is inflicted on those who work the hardest and have the least wealth, and elevating the convenience and pleasure of the already privileged over that of the rest of humanity by regressive taxation and punitive cuts in social services.

And besides the political and ethical concerns regarding the murder of Cecil the Lion, there is the interesting and not much discussed issue which is how we now all (with the exception of the few) recognise our individual responsibility in managing the planet we live in and that this extends to the wild animals that we once feared (for good reason) and which now have most to fear from us. We are the Guardians perhaps not of the Galaxy (and maybe never if we carry on like this), but of Planet Earth and it only takes a few miscreants and criminals protected by their wealth to fuck it up for everyone and everything else.