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Gavin Holden

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Everything posted by Gavin Holden

  1. These are excellent Andy I hope that you don't mind if I link to them from my website for my A-level students.
  2. John - obviously we expect Brown to simply follow on with such policies. Do you think David Cameron would step back from this kind of law-making - given his claims to libertarian tendencies? Or do you think that once in power, any modern government will implement and support such infringements on civil liberties if they can get away with it. Perhaps it is the next stage of modern capitalism - to do away with democracy and let the corporations rule.
  3. Will you still be as smug when Iraq becomes an islamic fundamentalist state? What if the Iraqis vote for leaders that take them in that direction - maybe even in time get rid of the democracy? What about the other wider effects of the invasion of Iraq? E.g. bringing a hardliner to power in Iran, damaging international co-operation between nations, exposing the Republican administration as the bunch of crooks they are, weakening the UN, killing tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, sending thousands of young gullable Americans to their death or injury. I could go on but you aren't listening - just like Bush & co......
  4. Bush did. Reagan was a dunce. Luckily for him there were enough other dunces in the US to elect hime twice.
  5. Isn't capitalism in its 'perfect' form about the market responding to demand rather than creating false demand? The problem is that capitalism cannot achieve this 'perfect' balance - it is controlled by corporations exercising monopolistic power over governments and consumers. This allows the corporations to serve their rich shareholders and directors - increasing their wealth at the expense of others misery. The other problem is that capitalism (even in its 'perfect' form) is corrupting. It corrupts human nature - it makes sociable beings competitive, greedy, materialistic and selfish. It is the source of many of the worlds problems. The only problem with communism is that it is virtually impossible to achieve while capitalism exists. Those attempts to put communism into practice have failed because it cannot co-exist with the corrupting power of capitalism.
  6. Tim - I don't know if you missed my post where I explained that initial comment but this is what I said: 'If a leader can make such an irrational decision to believe in a god what other irrational decisions are they capable of? This is my point. If they are devoutly religious then many of their decisions and actions are therefore grounded in irrationality.' Of course, religious people can make rational decisions. But they also clearly demonstrate irrationality - especially if they are devoutly religious and their actions are guided by 'god.' Incidentally, I'd be interested to hear your response to my most recent post (4th Nov)
  7. Yes but 'sexual disloyalty' exists in other areas than the 'ghetto.' as you refer to it. By your argument, where are all the middle-class criminals who having been brought up by their mother have resorted to crime? Yes, maybe as you say their is an association between lack of father figure and criminal behaviour but is most definately not as simple as that. Why do people from disadvantaged backgrounds commit crime? For all sorts of reasons, just as people from wealthy backgrounds commit crimes for all sorts of reasons. It just so happens that the wealthy people commiting crimes in the US for example actually run the country and are white - therefore they get away with crimes far worse than the average street criminal who might rob a liquor store (or off-licence as we call them.) What makes these people commit crimes such as stealing tens of millions of dollars, sending thousands of young men to their pointless deaths, invading other countries and blowing innocent men, women and babies to pieces in the process? Maybe it is the same attitude than reinforces the divisions in Amerivan society which keep the poor people living in their ghettoes without aspirations or hope then whine on about reasons for them committing crime - such as having no father figure. Then lock them all up in prison as a solution. Crime is a money making industry for the wealthy in America - the wealthy shareholders of the private companies that run prisons, the insurance industries etc make money from crime. As do gun companies, lawyers etc. I wonder how many people from the 'ghetto' benefit in this way?
  8. If a leader can make such an irrational decision to believe in a god what other irrational decisions are they capable of? This is my point. If they are devoutly religious then many of their decisions and actions are therefore grounded in irrationality.
  9. Tony Blair expressed 'revulsion' at the comments made by Mahmoud Ahmadeinijad to 'wipe Israel of the face of the map.' Should Tony Blair reflect on the fact that if he and Bush hadn't invaded Iraq, the Iranian public wouldn't have swung towrds such an extremist leader in the recent elections thus undermining the many progressive changes in Iran achieved over the last decade. Do Blair and Bush realise that Iran which probably has real WMDs or close to achieving them is now in a far stronger position because of the invasion? Does Tony Blair ever lay awake at night and realise that people might express revulsion at him for the carnage and loss of innocent life in Iraq?
  10. I think it would be rare to find a political leader who was 'pleasant' - unpleasantness is one of the qualifications for the job. If the question refers to political leaders responsible for murdering innocent people - do you mean their own people or another country's innocent people. (I think you can guesss where this is heading.) No government would go to war purely with the intention of removing a leader from a country. There are always other motives - mostly linked to wealth, the balance of power, or religion.
  11. I would prefer my 'leader' if I must have one to be rational therefore not to believe in any god. There are simply far too many examples of the terrible consequences of organised religion to believe otherwise.
  12. It is morally wrong for human beings to go without the basic necessities to live. We should therefore rectify this situation on a global basis by taking money from those who can afford to give and redistributing to those that need it. However, I am talking in the context of the capitalist system. Capitalism thrives on inequality and misfortune. Yes we should tax the hell out of the rich in this country - they have made their money from the work of others. Unfortunately, if we did this the capitalists would argue correctly that they would move to another country and pay lower tax there. Therefore capitalism forces governments to set lower rates of taxation. It forces governments to create the cheapest labour conditions. This competition is becoming more intense as multinational corporations become bigger and more powerful - they have the ability to manipulate government policy and by threatening to close a few factories can gain financial benefits from a particular government. There is no incentive for an individual government to raise taxation to help those in other countries - again it would weaken its country's economic competitiveness. The people are bought out by the capitalists with material goods - for some reason we believe that having a bigger television set or a shiny new car actually makes us happy. We dont challenge the system as long as we believe that we are happy or we can see that someone is less happy than us to remind us of how 'lucky' we are. Competition is not part of man's natural condition as someone else stated on this thread. Man is naturally sociable but is corrupted by the capitalist system. All forms of representative democracy are a sham - designed to give the elite and the wealthy a false legitimacy. Capitalism is constantly evolving and is now much more sophisticated at pulling the wool over peoples eyes. What will be really interesting is how resilient it is in the face of the global problems we are now beginning to face. Capitalism's voracious appetite could bring about its own downfall. We are entering a period where governments behind the scenes are for the first time waking up to the fact that natural resources are finite. Oil in particular is the driving force behind capitalism's current incarnation. Long before it runs out there will be unimaginable conseqences for the world - which will hit the most advanced countries (with highest labour costs) hardest. Chinese economic hegemony will be the event which leads to this global collapse. What will probably happen though is that the world returns to a more primitive form of capitalism. What can we do about this? Probably nothing. What can anybody do? Probably nothing. Our government will be forced to cut taxes & put more pressure on reducing labour costs as it tries to compete with China and India. Public services will deteriorate as a result. This is only just beginning to happen now. Within twenty years we will be looking back at today as a period of prosperity never to be experienced again. Debating what the tax rate should be is another distraction from the real problem - the global capitalist system and the fact that governments dont have power, the people definately do not; it is the capitalists and corporations. Believe it or not I am actually a very optimistic person although you probably wouldn't believe it from that rant!
  13. I think it was Michael Bakunin who first said that. Ken has gone down in my estimation for that.
  14. I've changed my mind on this one recently. In fact I recall having some kind of argument with Andy Walker about this in the past. I started teaching politics last year and although I have not told the students how I have voted in the past they really want to know my opinions on issues. I have found that being honest with them but making it explicit that it is my own opinion is appreciated. However my priority is to create an atmosphere in the classroom where all opinions are respected and where every pupil feels comfortable in putting views forward. I try to discourage aggressive arguing (which tends to be used by people to compensate for lack of real insight) and get the students to justify their points. I suppose that the political opinions of your class will also reflect the way you teach. Many of my students are left wing so I ofetn find myself throwing right-wing ideas at them to get them to explore their own ideas more effectively. I guess the reverse would be the case too. What exam board and syllabus are you teaching?
  15. Neoconservative (only joking) A Libertarian Armchair Anarchist? I do find it very difficult to pigeon-hole myself into any category I am afraid. The above is more a label that some might attach to me. I suppose that labelling myself will restrict me from approaching new ideas with an open mind. I have a dislike of all forms of authority which is amusing given the fact that I am a teacher. I also have an optimistic view of human nature and believe that given the right circumstances, human beings can get along without a form of authority. This is one of the reasons why the Liberal idea of ‘the state of nature’ is not something I agree with. Consequently, I find myself attracted to many of the ideas within anarchism. I do have a hard job defending anarchism (especially to those who have a pessimistic view of human nature.) I don’t want to get into debating the ideas of anarchism here – the most common response to its ideas being ‘it wouldn’t work;’ however, I believe that many of my attitudes towards the world we live in are influenced heavily by anarchist thought. One of the values of anarchism as an ‘ideology’ though is to alter people’s views of the world without converting them to actual anarchists. So I cannot describe myself as a liberal (although I am liberal) because of their acceptance that government – any form of government (even dictatorship) is necessary if the alternative is no government. My belief in the capacity of the individual means that I also back away from the paternalism associated with socialism. However, the desperate misery caused by capitalism has to be balanced by greater social welfare. Socialism wouldn’t exist without capitalism. However, socialism in practice often means greater government intervention; something which deeply disturbs me. (Effective socialism in practice struggles to achieve its ideals when it has to compete in a capitalist world. Capitalism is the perhaps the ultimate corrupting influence.) I am also a pacifist and a feminist and I enjoy eating meat. With regard to wanting some right-wing views - if you want I could ‘role-play’ a post as a supporter of the countryside alliance – they are largely misunderstood and suffer from an image problem……
  16. What these figures demonstrate is how our democracy has been continually weakened by this Labour Government. Because of the actions of the British and American governments, the world is now a much more dangerous place. On our own soil we have witnessed our own government’s actions in Iraq leading to the death of its citizens in London. We have seen an innocent young man executed by an increasingly militarised police force. We have seen a government scientist die in mysterious circumstances. Our government has attempted to cover up a variety of its illegal actions with ‘enquiries.’ We are lied to on a daily basis by Tony Blair and his fellow ministers. Despite this and despite the fact that everybody in the whole damn country knows this, Tony Blair is still our Prime Minister (and Gordon Brown will succeed him and continue taking our country in exactly the same direction.) What is even more disturbing is that most people despite this knowledge seem scarcely bothered. Quoting figures from a poll is helpful in supporting an argument but when it comes to achieving change it is useless. It is useless because we don’t live in a democracy – our system needs to be changed. The government needs to be weakened and made more accountable to the people. The system as it stands is failing. We must withdraw from Iraq, if only to demonstrate to the world that this government does actually listen to the people. It wont happen though as there are a myriad of issues which the Americans in particular fear but wont admit to. These include (obviously) the issue of oil, Kurdistan (and Turkey,) Iranian power in the region and Israel.
  17. Hi Andy I what you have so far is a good idea. I am teaching Liberalism at the moment and have just done a similar thing with the lib dems website and classical/modern liberalism. Taking your idea further, could you look at how much crossover there is with current New Labour policy and conservative ideology. There has also been much debate at the recent Lib Dem conference over whether the party should move left or right. Another idea would be to compare the different candidates for the Tory leadership to see where they fit with regards to conservative ideology. Although I wont be teaching Conservatism this year (we have split the ideologies for the politics a2 course and i have ended up teaching Liberalism, Anarchism, Socialism and Feminism) one of the greatest challenges is making it interesting for students - something which isnt a problem for the more radical ideologies.
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