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The Conspiracy Against Socialism


John Simkin
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Why did we suddenly appear, a mere 60.000 odd years ago (barely yesterday on the evolutionary timeline) and proceed to destroy the ecological harmony of the planet? Worth it's own thread, imo. The ultimate conspiracy theory.

Mark, I hesitate to mention this because Steve Turner hails from Lowestoft and that, alone, is more than enough of a burden to load on his shoulders.

But the earliest evidence of civilization in the UK (long since evaporated, I know) and, indeed Europe, dates back 700,000 years. This early humanid is known affectionately as "LOWESTOFT MAN".

You see the cause of my concern.

So to summarize, man irrupted in Lowestoft, proceeded to inhabit the planet, killing it with the infection he inherently carried as he went.

If you've ever been to Lowestoft on a saturday night you'll understand... :P

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article764618.ece

Ha. Thanks for that info, David.

Homo heidelbergensis, Homo antecessor, Homo sapiens etc. Why do scientists insultingly refer to us all as Homos? :lol:

I still don't understand why evolution would propel our intelligence so far, so quickly and much further than we need to survive.

I guess this thread had ventured far off course. Thankfully this has escaped censure from Homo Moderatus. I'll save further rambling prognostications for later while I sally forth to work lest I be reclassified as Homo Unemploydus.

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According to the report issued by the National Academies, the U.S. Climate Change Research Program spends just $30 million a year on examining the impact of global warming on humans. To put that figure in perspective, the United States is spending an estimated $275 million per day on the Iraq war and occupation.

Spending cuts have also resulted in the grounding of earth-observing satellites. The authors of the report state, “The loss of existing and planned satellite sensors is perhaps the single greatest threat to the future success” of climate research.

That says it all. Talk about screwed up priorities. I share your concerns about all these issues, Peter.

Another worry is the possibility of the Gulf Stream shutting down, which could usher in a mini ice age in Northern Europe, possibly as early as 2010:

http://discovermagazine.com/2002/sep/cover

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Guest Stephen Turner
Why did we suddenly appear, a mere 60.000 odd years ago (barely yesterday on the evolutionary timeline) and proceed to destroy the ecological harmony of the planet? Worth it's own thread, imo. The ultimate conspiracy theory.

Mark, I hesitate to mention this because Steve Turner hails from Lowestoft and that, alone, is more than enough of a burden to load on his shoulders.

But the earliest evidence of civilization in the UK (long since evaporated, I know) and, indeed Europe, dates back 700,000 years. This early humanid is known affectionately as "LOWESTOFT MAN".

You see the cause of my concern.

So to summarize, man irrupted in Lowestoft, proceeded to inhabit the planet, killing it with the infection he inherently carried as he went.

If you've ever been to Lowestoft on a saturday night you'll understand... :P

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article764618.ece

David David David, GREAT YARMOUTH. And that, believe it or not, is more than a heavy enough burden.

Edited by Stephen Turner
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Guest David Guyatt
Why did we suddenly appear, a mere 60.000 odd years ago (barely yesterday on the evolutionary timeline) and proceed to destroy the ecological harmony of the planet? Worth it's own thread, imo. The ultimate conspiracy theory.

Mark, I hesitate to mention this because Steve Turner hails from Lowestoft and that, alone, is more than enough of a burden to load on his shoulders.

But the earliest evidence of civilization in the UK (long since evaporated, I know) and, indeed Europe, dates back 700,000 years. This early humanid is known affectionately as "LOWESTOFT MAN".

You see the cause of my concern.

So to summarize, man irrupted in Lowestoft, proceeded to inhabit the planet, killing it with the infection he inherently carried as he went.

If you've ever been to Lowestoft on a saturday night you'll understand... :P

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article764618.ece

David David David, GREAT YARMOUTH. And that, believe it or not, is more than a heavy enough burden.

Sorry Steve.

Confusion reigns in my shabby mind. It is as though they are twin towns, like those you see on council signs as you enter their jurisdiction. "Welcome to Lowestoft, twinned with Antwerp" -- except some joker has spray painted over the two letters "An" , added an "s" on the end of the sign.

:lol:

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Guest David Guyatt
Homo heidelbergensis, Homo antecessor, Homo sapiens etc. Why do scientists insultingly refer to us all as Homos? :lol:

It was always the "Homo Erectus" that got me. Well, not actually "got" me, if you see what I mean.... :P

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Guest Stephen Turner
Why did we suddenly appear, a mere 60.000 odd years ago (barely yesterday on the evolutionary timeline) and proceed to destroy the ecological harmony of the planet? Worth it's own thread, imo. The ultimate conspiracy theory.

Mark, I hesitate to mention this because Steve Turner hails from Lowestoft and that, alone, is more than enough of a burden to load on his shoulders.

But the earliest evidence of civilization in the UK (long since evaporated, I know) and, indeed Europe, dates back 700,000 years. This early humanid is known affectionately as "LOWESTOFT MAN".

You see the cause of my concern.

So to summarize, man irrupted in Lowestoft, proceeded to inhabit the planet, killing it with the infection he inherently carried as he went.

If you've ever been to Lowestoft on a saturday night you'll understand... :P

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article764618.ece

David David David, GREAT YARMOUTH. And that, believe it or not, is more than a heavy enough burden.

Sorry Steve.

Confusion reigns in my shabby mind. It is as though they are twin towns, like those you see on council signs as you enter their jurisdiction. "Welcome to Lowestoft, twinned with Antwerp" -- except some joker has spray painted over the two letters "An" , added an "s" on the end of the sign.

:lol:

I understand your confusion, as the hunter gatherer ethos contiunues apace in old Yarmouth Town. The hunting usually takes place on a Saturday night after ten pints of Pinktons old rot-gut, the gathering is usually performed in the local branch of Woolworths, or Palmers when shut.

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Why did we suddenly appear, a mere 60.000 odd years ago (barely yesterday on the evolutionary timeline) and proceed to destroy the ecological harmony of the planet? Worth it's own thread, imo. The ultimate conspiracy theory.

Mark, I hesitate to mention this because Steve Turner hails from Lowestoft and that, alone, is more than enough of a burden to load on his shoulders.

But the earliest evidence of civilization in the UK (long since evaporated, I know) and, indeed Europe, dates back 700,000 years. This early humanid is known affectionately as "LOWESTOFT MAN".

You see the cause of my concern.

So to summarize, man irrupted in Lowestoft, proceeded to inhabit the planet, killing it with the infection he inherently carried as he went.

If you've ever been to Lowestoft on a saturday night you'll understand... :blink:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article764618.ece

David David David, GREAT YARMOUTH. And that, believe it or not, is more than a heavy enough burden.

Looks like a typical night's work by some Jack Tars!

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Ever since the emergency of democracy there has been a strong attempt to introduce socialism. After all, any system based on equality is bound to be popular with the vast majority of the population who are forced to share a small proportion of the national wealth. However, this movement has been continuously undermined. At first, the ruling class kept the majority of people from voting. When that failed they concentrated on the distortion of the socialist message via the mass media. Combined with this was the corruption of leading members of the socialist movement. In the case of Blair and Brown, they were “turned” before they became leaders.

Despite this history I remain an optimist and still believe that sometime in the future I will see a socialist society in Britain. Any ideas on how this could be achieved?

John-

There is a difference between equality of opportunity and equality of results.

To the extent that the government reduces one person's ability to fail, it reduces another person's ability to succeed.

I was born in East St. Louis, Illinois (check it out on Wiki). We lived in an adjoining "smokestack" industrial town, where not only did we not have money, but there was no money to be had.

I am a graduate of a heavily integrated public high school and 3 state universities.

Along the way, I cut grass, cleaned tables, washed dishes, worked in factories, washed cars, worked in funeral homes (doing everything), and worked retail. I have been denied a job as a result of the color of my skin. These experiences have helped shape and mold me.

The opportunity to have a successful career doing good work for people who need legal assistance (in my case, as a tax lawyer) has driven me for the last 29 - 30 years, when I started law school.

I don't want the government deciding what I am worth and compensating me accordingly.

I respect people, like you, who think differently, but the above is my philosophy and my motivation.

It has been a lot of work and a lot of fun.

I regard myself as more blest than deserving, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to experience the journey, including the many lean times and the numerous menial low-paying jobs.

I continue to work long hours, because I like what I do for a living.

I don't want the government reducing my opportunity to succeed by taking even more of my earnings and redistributing them to someone who doesn't share my work ethic.

Taxation is nothing more than the governmental taking of the earnings of one person's efforts, at the threat of imprisonment, and spending and re-distributing such person's earnings as it sees fit.

I concur with the holding of the Supreme Court (I forget the decision, but it is quite old) that the power to tax is the power to destroy.

I think that the government should use it more sparingly.

I don't see how someone can argue that the goverment is overreaching in most matters (with which I certainly agree), while, at the same time, arguing that the government should take more money from its citizens on the threat of imprisonment.

Taxation is an onerous and omnipresent form of governmental intrusion.

It drains our national productivity.

It keeps our levels of living down much more than it enhances them.

If I wanted help with anything, the last party I would turn to would be the government.

I don't want to pretend to work, while the government pretends to pay me.

I want to have the ability to succeed or fail without any governmental "help".

How apt. That we are discussing a topic entitled "the Conspiracy Against Socialism" and we have a contribution posted by someone that epitomises the very essence of that ‘conspiracy’. The above post tells us everything about why socialism i.e., fairness equality and peace, is unlikely to succeed in our lifetime.

Why should we pay taxes? This seems to be the subtext of your contribution. Oh yes you add the caveat that ‘some’ tax must be paid but seem quite adamant it should be a rock bottom bare minimum.

Taxation is an onerous and omnipresent form of governmental intrusion. And

Taxation is nothing more than the governmental taking of the earnings of one person's efforts, at the threat of imprisonment, and spending and re-distributing such person's earnings as it sees fit.

Well, that IS the basic essence of a Parliamentary democracy is it not? You seem aghast that this state of affairs should be allowed. An elected government making decisions on the nation’s finances! Whatever next? That’s what we elect them to do!

But never mind that that "one person's efforts" has to be educated for at least 12 years; that that individual’s chance of survival has monumentally increased as a result of public sanitation works and a fully funded health service: that whatever may happen to such a successful person should they encounter unforeseen disasters (bankruptsy, Wall St Crash, Sub-Prime crash etc…) would still at least enjoy free healthcare and housing rights and a state pension, along with millions of low paid workers who could never afford a private one! All this is paid for by taxes.

I don't want the government reducing my opportunity to succeed by taking even more of my earnings and redistributing them to someone who doesn't share my work ethic.

Clearly the word “success” here DIRECTLY equates to “amount of money”! Personally I find that embarrassingly shallow. However, like others, I commend you for your achievements, I really do. I have immense respect for people who are driven, work hard, overcome all obstacles and achieve their goals.

But what a pity you have zero empathy with others who maybe don’t want a high-flying career, (who don't want to be middle class ‘professionals’, or earn their living by squeezing the pips out of folk needing legal assistance), or

who don’t want to set academia aflame and who don’t want to own more and more and more….

These people are commonly known as workers. And these are the people that DO everything in this world. They have absolutely no political representation despite many attempts over the years yet these are the people who lay those golden eggs everyday. The golden eggs all those smart Harvard and Eton boys trade, swap and gamble with everyday, on the floors of the stock markets around the world. Of course the workers only get paid the shell while those that scoop huge chunks out of the yolk whinge about the relatively small amount they have to give back in onerous taxes!

They earn a fraction of a lawyer’s wage but does that mean they don’t work as hard? Tell that to the fish-filleters I used to work with, who, in order to take home a half decent wage, would stand in the freezing cold for twelve hours a day until their hands were blue and crippled by the age of 50.

Maybe they should re-educate?

But fish will still need filleting! Buses and trains will still need driving; trash will still need to be removed; roofs will still need fixing; goods will still have to be transported… Someone has to do it! However much the carrot of re-education is dangled not EVERYONE can “succeed”.

And not everyone wants to.

So why should they be financially and politically disabled? Why shouldn’t they share in the enormous wealth that, in the main, they, and only they, themselves create through their mind-numbing and relentless toil?

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Guest David Guyatt
Ever since the emergency of democracy there has been a strong attempt to introduce socialism. After all, any system based on equality is bound to be popular with the vast majority of the population who are forced to share a small proportion of the national wealth. However, this movement has been continuously undermined. At first, the ruling class kept the majority of people from voting. When that failed they concentrated on the distortion of the socialist message via the mass media. Combined with this was the corruption of leading members of the socialist movement. In the case of Blair and Brown, they were “turned” before they became leaders.

Despite this history I remain an optimist and still believe that sometime in the future I will see a socialist society in Britain. Any ideas on how this could be achieved?

John-

There is a difference between equality of opportunity and equality of results.

To the extent that the government reduces one person's ability to fail, it reduces another person's ability to succeed.

I was born in East St. Louis, Illinois (check it out on Wiki). We lived in an adjoining "smokestack" industrial town, where not only did we not have money, but there was no money to be had.

I am a graduate of a heavily integrated public high school and 3 state universities.

Along the way, I cut grass, cleaned tables, washed dishes, worked in factories, washed cars, worked in funeral homes (doing everything), and worked retail. I have been denied a job as a result of the color of my skin. These experiences have helped shape and mold me.

The opportunity to have a successful career doing good work for people who need legal assistance (in my case, as a tax lawyer) has driven me for the last 29 - 30 years, when I started law school.

I don't want the government deciding what I am worth and compensating me accordingly.

I respect people, like you, who think differently, but the above is my philosophy and my motivation.

It has been a lot of work and a lot of fun.

I regard myself as more blest than deserving, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to experience the journey, including the many lean times and the numerous menial low-paying jobs.

I continue to work long hours, because I like what I do for a living.

I don't want the government reducing my opportunity to succeed by taking even more of my earnings and redistributing them to someone who doesn't share my work ethic.

Taxation is nothing more than the governmental taking of the earnings of one person's efforts, at the threat of imprisonment, and spending and re-distributing such person's earnings as it sees fit.

I concur with the holding of the Supreme Court (I forget the decision, but it is quite old) that the power to tax is the power to destroy.

I think that the government should use it more sparingly.

I don't see how someone can argue that the goverment is overreaching in most matters (with which I certainly agree), while, at the same time, arguing that the government should take more money from its citizens on the threat of imprisonment.

Taxation is an onerous and omnipresent form of governmental intrusion.

It drains our national productivity.

It keeps our levels of living down much more than it enhances them.

If I wanted help with anything, the last party I would turn to would be the government.

I don't want to pretend to work, while the government pretends to pay me.

I want to have the ability to succeed or fail without any governmental "help".

How apt. That we are discussing a topic entitled "the Conspiracy Against Socialism" and we have a contribution posted by someone that epitomises the very essence of that ‘conspiracy’. The above post tells us everything about why socialism i.e., fairness equality and peace, is unlikely to succeed in our lifetime.

Why should we pay taxes? This seems to be the subtext of your contribution. Oh yes you add the caveat that ‘some’ tax must be paid but seem quite adamant it should be a rock bottom bare minimum.

Taxation is an onerous and omnipresent form of governmental intrusion. And

Taxation is nothing more than the governmental taking of the earnings of one person's efforts, at the threat of imprisonment, and spending and re-distributing such person's earnings as it sees fit.

Well, that IS the basic essence of a Parliamentary democracy is it not? You seem aghast that this state of affairs should be allowed. An elected government making decisions on the nation’s finances! Whatever next? That’s what we elect them to do!

But never mind that that "one person's efforts" has to be educated for at least 12 years; that that individual’s chance of survival has monumentally increased as a result of public sanitation works and a fully funded health service: that whatever may happen to such a successful person should they encounter unforeseen disasters (bankruptsy, Wall St Crash, Sub-Prime crash etc…) would still at least enjoy free healthcare and housing rights and a state pension, along with millions of low paid workers who could never afford a private one! All this is paid for by taxes.

I don't want the government reducing my opportunity to succeed by taking even more of my earnings and redistributing them to someone who doesn't share my work ethic.

Clearly the word “success” here DIRECTLY equates to “amount of money”! Personally I find that embarrassingly shallow. However, like others, I commend you for your achievements, I really do. I have immense respect for people who are driven, work hard, overcome all obstacles and achieve their goals.

But what a pity you have zero empathy with others who maybe don’t want a high-flying career, (who don't want to be middle class ‘professionals’, or earn their living by squeezing the pips out of folk needing legal assistance), or

who don’t want to set academia aflame and who don’t want to own more and more and more….

These people are commonly known as workers. And these are the people that DO everything in this world. They have absolutely no political representation despite many attempts over the years yet these are the people who lay those golden eggs everyday. The golden eggs all those smart Harvard and Eton boys trade, swap and gamble with everyday, on the floors of the stock markets around the world. Of course the workers only get paid the shell while those that scoop huge chunks out of the yolk whinge about the relatively small amount they have to give back in onerous taxes!

They earn a fraction of a lawyer’s wage but does that mean they don’t work as hard? Tell that to the fish-filleters I used to work with, who, in order to take home a half decent wage, would stand in the freezing cold for twelve hours a day until their hands were blue and crippled by the age of 50.

Maybe they should re-educate?

But fish will still need filleting! Buses and trains will still need driving; trash will still need to be removed; roofs will still need fixing; goods will still have to be transported… Someone has to do it! However much the carrot of re-education is dangled not EVERYONE can “succeed”.

And not everyone wants to.

So why should they be financially and politically disabled? Why shouldn’t they share in the enormous wealth that, in the main, they, and only they, themselves create through their mind-numbing and relentless toil?

Taxation is an interesting subject and one that receives less attention than it perhaps should. I have no objection to taxation providing I have some control over how the national purse is distribued - i.e., fairly and equally. But I don't. It is spent corruptly by the corrupt in support of the corrupt dogma of selfish madness we call capitalism.

The history of taxation as published by HM Revenue (which I hardly think is a full and complete history) says that taxation was introduced in 1799 to pay for the war against Napoleon. Prior to this the King and various regional lords/barons merely took what they wanted when they wanted it, by force of arms. Leastways, that's what I gather from watching Robin Hood movies.

Frankly, I see very little real difference today than back in the bad old days of kings and barons - albeit the system is carefully "spun" to appear democratic. That way it saves open rebellion in the ranks.

In fact, the introduction of virtually every system of taxation in ancient times (Egypt, Greece, Rome etc) was to pay for warfare and/or the military -- plus the odd pyramid or two, I imagine. Thereafter, it became a means of financing royalty in their various personal extravagances, until democracy arrived to save us from royal greed by replacing it with common greed. Today, I would argue that common greed has given way to corporate greed.

But the bottom line has barely changed over the centuries. You pay it, they spend it.

And you still have no control over how the spend it, either.

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David, you shouldn't believe what those Inland Revenue people say. The answer to most of these questions is Essex, in this case Maldon, Essex. In 991 the Vikings defeated the Saxon army at Maldon, and as a result the English government, very wisely in my opinion, decided to pay the clearly militarily superior vikings off with taxpayers' money.

Trying to settle the debate on human origins, again Essex is the answer. I was conscious that my own knowledge of 'Clacton Man' is based on visits I made years ago to the Natural History Museum. So I looked up 'Clacton Man' in Google, only to discover he's been charged with attempted murder. However, the fact that it was reported as only 'attempted' highlights one important problem - humanity's bumbling inefficiency. This doesn't bode well for introducing socialism and curbing population and consumption all at the same time.

I think most of the problems and solutions have already been aired. But here are a few more. Viewing the issues from a historical perspective it would seem that the original Clacton man would have used his wooden spear in co-operation with others, and that community was then fundamental to human life. This eon-long social experience would suggest that we are social animals, not individuals, possessive or otherwise, and we are actually kidding ourselves if we think otherwise.

The Industrial Revolution has fragmented and distorted not just communities but the whole idea of community. Village life, which to some extent continued the prehistoric human experience of sharing with a hundred or so other people, is rapidly disappearing on a global scale, to be replaced by megacities and global mobility. Modern consumerism, fed by advertising, distorts our lives. (Shortly after ending my brief career as a copywriter I saw my first 'My Little Pony' commercial, and my heart sank, rightly as it turned out.)

Our world, quite apart from plundering world resources, fragments humanity. The modern popularity of researching our family trees highlights, in my view, a massive tragedy of the Industrial Revolution, that millions of families broke up and lost touch with each other. A missionary friend I know who devised the orthography for a small Kenyan language, had difficulty establishing his credibility with the tribe concerned because he didn't know the name of one of his maternal great grandmothers. In fact Kenya is a good example of people generally in black Africa who, after four hundred years of being on the receiving end of industrialisation and zero population growth, cannot see any good reason to limit their families, with increasingly disastrous results.

For the benefit of some American sensibilities, I would prefer to redefine socialism as the strengthening or re-introduction of community. The rising price of fuel may eventually bring this about, even in the U.S.A. I also think it may be helpful to regard democracy as something which flows from socialism and community, not the other way round.

Various factors in reorganising humanity within a short timescale are 'given', including in my opinion the non-appearance of the world-wide socialist revolution which Marx saw as inevitable. We missed the 1914 and the 1918 bus, and I don't see another one coming along soon. A dictatorship of the proletariat would speed things up, but they mostly seem to follow the example of the French Revolution and producing one military-backed dictator. One of the tragic episodes in recent African History was the attempt in Ethiopia to work out that particular dream, with all the trappings and mechanisms of European Marxist-Leninism and Maoism. On the bright side we do have socialists, socialist parties, and one or two remarkably successful socialist governments, which is important, among other reasons, because they have a lot of mistakes to learn from, which will be particularly useful for the next few generations who will have, I should have thought, to adapt to a degree of privation and regimentation. The marxist approach to history remains, in my view, the simplest way to understand the past and to some extent to predict the future.

Another given are national governments. These, and the nationalism that feeds them, need to wither away as quickly as possible. The world is too small to cope with them any more. There are encouraging signs that the United Kingdom, one of the leading military powers in the world, is breaking up. I would respectfully suggest to any German readers that you were better off with the 2000 or so governments you had in the 18th Century than the single governments you had in the 20th Century, Weimar excepted. It is remarkable how the relative sizes of the populations of Britain and Germany have reversed since 1914, the result of two 'successful' or 'unsuccessful' wars, whichever way you wish to look at it.

The institutions of the global community need massive strengthening. In Europe we are only just beginning to appreciate the advantages of federalism which the U.S.A. discovered in 1789. Probably the most important leap of imagination needed in the U.S.A. is the thought that federalism needs to be applied on a global scale: it always strikes me as odd when American education acknowledges the subject of world history when many other countries don't.

With regard to military establishments, we need to have a rapid race to demilitarise, in order to bring about greater world security. This has to happen at a personal, as well as a national level. Brought up in a household where the Spitfire was regarded as man's greatest invention, I appreciate the difficulties. I also appreciate that George lll left Americans with an awful legacy in this regard. My brother, a particular fan of the Spitfire nevertheless fairly recently wrote to his son who now lives in Florida, urging him not to buy a 45 pistol: 'I cannot conceive of any circumstances where I would want to blow someone's head off'. My nephew's wife, an American brought up in a different tradition, evidently could, and in the end won the argument.

One of the most intractable problems that some see, and one likely to be with us during a period of rapid social change, is religion. It is as likely to cause global conflicts as the national interests mentioned above. Socialists have, historically, good reason to see organised religion as a barrier to progress. This is an area where we all have to learn tolerance. A recent example in Britain was a speech given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to a group of lawyers. He chose to speak to them on the subject of Sharia law, and to talk about what he had said on Radio 4, a fairly serious radio station. He made the suggestion that English law needed to make some sort of accommodation with Sharia law. I have since found out from a human rights lawyer that Sharia law is very much a fact of life. This apparently was something apparently unknown to the entire media, who proceeded to attack the archbishop for wanting to chop people's hands off, for wanting to give the Muslim community a privileged position, for being totally naive about how people would react, and (in the most intelligent newspaper) being vague, imprecise, and scholarly - the later one of the worst crimes that can be committed in public debate in Britain. Democracy emerged in Britain directly from religious conflict in the early 17th Century: it seems we, and most countries in the world, have to learn tolerance, and its implications, all over again, and quick: early moslem Spain and the early Ottoman Empire provide good examples.

At this point I find myself defending organised religion as one of the possible engines of rapid change and not - as it is sometimes seen - part of the problem. As a Lay Reader in the Church of England I would say organised religion would be a very good idea. In the countryside, churches, especially my denomination, tend to be very disorganised and up till now resistant to change. But in cities and towns Christian churches, particularly the new churches, are becoming organised as far as I can see in a good way - and putting into practice ideals of community which somehow got forgotten. Changing to a sustainable lifestyle is very much part of this agenda.

Another religious factor relevant to this discussion is that of hope. The Church has often had very different ideas about what the Christian hope was, and took over a thousand years to take on board Aristotelian ideas about politics being a good thing. The Church was not very positive towards politics, and in some ways towards life on this planet generally, and I'll leave to others to spell out how they nevertheless accommodated themselves to the powers-that-be. The Christian hope was widely seen as 'up there' in heaven. Significantly it's only in very recent years that 'Christian Aid', the joint church charities organisation, has come up with the slogan 'We believe in life before death.'

In the USA, and to a lesser extent in the UK, there is a belief that the Bible, particularly in the book of Revelation in the New Testament, and the book of Daniel in the Old - sorry, this is important, because it affects the way people behave now - sets out a clear narrative of the 'End Times', and that the 'End Times' are about to happen now - really this time, a bit like global warming! Having this belief, even at the back of the mind, raises the question why bother to save the planet if God is going to wrap it up soon anyway? (Someone actually asked me this question yesterday.)

The first answer to this, but one which not all Christians, especially in the USA, would agree with, is that the New Testament never sets out a timescale on these matters, and Jesus Christ specifically ruled out any idea of a timescale.

The second answer is a new one on me, and may be to others. In his book 'Surprised by Hope' SPCK 2007 the Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, looks at the question of the End Times in terms of what the Christian Scriptures actually said, and what the early Christians believed they said. They believed without any reservation in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, they believed in their own transformation in this life and their eventual physical resurrection; they believed also that heaven would one day come down to earth, and God would restore the earth (a very different scenario from destroying it.) He says the view of the End-Times popularised by 'Taken' is therefore unbiblical in the sense that it is quite clearly not what the early Christians believed .

There is one final area where the Christian religion, organised or not, is beginning to contribute to the solution. The Bible Society in London has just published a version of the Bible with the more obvious social, economic and 'justice' passages highlighted. It becomes obvious, if it wasn't already, that social equality is at the heart of its message. It consistently condemns those who would appropriate more than their fair share (e.g. what they reasonably need) of the planet's resources. Far from being the invention of Liberation Theology marxists in South America, this is increasingly becoming mainstream Christianity.

Edited by Norman Pratt
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Taxation is an interesting subject and one that receives less attention than it perhaps should. I have no objection to taxation providing I have some control over how the national purse is distribued - i.e., fairly and equally. But I don't. It is spent corruptly by the corrupt in support of the corrupt dogma of selfish madness we call capitalism.

The history of taxation as published by HM Revenue (which I hardly think is a full and complete history) says that taxation was introduced in 1799 to pay for the war against Napoleon. Prior to this the King and various regional lords/barons merely took what they wanted when they wanted it, by force of arms. Leastways, that's what I gather from watching Robin Hood movies.

Frankly, I see very little real difference today than back in the bad old days of kings and barons - albeit the system is carefully "spun" to appear democratic. That way it saves open rebellion in the ranks.

In fact, the introduction of virtually every system of taxation in ancient times (Egypt, Greece, Rome etc) was to pay for warfare and/or the military -- plus the odd pyramid or two, I imagine. Thereafter, it became a means of financing royalty in their various personal extravagances, until democracy arrived to save us from royal greed by replacing it with common greed. Today, I would argue that common greed has given way to corporate greed.

But the bottom line has barely changed over the centuries. You pay it, they spend it.

And you still have no control over how the spend it, either.

Taxation is an interesting subject and one that receives less attention than it perhaps should. I have no objection to taxation providing I have some control over how the national purse is distribued - i.e., fairly and equally. But I don't. It is spent corruptly by the corrupt in support of the corrupt dogma of selfish madness we call capitalism.

And isn't this the nub of the whole thing David? That we have no control over how it is spent - despite us living in a democracy! To me this is an acceptance by us all that whoever we vote for they will always promote the same agenda as every previous government. And if that means war taxes or taxes to pay huge subsidies for the recently privatised utility industries, or taxes to bail out greedy bankers then so be it: there's not a jot we can do about it.

With a couple of exceptions most people posting on this topic are broadly in favour of some radical power shift that both neuters the dominance of capital and gives further empowerment to the millions. The one question on this thread that hasn't been posed, surprisingly, is HOW do we achieve it?

Who has the power to stand up to this powerful elite? What group of individuals within a society have enough authority or credibility to effect such a momentous change? What happens when all those that drive the buses, produce the food, make the car wheels, fix the roads, drive the ambulances, nurse the sick...what happens when they, as one, withdraw their co-operation and make demands with one united voice?

Let us digress and take a peek at the recent breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1990. Where was the KGB? Where were the huge army and the police? Where were military intelligence and the Interior Ministry? Where were the 15 million Communist Party members while their system was being systematically torn asunder? Where were they all? How come these hugely powerful and chronically influential forces, when they were so desperately needed, couldn’t even raise their heads above the parapet?

They were reduced to mere onlookers as millions of workers with one idea in their heads resolutely smashed apart the so called ‘Communist’ system. This proves one thing: that when a political idea takes root it can spread like an unstoppable bush fire until it reaches such critical mass where upon it transforms into a reality. In this case the ending of totalitarianism.

Too bad that that immense power, courage and resolve only had the limited brief of ending a system as oppose to creating a much better one. And too bad that now free market economics runs riot in Eastern Europe life expectancy has plummeted, poverty is endemic and ruthless criminals pose as respectable business men, some becoming multi-billionaires in less than a decade! (No doubt they must have worked hard!).

But hey, half a billion people that didn’t use to drink Coca Cola now do! So all’s well that ends well! Isn’t that the nub of the West’s REAL hostility to the old Soviet regimes? After all, business is business. Half a billion new customers just sitting there: not to mention all the natural resources up for grabs. So make the sheeple think we have to oppose this because it's inhumane and "against human rights" (which it was) whilst really wondering how much richer they will become when it collapses.

Look, our media, politicians and ambassadors have no qualms about propping up ruthless gangsters in Africa or South America or anywhere else; as long as they are allowed to do good business in these places who cares what they do. We supported Sadam in the 80’s: we’re not saying he just ‘changed’ in the 90’s are we? Wasn’t he always a ruthless dictator? Only when he became an impediment to business and political stability (and therefore economic stability) in the region did he have to go. Then piously the West could pose as ‘liberators’ liberating a country from a dictatorship they themselves created!

My small prediction for what it’s worth? We are moving into a dangerous period of sudden changes and sharp turns; there will be events events events and they will come at frightening speed. There will be a profound radicalisation among the youth in particular who will grope for ideas and ways in which to transform the world into a better place. On the other hand we could be witnessing the fag end of humanity, as competition implodes in on itself and with no organised, united resistance we drift into a series of major world wars culminating in the annihilation of every living thing…And here’s Tom with the weather….

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Ever since the emergency of democracy there has been a strong attempt to introduce socialism. After all, any system based on equality is bound to be popular with the vast majority of the population who are forced to share a small proportion of the national wealth. However, this movement has been continuously undermined. At first, the ruling class kept the majority of people from voting. When that failed they concentrated on the distortion of the socialist message via the mass media. Combined with this was the corruption of leading members of the socialist movement. In the case of Blair and Brown, they were “turned” before they became leaders.

Despite this history I remain an optimist and still believe that sometime in the future I will see a socialist society in Britain. Any ideas on how this could be achieved?

John-

There is a difference between equality of opportunity and equality of results.

To the extent that the government reduces one person's ability to fail, it reduces another person's ability to succeed.

I was born in East St. Louis, Illinois (check it out on Wiki). We lived in an adjoining "smokestack" industrial town, where not only did we not have money, but there was no money to be had.

I am a graduate of a heavily integrated public high school and 3 state universities.

Along the way, I cut grass, cleaned tables, washed dishes, worked in factories, washed cars, worked in funeral homes (doing everything), and worked retail. I have been denied a job as a result of the color of my skin. These experiences have helped shape and mold me.

The opportunity to have a successful career doing good work for people who need legal assistance (in my case, as a tax lawyer) has driven me for the last 29 - 30 years, when I started law school.

I don't want the government deciding what I am worth and compensating me accordingly.

I respect people, like you, who think differently, but the above is my philosophy and my motivation.

It has been a lot of work and a lot of fun.

I regard myself as more blest than deserving, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to experience the journey, including the many lean times and the numerous menial low-paying jobs.

I continue to work long hours, because I like what I do for a living.

I don't want the government reducing my opportunity to succeed by taking even more of my earnings and redistributing them to someone who doesn't share my work ethic.

Taxation is nothing more than the governmental taking of the earnings of one person's efforts, at the threat of imprisonment, and spending and re-distributing such person's earnings as it sees fit.

I concur with the holding of the Supreme Court (I forget the decision, but it is quite old) that the power to tax is the power to destroy.

I think that the government should use it more sparingly.

I don't see how someone can argue that the goverment is overreaching in most matters (with which I certainly agree), while, at the same time, arguing that the government should take more money from its citizens on the threat of imprisonment.

Taxation is an onerous and omnipresent form of governmental intrusion.

It drains our national productivity.

It keeps our levels of living down much more than it enhances them.

If I wanted help with anything, the last party I would turn to would be the government.

I don't want to pretend to work, while the government pretends to pay me.

I want to have the ability to succeed or fail without any governmental "help".

How apt. That we are discussing a topic entitled "the Conspiracy Against Socialism" and we have a contribution posted by someone that epitomises the very essence of that ‘conspiracy’. The above post tells us everything about why socialism i.e., fairness equality and peace, is unlikely to succeed in our lifetime.

Why should we pay taxes? This seems to be the subtext of your contribution. Oh yes you add the caveat that ‘some’ tax must be paid but seem quite adamant it should be a rock bottom bare minimum.

Taxation is an onerous and omnipresent form of governmental intrusion. And

Taxation is nothing more than the governmental taking of the earnings of one person's efforts, at the threat of imprisonment, and spending and re-distributing such person's earnings as it sees fit.

Well, that IS the basic essence of a Parliamentary democracy is it not? You seem aghast that this state of affairs should be allowed. An elected government making decisions on the nation’s finances! Whatever next? That’s what we elect them to do!

But never mind that that "one person's efforts" has to be educated for at least 12 years; that that individual’s chance of survival has monumentally increased as a result of public sanitation works and a fully funded health service: that whatever may happen to such a successful person should they encounter unforeseen disasters (bankruptsy, Wall St Crash, Sub-Prime crash etc…) would still at least enjoy free healthcare and housing rights and a state pension, along with millions of low paid workers who could never afford a private one! All this is paid for by taxes.

I don't want the government reducing my opportunity to succeed by taking even more of my earnings and redistributing them to someone who doesn't share my work ethic.

Clearly the word “success” here DIRECTLY equates to “amount of money”! Personally I find that embarrassingly shallow. However, like others, I commend you for your achievements, I really do. I have immense respect for people who are driven, work hard, overcome all obstacles and achieve their goals.

But what a pity you have zero empathy with others who maybe don’t want a high-flying career, (who don't want to be middle class ‘professionals’, or earn their living by squeezing the pips out of folk needing legal assistance), or

who don’t want to set academia aflame and who don’t want to own more and more and more….

These people are commonly known as workers. And these are the people that DO everything in this world. They have absolutely no political representation despite many attempts over the years yet these are the people who lay those golden eggs everyday. The golden eggs all those smart Harvard and Eton boys trade, swap and gamble with everyday, on the floors of the stock markets around the world. Of course the workers only get paid the shell while those that scoop huge chunks out of the yolk whinge about the relatively small amount they have to give back in onerous taxes!

They earn a fraction of a lawyer’s wage but does that mean they don’t work as hard? Tell that to the fish-filleters I used to work with, who, in order to take home a half decent wage, would stand in the freezing cold for twelve hours a day until their hands were blue and crippled by the age of 50.

Maybe they should re-educate?

But fish will still need filleting! Buses and trains will still need driving; trash will still need to be removed; roofs will still need fixing; goods will still have to be transported… Someone has to do it! However much the carrot of re-education is dangled not EVERYONE can “succeed”.

And not everyone wants to.

So why should they be financially and politically disabled? Why shouldn’t they share in the enormous wealth that, in the main, they, and only they, themselves create through their mind-numbing and relentless toil?

This is all spoken like a true serf, Bernie.

Like I said in my post, I believe in equality of opportunity, not equality of results.

I certainly don't begrudge anyone who has worked harder or been more successful than myself, nor do I want any of their money.

You apparently do.

You tell me I am a part of a conspiracy, that I have no empathy for others, that I am embarassingly shallow, etc.

You imply that I am greedy and you have the audacity to lecture me about manual labor.

You don't even know me, and I will not respond to you further.

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This is all spoken like a true serf, Bernie.

Like I said in my post, I believe in equality of opportunity, not equality of results.

I certainly don't begrudge anyone who has worked harder or been more successful than myself, nor do I want any of their money.

You apparently do.

You tell me I am a part of a conspiracy, that I have no empathy for others, that I am embarassingly shallow, etc.

You imply that I am greedy and you have the audacity to lecture me about manual labor.

You don't even know me, and I will not respond to you further.

This is all spoken like a true serf, Bernie.

Thanks for that...

Like I said in my post, I believe in equality of opportunity, not equality of results.

Even though those end results can always BUY opportunity like private education and much more. Your logic is riddled with contradictions.

I certainly don't begrudge anyone who has worked harder or been more successful than myself, nor do I want any of their money. You apparently do

And this noble stand is in response to this?

Bernie Laverick: "I commend you for your achievements, I really do. I have immense respect for people who are driven, work hard, overcome all obstacles and achieve their goals".

Once again you mistakenly equate success with money, and yes Chris, trust me, that really is shallow. And no I don't believe YOU are a part of any conspiracy...I believe that IT is a part of you! The 'dangling carrot conspiracy' for want of a better phrase, the need to get on, to "succeed" and to earn as much as possible and pay as little back in taxes. I don't think that is an unfair assessment Chris. It may be an unflattering one and this is why you have concluded not to respond further. Fair do's...we'll never agree on anything.

But I just wanted to clarify and underline that my political beliefs, despite your cheap implications, are not based on jealousy or envy: I guess for some folk, believing that there should be more equality, less poverty, more democracy etc can only possibly be as a result of envy. I mean, why would anyone REALLY think about others? Nope it must be the envy!

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Guest David Guyatt

Hello Norman. I think you're confusing me with someone else - if you think I believe anything the taxman says. Come to that I am pretty much that way with any government department.

This would also extend to anything involving a "dictatorship of the proletariat" to "speed things along" Dictatorship either from the left or the right would have me grabbing my pitchfork, ting bale-twine around my trousers at knee-leve to keep the ferrets out - and heading for London, or Clacton, or Maldon, and burying that pitchfork in said dictator's forehead.

But them I'm just a poor country boy at heart.

While I agree that humans are social animals, and that a socially responsible form of government is a thing to be admired (as dreams go anyway), this doesn't extend, in my opinion, to all things social. The Collective has many drawbacks also. But that is another argument for another day, I think.

As a former owner of a .45 automatic pistol, I can think of many heads that would be improved by airing them a wee bit... :-) I suppose in this day and age I should explicitly state this to be an expression of my humour, or face an armed assault by members of SO-19 clad in their fetching Darth-Vadar-cum-SS Hugo Boss-Stormtrooper apparel.

Take care, Norman

***

Hi Bernie.

I have a sneaking suspicion that if you look very closely at the collapse of the Soviet Union many things will fall into place. I suspect you'll find some of the missing KGB were otherwise occupied counting the money they had been paid to be missing. The rest were flying to Zurich and London to make sure that al the gold that went missing from the Russian central bank was properly laundered and deposited into the accounts of their choice.

The run-up to the collapse of the Soviet Union was a carefully orchestrated US led western covert operation aimed at financially crippling and plundering the Soviet Union. All it needed was for a stooge to take control from Gorbachev and, blimey, one arrived as per the script -- a vodka swallowing drunkard and court clown by the name of Yeltsin.

Rejoice! Said Mrs. Thatchler. And the Red Mafiya certainly did that alright, nicking everything that moved and chain-sawing down everything that didn't. Then the western banks moved in and farewell the Russian people who were left to be shamefully abused to the point that many of them would've preferred a return to communism -- because at least they ate cheaply and daily even if they couldn't express themselves freely.

As strange as it may sound, large numbers of Russians were drinking Coca Cola decades before Yeltsin got his hands on the Russian treasury (you ought to have seen some of the things he was selling off -- incredibly corrupt). If memory serves, it was back in the early-middle Seventies.

You might be interested in reading Levinson's book "Vodka Cola". It was truly eye-opening for its day.

Well before the dogma warriors of the White House and Downing Street pressed the button on their Italian flick-knives (I used to own one of them thar things, too -- what a hooligan I must've been, eh), the business elite were cutting deals all the time. As far back as the middle Fifties to be accurate. An entire banking sector, the A' Forfait market (Forfaiting), grew out of this ever so, ever so quiet trade with the Comecon countries. East Germany especially was favoured.

Politics is never allowed to interfere with profit.

As naive as I sometimes am, I have a conspiracy theory why Saddam suddenly became persona non grata at the White House. Money. Were you aware that even while Allied aircraft were softening up Iraq in the "air war" of Gulf War 1, the CIA were negotiating with some of Saddam's boys to sell him shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles? In London, Mrs. Thatchler signed off on 40 train wagon loads of war material -- part of the fig-leaf deal known as the "Jordan package" - that were destined for Mr. Hussein. That was 40 wagon-loads of 155m sabot discarding artillery shells along with a consignment of wire-guided anti-tank missiles. Reluctantly, the old witch of Downing Street was ultimately convinced, at the last moment, to hold back on the missiles. The shells were shipped aboard the MV Tara. Just the thing to welcome the boys from the 1st Armoured Division at the rolled across the Iraqi border at Wadi True Greed and Wadi Smirkalot.

I still have a bullion certificate with a value of around $5 billion (as I recall) in the name of one Saddam Husein and allegedly signed by President Poppy Bush's best Texan fixer, Jim Baker, Sec. State. There's a very interesting story about that certificate, which the FBI and US government later claimed was fake. "Farm credits" come to mind (a euphemism for weapons financing).

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One of the most intractable problems that some see, and one likely to be with us during a period of rapid social change, is religion. It is as likely to cause global conflicts as the national interests mentioned above. Socialists have, historically, good reason to see organised religion as a barrier to progress. This is an area where we all have to learn tolerance. A recent example in Britain was a speech given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to a group of lawyers. He chose to speak to them on the subject of Sharia law, and to talk about what he had said on Radio 4, a fairly serious radio station. He made the suggestion that English law needed to make some sort of accommodation with Sharia law. I have since found out from a human rights lawyer that Sharia law is very much a fact of life. This apparently was something apparently unknown to the entire media, who proceeded to attack the archbishop for wanting to chop people's hands off, for wanting to give the Muslim community a privileged position, for being totally naive about how people would react, and (in the most intelligent newspaper) being vague, imprecise, and scholarly - the later one of the worst crimes that can be committed in public debate in Britain. Democracy emerged in Britain directly from religious conflict in the early 17th Century: it seems we, and most countries in the world, have to learn tolerance, and its implications, all over again, and quick: early moslem Spain and the early Ottoman Empire provide good examples.

At this point I find myself defending organised religion as one of the possible engines of rapid change and not - as it is sometimes seen - part of the problem. As a Lay Reader in the Church of England I would say organised religion would be a very good idea. In the countryside, churches, especially my denomination, tend to be very disorganised and up till now resistant to change. But in cities and towns Christian churches, particularly the new churches, are becoming organised as far as I can see in a good way - and putting into practice ideals of community which somehow got forgotten. Changing to a sustainable lifestyle is very much part of this agenda.

I am personally an atheist but like you I agree that the church could be a vehicle for socialism. I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said that Jesus Christ was the first socialist. In the UK church leaders are consistently to the left of the Labour government and during the 1980s Thatcher accused the more vocal religious leaders as being Marxists.

Blair had to wait until he left office before he claimed he was a Roman Catholic because if he had done it before it would have pointed out that his policies such as the invasion of Iraq was in variance with that of the pope.

It is also true that the church has played an important role in the resistance to right-wing military dictatorship in Africa and South America. However, other elements of the church have played an important role in the suppression of women. That is the problem: all Christians interpret the Bible in the way that they want to. As a result, right-wing politicians in America have had little difficulty in finding support from religious leaders for their policies. In the past religious leaders have supported Jim Crow laws, the Ku Klux Klan, tax policies that favour the wealthy, invasions of other countries, the use of blanket bombing of civilians, etc.

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