A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 23

27th November 2020

I’ve decided to give up on the architecture forums I have spent literally 20 years lurking on. A couple of weeks ago someone posted on there about how giving up on Facebook was one of the best things he’d ever done for peace of mind and getting on with life. This coincided with an article, perhaps algorithmically sent my way, about how a new study revealed the same predication among Facebook users having a negative mood for their day after using it. I barely use social media anymore, but on dallying back again on FB have realised how much of a political debate everything is these days, beneath the blizzards of likes and pictures of babies and kittens, and glasses of wine by the sea. Statement after statement.

I realise this is the same addiction I get on the forums. That although the intent is well, architecture, one gets waylaid by what everyone else fucking thinks all the time and chirps to all and sundry to what they think everyone should think all the time. Everything is Twitter these days.

I first got onto the ‘architecture’ forums after being entranced about skyscrapers and buildings at a young age. Here finally I could get updates on the latest going up, big sidelines in all other types of new building, threads on classic styles and increasingly urban planning, cities, history, and humanity at large, from photos of people’s trips around the world to -of course -current events and political discourse. By 2008 one of these forums -back when strangers chatting was a big thing -became the largest in the world. All this also coincided with the rise of China, aka The Great Motherfuckerland, which sent me into frissons of delight at everything being built, but also apoplectic with the usual trolls, racism, underlying bias -a neverending battle in which I’ve spent a good chunk of my life working for free as a teacher/ journo/ hack writing online posts that are very much like articles. Such a fucking waste.

One such thread came up yesterday that’s sealed the deal. A retrospective look on if having been on the site has changed our outlook on any countries. Many mentioned their experiences on cutting fresh eyes through the usual BS media tropes, but others on how their experiences actually marred their outlook on certain countries, after running into obnoxious forumers.

There are the good and bad. I think we all know in our heart of hearts that you get nice people and nasty people in every culture, not to mention all the usual gamut of personality types. We only need to remember any of our school days, and the personalities, tribes, cliques and loners that inhabited them, then transpose that state to any schoolyard anywhere, everywhere. It’s just quite astounding that so many people don’t admit it to themselves, that the media keeps categorising and portraying peoples as one and the same while we lap it up -and with some still striving to reinforce the status quo. It’s weird we trust media interpretations more than our real life experiences.

Let me titillate you on the exotic, rare flowers I have encountered over the years. In Attenborough’s dulcit tones, just imagine these as the be all and end all of your classroom:

A: A self-confessed Brazilian sociopath living in the Netherlands, who is a university lecturer (pity those students), turning up at every disaster story to blame the country it befell. His pathological urge in life being to rid the world of all dangerous animals, of anything that can conceivably harm humans, with the rest living in zoos and farms. The Amazon needs to go too, for better land usage.

B: A lovely, sweet gentle Spanish guy who loves SE Asia. He also loves SE Asian girls -as in children. He includes shots of charming holidays in his hotel room with an assembled collection of local Cambodian 12 year olds, and comments in how he’s helping out the Khmer ‘dark one’ as they’re not considered pretty. Yes, he’s paying them for sex, and showing off he can.

C: A White supremacist from Finland, very nerdy, things changed after he went to SE Asia, picked up a girlfriend willing to see through his bullshit/ stupid enough to take him on, and left the forums with lingering shots of him with a whole woman on jungle piers in Thailand. Likely murdered her, or her him.

D: A breath of fresh air, an Australian ecologist defending everyone from the usual trolls with calm, empirical evidence and high EQ. Much of her days are spent out in the Australian bush, rescuing cute things and plants and doing a lot of science. Very anti-China, but canyer blame her?

E: Brazilian gay Stormfront member, very likely on the spectrum and undiagnosed. Wanted to travel but refused to set foot in a list of northern states in his own country due to a certain ratio of the Black population. Spent years dodging bans by politely arguing for endless pages in an underhand manner, changing the goalposts whenever anyone called him out on his racism. Final straw came after the Airmax crashes (where Boeing’s typos would send the aircraft into a nosedive whenever anyone tried to correct it). He spent weeks trying to convince everyone the planes had obviously gone down due to pilot error, the irrefutable logic being the pilots were dark skinned, the airlines were run by uncivilised darkies (just look at their history) and Boeing was from a White American, First World country with flushing toilets and everything. Admitted to doing a hit and run in his Mercedes -running because the woman on her bike he hit was Black and he would have been in danger.

F: Swedish scientist with a contrary view on everything ever, piping up with scientific data to obfuscate his every claim and sweeping statement. Will heckle from the sides constantly anything beautiful or proud, will plant his views in the middle of anything that is slightly weak. Now recently married to a Chinese woman that gives him carte blanche -excuse the pun -to be racist to Chinese, and criticise how backwards we all are. Runs Youtube channels on his travels, and judges cultures on how much litter he can spot, however tiny. Admits people don’t much like him in real life; likely spent school getting punched in the face.

G: Another breath of fresh air, Brit who takes everything with a sensible outlook, high EQ, and lots of humour, including on how fat and nerdy he looks, and how twee his hometown of Fungus-on-Neath is. How bo-ring! But my hero on certain dark nights.

H: Ugandan American, Muslim SJW constantly making enemies by having the gall to defend the Third World, and every stereotype thrown their way. Never backs down, fiercely intelligent and wise despite his youth, all with a certain calm. Yet works in finance with fast cars and faster women, before he remembers to be all inclusive.

I: Dubayan dude, stupidly rich, well travelled and sweet (lots of pics of his new family) and the most polite, big-hearted forumer going, despite enduring years of abuse for being Muslim and living in the UAE, thus with a shariah knife over his head, hating women, tacky tastes and a terrorist. He is an annoying vision to the hecklers of everything the opposite.

J: Pakistani forumer moved to Canada who insults everyone all the time, in every post. Toxic. Literally cannot help it. High powered business job.

K: Pakistani forumer who is his nemesis, good natured, funny, intelligent, high EQ. They spend days arguing. He also does time, like any Third Worlder with the gall to hang out in the West, arguing against the hate and assumptions, though liable to suddenly get sentimental and send likes to everyone’s replies.

L: Indian forumer who bickers with both of them over India-Pakistan. Every chance he gets.

M: Brazilian forumer who seems completely normal -until you find out his underhand views on White supremacy, how colonialism was a good thing and will only refer to African countries by their colonial names. Loves art deco.

N: British forumer who believes all things modern is good, hates how everyone hates brutalism. Also believes how all things old is bad, wants all old buildings destroyed in London, celebrates when one does get bulldozed and argues to the teeth why. Very, very likely on a spectrum.

O: Turkish gay moderator, who spends each post insulting people on a personal level, and laughing at their cultures in a knee-jerk reaction. Hates Muslims, despite living in an Islamic society, thus a poster boy for Islamophobes. Became a mod due to his love of cats, which he thinks is endearing enough to get away with his crazed power plays, or that sociopathy itself must be loveable quip of character.

P: Odious far righter, despite being a decidedly non-White, ‘browntown’ ethnic minority. Makes one think either he’s completely in denial, or that far right is a pathology. Or perhaps his riches has made him buy into the mindset in order to keep it, and those are who he hangs around with all day.

Q: French guy who only talks in riddles, including odes to how shit Islam is. Weird, annoying, thinks himself enigmatic when all he does is troll and everyone ignores him anyway.

R: American old guy, Trumpist, banned under several guises for his constant racism against Black people and Chinese. Lives in San Francisco, where he constantly has to warn his visitors about ‘The Blacks’. Spends every other post on the coming economic downfall of China. Completely backs Xi Jinping’s mistreatment of Muslims though as, well, he hates them more.

S: New Zealander who spends every other post hating on women. Tries to portray everything as a gender war, and how men are being attacked, and that women are base creatures. A one-issue poster driven by a pathological hatred. Likely an Incel (Involuntarily Celebate) activist.

T: American consultant in a hospital -Trumpist, supremacist, racist with rambling, drug-addled (or just plain weird) diatribes on his support of the local strip joints and prostitutes. Oh and how Mila Kunis is White enough to be hawt (no, her East European ancestry has no thread of Judaism no, he’d made sure of it on Stormfront). And wants to find where she lives and how he’d be able to show her a good time as an older man wining and dining her, and she’d be afrenzy at his compliments and displays of wealth (because she can’t have that right?) and we’d all be jealous ha! Took a week off work during the election to ‘drink our tears’ over the coming Trump win.

U: Loveliest, inclusive, accepting Brazilian woman, of Filipino heritage. Very kind to all, and the ambassador’s wife at the ball, pretty much everyone loves her to bits. Don’t think she actually contributes anything on urban discussions come to think of it, she just floats around being gentle and supportive.

V: Filipino guy who posts endless articles on the Philippines at every drop of a panama hat, as we are of course all dying to know the detailed history of the last Royal Family of Luzon when talking about mass transit sytems. Is obsessed by how much Spanish lineage, history and culture there is in every aspect of the country, and trying very, very hard to convince everyone it is a White country of mestizos, and thus highly cultured, respectable and relevant. Is under the impression we walk around all day thinking about the Philippines.

W: Hong Kong supernerd who has written over 240,000 posts on every wheedling aspect of Chinese urban projects -and made any development in the region disappear under an avalanche of smalltown newstories. On councils appointing a new secretary, the wonders of legislature by-law changes in Fuzhou, new rubbish collection routines, tax bracket amendments, that someone planted a tree, a sewage pipe got a new turn and that big vote on whether a stretch of highway to Shitzou village should be expanded. Single-handedly vanquished all forum visitors to the region with adversely the most development. Very much on the spectrum.

X: American old guy, became a mod. Very wise and fair as a moderator, but when he writes his own posts the stylus scratch. ‘Applauds’ whenever a Black person is unlawfully killed (even over a photo of the grieving mother at a funeral), defends every cop or perpetrator no matter what, constantly posting crime figures and correlations to the ethnic minorities. Went doolally during BLM.

Y: Romanian American leftie campaigner, pretty aggressive but never gets banned, will argue endlessly over any little thing and peppers it all with insults, sweeping accusations or dismissals, and sudden turns to the Right. Is on about the 300th page of coronavirus and why it is a scam. I suspect someone who’s only there to argue, regardless of the subject.

Z: Literally a Russian bot, who will send blizzards of likes to literally hundreds of posts from a decade ago, to people asking a question about signs in Moldavian, or personal messages in an inbox. Then will snap out of it and be real again. We reckon a mix of the two -quite a nice person when the human takes over.

OK, I’ll stop there. I could go on for days, literally. But you get the gist -this is just a damn architecture forum. And you can imagine the comments that are hard to ignore day in day out. Your fingers itching for the keyboard as someone celebrates the Amazon burning, or how it’s Haiti’s fault 300,000 just died in an earthquake (due to them being the first country created when slaves fought off their masters).

But overall, I think in any tranche of people you have to look out for elements that mar the rest, and that a huge amount of society has been set up to handle just this toxic minority, sometimes negatively:

1. sociopaths/ psychopaths -the toxic avengers, manipulative, enjoying the ‘power’ over insulting others, cannot help but prey on the weak or signs of weakness -say, put up a story on Africa and wait for them to arrive. Also why people from Developing countries will hesitate to portray their countries negatively in the world forums, as it attracts these usual commentators like flies to shit. The ones who can’t help but insult on literally every post, anywhere, even if you are talking about the weather.

2. small cock syndrome -people with low worth/ unheard who want to take down others, to make themselves feel better. Bullies. Or just plain, everyday jealousy.

3. pathologically on a spectrum (find it hard to understand others viewpoints or feelings unless heavily pointed out). This isn’t their fault, it’s not out of animosity and it’s part of our social contract to accommodate and educate them.

4. Personal prejudice -mostly talking about racists on here, many of whom can be tied to all of the above. Or normal people but buying into media tropes/ a bad personal experience, due to a lack of critical thinking.

In short these kinds of people or comments aren’t a norm among societies. Yet they are so vocal they start to dominate despite being the minority. Classic Dunning-Kruger effect, in which those with low EQ shout about their ignorance and are proud of it, while those with high EQ politely listen and give them their batshit crazy platform.

I think at the end of the day, just get the fuck away from it all, regardless. Hell is other people. We feed them by listening, and as a great woman said, when one argues with an idiot, no one can tell you apart. Society has always been an exercise in granting trolls the attention they crave, thus giving them the power. Tell a lie often enough and it becomes a truth.

Have I just lost? Am I not the great idiot alongside?

Who cares. Fuckem.

Yesterday

Tomorrow

The Rise of the Right

So what happened? Across the West we are seeing a wave of xenophobia and politicking that is fast becoming a ‘hyper-norm’ for hundreds of millions who remember a less volatile and divisive upbringing. Entire countries lurching towards the right after years of complicit media campaigns, with a resultant lurch to the left for its opposition parties. From Greece’s dalliance with Golden Dawn to Brexit, France’s Marine Le Pen to America’s Trump, the Netherlands’ tellingly named Party for Freedom to Hungary’s correctional Jobbik. Even Turkey, bastion of secularism in a sea of religiosity on either side of its continental spans, is undergoing transition back to its purported roots under Erdogan. There are of course the countries that have swerved against the momentum – Portugal, Romania and a trend-bucking Greece with their new left wing governments, and a Russia playing all sides from staging neo-Nazi rallies to funding anti-Nazi leagues with the self same sword. But overall the story is one of a steady quickstep to the right, in the manifold glow of patriotism, rhetoric and righteousness, offset by virulent pleas and increasingly angered remonstrations of a once apolitical youth. Indeed, what did happen to put us in this spin?

gib

To sum it up: regional destabilisation. If we were to try and pinpoint one episode that set it off we can look to Cheney’s puppeteered invasion of Iraq in 2003, that the CIA warned would unbalance the entire region. We could look further back to what led to that invasion – 911, Amerika’s final decade of oil independence, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, WWII, colonialism – but the latest boot up the arse that we can say pushed us off the collective edge would be Gulf War 2.0.

gw

Let’s try and put it in a sentence: Gulf War = legitimisation of Sunni/Shia conflict = destabilisation of the Middle East = Arab Spring = destabilisation of North Africa also = ISIS-Daesh = terrorism = more refugees = increasing destabilisation of Europe = destabilisation of the US. All to a backdrop of a media agenda in which the waves of right wing populism support the status quo of the global elite, notably a certain media baron that is the de-facto Head of State of several powerful nations.

rup

No it’s not all conspiracy theories, but we will have to wait a good few decades before it becomes textbook history, in which we’ll look back from afar and think: Gawd what fools, that could never happen in this day and age. But look at history; we never seem to learn. Give it approximately 75 years- in short the lifespan of the last possible survivors – and we repeat the same mistakes. Amber Rudd’s fiery 2016 speech in the Conservative Party Conference following Brexit (a year after the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII), calling on companies to submit lists of their foreign workers in a name-and-shame campaign, was highlighted as enacting chapter II of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Some went on to suggest she should garner a task force called the Greater Europe Search, Transfer, And Prevent Operation, or GESTAPO.

amber

The similar rise of hate-speech and media portrayal of entire peoples following the grisly terrorist acts across Europe this year mirrored those following Zionist bombings and the burning down of the Reichstag in the 1930s. Not to mention the turning away of thousands of refugees, closing down of borders and an utter lack of empathy for the dispossessed finding parallels to the forgotten flotillas of Jews fleeing continental Europe, only to be turned back to a certain fate. Yet all these past lessons flow under a generalised, collective blinkerdom, behind an epic assault of the here and now with a swipe of the phone.

jewish

It’s enough to make writers and journos turn to their window and think of writing a lovely misty piece on autumnal colours instead. That is of course the head-burying stance of  much of today’s youth, enamoured by social media and Kim Kardashian’s abusive, powder keg relationships with diamonds and make up. There are infinitely more hits and cultural change attributed to shouty, always-late pop idols, or cool places to travel to, or American pranking on camera, or Russian dash-cam amazingness than any kind of socio-political legacy and their cronyist, bickering leaders of a certain vintage. As they say, politics is Hollywood for ugly people.

kim

Yawn, what were we talking about again? It’s the end of the West, the end of now, the end of thinking, as we scroll through memes and kitten gifs and blockbuster trailers, but can you blame us? Disillusionment is the name of the day, propelling the voting as well as the lack of. It’s so much more enticing being cozy and nosy, and loved and funny than wrestling with socio-political discourse each and every damn day. Yes, there are indeed the battalions of celebs and kittens decrying the fall of America or Europe to suburban fencing (and the lone, haunting tweets of Clint Eastwood and er, Kirsty Alley who celebrate it), but overall it’s gonna be a  long while before their PR teams realise the potential in actually getting arrested, and spray painting those picket fences with allegiant colours.

lily

Only a little more than a quarter of eligible voters were needed to see in the triumphant Trump to power, with 90 million abstaining or busy watching teevee, or just tired after the endless rounds of voting in the average US year, with more not having registered ,and the complications involved. Even in higher voter turn-outs, such as the Brexit referendum it still only took 26% of the population to win and direct the outcome for the remaining 74%. To add another layer of murkiness, voters have differing powers depending on where they live, and by default, even how much they earn, their age or their ethnic (read: ‘native’ or ‘non-native’) background. Hillary even won the ‘popular’ vote, with 2.9 million more voting for her than the questionable hair piece (more than the win for Kennedy), but by dint of regional representation in which seats are allocated to jurisdictional areas rather than equalised population catchments, rural, sparsely populated plots can have more voting power than teeming cities. If you read between the lines this is not democracy. This is another dimension to what fuels the disillusionment: the utter complexity, seriousness, and draining task ahead in taking on the rot in the system.

vote

It’s becoming increasingly evident democracy needs safeguards. On the one hand it needs to ensure it is a democracy in the first place, and not the kind of regional representation that leads to one or two party states, with an elitist slant to power of certain moneyed demographics as the UK and US are now experiencing. On the other hand, even if it is a bona fide democracy it needs to ensure it doesn’t vote to you know, kill the Jews or the Tutsis or the Gypsies. Or lock up the Syrians or the gays or the women, or the poor. Humans can’t really be trusted not to wreck each others lives, turn a blind eye and grab the money, even with the lessons of history. That’s why we have constitutions, and differing lines of political thought. To manage our base instincts of battling over the remaining resources, mammoth carcasses and available females, while instating hierarchies, power, control, and economic pyramid schemes.

eu

So let’s make this as snappy and invigorating as a giant herd of kittens taking over Kim and Justin’s bathtime. It’s like a reaallly cool story bro.

Back in 1950s time (think Marilyn Monroe and Elvis and milkshakes and lynching) Paris was the place to be for the coolcats. The youth were like, always asking questions after that really bad world war, and seeing in the commies on one side and coca cola on the other. So basically there were two sides: free to be free (coke), or forced to be free (commies), coz like people wouldn’t know otherwise ya know.

us

On the one side there was coke and water skiing and bikinis and the American dream of a pin-up housewife, giant car, meatloaf and a retro pad with perfect lawn and no Black folk to bother ya’ll. You were free to be free. To buy all these cool things and one day, one day… get a whole fucking hoover and even a tele-vision, that would make all universities obsolete within the decade as we’d all be learning from it and going to the moon and shit and not shooting each other. After you know, an initial period of gross inequality, crime, corruption, and greed depending on your looks or race or class or gender. Individualism would be something to nurture and flower, like a selfie with 10 million hits of fame, and anyone could be anything if you wanted it enough. This we can dub Negative Freedom.

wink

On the other side you were forced made to be free, where everyone agreed to share the goodness of the earth and their work and the profits, and bask in this playground of light and industry and light industry, after you know, an initial period of killing off reeducating the old elite into equally likeable, free spirits working for a greater good, no matter your background, gender, race and class – I mean, what’s class again? People can’t be trusted you know, they need to be guided, at least until one day when they can be free from the stricture of law and prejudice and even governing. With all this collectivised effort we’d be going to the moon and shit and not shooting each other. The meaning of your life was not to merely buy crap, but to go all worker’s paradise in family, friends, children, and forwarding the arts, society and culture for the progression of all, so everyone could be everything if you worked for it together. This we can dub Positive Freedom.

socia.jpg

china

So some of these students coming out of Parisian universities at the time took these ideas of positive freedom to the holiday homes that Europe had set up around the world, those places like Algeria. This extension block of France had the pesky problem called Algerians, who lived there, and didn’t much like not having you know, a vote, and getting rule and divide, generations of mis-education and their resources stripped. How annoying right!?

algeria

Anyhoo these students believed they had to force people to be free, so they started a civil war, but a really efficient one where they could plant a single bomb on some trendy cafe in Algiers and kill only a few people yet getting loads of attention and fear (almost as bad as accidentally clicking the Facebook Like button on porn). Plus undo the economy and stuff that would make things more expensive to police and fix than keep, a bit like iPhones. Rather than launch a badly thought out battle like you see in Zulu or cowboy movies, where loads and loads of savage darkies get mown down by the gazillion and quite a handful of handsome whities too, you could do the one selfie blow up and get a million hits overnight. No staging of overnight coups, picking battlefields or recalibrating satellites nosiree.

al

This was a really good way to win. They used hardly any arguing and resources compared to you know, Game of Thrones, although the killing turned out pretty bad when France went all Call of Duty on them and took out about 1.5 million Algies. But they still won, and the European holiday homes and farmsteads and mining operations and slave colonies around the world fell one by one following the same inordinately successful technique, in which some of the world’s poorest nations usurped many of the world’s richest, although at a cost of millions of lives. Most of these places switched after the initial war from positive freedom (forced to be free) straight into negative freedom (free to be free), as democratic, capitalist states (which means you watch teevee all day and buy stuff off TVC).

war

However the European nations they had freed themselves from would have charged them for the years and years of ‘looking after them’, for every brick built, rail laid and bullet shot in that time, as terms of independence, but kind of forgetting you know, the years of er, human and cultural genocide, plus nabbing the oil and gold and labour and crown jewels.

But hey, a few years of debt and astronomical interest rates on the mastercard is priceless for that sweet freedom right? We’ll have everything up and running again in no time – no matter the generations of miseducation, rule and divide and the fact we’re really made up of several countries and several hundred ethnic groups that won’t bicker a-Tall. Not once democracy sets in and the majority (group) get the final say. They won’t behave like the colonial powers they just booted out, no.

afr

So the result is these nations become instantly chavvy and start fighting among themselves. Places like Sudan, speaking 200 languages, launching into 6 simultaneous civil wars from day one that it’s still fighting today, and mirrored across much of Africa and all those places where the world holds its resources… but strangely also most of its poverty and wars. And those European powers? Well we can call them ‘multinationals’ now coz everyone rich from everywhere has jumped in on it too. For every $1 billion given in aid $8 billion is taken back in interest payments (not even debt repayment, which has already been paid back several times over), and most of the resources (like water, land) bought up again and sold back to the darkies at a million percent profit. But as we said, we can’t be trusted. Places like Philippines became one big shoe shop for the queenie there, while America went on funding baddies and wars all over the place to keep itself rich and pretending to be a goody. The negative freedom (coke) in these cases resulted in so much corruption, division and inequality we can see humans were free to be free, but also free to step all over each other into total fails, aka ‘Failed States’.

Mogadishu Tense As Islamists Reinforce Southern Positions

Meanwhile other places continued their revolutions even after winning, and becoming positive democracies, like Eye-Ran. The country, inspired by Harry Truman’s promise to defend and free the oppressed peoples of the world, had originally elected a president, Mohammed Mossadegh, who promised no religious or royalty crap and instead democracy and taking the oil out of the hands of the Brits, that even won him Time Magazine Man of the Year back in the 50s.

But then, oops. The Yanks got a new president, and in league with the Brits ousted Mossie-Dig from power, reinstating the King, and taking control AGAIN of all the oil with half now going to the USAians. So in the end the Eye-Ranians rose up AGAIN (ha!), but this time opting for the positive freedom package. Like SO predictable yeah.

mos moss

Where people were forced to be free, the new leader, Mr Ayatollah Khomeini (pronounced Iyatoller Hominee) had a masterstroke of combining religion with politics (usually one cancelled the other), a bit like finally setting up Ant with Dec as a duo, after Ant kept shitting over Dec’s mum for years. Mr Hominy said that religion had all these sayings which supported positive freedom, bits like where women were free from inequality, fear, attack, rape and upskirt phone-cams by dressing them up in black picnic blankets and taking them out of dangerous situations, such as rooms with men in them.

Iran Revolution 1978

When the big war with Eye-Rack next door finally loomed, backed by Western guns, Eye-Ran got surrounded with nowhere to turn. It was seemingly Game Over. But once again there was that masterstroke of having religion be the back up buddy when they ferried legions of voluntary teenagers into becoming martyrs, by marching them into minefields to form an escape route for the rest. So Eye-Ran was no longer running, but winning, in thanks to the fact it’s Shia Muslim, which kinda, possibly maybe, means you could sacrifice yourself in the name of your faith, like that adorable nutterdad in Independence Day who first zaps the alien destructo-laser. Shia Muslims have this thing they do like in their version of Christmas or something where instead of giving presents they beat themselves with chains and whips and fire walk in respect of the sacrifice someone or other made sometime in the Book, and they’re not meant to enjoy it or pay anyone to do it by the hour either.

ashur

This shocked the rest of the Sunni Muslim world, where suicide was considered a totally uncool thing to do, as only the Big Guy, peace be upon him, could decide where and when you popped your Nike-Airs. But it was a pretty rad idea and this cleric on the other side in Sunny-land Arabia said it was all a-okay and there was suddenly stuff about 72 virgins and all-you-can-eat ice cream thrown in, and everyone was like STILL NO, but some of them were like okaaaaay, lets see. So they did, and Ham Ass from Palestine went and started bombing Israelis, officially targeting citizens for the first time, in buses and cafes and beaches, much like in Algeria not so long ago, but all kamikaze style and justified, and starting a hero-worship culture.

72

Meanwhile there was this place nearby called Syria, led by this ruthless dude called Hafez al-Assad (pronouced Ass Ad), who looked a bit like Frankenstein but a bit nerdier. Even though he was a scary mutherhumper he had some great visions for the Arab (pronounced Ay-rab)  world, which could extricate itself from the predatory West, like some vast horrible octopus sitting on its left, starting wars and overturning ships and planes and nations with its sucking tentacles, covered in oil and blood over 500 million people.

Ass Ad was given all these promises and secret deals, and totes played by the West, only to be betrayed in the war against Israel they said they’d back him against but backed them instead. So he went all gloomy and hellbent on revenge, and started to fund suicide bombing against the Israelis and Americans in Lebanon (killing 270 in one barracks). Which shortly after led to the Americans pulling out, humiliated. Re-sult!

beirut-memorial

However the U.S of A had found a different fall guy, in the richest guy in the world, drum roll please… Mr Colonel Gaddafi. A bit of a weirdo who had been stationed in the UK, near a delightful little model village called Beaconskot, and who endured racist bullying from ex-colonial officers. As leader of his country he was mad as a bag of snakes, always going on about his ‘Third Way’ which was the dangerously upsetting alternative to negative and positive freedom, as bolstered by contemporaries such as Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. Gaddafi’s version of the Third Way united right wing economics ($$$) with left wing socialism (###), but this time from out of the yoke of Western imperialism and its motherfucking legolands.

beac

Except he wasn’t all that batshit crazy, what with setting up a state safety net giving out free education, healthcare, electricity, unemployment benefit equal to their professions, starter homes, starter cars, and child funds, and ensuring each person shared in the profits made from the voluminous amount of state oil. Anyhoo, they blamed the Lockerbie plane bombing on him (despite the CIA saying it had come from Eye-Ran, in retaliation for a similar jumbo jet lost to a US missile), and a Berlin nightclub bombing that killed three including American servicemen (most likely a Syrian bomb). They said he had weapons of mass destruction, then bombed the capital, and his gaudy palace, and reportedly his adopted 3 year old daughter out of existence, if she existed.

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So now we have quite a complicated picture, a bit like Bieber’s tour dates, causing grief and demonstrations across the globe. This vast squid thing has its tips inserted in pies so far in: Algeria, Eye-Ran, Eye-Rack, Libya, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria (oh and Egypt, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Turkey, Yemen and Jordan too). Fast forward a few decades and through 11 Western backed wars and the suicidal/ positive freedom, once unleashed by Syria is now biting it on its own arse. This malignant beast we can now call Eye-Sis. A certain Monsieur Gaddaffi is suddenly of use again.

In a screeching u-turn the world leaders announce he’s one of the good guys all of a sudden. They shake hands in a blizzard of flashes, sign glitzy new trade deals, take in his family into their glittering celeb elites, and eye up the $200 billion the guy has in his South African bank accounts. He does of course, have to admit he will destroy his non-existent weapons of mass destruction, own up to the Lockerbie bombing and promise not to do anything batshit crazy again in order to get this rehabilitation, and a priceless platform for his Third Way. Despite the European and American intelligence agencies agreeing he did / owned none of these.

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But then came the Arab Spring. Like the Paris Spring of 1968, when all those positive freedom students finally took to the streets of the French capital protesting the old skool bling, it would come full circle again. A poor Tunisian dude called Mohamed Bouazizi (sod it, if you can’t pronounce it just try and remember that name), was publicly humiliated and left destitute one day at the start of 2011 by a police officer who took away his livelihood when she confiscated his unlicensed market stall, and slapped him in the face too, the fat bitch. This was not the first time. The poor guy went and stood outside the police station, and in his final act, set himself on fire, and straight into a culture changing force.

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Like FUCK! He really went up like a candle into history. The publicity started protests, already blazed up by a WikiLeaks special a coupla months earlier exposing the corruption of the Tunisian state, with its high inflation, unemployment and institutional grafting, and the demos getting bigger and bigger and setting off copycat movements across the Arab world. Powered by social media that could organise and reorganise people power with an instant tweet or status update, government after government fell, including Libya.

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It was all quite embarrassing really, here was people-power in action, long upheld by other democracies as the way to be and go. But these people were protesting the Western-backed regimes, that had so long kept them in the shitter. And they were demanding what the Arabs had wanted for so long – not religious righteousness, or historical rightings of wrongs, or land or resources or power. They wanted jobs, they wanted equal opportunities, they wanted an end to poverty and corruption and having to hustle up sex and drugs but no rock n roll for a living.

But in the end, the absence of any viable alternative saw religion step into the void to unite the  disparate voices. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Ever more AWKWARD. Even the journos found it hard to report on the unsavoury aspects of people power, and what they fought against – notably us, the tyrannical ‘we’ in the West – despite it being the biggest wobbling of the world seen for generations to come. Here were heartfelt images of people all candle-lit in vigils and uniting for a common cause: for freedom after years of subjugation and that would change the world forever – but one against the regimes that we had kept propped in power, against the globalised culture we tried to sow.

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This was highly fucked, like a selfie on your loo uploaded everywhere ever. Batshit Crazy Gaddafi had only just joined the cool kids at the table, now he was exposed as a tyrant and a dictator that they were all sharing lunch with, and everyone suddenly wanted to leave. And maybe chuck a grenade or three behind them, to pretend none of this ever happened, and that they weren’t just having a jolly with his handsome sons and daughters after inviting them out at prom. Gadaffi’s end came when a US drone bombed his convoy, then a beating and a final shot from a rebel group as he hid in a service tunnel.

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So there we have it: one vast tentacle eating its way through several nations, then biting back on itself, and clawing a way out again. This happened again, on a much larger scale, involving several wandering, bloodthirsty limbs.

When the Americans invaded Eye-Rack a second time, it planned for the war, but not the ‘peace’. As seen in Africa, the onset of democracy meant the competition of those straining for representation, especially the minorities that would lose votes by dint of lower numbers, and thus their bling. Democracy in this case kind of means if you’re all sassy and hawt – but there’s only you – the bigger guys get to take your iphone and selfie stick and pearls to share. This means fight fight fight!

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Eye-Rack soon broke up into squabbles and bombings and massacres when the Americans instated a corrupt government that would have automatically put the majority (70%) Shias in power, leading in turn to an insurgency that led to the real extreme kid on the block to rise, Eye-Sis, or Eye-Sill, or Daesh for short.

Of the myriad fighting groups in neighbouring Syria, now stricken by its much bloodier version of the Arab Spring and a new helmsman at the fore in the more-flattering-but-just-as-vicious, Basher al Ass Ad, Daesh proved to be the longest lasting kingpin to sway his power.

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This guy Dish was bad, real bad. And savvy. He knew the inherent weaknesses of every bully in the playground let alone every kid. He used their own social media against them to highlight their failings, and to bully them too – setting up horrific websites selling ransomed prisoners, shock scenes in their captured cities, mass executions – plus different websites, targeting schizos and those smelly people on buses that talk to themselves to blow people up, or run them over. Haunting things designed to disturb the comfy echelons that ruled from afar, as yet relatively divided from the horrors on the ground. So this of course leads to millions and millions of refugees, in turn fleeing a society gone mad and a war with an estimated 700 sides.

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The story so far: two tentacles have embarked on a path to positive freedom, war, and suicide bombing and see their return by bombing and terrorising their own body back in Syria and Europe. Now other arms are sending refugees by the million, across treacherous waters, through minefields, deserts, soldiers, bombs and predatory gangs. Organised crime spots the opportunity to recruit a wealth of sex workers, kidnap children and exploit the desperate dispossessed, while innocents drown in their thousands off Trip Advisor highlights.

Migrant boat accident in Turkey

Aylan Kurdi.

So the European population is 750 million, they can absorb a million or three more surely? Plus its ageing population and slowing economies are calling out for precisely this kind of youthful, independent boost that will be a demographic dividend for generations to come. Not likely. A wave of revulsion from the right wing press, the terrorised and the patriotic has made it a destabilising issue, as a path is forged to the voting booths across the region to keep them out, and any others. Europe, the late 20th Century and 21st Century destination of choice for the worlds’ migrants, is full they say. Many of its states, once the world’s most popular tourist destinations, are now finding themselves on the list of most dangerous places in the world to visit, due to a wave of horrific suicide attacks, and a traumatised public dealing with the fall out. Never mind that out of the 2,984 terrorist attacks in Europe over the last 7 years,  only 18 were Islamist (that’s 99.3% being committed by other nutters for other politics – mostly independence movements), the coverage was global, bloody and penetrating.

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And look again at the stats. Of the world’s largest refugee hosting nations they are dominated by the Developing World, not the Developed, the poor guys not the rich, many of whom suffer their own internal conflicts and refugee movements.

  1. Jordan >4.5 million (70% of the population)
  2. Turkey, 3.1 million
  3. Lebanon 2 million ( a jump from the 69th largest refugee population in only 3 years, and now making up 45% of the population)
  4. Saudi Arabia 1.7million (not part of the UN agreement on refugees, but accepting them in all but name)
  5. Pakistan 1.6 million
  6. Iran >1 million
  7. Germany 1 million
  8. Ethiopia 700,000
  9. Uganda 700,000
  10. Kenya 600,000
  11. Chad 500,000
  12. Sudan 330,000 (likely to double this year).

For comparison the US comes in at 17th (267,000), less than China (300,000) or even those fleeing TO Iraq (300,000), a country already struggling with 4 million internally displaced refugees. UK is 30th with 117,000.

(Btw Iraq, despite, and perhaps because of its troubles, happens to be the worlds most charitable nation, with 70% of the population having helped out a stranger in the last week.)

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So there you have it, it’s a big fuss over nothing, a drop in the ocean, but a big big something in the background. Never mind the million+ dead, the faces of the survivors, or the fates of those to await, now is a time as Adam Curtis puts it, to give up the complexities of the real world and indulge in the comforts of the fake one. The Hypernormalisation of the craziness, blood lust and intricacies of all that is around, but photo bombed by what we want, not what we need.

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If there is a lesson in all of this, we perhaps need to wrest the reins from the propaganda merchants for at least one last leg of the journey to the cliff, and not to lie willingly while our world and our judgments go the way of shit hitteth the fan. History has taught us, like a stuck record, skipping CD  corrupted download, to ignore it is to see it worsen, until it becomes that huge glowering thing of nightmares behind the bed nothing can swipe away. That the seeds our elected leaders sow do have consequences, no matter how much we brush it under the carpet, like a giant quivering mound of triffid smelling of wee and death.

And even if it really, really is just about us, it’s gonna take a chump out of our future, and in terms of self preservation, that’s not good. We can still try and feel safe, and loved with a future that beckons, where we will grow up to do great things and discover a life, but to ignore it is to tempt fate.

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Aylan Kurdi.

And our journos may do well to respect the tradition of truth, even in a post-Truth world, where controversy and exposé do little to dent popularity based on our inbuilt chauvinism – even powers it, through the orators du jour that cater to what we want to hear not what we need to. Patriotism makes us feel warm, righteous and gives us meaning. It rekindles and celebrates our culture under the onslaught of constant change, it defends our proud history. It nurtures the kind of heroism reserved for fighting for others, and legitimised by a complicit media and millions of our kin. But beware what you bring into the room, it needs feeding.

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Anyhoo, enough doom and gloom, in the great new journalistic tradition – less of Robot Wars and more of Strictly, so lets end on a high note. No article can be complete without a cat in it somewhere. We know this. May we all live long and prosper. Choose Life. Or something profound like that.

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