One of the pet hates of Mother Nature is inertia, complacency and laziness because these three attributes make a species unable to adapt. Is this where we are?
The British writer Kingsley Amis said: “Laziness has become the chief characteristic of journalism, displacing incompetence”. We might replace the word “journalism” with “humans”.
The great and tremendous human rights battles had been won by the political Left, in today’s terminology, by a century ago. By then most countries had representative trade unions, some form of elected political representation, universal suffrage (the right for all to vote), universal education at least to the age of eleven, universal healthcare, children’s rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, animal welfare and increasing literacy levels. Later, the Welfare State provided the right to a retirement and a pension and increased healthcare and education coverage, free, for all members of society.
After these battles, Humankind shrugged and laid back. Work done, food on table, roof over our heads, someone else can take care of the problems. The political fight removed, the (increasingly professional) political class became a substitute for effort. Nonchalance. Yeah, whatever.
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” (Isaac Newton 1642-1727). Newton’s statement can be applied to other areas outside mathematics and physics. It can be applied to economics and politics, where we see a steady reactionary movement managing to destroy workers’ rights, today including attempts to stifle or ban strikes and behind which we see vested interests sweep away the rights that our grandparents gave their lives for.
Take, for example, the area of education, where in many cases pre-school is paid for, where in many cases private schooling is the only option to get a good basic education and where in most cases further education has become a business in different tiers, the higher you go, the more expensive. Try getting a master’s degree or a doctorate and you will have to pay tens of thousands, or else go without. The haves versus the have nots.
Take, for example, the area of healthcase, in which private insurance companies are challenging the National Health Systems as an alternative, and in which governments create conditions for the (paid) alternative to the National Health Service to become more attractive. OK Mrs. B. You will have to wait nine months for your operation but we can fit you in at the clinic next Tuesday. Do you have private health insurance? No, actually, I....er.....OK then you’ll have to wait then. But I’ll be dead by then. Yes, sorry!
So what can Mrs. B. Do? Probably she should have got a Master’s degree, costing her tens of thousands and she might have the possibility to pay health insurance and avoid an early death. But she didn’t have the tens of thousands. So once again, the haves versus the have nots.
And this is happening everywhere in every sphere of life. A year or so ago, you could buy a bunch of cabbage leaves of good quality from a market stall, costing, say 40 (currency units). The quality was so good that you could use every single leaf and there was enough for four meals. Today, the cabbage costs 85 units, you get half in terms of quantity and the quality is so poor you throw half of it away before use.
Look at your electricity bill. Look at your gas bill. If you want a heart attack. Look at the bill for your medicines at the pharmacy. How many elderly people have to choose which medicine they take, or choose between heating and eating?
Can you see where this is going? It is not just in the area of healthcare and education, it is happening everywhere in every service that is provided, even the food we eat. And why?
First, because reactionary forces are chipping away at our rights day after day. Secondly, because people let them. Thirdly, because the media lets them. Because of nonchalance, inertia, complacency and laziness.
Globally, the MainStreamMedia tends to reiterate the same soundbites fed to it by those who control it, and those who control it are not your Mrs. Bs struggling to find a way to tell her children that she will not be here next Christmas; those who control it are the owners of the private insurance companies which smile when you are paying them but frown when they have to pay out, the owners of the trusts which make millions while providing shoddy services, the owners of the corporations which have turned education into a business. Have money, will survive. Law of the jungle, the haves versus the have nots.
The sheer absence of certain stories in the public domain, the sheer manipulation of others and the half-truths presented, together with biased claims excluding one side and saying nothing about the context or history of a story, are a shocking reminder that this type of media has failed miserably in doing its job, which is to inform people of events. But to do so, it risks being fined and journalists risk losing their press card for writing “propaganda”. This is the other side of the coin.
If you are a journalist today, and write the full truth, you can lose your livelihood. And no, I am not speaking about Russia, I am speaking about the (violins) the paragon of freedom and democracy, the organism which practises censorship, the (trumpets) European Union!! (cut instrumentals. Screams).
So if we don’t bother with the MainStreamMedia, what have we? The social media and this also is controlled by the platforms which provide the service. I conducted an experiment. I got two people to post the same text on Facebook, one with the word Ukraine and the other with the word Russia. One account got deleted. My own account got taken over by one [email protected] in 2011 during the Libyan war. Nobody did anything to help me get it back, although the damage was limited because I am of the generation that has a hard copy of everything written on paper. And being one of those in the vanguard of the alternative media, I cannot count the numbers of times I have been hacked, been the victim of cyber terrorism, had my router hacked, my internet service hacked and received death threats. Including threats to drown my dog in acid. That pretty much sums up the type of ...person?...we are dealing with here.
So as we can see, even the information we receive is flawed in many cases.
Is it asking too much to create a world in which we respect the planet, in which we respect our brothers and sisters, the animals we are supposed to share it with, respect the environment, the plants, rivers, oceans, seas? Is it asking too much to create meaningful education systems walking in tandem with the job market and providing further education through life, for free? Is it asking too much to have clean hospitals where it isn’t dangerous to be interned because of a virus or bacterial infection, or a nurse who cannot perform a basic duty probably because of an overload of work? Is it asking too much to create a system in which the elderly have a comfortable lifestyle, with a decent pension, a system which provides housing for all and basic public utilities, for free? Is it asking too much to create a world in which people can walk around at any time of day or night, anywhere, without fear of attack by a marauding gang of drug addicts?
The answer for most would be no, these are basic rights but the fact is that due to our collective inertia, complacency and laziness, we have allowed the good things from the past to slip and be replaced by the living hell-hole we see around us. Less in some countries (and in my case I am luckier than most), more in others. We have allowed our political victories to be taken away from us and we have allowed what we gained to be turned into a business which removes police from the streets, teachers from schools and nurses from hospitals.
I like to end my diatribes with a constructive comment in my conclusion. Certainly these days different people choose different political parties to represent them (if indeed they have any idea what the party represents and if indeed they have ever bothered to read the manifestos). But surely what I have mentioned above should be present in basic pledges common to all parties, providing this type of socio-economic environment and then debating other poilitical issues further downstream?
And let nobody dare to say “Yes but how do you pay for it?” There’s always money for submarines, or bail-outs for banks. It all boils down to inertia, complacency and laziness. Starting with us.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey can be reached at [email protected]
The United States faces a disappointing reality, and the American administration starts opening new fronts against Russia on the territory of Moldova and in the South Caucasus