Tag Archives: Capitalism – Capitalisme

Internet neutrality or the fight to avoid an economic, Orwellian dystopia.

L’autre côté de l’Atlantique est en émoi…ain’t it, though?

Back from holidays and already I am being told emotions are running high on the other side of the Atlantic prior to the upcoming decision regarding Internet neutrality. It’s an issue we don’t have…yet, in Europe for things are done differently. That was my understanding of the problem when I encountered it the first time on YouTube and my first reflex: we don’t have it here, sweet old Europe.

From what I have been hearing and reading, the Internet providers want to be able to decide what content should be completely and utterly available and what should be limited in speed, space and what should be put behind a toll to be accessible. Some people say it is to protect children because obviously the “only thing that will be blocked” is anything paedophilia, and limited is extreme porn.

Tempting but why don’t we have the same here then? And why are major Internet websites up in arms? Why are Youtubers campaigning? Why are Tumblr, Yahoo, Google et al trying to convince us that it will be a very bad decision? Are they all really defending paedophilia and extreme porn? Reductive I feel, but of course it is the first argument raised, shouted and thrown at the face of every opponent by these Internet providers.

From what I have been reading more carefully, and the reason why we don’t have the debate here, is the nature of these very providers. In Europe, if you want to access the Internet, you call an telecommunication company like Orange (formerly France Telecom), T-mobile, Free, BT or Talk Talk. They are companies dealing with telecommunications. Some of them like Sky are also television and media companies and some of them will belong to bigger media companies (like Bouygues Telecome who owns TF1 and produces films) but they are few and far between. In the US, however, if you want the Internet, you will go and ask Time Warner for instance. I thought I misunderstood when I heard an American Youtuber mentioning his Internet provider so I asked a friend of mine living over there. She confirmed that it is quite the normality for a big film corporation to also be an Internet provider.

What she also explained was that, behind the wishful thinking of blocking nasty content, they are very annoyed with the rise of Internet-based media like Youtube or Netfix used by the younger generation and spreading fast to more and more users, therefore diverting their potential customers away from traditional TV and cinema where these companies do most of their business. The problem is that the bridges between the entertainment industry and the media industry were built before they could do it themselves, this via the Internet. It went too far too quickly for them, they did not foresee this and they are trying to do some damage control by gaining access to the what they think is the source of their problem: the Internet, the land where media and entertainment merge with the word “free”, in all it meanings.

If the law passes, Time Warner would be able to put some kind of speed toll on Youtube or Netfix, whilst making their own content (films, shows they produce) very easy to watch, free and high speed. They can easily make their customers request and pay for some completely neutral content to be unblocked on their account. Anything can be off limits if it doesn’t serve the purpose of the company, which is to make profits above all. I know I sound like a communist but the general assemblies where ever-growing results must be announced in front of shareholders are not the place to talk about the weather and what the company can selflessly do to save the poor children of Africa…It’s all about the money and how to make more.

Now, I don’t know what it means for us Europeans. In the UK, I know what it means, yes. If the law passes, two weeks later, it is rushed through Westminster.

The question raised in the US by every opponent is of course to know to what extent their life will be made impossible and one-sided by these companies seeking control of the Internet. It’s not just about movies or downloading porn, it’s about accessing information, being able to express yourself freely and have normal access to the everyday things we have been accustomed to do. What if the next CEO of Time Warner is a homophobic, sexist, Republican? Will Time Warner allow its customers to access anything LGBT-related in any way, shape or form? Will people like me be able to write about feminists issue without being blocked at the last minute by their Internet provider and told they are breaking the rules thus cannot upload anything? Will left-wing newspapers be forced to censor themselves in order to avoid being blocked by their provider? Will people be able to access articles, information that criticises Time Warner? Will people be able to access neutral, genuine, varied information about their town, city, countries, the world or will it be filtered through the cable?

“You cannot access these articles that say the war in Iraq has been killing more than 500,000 people because we don’t agree with it and we think you should not as well.”

What if one these companies decide to create a banking branch? A supermarket branch? Will their customers using Internet banking with another bank be able to access their accounts without the whole thing taking hours? Will people be able to shop on the Internet to a different (cheaper, better or whatever supermarket) without having to restart four times before the speed is so slow that it fails everytime they try to save their cart?

There is a genuine worry, the practical and ethical worries. What I don’t understand is that within the arguments used by the opponents of this law, no one ever mentions the double standard. I know American are very bashful and sometimes it feels like they would not even criticise their country on the day of being unlawfully executed but is everyone that blind?

The US are parading the whole world pointing its finger, naming and shaming every country where the government is restricting access to the Internet for whatever reason. This is “anti-democratic”, it’s “authoritarian”, it’s “1984 again”, it’s “betraying their population” and first and foremost, it’s ridiculous because it is inapplicable. When the Chinese government blocks access to Google , when Iran cracks down on social media used by the young dissidents, when Russia blocks some content, the US are up in arms denouncing dictatorships and brandishing its fist in the defence of all oppressed. However, when private companies are openly trying to reduce access to the Internet, it’s fine, it’s a fair democratic process. They even have endless arguments to defend every bit of it.

Is it because I am getting older and am becoming more aware or are they really getting completely insane?

My mother always says that some people are always quick to spot the lash in someone’s eye but cannot see the beam in their own. That is not beam the US have anymore but a fully-grown redwood tree.

It’s the double standards that drive me up the wall, like the childless Pope saying that not having children is selfish. When politics is involved, it’s a shame! When economics is involved, it’s perfectly acceptable. The message the US are sending to the world is that, if you want to control access to the Internet, do not do it as a government. It’s 1984! It is an attack on democracy and Washington, which will ipso facto be  your enemy.

If you wish to control the Internet access to millions, its content, its message, be a private company, abuse the democratic system, make yourself a saviour or even just justify it through the economics. Say it’s about money. Say it’s about survival, that jobs are at stake and it’s only fair game in the capitalistic jungle. Washington will grant you its time and efforts.

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I am not anti-capitalist, I’m pro alternatives.

I am not anti-capitalist. The same that I am not anti-communist. There are good and bad things on both theories. I am anti-definite solutions.

I am anti-black-or-white vision of the world, where two poles have to fight against each other to win over the other because as someone born in the early 1980s, I have been have living through this very situation and what we have been witnessing since is the radicalisation of each poles and the disappearance of alternatives.

I am against what I called “anglo-saxon capitalism” as much as I was against the “Stalinist communism”. I am against that type of extreme, objectivist capitalism that claimed to have been leading the Western World against the Eastern Block, that has created “World organisations” to serve its purposes (like the IMF or the World Bank), the one that has always disregarded and ridiculed the Third World as disposable resources, the one that claimed victory over the USSR in 1991, the one that saw the fall of the USSR as a confirmation of its own perfection, the one that has radicalised to such an extent that it has declared itself inseparable from the idea of democracy, that it doesn’t understand why the world still hasn’t fully embraced its objectivist vision and has declared all its critics as socialist terrorists.

The problem I have with this neo-classical capitalism is that it’s as corrupted and deceiving as the idea of communism and socialism promoted by the USSR. We are today, the “Western countries” – it’s quite revealing that we actually never stopped calling ourselves like this – we are in the same dysfunctional situation the USSR was 20 to 30 years before it collapsed, with a system that profits only a fraction of its elite and an increasingly policing and prohibiting State at the mercy of that very elite, a State that has forsaken its citizens it began to see as potential threats to the survival of its own establishment. The only difference is that this capitalism is giving us the illusion of choiceless plenty whereas that communism led to choiceless empty.

My problem with this type of capitalism is that it has declared its world domination, effective from 1991 to infinity so it should be applied to every aspect of everyone’s life across the world regardless of culture differences.

You will find out that the main actors of “anglo-saxon capitalism” shrug away the idea of culture difference, they are as intolerant and violent towards this idea as the Nazis were. It’s a chick thing…culture…nobody actually got time for that French philosophers crap. How European to be talking about culture instead of focusing on real issues, isn’t it?!

Culture is a major part of the problem because, although it is made to move and evolve, although it can change, discard bad aspects of itself and take the good ones of another culture, it takes time. It works on a time scale that has become foreign to the capitalism championed by the English-speaking world.

Everything is culture and the resistance that frustrates London, Washington and Canberra, the resistance they like to drag in the dirt, ridicule and humiliate is nothing but people looking at the alternatives, trying things out, leaving the negative on the side and embracing the positive of everything, anglo-saxon capitalism included. We hear sometimes the English economic establishment saying that it is childish from people to pick and choose when the economy is concerned, we either take or leave it, we either are on their sides or not. The world is a playground for the bullies. “You’re either with us or against us”. What a choice!

The issue today in the world is that London and Washington understand and define globalisation as “Do exactly what we do. Live like we live. Work like we work. Love like we love. Eat like we eat. And everything will perfect”. This is not globalisation, this is standardisation.

Globalisation has always existed. The movement of men, goods and economy have always been a human activity. To say that it is new is a mistake, goods have always been exchanged throughout the world despite languages and cultural differences, we always traded with our friends and foes, economic actors have always been moving around, especially in a world of constant war.

What is new is the standardisation, the idea that we all have to do, to be, to think the same and the model we are told we have to follow is the American way of life. This is the will for the whole of mankind to be fashioned to the WASP model and unfortunately, people are not ready to just do it. What we do, and what the Americans and British find very frustrating, is take what we like from the WASP way of life but refuse to embrace what we dislike. It’s not childish, it’s not condemnable, it’s not to be ridiculed, this is normal cultural behaviour. Forcing a culture on another one is the best to antagonise everyone.

The anglo-saxon capitalism has been mainly defined by Adam Smith and British or American philosophers. The neo-classical capitalists are saying that we should go back to the “birth of capitalism”, to capitalism in its genuine form. What they willfully ignore is that capitalism existed before, Adam Smith just defined it, he put some rules on it. The same way some people said that we needed to rationalise Nature. Evolution did not start with Darwin, he just explained it then we went from there. At the time of Adam Smith, there was also a need  to rationalise a normal human behaviour of making money and trading.

What we overlook is the fact that he defined it in catholic Scotland and protestant England, in the mid-1700s where people were desperately pushing the case for industrialisation. This was a world strongly dominated by single-minded ideas and censorship, a world where slavery and colonialism were considered normal, even a force for good, a world where Europe, divided and fratricidal, was ruled by absolute monarchs chosen by God with the right of life and death over anyone and everyone, and a wider world of which we knew almost nothing about. He put some ideas in his definition of capitalism that would be pleasing enough at the time so he was not imprisoned, exiled or censored and ideas that were current 300 years ago.

The same fashion the laws of Nature have been written by men to suit their understanding and justify their dominance, capitalism have been defined by the British and the Americans who have made it evolve into a diktat everyone should follow because they won over their natural enemies, socialism and communism. These laws of Nature and laws of capitalism are extremely restrictive and definite because they had to serve a purpose at the time and had to be as unnegotiable as a religious dogma.

Thankfully, we have moved on from these so-called laws of Nature which were supposed to support the fact that the white man is the acme of evolution and that everything is nature is about fight for power and domination. We have sorted the good and the bad, we have understood that these laws were in fact bad reading of Nature made to justify our crimes, intolerance and present the powerful’s march to greater power as the way things are supposed to be, therefore fighting against it would be “naturally unlawful”.

Science has brought enough proof and evidence to show the complexity of Nature, a complexity we are still discovering and that makes writing ‘its laws’ virtually impossible. We could have stopped at Darwin and the ones who have badly interpreted some of its rushed work to understand nature and evolution, or Linnaeus to explain the human race but we did not. We scientifically looked for alternatives in the face of the atrocities committed in the name of their theory.

We have discovered that unlike what neo-classical capitalism is saying, not everything in Nature is about being the most powerful, that there is no such thing as the “jungle law” or “the rule of the most powerful” in Nature. Lions don’t kill everything, destroy and pillage everything in the savannah. There are rather endless expressions and mechanisms of solidarity between species, races and kinds because everything is about balance to ensure its own survival.

Only fire is eating until it dies. An apparent domination but Nature grows back after. Humans are fire. A fire who, in 18th and 19th century industrialist Britain, looked and defined an economy theory that would justify slavery, colonialism and the destruction of its own environment and today this theory is as obscurantist and deaf as it can be.

The failure of communism does not mean the victory of its strictly opposite vision. It means we should look at something else now, something less extreme, more including. Marx’s vision was just as aggressive and narrow-minded as the ideology he was trying to counter. It was: let’s see what capitalism do and let’s do the exact opposite. Its failure should have been a wake-up call for this type of capitalism.

It’s time we look at alternatives now. Not to capitalism as such because I believe it is inherent to human nature. We have to look at alternatives within capitalism, in the face of all the atrocities and suffering brought by the very narrow-minded, fossilised, aggressive, domineering and over-bearing anglo-saxon version of capitalism. We need cool heads to be able to see objectively what is good and bad in that vision of capitalism that is ruling the world, putting entire countries to their knees, sealing the fate of millions of innocent people for the profit of the very few, and reducing democratically elected heads of state and parliaments to irrelevance.

The fact that a single judge far away in the US forced into default Argentina, an entire, democratic country with 42 millions inhabitants, to the profit of American hedge funds without a flinch for the Western countries, the IMF or the World Bank shows how destructive this type of capitalism is. It’s 42 millions people facing unemployment, poverty, insecurity, for the profit of a hundred or so rich Americans. Baffling.

Having a job is about making a living.

The new thing right now is to blame everything on the unemployed. The idea pushed by the rich and powerful that they cost so much to the country that they are the reason why the crisis is lingering. It’s nothing new to blame the poor and the minorities: wanderers were blame for everything throughout the Middle-Ages and so were the Jews up to 1945 in Europe.

Today, however, anyone actually interested can check the numbers on every government websites for they are obliged by “Evil Brussels” to publish them and they would find out that the money dedicated to unemployment benefits is always way less than the money given to private companies so to encourage them to keep buying State’s assets. Like the railway in England.

Also, anyone with a memory will remember that the banks and their recklessness have sunk economies, not the poor and the unemployed. The hole in the State’s treasury in most “Western” countries which “justifies” austerity comes from the £500 billion bail-out given to the bank which they don’t even have to pay it back. Not from the few millions given to council housings and job centres.

I have always been amazed how even the working poor themselves are ready to believe that idea that welfare state is responsible. The whole speech about the working vs the unworking on all right-wing tabloids and media is working wonders. So much that even the Left is using it now because now even the poorer, the most unsecure, the ones whose work life-line is holding by a thread – it takes nothing now for a law to pass so the minimum wage they are living on is abolished – even these people say out loud that we should abolish benefits because all unemployed are “happy to live on it”. They are not simple-minded, they just believe anything Rupert Murdoch and co’s press will write.

What the neo-classical vox populi deliberately ignores is that people are not on benefits because they want to but because they need to. Unemployment is not a situation where people like to be in. You don’t thrive in unemployment: you are nothing but a name, you lost part of your identity, you don’t contribute to society, you are a pariah, you have to be helped like a sick person but a sick person has been struck by fate whereas you “must have done something wrong”, you lack social interactions and intellectual stimulation, you don’t have a sense of purpose anymore. It’s a physical and moral degradation, the biggest source of depression and suicide, and, except for some bastards loved and cherished by the tabloids and Channel 4 for they confirm their views, no one is happy to be useless. But for Paris Hilton and most rich heirs and heiresses, of course.

The reason why some people are not in a job and stay on benefit is mainly because work doesn’t pay anymore so they have to make a decision between poverty and decadence in a job or barely making it on benefits. What would you choose?

We have reached a situation today where the State, following its mission to protect its citizens, is still being more or less honest and fair whereas most of private companies have come to treating their work force as disposable “resources” that bring nothing. The State benefits are taking hundreds of criteria into consideration to ensure that unemployment doesn’t mean instant and extreme poverty. Benefits have to allow people to get back on their feet after they lost their living.

Whereas companies would rather be spending millions lobbying ministers, governments, sending corporate lawyers at huge expenses to ensure that the minimum wage doesn’t go up, or better, gets abolished completely, and to deregulate the job market so they can decide the fate of workers with a click of their fingers. The Zero Hour contracts the unemployed are forced to take in England is nothing but modern slavery for private companies where people work for free as their decreasing State benefits have become their pay. The State is paying the wages of the employees used and abused by private companies and everyone thinks it’s normal.

Before I am accused of being anti-corporation, I know many companies are doing the right thing. The multi-national firm my mom works for is actually doing everything they can to make sure their employees are happy and healthy, they pay internships and work-experiences fairly but they are not the ones you see cosying with ministers and put on a national pedestal by governments. It’s like the Left is ignoring them to make a point and so is the Right.

Anyway.

The reason why some people are living on benefits is because having a job is not a guarantee to being able to survive whereas being on benefits, weirdly, offers more security and hope to unemployed people.

So how do we fix it?

The solution we advertise the most and the one applied the most right now is to cut the benefits. There is this idea that abolishing benefits will put people to work as if cutting benefits would suddenly create 15 million jobs in Spain. CEOs say it would because the companies would not have to pay social charges to finance them anymore. The truth is these charges are nothing next to the hundreds of billions of Euros, pounds and dollars these companies and banks are sitting on at the moment, greedily waiting for the State they loath to fix the problems so they can invest again. Cutting these charges will not make them abide by their very own definition of capitalism which is to take risks, invest the vast sums of money they are keeping tightly against their chest right now and create jobs. They have the money but they are waiting for something to happen and cutting benefits will not suddenly get people back to work, whatever they want us to believe. Even studies commissioned by various governments (widely discredited and disregarded by ministers who asked for them themselves) say this is not the solution.

What abolishing benefits will do is throw millions of people of all classes, races and backgrounds into extreme poverty whereas the richest will get even richer thanks to the Stats intervention in their favour. However there is something people tend to forget: human beings are animals who will do anything to survive. Extreme poverty is exclusion of the “civilised world”, it’s reducing people to nothing in a society where everything costs, even being born.

Willingly pushing people to extreme poverty will harm social peace because nowhere at no time in history have people put up with it for too long. Even in times of no social media and world communications have people organised and rebelled. Social unease then unrest will increase and when people have realised that their democratic state has indeed sold them out, they will not see it as theirs anymore and will try to harm it (by voting for the fringe parties) or overthrow it. But in a world where politicians have not visions, no convictions, I’m not surprised there is not long-term dedication.

The other solution is therefore to ensure that people can live of their job, not by making the State pay the wage of private sector’s employees, like in England, but by making sure companies pay their workforce enough for them to actually live. It has been shown again and again that people whose work is paying fairly are more prone to like it, are more dedicated, more productive and happier in general. And someone who is happy and secured is someone who will buy more as well. Someone who works for hours to get nothing in return and with no prospect will not even try because there is nowhere to go, no point whatsoever.

We are born on Earth, we have no choice and yet are told to pay for food and water. We are then told that a job will give us money for that so we get a job and what should we do when this job we do for hours, day in day out, doesn’t help us pay for that food and water?

When mentioning it to most big corporations, they shrug it and tell us that having a job should be enough as a reward and satisfaction.  People should be happy that companies are here to grant them with a job to begin with as if it were selfless from them to employ us. It’s not their fault if they money they grant us is not enough. It’s the State, we should complain to the State, even if they have dismantled it. We should realise the companies are a force for good and we should work just for them just for the sake of it.

A job is to “make a living” but today, listening to the richest CEOs, it’s like jobs are just becoming a way to keep “lazy people” busy between breakfast and dinner so they don’t have time to think too much. The image we are made to believe is that big bosses are doing the world a favour by maintaining social stability through the jobs they grant to the common men. How dare we ask for money then?

How have we come to this? How can a CEO believe that he’s the force for good in the company and all his employees should just be happy to be working for him for nothing? How is it possible for companies to genuinely believe that their workforce brings nothing, only managers create wealth? How can democratic states not only praise these people but make sure the law is increasingly on their side? It’s Ayn Rand all over again. No wonder they all praise her work as the one of messiah.

I feel like we are stuck in a vicious circle of levelling down. Benefits should be abolished and pay should go down to allow private companies to “flourish” but who is benefiting then? What’s the point of companies making profits if the majority of people don’t see the benefit of it? Where is all that money going then? We all know but we don’t really mention it because we don’t question the force for good Reagan and Thatcher’s understanding of capitalism is, whereby the living standards of everyday people is irrelevant for a ruling class that doesn’t seem to be able to grasp the looming disaster of their inward, short-sighted, profit-centred and selfish vision of the world. It’s not democracy, it’s plutocracy.

If it’s only about the money, like they like to say, at the end of the day, the people will not go with what is easier but with what allows them to survive. If benefits paying better, people will “choose” unemployment. It’s not benefits we have to change but pay altogether.

Atlas will drop the world, the world will drop on him.

Make work pay or face unrest.

Just sayin’ Monday IV

*People always complain about the rain but if you look carefully the sunniest countries in the world are also the poorest.

*A woman who cooks, bakes cakes and fixes clothes is considered as a housewife. A man who cooks, bakes cakes and fixes clothes is considered as a chef, pastry chef and a fashion designer.

*A group of naked women is a “bunch of whores who should be ashamed of themselves” whereas a group of naked men are “such funny lads!”

*Parents will tell their daughters to not drink so not to get raped because they will not tell their sons that having sex with a semi-conscious, drunk girl is in fact rape.

*In a country with a weak state, the labour market is willingly at the mercy of greed of companies: zero-hour contracts, unpaid internships that “need” to last longer and longer, unpaid work experiences, unpaid overtime…The ideal labour for neo-capitalistic companies today is slavery: the work is done and costs nothing. That’s the aim to achieve.
But who will go for these jobs? The unemployed who are forced to take them under the threat of decadent poverty, yes but mostly foreigners. Natives have better expectations, they have been told and educated to aim higher and look at these jobs with disdain. And they should because no one deserves to give dedication and time for nothing. However, they also blame immigrants for taking these jobs and normalising them.
Immigrants are not employed to these jobs because they are “harder-working” like managers like to say, they are made to work these jobs because they are in need of a way to make it in a new society so they will do anything. A job is still the best way to assimilate in a new country and managers use and abuse this. They see immigrants as free-for-all, malleable, silent and docile labour that will not dare rebel.
Blaming migrants is to ignore that the companies were the ones to not only create and offer these jobs in the first place but also lobby the withering state for the normalisation and expansion of these types of modern slavery to the rest of the labour market. They are the ones who exploit human misery with the help of the state looking to apply them to the whole population by leveling down.
The more you deregulates labour, the easier you make it for private companies to worsen working conditions, the more low-skilled immigrants fleeing worst living conditions in their own country will come and the more people will think they are “stealing our jobs”.

*Unionists in the UK or Spain have forgotten that it’s the power of the state that keeps their country together. Reducing its grip and leaving it to the markets to do its job will only result in fragmentation. No private company in the world has the power to hold a whole country together, nor do they want to.
Different cultures stay together because they see a common purpose in the country lead by the state. They stay because the vision offered by the state is inspiring and when they look at their everyday life and future, they see in the state the certainty of their protection, security and well-being that depends on central government.
Today, as the state bows off to the markets, people are told that they can’t expect the state to be behind them at all time, to “nanny” them, to look after them, to tell them what to do and to care for them. That’s no surprise then that entire regions, cultures, people are taking matter into their own hands and marching towards the moment when they will indeed not need the British or Spanish centralised state anymore. That’s actually what capitalist orthodoxy is dictating.

*Facing with injustice, the English would say “It could be worse”, to which the French reply “Yes but it could also be better.”

*The French are chain-smoking, skinny, arrogant mean-girls whereas the English are drunken, promiscuous materialists. Women are not better.

*The neo-classical capitalism is looking to enforce his creation of the Homo Economicus where we are all characterised as consumers. “Tell me what you buy, I’ll tell you who you are.” We are expressing and defining our identities by what we buy. We are looking to make the world fit our own consumer interests and we interact with it as customers. “The customer is the king.”

*The US love to see themselves as the world police force and so do we. And yet everybody, including themselves, is resenting, using and abusing the situation. In 2010, the US said they would pull back from Europe a bit when it comes to foreign affairs effort and refocus on Asia after they realised China owned most of their economy. Oddly since 2010, the tensions between China, Japan, both Koreas, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia are all over the news. The situation in the South China Sea is such that we are closed to war, we often read. It’s like all these countries were waiting to become interesting again. Do we always have to wait for the US to look that way to do so ourselves? Also, interestingly, as the US pulled back from Europe, and looking the other way, Russia became aggressive again.

“Why are you a feminist?”

Because a men’s world, patriarchy has brought one crucial idea:

Human beings as being “the acme of evolution” and men as being the strongest, most achieve human beings.

And all that gushed from it:

*Endless wars

*One-sided world: the denial of differences and violence against them.

*Human beings divided into races

*Violence as an acceptable mean of solving problems

*Colonialism, bullying and intimidation

*Inequalities and segregation based on the ranking of human beings according to their wealth, race, age, looks and gender

*Human trafficking

*Women and children as objects and resources at the service of men, as properties of men

*Women as sole baby factories, as slaves of/to their ability to give birth and without a say on their fate

*Submission of women as second class human beings

*Seeing human beings merely as economic resources with various worth

*Nature as disposable economic resources

*Animals and any other living organisms as objects (the fact the English language calls them “things” is striking)

*Death and prison for sexual orientation, different beliefs, disagreement and dissent.

*Men-centered religions

*Honor killings

*Serial killings

*Rape and sex as a weapon

*The creation of the “homo economicus” or the denial of human beings as living organisms lead by their feelings and psychological urges, rather driven solely by their cravings for more gain and power.

*The shaming of humans who are humane.

At the moment, the biggest hindrance to these changing is patriarchy. Now, I am not saying feminism will solve all problems, that would be foolish of me to think so, but most of them will definitely be left to History.

PS: Feminism doesn’t mean “a women’s world”, it means a equal world, a human world, a humane world, a “men and women’s world”.

Just sayin’ Monday III

“Men are afraid to be laughed at by women, women are afraid to be killed by men.”

Child-free spaces are essential to adult sanity and they should be protected. Why must couples take their baby to go to the pub? Since when has a place of smoking and drinking become a child-friendly place? Why do they have to be child-friendly?

Beyoncé is an adult who makes music for adults, not for six-year-old girls and she never pretended to do so. You have to be an adult to understand her lyrics and the meaning of her latest videos. A child will not see what you see: they will merely see a woman in a swimsuit dancing. You know sex, you see sex, they don’t. So she is not responsible or to blame for your child’s teenage promiscuity, your parenting skills are.

The Ebola has killed about 10,000 people in the last forty years. In 2012, Malaria infected 207 million people and killed up to 800,000; an additional average 1,5 million people die of tuberculosis every year but there is no emergency or masks given to the population, why? Because there is tiny, very little risk for these two plagues to infect the First World.

Today, civilisation is democracy, but one is as abstract as the other. So there is endless rivalry between the three oldest modern democracies, France, the UK and the US, to know who is the one to hold the truth of genuine democracy and therefore is the one entitled to enlighten the rest of the world on what it means. The first is a down-looking, self-righteous pompous bore with a penchant for intellectual masturbation. The second is an obnoxious old, perverted, corrupted aristocrat with a strong tendency of oneirism. And the third is a blood-thirsty, overbearing teenager who will never grow up.

The victory claimed in 1945 by the English-speaking world has allowed it to establish its domination over the world. Today, modern civilisation is defined by its ideas and vision of what civilisation is: the world’s economy has been ruled by its sole vision of capitalism since the Bretton Wood agreements in the 1950s, it was made worse since it also claimed victory over socialism; its language must be spoken; its definition of freedom and democracy as well as the defence of “its interests“ – whatever that means – are forced upon other countries with guns and blood, because (not ‘if’) necessary; disregard of international laws and institutions are common for they are said to be holding back their mission of goodwill and yet they are also used as an excuse to bully and bleed parts of the world. But it has not understood that the fall of USSR did not mean its victory but the beginning of its decline in a world that needn’t take sides between two extremes anymore. Its ever-more aggressive bullying, betrayal of its allies, its eagerness to wind up and play along with its adversaries, the radicalisation of its single-minded view show its desperation in finding a new reason to be, to avoid its demise. The increasingly erratic bully from the West has been standing alone in the playground for too long and just realised that other students are gathering rocks and stones behind their coat.

A life on mortgage.

One the reasons I left England is because I reached a point in my life in Albion where I could only move forward. However it meant a major cultural clash that I could not overcome: the long-term implications of settling down for, in England, it means one thing: living with the money you do not have, will never have and yet are made to spend constantly.

In the 1990s, when studying the US at school, I remember reading speeches from American politicians, even presidents and representatives, talking about the fact that a real American has to buy. Materialism is a blessing for it moves the economy forward, it helps the country. At the end of the Cold War, America has definitely merged patriotism and capitalism: buying is an act of patriotism. Saving, long-term things…that’s for commies, they have five-year plans over there, America lives in the moment.

Sarkozy tried that in France. Two months before the crisis began he told the French to “stop saving their money and buy instead”, a definite shift of the French right to the Republican American right’s view of the world. Nobody cared for that and we kept saving for later.

So as a Frenchman, I have always been absolutely staggered and left speechless by my English friends who seem to be spending and using money like it’s the most available, abundant thing found in Nature. How American of them, I thought!

I have had former Sixth-Form students (both 20) who were proudly displaying pictures of their new house on Facebook. A two-floured, semi-detached house in Birmingham that cost them more than £270,000 (for two 20-year-olds!!) when he’s a trainee engineering and she is at uni and they barely got engaged! My mother bought a huge, three-floured house with a massive garden in the historical, posh centre of Dreux for €125,000. That was after she saved for 20 years and looked for the perfect for five years. I did not understand.

Then I had a colleague who bought a brand new car as a gift for herself after she got her PGCE, she was not even a qualified teacher yet! Another colleague who bought a house with her five-month boyfriend, broke up, cried because she did know how she will cope with all the expenses, had to ask for money to the school and arrived on Monday with a big smile: “Look at that dress I bought this weekend. £600, I know shouldn’t have but it’s so cute…”.

WFT?

Where do they find all that money? I know, the banks are giving them the money but why? And why are people buying cars and houses when they are barely 20, just got their degrees or have just found a non-permanent job? The cultural shock.

In England, you don’t have to buy, you have the Right to Buy, created and hammered by Tories since 1980s. In a society where everyone tries to emulate the aristocracy (the highest reward is to be made a lord), ownership has become the symbol of freedom. You are a true citizen if you own what you have. You are a patrician. Otherwise you’re the plebe, you depend on somebody else, you cannot lift your condition. With Margaret Thatcher, the shift Sarkozy tried to apply in France did happen in England. The wealth-craving, rich-obsessed middle class came to power, bankrolled by richer than them, and so did their ideas of a Cold-war democracy that could only be understood through the spectrum of capitalism: the enemy of capitalism is the enemy of democracy. And their narrow idea of capitalism involves two things: owning and wanting more. An idea deeply rooted in the power-fading English-speaking world.

So in England, there are two types of people: the ones who believe that, to be free, you have to own, you have to spend without counting; and the people who don’t believe it but are resigned to it. At the end, they all follow the system.

When I asked my manager why she was buying so early (she was 27), she said: “Well, today, you have to go on the property ladder very early. You buy a crappy house for a lot of money, you take a mortgage, then you do it up a bit and after a few years, you can sell it for £20- to £50,000 more so you can get a slightly better house. And maybe, after 20 years, you’ll get the house of your dream.”

“Why do you sell it?” I asked, “Can’t you just make it your own?”.

“No because they are shit! The neighbourhood is shit, the schools are shit, the house itself is falling apart because no one wants it. It was quickly build for factory workers in the 1800! You don’t want to raise your kids in there…So you sell it for more to afford the next one”.

“So someone is going to buy the same crappy house but for £50,000 more?”

“That’s how it works and that’s why you have to go early, otherwise you find yourself buying a shit house for £300,000 when it would barely be worth £70,000 in France.”

I can’t. I could not. I will never be able to live like that. These people are not free: they are bankers, estate agents. Their whole life is about planning the next financial move, checking property value and not just living in but owning a place they don’t like just because there might be what they actually want at the end of the line. That’s the idea of freedom?

And the money! A life on mortgage, they think they are free because they are called “owners” and the government only speak to and about them. The nation is all about them: the house-owning people, the ones who own land, like the aristocracy. It is baffling to see Westminster’s complete disregard for renters: “If they were hard-working, they’d have a house by now” is the mantra.

The others have made it, they lifted their condition but at what price? Their freedom to decide for themselves because unlike the aristocracy who manages to stay afloat, they have been sucked in the system, are now stuck in the speeding wheels, tethered by their mortgage and loans for decades: a real Damocles’ sword above their brand new IKEA throne in the living-room.

When I mentioned that I was changing careers at 30, every teacher in the school was telling how they wished they could do the same. “Why not?” I would say. “There is the mortgage”, they’d reply. And I understood, they are free because they have the things: a car so they don’t have to rely on public transports, a house so their money is not wasted away to some stranger. When in fact what they actually have is a mortgage on the car, a mortgage on the second car, a mortgage on the house and a couple of loans to pay back on the money they borrowed to go to Spain and the new I-phone 5 for the kids at Christmas. A life build on numbers that seem to add up to infinity, they feel. They could not afford Spain and the phones but it’s not about what you can afford, it’s about lifting your condition, aspiring to higher grounds, and the banks and Wonga said they will always help you. Who rents? Who uses public transport? Who goes caravaning in Dorset? Who offers action figures for Xmas anymore? The lower class. God forbid!

In France, it is notoriously difficult to find a mortgage, sometimes to the point of ridicule, but at least companies like Wonga are not allowed to advertise for quick loans during children programmes or advertise all together,  there are caps and restrictions everywhere on borrowing money so we don’t lose control because we are not all bankers for a living. But it’s mostly so we don’t get to think that ownership is the only way to freedom.

We are not the only ones in fact, a rich country like Switzerland will see 70% of its population renting when the poorer countries in the world can boast 80 to 90% of house ownership. The fact is: regulating on renting demands a very high-level of democracy and state organisation so people in richer countries will tend to rent whereas people in poorer countries will be the owners of their run-down house.

In England, renting is a nightmare. I had done it for seven years: flat on my own or with an actual friend, house sharing, live-in landlords…Only for one year when the agency told us they were managing the flat did I feel safe and secure. The reason is, there is no regulation in England: no laws, no office, no institution that dictate some basic rules, some rights and have-tos between landlords and tenants like we do in France or Germany, where a very large proportion of the population is renting. In England, it’s not uncommon to have a landlord that comes to see you after a year and ask for an extra £100 every month for the next year and if you don’t think it’s fair, you’re out.

From the landlord’s point of view, the demand in renting is so huge, and the offer and regulation so weak that there will always be someone ready to pay that price, so why not? From the politicians and rulers’ point of view, if the landlord asks for an extra £100, he must have a good reason. Capitalism regulates itself and its agents know where the boundaries are so every is fine. When they don’t, the bubble bursts, but that’s normal, it’s how capitalism regulates itself.

No! That’s how Cold-war, Britain’s and former colonies’ capitalism works and now that it stands “undefeated”, this form of capitalism has become as genuine and honest as Stalinist communism. It became some kind of negative of the what it was fighting.

In France, a landlord will have to justify it. Being an apparent provider in capitalism doesn’t make you unaccountable.  If the landlord wants an extra monthly £100, he will be asked to prove he did some improvement to the place, for instance, something that would amount to costing an extra £100 every month for the people who live there. You cannot just ask for some more money like this!

If the landlord kicks you out, who are you supposed to talk to in England when only owners are considered and praised? In France, the state has various institutions where you can go and ask for help for free because it’s a matter of social peace, which is the first mission of the state. In England the state believes “people will be reasonable”, i.e. it can’t be asked, so there is nothing, you just take your stuff and find some other place. For an immigrant, even “just from France” who has no family in England and lives in Birmingham, when all his friends are in London, this is a terrifying prospect.

I am not saying that everything is perfect and rosy on the continent. If a place were perfect, everybody would be living there already but in England, I was stuck between the uncertainties of unregulated, overlooked renting that burdens your life, and becoming a “real citizen” tethered and unable to make decisions for myself because of the money I spent, yet never owned, for I was afraid to be perceived as lower class.

So I left.