Sunday, 6 August 2017

Faith, Hope, Belief and Innocence

A few weeks ago we had a power outage here in Tipperary. Not the entire county, but a goodly skelp of it. Ohh, a skelp is that bit of wood that spalls off a log when you miss the strike when splitting them.
Anyway, there I was in cone of light and in range of the hiss off a camping gas lamp, reading a book I had on my shelves since I bought it in 2006. The book, is The Great War for Civilisation, The conquest of the Middle East, by Robert Fisk, published Harper Perennial. And it was as you'd expect for a book about a war zone.
The thing is, I've been reading Fisk since I encountered him in the UK Independent newspaper when I lived in London. And was in need of a non partisan paper that wasn't affiliated to one political section of another.  So I knew he'd lived as the Middle East Corespondent in Beirut since the early 80s. And I've read innumerable articles he's written, from the border wars between Israel and her neighbours, to the attacks on refugee camps. His interviews with the politicians from Morocco to China and Togo to Samarkand and Dushanbe. And the first with bin Laden.
But in the intro to his book he made a point about how he could keep going and keep doing as he did in an area of almost unspeakable horror and that was he kept his innocence.
Not the innocence of the child, but that of a man who believes in his own and therefore the humanity of others.
You see since we entered the latest economic crisis we've seen here in the West a savagery and a targeting of the poor like we've not seen since the early 19th century. And why, in order to keep a set of book looking good. Remember, across the west, with the possible exception of Canada and Australia we've had the 'notional' printing presses running overtime. But there is no press, no cash as such, nope, these are transfers, virtual in the old meaning, and in theory stabilizing the system. Again it must be remembered it's not the social system we're on about but the money system.
My problem, and how I was thinking about it, was since 2008 so called Liberals have been running the majority of the main economies, those whom in theory should have a grasp if not a grip on just how their policies were affecting people. But it seemed they had become sooo tied up in their own political thought experiment that nothing else mattered. And so Trump, and Brexit. But other seemingly self destructive democratic decisions. All this left me bemused. Eventually to drift into a place where I stopped thinking about people, for in trying to understand how systems operated I was thinking like them. Systems have a senseless savagery.
So there I was in that cone of light with the hiss off the propane gas nozzle being transformed back to a place where I could process and come out the other side.


  1. Forced or not, it's a good reminder how much thinking we can actually do when we turn off the electronics and give ourselves a moment to process the stuff we are constantly inundated with. Your book sounds interesting, albeit a challenging read I'm sure. The Middle East "conflicts" make my head spin. They are so deeply rooted.
    I'm not sure I understand what you are saying about the economy. Is it the systems put in place to help are actually hindering? Haven't there been numerous studies down that show the economy actually does better under Democrat leadership? I know that has been the case here in CA in the recent years after the Arnold debacle. With my rudimentary understanding of economics, my issue with a lot of the policies is that they don't go far enough because of all the red tape and lobbyists and campaign money. Ideas get so watered down by the time they go into play, they don't work like planned and then are deemed a failure.

    1. In the past yes, it did well under the Democrats. But mostly because they used Bonds to build stuff, and this drew in huge numbers. Mostly smaller versions of the TVA and the Hoover Dam. Building roads and bridges. Building schools, libraries and football stadia and running tracks. Or the Freeways and the other main routes of the US. Now all they did with the Quantitative Easing was to shore up banks balance sheets.
      In Europe worse occurred.
      At least in the US you have the sense to lock Mortgages into the house. So when the house is sold in a default situation that's the end to is. Here the loan is to the person, so the house can be taken by the courts and you still owe a fortune.

    2. And if we're being honest, neither "side" is really doing anything for its constituency. Since Citizen's United, those with the deepest pockets set policy. Politics has always had a level of shadiness, but it's so much more blatant now. I think the Demicrats are a little less obvious about it, especially these days.
      I'm with you on the infrastructure, investing in that kills two birds with one stone.
      So in your housing situation there, the bank gets the house AND still gets paid on the loan? So the person ends up paying for new housing of some kind and on the loan for the housing they no longer have? I can see where that puts people in a very difficult situation financially and why the housing market might not bounce back quickly. Why isn't it linked to the property?

    3. It's not linked for a few reasons. At the time when the law changed in the USA we had very strong rent legislation. But that was obliterated about 1978 when it was declared unconstitutional. Ever since we've had the bankruptcy laws deployed on people who lost a job and had a mortgage. And because the bankruptcy laws assume an inheritance down the road it was incredibly long. The UK lessened the period to one year to help people out. But here we pretend some sort of fiscal rectitude but the reality is it allows vicious little scum to destroy the place every few years.
      Every year we graduate about 65,000 out of high school. Of these 40,000 go to some sort of 3rd level education. But since 08 we've had net migration out of the country of 80,000 per annum or 750,000 people out of a population of about 4 million. All because we cannot get the relationship between borrowing, bubble and bust in out collective heads. It's as if we've collective strokes and resultant memory loss.

  2. My go to author for independent views on the Middle East has always been Richard Engle. He has started off in Egypt in the 80's (I think) and spent most of his life covering the region. Currently he is the chief foreign correspondent for NBC. The problem with reading his books is that I always come away depressed at how much ignorance (on the U.S's part) is going on trying to solve the problems in the Middle East. In fact, the title of one of Richard Engle's book aptly describes our actions, "A Fist In the Hornets Nest."

  3. I'm a little confused with the tie to the middle east and our current economic issues (but I do get how they've created an attack on the poor and think that a racial tension is on the ride, which partly explains Trump and Brexit).

    Reading by the light without electricity sounds like a forced way to make us slow down. Your book also sounds interesting.

    1. The tie is that a man who lives and works in all that can still have a faith in humanity, and a faith in himself. Then I sure as shootin needn't drift into a funk.