The SNP have never had it so good

The confidence of the SNP must be high for Sturgeon to suggest another referendum, while its been on the cards for some time there has been no indication it was nothing more than nationalist rhetoric. Brexit however changed the name of the game, bringing the prospect of a new referendum to the forefront of Scottish, and subsequently British, politics. It now almost seems a certainty it will materialize. The winds of change are quite favorable. From Brexit to the Westminster government the nation is divided in countless ways which seem to suggest that Scotland is miles apart from the power base in England.

The divides which have shown themselves over the past few years since the 2014 independence referendum are unprecedented. The results of the 2015 General Election were surprising south of the border, but not so much to the north. In England the Conservatives managed to secure a majority of MPs, a complete shock given that for 6 months prior all we heard from political commentators and politicians was the certainty of a hung parliament, resulting in another coalition. North of the border however the SNP enjoyed a huge surge in the polls, mobilizing the 45% from the indy campaign they managed to secure a whopping 56/59 seats. Scotland chose an open inclusive form of nationalism and democratic socialism, while England chose Camerons’ liberal brand of Conservatism, quite a stark contrast between then two when you consider the Conservatives are pushing an austerity agenda while the SNP are the the vanguard in the fight against it.

Just as with the General Election Brexit revealed the stark divides between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. While England and Wales voted for Brexit, Scotland (along with Northern Ireland) voted overwhelmingly for remain, by a score of 62-38. As a result the Scottish will be dragged out of the the European Union against their will , even as it was something they soundly rejected, only further fueling the divides which are propelling them towards independence. But Brexit has another, more important consequence which will see itself come to fruition during any Yes to Independence campaign in future.

That simplistic slogan of the Vote Leave camp “Take back control” will return to haunt them. Especially since the whole focus of the Brexit referendum from the Leave camp was based on the idea that the British people should take back control from out of touch elites in Brussels, so we can decide our own future and destiny.  For after all, if English and Welsh can take back control from Europe, why can’t the Scots take back control from Westminster? Worst of all for the Brexiteers they will seemingly be unable to defend this great union, as the Scottish people are merely trying to achieve the same thing as they were, only the contexts have changed. Ultimately disarming their arguments, as to belittle the Scots who use their own arguments against them would ultimately attack their Brexit campaign too.

By doing away with the Union the Scots allow themselves to be the controllers of their own government, future and more importantly their own destiny. Removing the shackles of the Westminster Parliament, controlled by the much reviled Conservatives, allowing themselves to say in the EU or rejoin if they’ve already been taken out. Sturgeon and the SNP have never had it so good. Winning should be a lot easier than it was in 2014. If they lose again however the question should be settled for a generation.

 

 

The Unexpected bookworm

It’s may have been around 6 months since I made one of the first posts detaling my enjoyment of the film 1984. I’ve come a long way since then. Through the portfolio of pieces I’ve written, at the most 3 in one week, as if I was doing nothing but writing, to the slower and more gradual output of one a week, written more in the style of an essay in which I’d do a first draft to ensure its quality. Not only has my writing and content (hopefully)improved but also my ability to learn. I’ve taken to the hobby of reading.

Ever since I was required to read The Woman in Black as part of my English GCSE course last year it pushed me into the paper format for learning. It’s something I’ve never really done. I might own a good collection of history books but they’re mainly for show, when I bought them I had every intention of reading them but after the first few pages the interested petered out. In my comprehensive days I only read read pages of textbooks required for lesson without much interest. But now things seem to have changed, for the better. My desire to expand my knowledge combined with the forced reading of The Woman in Black has opened a new world.

Given the bus journeys which I take regularly to college, a good 40 minutes each way, I’ve got some ample time to expand my knowledge through the paper format. I mean I could read the Metro which is free on the bus I get but it doesn’t really interest me. For me published books are the way forward, after all getting a book published requires a lot more than some hatchet job or gossip stop in a paper. Not only that but unlike articles on the internet, which require a good thorougher search or ones from the paper, which if you miss an edition and no one you know has one then you’re basically goofed, books can be found congregating on the dusty shelves of stores such as Waterstones or one of the most important public services, the library. In the Library is a plethora of different novels, historical accounts and academic pieces which are displayed in their volumes, ready for those who seek to find that which is sought. One benefit is that unlike their media brothers books usually last for quite a good week or two, deeper in insight and depth of the detail.

The books I mainly read are political in nature, ranging from George Orwells infamous 1984, an introduction to ideologies and even books written by that notorious leftie Owen Jones. That last one may surprise a few people. It has given me an opportunity to read different points of view however. This is incredibly important as it allows me to release the shackles of conformation bias, helping me to see the larger picture and increase my knowledge, giving me a greater understanding of things. Bias is certainly one of the things which plagues online columns but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What is bad is sticking within your own conformation bias bubble which is a lot harder to break on the internet I find as you can always just close the tab and never look at it again, where as with books you feel encouraged to read through.

It has certainly not only changed the way I learn but also my tenacity to learn. Reading has thus become an important part of my self education and ultimately self enlightenment, its like my own rebellion against the unconscious ignorance which we all suffer. Quite a liberating experience if I must say so. Reading also allows me to maximize the use of spare time, making me as efficient as possible, an important step for self improvement.

While reading is not easy, its certainly worth it.

Shock Conservative Victory and Labour Troubles

The morning of friday the 23rd was that of any other, I rose early to use the shower before congestion kicked in, indulged in my morning bowl of beautiful chocolate flavoured wheat cereal and booted up the old PC. Loading up my facebook newsfeed it could have just been another friday morning except this followed two important by-elections for MP’s. Above their usual importance of seeing how well the government and opposition is fairing with the electorate, these followed one of the most momentous decisions made by the British public for over 40 years in the Brexit vote as well as bring the first electoral benchmark in opposition held constituencies for Theresa May in her tenure as Prime Minister.

The results were in, Labour had held onto Stoke-on-Trent Central while the Conservatives managed to steal a shock victory in Copeland. Copeland was by no means a safe Labour seat however the party has controlled it since the 1930’s which only deepened the sense of loss in defeat. On the other hand Stoke was pretty a safe Labour seat so their success in defending it requires less recognition.

For most of the campaigning the media focused firmly on Stoke as that’s where UKIP’s Paul Nuttall was standing in his first electoral attempt since assuming the leadership. A baptism by fire certainly, it would prove whether UKIP would remain as a domestic force or would be destroyed in defeat as their party slackens its hold on the minds of the electorate. After all for over 20 years since its inception their main focus has always being on getting Britain out the European Union and now they’ve achieved that would the party still serve a purpose? Would their anti-establishment stance allow them to sustain a foothold? I will make another post for this contentious issue. For now I will focus on Labour.

No where near as much media focus was on Copeland.  This only helped to magnify the surprise emphasized by the fact the Conservatives were never really portrayed as the main enemy for Labour in these elections, always UKIP and their working class appeal. So with the Conservative victory it does raise some concerns about Labour, its current internal conflict and its potentially worrying outlook for the future. Though the troubles have been speculated for some time, Copeland has brought them to the forefront.

Firstly we will examine the numbers. There were around 8,000 less people who turned out to vote as opposed to the 39,000 at the General Election 2015. This shows itself in the downturn in the Labour vote, down 5,000 as a result, for 11,600 in total. The Conservative vote however only decreased around 500 votes for a total of  13,700. While the traditionally lower turnouts for by-elections could be to blame, it could be interpreted as a symptom of something deeper with the Labour Party.

A symptom which manifests itself in the age old struggle of left, right and center. The change from embedding themselves in the centre left under Ed-Miliband to the more left wing policy platform of Corbyn has had consequences, which have shown themselves today and Labour have paid the price. Falling short in appealing to the broad masses through the prism of the left the opposing Conservatives, who while they’ve moved further to the right still keep a foot in the centre, allowed them selves to appeal to a broader base. Thus achieving a vital victory . If Labour continuously fails to mobilize the masses under socialist policies or manages to regain centrist voters then dark times are ahead. Any replication of these results in marginal seats up and down the country would lead an onslaught at the ballot box, culminating in a brutal bloodbath of Labour MP’s.

Another point, one which cannot be dismissed, glossed over or swept under the rug is the complete collapse of unity with the Party. Right now Labour is in a horrendously chaotic state to which it seems there is no end in sight. Ever since Corbyns election as leader there has developed the political equivalent of trench warfare. On one side are Corbyn and his supporters, emboldened by his successful bid for leader, gaining new strength as well as renewed faith that the left can not only succeed but is required to fight against the ruthless Conservative government. On the other hand are the Blairites who started this, representing the right wing of the party they see the left as unelectable, untamed and out of date; harking back to the 1980’s when Labour failed to combat their arch nemesis Margaret Thatcher, assuming that if they go back they will be crushed even more. Unabated continuously for almost two years they are deeply entrenched in their ideals, both sides show no sign of budging. Until they reconcile their differences the country will suffer. Failing to provide a real substantial opposition to the Conservative government, allowing them to implement more right wing policies then they would otherwise. Those who are not embedded in the party see the ruckus on the Labour benches as a embarrassment, all the while the Tories seem to be a bit more united(as much as they can be since their backbenches are notorious for being rebellious) which converts itself to electability.

While I may like Corbyn as a breath of fresh air from the usual robot it does feel he suffers from a severe lack of passion and enthusiasm. Which translates itself into a rather loose grip on the party further fueling the insurrection. To rectify the leadership problems he faces are momentous, rather than acting as merely a moderator for the party he needs to clamp his fist and bang it on the table. Whipping the revolting members into line and engaging in an aggressive series of offensives on the Conservative government and its brutal attacks on the state. Failing to do this will only fuel Labours slide into descent into limbo, a great shame for a once proud working class movement. The policies aren’t the problem, nether is the party, the farcical leadership and MPs are.

Copeland and Stoke might not have been the first by-elections during Corbyns tenure as leader but they certainly wont be the last, and if these are a sign of what is to come then dark tidings lie ahead. After all winning in safeseats is one thing, but losing in a previously Labour held marginal seat? disastrous.

Automation Apocalypse

Robots are coming

an era of immense technological change is upon us, ever advancing at a quickening pace it revolutionizes everything within its grasp. From the AI systems which will soon combine to control every aspect of your home, to self driving cars, to even the simplest of commodities such as self serving checkouts at supermarkets, to even the virtual credit boom and the slow replacement of cash. Through this we now live in a world which is becoming increasingly intertwined with computer technology and robotic systems, whether they be virtual or physical, but for all the accolades, successes and milestones the most glorious gift which this brings to humanity, the crowning achievement of the technological revolution will be the systematic replacement of the working classes through insatiable automation of jobs.

This robotic replacement of working class occupations is something which must be resisted at all costs, for every step taken towards this goal is a disastrous defeat for the working man and the working woman. Whenever this occurs it is those unsung heroes who keep the economy going who suffer, for they are the ones who lose their jobs as a result. What happens when people lose their jobs? They lose absolutely everything! their livelihood, their home and even their family! worst of all the suffer a loss of dignity, pride and ultimately a sense of purpose and place.

Who is to blame for this? The capitalists of course! their greed blinds them and castrates them of any sympathy for the common people. The only thing they care about is their beloved profit margins which are nothing more than bars on a graph, lines on a chart or number in a spreadsheet. Good people shouldn’t suffer such a cruel fate because of greed and avarice.

It’s not just the capitalists either, for we too are to blame. The insatiable hunger of the consumer for cheaper and cheaper goods accelerates this policy in order to feed extravagant materialism in all its glory and all its horror.For we too are blinded by the process as long as the end result is desirable. A monstrous burden which we must carry for all time if we allow this to complete the irreversible process.

The faceless creation of the machine is coming and the age of the machine comes with it, so tell me are you going to stand as the apocalypse looms over as 19th century European powers tower over the defenseless natives to be conquered? or are you going to act upon it and resist while you still can? before its too late.

The modern day Nazi propoghanda machine

Even after 70 years Hitlers ideals still thrive in the seedy underbelly of the internet

The Nazi party and all its mainstream advocates may be gone, but the ideals which Hitler and his followers fought and died for lives on. In an unparalleled machine, powered by a few, whose sole purpose is to churn take in the disenfranchised and turn them into loyal foot soldiers of National Socialism. Unlike the tools of the past, radio and televisions, the dawn of the internet has given new opportunities for the proponents of Nazism to spread their message. In this piece I’ll be focusing predominantly on the visual media posted on YouTube rather than forums and National Socialist websites as they simply don’t have the same kind of power, the same kind of grasp on the viewer which videos have.

Full of speeches, footage from rallies, parades and combat they combine of form the perfect message. The awe-inspiring sights of crowds which stretch for miles, reveling in the moment and flying the Nazi flag with enthusiasm create a spell over the viewer, creating a stir of emotions within them, grabbing and drawing them in. Incredible and incomparable to anything else they are nothing more than the culmination of magnificence.

The speeches themselves are predominantly snippets from various speakers and events stitched together to form a cohesive message. Emphasizing the message it exists within a juxtaposition with the footage to maximize the strength of the message, showing unity and defiance against the enemies of international Jewry and Bolshevism. Together its almost hard to resist, the allure overwhelming.

In this you also witness firsthand the true oratory powers of Hitler. Often used as the benchmark to compare modern day public speakers to, usually right-wing, you begin to see what is actually a false comparison. I mean without hearing any of Hitlers speeches it might seem feasible but once you hear those deep and exhilarating vocal cords it becomes ever so certain that in reality no one can compare. One of the reasons for this is truly the power of belief, just as Alfred warns Bruce of how Bane is fueled by the power of belief in The Dark Knight Rises,  which cannot be underestimated.

For the lost and the damned these videos are a gateway into another world, way of thinking and way of life. The light in the darkness for those who feel betrayed by todays rotten world, it gives them a purpose, something to strive towards and direction on how things should be. Seeing the struggle against international Jewry and communists as a fight which still rages on, though the metal and steel have been exchanged for a war on the mind, heart and soul of a people.

It’s quite impressive that even now, after over 70 long years, Hitler and his ideals still find their way into fresh young minds, creating new foot soldiers for the National Socialist dream. The element of being taboo certainly plays a part in this, as when something is ridiculed and denounced at every turn there are those who seek the truth behind the veil of censorship and are enlightened by what they discover.

Here are a few examples:

The threat of a unified left

The string of protests which followed the election of a Conservative majority government in 2015, the Leave campaigns victory in the EU referendum and Trumps astonishing democratic coup in the Presidential election will now see the protest movements merge and transform into a unified conglomerate. Emboldened by the utter annihilation of the political centre ground in 2016, a unified left will not ignore the successes of the populist right, nor can it afford to.

With the implosion of neo-liberalism its followers have depleted drastically in number,  where hardly any remain, as a consequence it has taken the centre ground with it. Now voiceless, except for the likes of Tim Farron who fights valiantly to defend what little support they have, millions of voters are left without guidance, leaderless in the political wilderness. In this is an opportunity to draw in the lost and the dammed. In the form of offering a new calling, the left urges people resist, when ever they can and wherever they can, the perceived rights attacks on the freedom of movement between nations, workers rights, a racism, bigotry and misogyny by the right.

As the left seeks to increase its resistance to Trump the number of protests will intensify, not only in America but they have the potential to be global, as we have already seen. The catalyst for this are figures like Donald Trump which have given them something which they severely lacked, a public enemy. Before the enemy was the capitalist system, which exploited the workers, environment and loopholes in the system to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, these concepts are quite abstract and intangible. With Trump however he represents the physical embodiment of all they despise, now they can focus all their hatred towards him. This is similar to how the Alt-Right views George Soros, an enemy which they feel must be defeated at all costs.

The right ignores them at their peril. The once fractured left is uniting under a new cause, to resist the rise of the populist right and everything they stand for. While they will decry the protests as civil disobedience and the protesters nothing but a bunch of crybabies, they fail to see what this movement could become. For these protests represent radicalization of the masses, the new members spreading the message to those in their immediate circles, at universities, in the family and even the workplace, sowing the seeds of future resisters.

Whether this physical resistance will be able to combat the virtual meme machine which has been built up over the last few years by the supporters of right wing populists is yet to be seen.

 

 

Interesting facts about Saigos birthplace

The Last Samurai begins with a section describing the birthplace of Saigo, which was the provincial capital of the Satsuma province, Kagoshima. The Satsuma provinces were located on the very south-western tip of the Japanese island of Kyushu.

The Satsuma provinces geographical location were of great importance as it allowed them to become a gateway for new technologies and trade to come to Japan from the rest of the world. Such as the introduction by Portuguese traders of gunpowder weapons, named Tanegashima after the island of the same name which they were brought through or the Potato which subsequently became known in the rest of Japan as the Satsuma potato.

The structure of Kagoshima was slightly different, being hemmed in on the east by Kagoshima bay and the west by Mt Shiroyama. The result of this was structure reflected a series of bands rather than rings of more traditional layouts. These bands represented the divisions of class, wealth and status between the cities inhabitants, at the centre was the Daimyos residence, following this are the inner bands which were the home of the upper classes, gradually declining until you reached the outer bands that were slums for the peasants of lower classes.

The Satsuma provinces were ruled by the Shimazu clan, whom the first Daimyo received Kagoshima as a gift from the first Shogun, adding to their gains in the decades following. During the reign of the first two Shogunates their relationship was like any other, loyal to the Shogun.However during the period following civil wars which occurred in the 1500’s they opposed the founder of the third Shogunate. Though in defeat their power was still formidable, allowing them to achieve an understanding with the new Shogun. The understanding was this, the Shimazu clan would swear an oath of allegiance and in return the independence of their provinces would be respected. This lead to the Shimazu seeing themselves as equals to the Shogun, rather than as subservient vassals.

This was reflected in how the Shimazu were given more leeway in enforcing of Shogunate policy. An example of this was the Satsuma provinces were littered with small fortresses to defend its territory from foreign invaders or resistance at home¹. From the 1600’s this was against Shogunate policy which limited Daimyos to a single castle, though the Shimazu ignored the policy the Shogunate did not contest.

The Shimazus place within the power structure of Japan could be best described as the Satsuma provinces being a city state existing more in a juxtaposition within the shell of the overarching Shogunate domain.

The development of the Satsuma provinces and the Shimazu clan make for quite an interesting bit of backstory to the tale of Saigo, their positions within Japan, both geographically and politically, gives an insight into the lands in which the legend would be born.


[¹] Interesting note one of the affects of having smaller forts placed throughout the domain as opposed to a singular fortress was the villages and their inhabitants suffered from more samurai influence than normal.