Masonic Blog Fwd: [Dem-Village] A response to David Cameron. Diversity does not breed terrorists – politics does.

Mark Barrett marknbarrett at
Mon Feb 7 16:10:42 GMT 2011

  thought this might be of interest:

Paul Mason's blog, worth a read

Also excerpt Nafeez Ahmed's article below. Read the full article here

"For instance, Cameron overlooks how government policies have intensified
British Muslim social exclusion. The dogmatic adherence to neoliberal
principles pursued by both Tory and Labour governments, continuing under the
coalition regime, have widened inequalities in the UK with debilitating
consequences for the working class from both white and ethnic minority
communities. Consequently 69 per cent of British Muslims of South Asian
background live in poverty, compared to 20 per cent of white people.
Meanwhile, questionable and sometimes institutionally racist local authority
housing policies have systematically housed white and ethnic minority
communities in segregated areas of the same cities. The upshot is that
Muslims in Britain are now overrepresented in poor housing, unemployment,
low educational achievement, and in prisons.

But Cameron has already been warned that his own economic policies will make
this sense of exclusion even worse. As was revealed by equalities secretary
Theresa May’s letter of June last year to Chancellor George Osborne, senior
ministers are well aware that the coalition’s cuts would likely widen social
inequalities, such that “women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and older
people will be disproportionately affected.”


Really good read.

1. At the heart if it all is a new sociological type: the graduate with no

2. ...with access to social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and eg Yfrog so
they can express themselves in a variety of situations ranging from
parliamentary democracy to tyrrany.

3. Therefore truth moves faster than lies, and propaganda becomes flammable.

4. They are not prone to traditional and endemic ideologies: Labourism,
Islamism, Fianna Fail Catholicism etc... in fact hermetic ideologies of all
forms are rejected.

5. Women very numerous as the backbone of movements. After twenty years of
modernised labour markets and higher-education access the "archetypal"
protest leader, organizer, facilitator, spokesperson now is an educated
young woman.

6. Horizontalism has become endemic because technology makes it easy: it
kills vertical hierarchies spontaneously, whereas before - and the
quintessential experience of the 20th century - was the killing of dissent
within movements, the channeling of movements and their bureaucratisaton.

7. Memes: "A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas symbols or
practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through
writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Supporters
of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes, in that they
self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressures." (Wikipedia) - so
what happens is that ideas arise, are very quickly "market tested" and
either take off, bubble under, insinuate themselves or if they are deemed no
good they disappear. Ideas self-replicate like genes. Prior to the internet
this theory (see Richard Dawkins, 1976) seemed an over-statement but you can
now clearly trace the evolution of memes.

8. They all seem to know each other: not only is the network more powerful
than the hierarchy - but the ad-hoc network has become easier to form. So if
you "follow" somebody from the UCL occupation on Twitter, as I have done,
you can easily run into a radical blogger from Egypt, or a lecturer in
peaceful resistance in California who mainly does work on Burma so then
there are the Burmese tweets to follow. During the early 20th century people
would ride hanging on the undersides of train carriages across borders just
to make links like these.

9. The specifics of economic failure: the rise of mass access to
university-level education is a given. Maybe soon even 50% in higher
education will be not enough. In most of the world this is being funded by
personal indebtedess - so people are making a rational judgement to go into
debt so they will be better paid later. However the prospect of ten years of
fiscal retrenchment in some countries means they now know they will be
poorer than their parents. And the effect has been like throwing a light
switch; the prosperity story is replaced with the doom story, even if for
individuals reality will be more complex, and not as bad as they expect.

10.This evaporation of a promise is compounded in the more repressive
societies and emerging markets because - even where you get rapid economic
growth - it cannot absorb the demographic bulge of young people fast enough
to deliver rising living standards for enough of them.

11.To amplify: I can't find the quote but one of the historians of the
French Revolution of 1789 wrote that it was *not the product of poor people
but of poor lawyers*. You can have political/economic setups that disappoint
the poor for generations - but if lawyers, teachers and doctors are sitting
in their garrets freezing and starving you get revolution. Now, in their
garrets, they have a laptop and broadband connection.

12.The weakness of organised labour means there's a changed relationship
between the radicalized middle class, the poor and the organised workforce.
The world looks more like 19th century Paris - heavy predomination of the
"progressive" intelligentsia, intermixing with the slum-dwellers at numerous
social interfaces (cabarets in the 19C, raves now); huge social fear of the
excluded poor but also many rags to riches stories celebrated in the media
(Fifty Cent etc); meanwhile the solidaristic culture and respectability of
organized labour is still there but, as in Egypt, they find themselves a
"stage army" to be marched on and off the scene of history.

13.This leads to a loss of fear among the young radicals of any movement:
they can pick and choose; there is no confrontation they can't retreat from.
They can "have a day off" from protesting, occupying: whereas twith he old
working-class based movements, their place in the ranks of battle was
determined and they couldn't retreat once things started. You couldn't "have
a day off" from the miners' strike if you lived in a pit village.

14.In addition to a day off, you can "mix and match": I have met people who
do community organizing one day, and the next are on a flotilla to Gaza;
then they pop up working for a think tank on sustainable energy; then
they're writing a book about something completely different. I was
astonished to find people I had interviewed inside the UCL occupation
blogging from Tahrir Square this week.

15. People just know more than they used to. Dictatorships rely not just on
the suppression of news but on the suppression of narratives and truth. More
or less everything you need to know to make sense of the world is available
as freely downloadable content on the internet: and it's not pre-digested
for you by your teachers, parents, priests, imams. For example there are
huge numbers of facts available to me now about the subjects I studied at
university that were not known when I was there in the 1980s. Then whole
academic terms would be spent disputing basic facts, or trying to research
them. Now that is still true but the plane of reasoning can be more complex
because people have an instant reference source for the undisputed premises
of arguments. It's as if physics has been replaced by quantum physics, but
in every discipline.

16.There is no Cold War, and the War on Terror is not as effective as the
Cold War was in solidifying elites against change. Egypt is proving to be a
worked example of this: though it is highly likely things will spiral out of
control, post Mubarak - as in all the colour revolutons - the dire warnings
of the US right that this will lead to Islamism are a "meme" that has not
taken off. In fact you could make an interesting study of how the meme
starts, blossoms and fades away over the space of 12 days. To be clear: I am
not saying they are wrong - only that the fear of an Islamist takeover in
Egypt has not been strong enough to swing the US presidency or the media
behind Mubarak.

17. It is - with international pressure and some powerful NGOs - possible to
bring down a repressive government without having to spend years in the
jungle as a guerilla, or years in the urban underground: instead the
oppositional youth - both in the west in repressive regimes like
Tunisia/Egypt, and above all in China - live in a virtual undergrowth online
and through digital comms networks. The internet is not key here - it is for
example the things people swap by text message, the music they swap with
each other etc: the hidden meanings in graffiti, street art etc which those
in authority fail to spot.

18. People have a better understanding of power. The activists have read
their Chomsky and their Hardt-Negri, but the ideas therein have become
mimetic: young people believe the issues are no longer class and economics
but simply power: they are clever to the point of expertise in knowing how
to mess up hierarchies and see the various "revolutions" in their own lives
as part of an "exodus" from oppression, not - as previous generations did -
as a "diversion into the personal". While Foucault could tell Gilles
Deleuze: "We had to wait until the nineteenth century before we began to
understand the nature of exploitation, and to this day, we have yet to fully
comprehend the nature of power",- that's probably changed.

19. As the algebraic sum of all these factors it feels like the protest
"meme" that is sweeping the world - if that premise is indeed true - is
profoundly less radical on economics than the one that swept the world in
the 1910s and 1920s; they don't seek a total overturn: they seek a
moderation of excesses. However on politics the common theme is the
dissolution of centralized power and the demand for "autonomy" and personal
freedom in addition to formal democracy and an end to corrupt, family based

20. Technology has - in many ways, from the contraceptive pill to the iPod,
the blog and the CCTV camera - expanded the space and power of the

Some complications....

a) all of the above are generalisations: and have to be read as such.

b) are these methods replicable by their opponents? Clearly up to a point
they are. So the assumption in the global progressive movement that their
values are aligned with that of the networked world may be wrong. Also we
have yet to see what happens to all this social networking if a state ever
seriously pulls the plug on the technology: switches the mobile network off,
censors the internet, cyber-attacks the protesters.

c) China is the laboratory here, where the Internet Police are paid to go
online and foment pro-government "memes" to counteract the oppositional
ones. The Egyptian leftist blogger
<><> says
on his website that : "in a dictatorship, independent journalism by default
becomes a form of activism, and the spread of information is essentially an
act of agitation." But independent journalism is suppressed in many parts of
the world.

d) what happens to this new, fluffy global zeitgeist when it runs up against
the old-style hierarchical dictatorship in a death match, where the latter
has about 300 Abrams tanks? We may be about to find out.

e) - and this one is troubling for mainstream politics: are we creating a
complete disconnect between the values and language of the state and those
of the educated young? Egypt is a classic example - if you hear the NDP
officials there is a time-warped aspect to their language compared to that
of young doctors and lawyers on the Square. But there are also examples in
the UK: much of the political discourse - on both sides of the House of
Commons - is treated by many young people as a barely intelligible "noise" -
and this goes wider than just the protesters.

(For example: I'm finding it common among non-politicos these days that
whenever you mention the "Big Society" there's a shrug and a suppressed
laugh - yet if you move into the warren of thinktanks around Westminster,
it's treated deadly seriously. Dissing the Big Society has quickly become a
"meme" that crosses political tribal boundaries under the Coalition, yet
most professional politicians are deaf to "memes" as the youth are to the
contents of Hansard.)

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