Posted in Uncategorized

In Hong Kong

Sitting in Hong Kong and thinking about the whole quo vadis of the blog once again. It has been two and a half months since I have posted and, almost coincidently, that last post was on China. Different impressions are the order of the day when you get a bit closer to the source and the mind drifts back to 2006 and my getting upset when they closed Starbucks in Beruit’s Hamra. Well, the bombs were flying over my apartment, which was next to the AUB, on their way to South Beruit, but closing Starbucks just because of the Israeli attacks on the Lebanon. Life for the rest of us has to go on, doesn’t it?

And that is why I am in Hong Kong and not the PRC. Although, after Xi’s speech a couple of days ago, I am not quite sure if Hong Kong is the PRC, or not? Still, whatever it is, it is still fast free internet, people letting people out of the train before they try to get on, “rechtsstehen und linksgehen” (standing on the right and moving on the left) when they are walking up the escalator and, all in all, a civil society that most Europeans would recognise. A coming up for air and a living in the bubble until the other is all pervading. Yes, reminds me of those halcyon days in Beruit before I had to get onto HMS York and make a dash for Cyprus.

Posted in Uncategorized

Chewing the cud on a couple of systems and the criminals they spawn

The internet is down and German Telekom cannot send a techncian until wednesday. However, with the withdrawal symptoms not half as bad as I thought they would be, the benefits of a life without 24/7 web access are becoming clear. ‘Blair Inc.: The Man Behind the Mask’ is the latest read and it is actually being read and cognitively processed in a manner that hitting on sources online just doesn’t do justice to.

Another plus is sitting in front of the television and getting surprised by a good film, even if it was one which I have already seen. Florian Maria Georg Christian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck’s “Das Leben der Anderen” (‘The Lives of Others’) might bring a tear to your eyes, but, hey, don’t let me tell you about the film, watch it, even if there is one scene right at the end which I am going to reveal to you.

The GDR has imploded and the playwright Georg Dreyman, played by Sebastian Koch, reacts to a crude insult from Bruno Hempf, the GDR’s ex-Minister of Culture, who, among other things, is indirectly responsible for the death of the woman Hempf loved, by saying that is incredible, “Dass Leute wie Sie wirklich mal ein Land regiert haben(that people like you realy once ruled a country). The film itself is excellent and, having spoken to a number of people who grew up in the GDR, it is “Realitätsnah” (close to reality). Moreover, the character of Georg Dreyman, while not devoid of idealism, has all the attributes of a realist.Therefore, the film’s audience might be forgiven if it were to find Dreyman’s parting shot as being a trifle naive.

People like Hempf should not be allowed to run a country. However, these are the people who invariably find themselves in power, which brings me back to ‘Blair Inc.’. That “Realsozialismus” which spawned creatures such as Honecker, Ceaușescu, and Todor Hristov  was unsustainable because the system itself was inhuman. Similary, Tony “mass murderer”, “hypocrite”, “out for himself”, Blair and his neoconservative “friends” are the by-products of a system which is every bit as unsustainable and inhuman.

Where does all of this leave us? Well, when it all collapses like a house of cards we should at least be sensible enough not to look for some sort of stalinist model to replace the absurdity that is capitalism. Moroever, it might even be possible to ensure that power structures are put in place to prevent shit like Tony and Hillary rising to the top. But, hey, here was me talking about Georg Dreyman being unrealistic and while I still might be a marxist of sorts, the only thing that is inevitable is that the shit is going to hit the fan.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized

Reflections on Easy Reading and Hard Writing

In a little cafe at the corner of Berwick Street and D’Arblay Street and the much neglected blog has been accessed. That neglect is reflected in the reader statistics for this blog yesterday, but in a sense that is no bad thing today, as these statistics have facilitated automatic access to the source of one of yesterday’s mere two views.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Andy Morgan, was looking at this blog, but rather that someone who did look at it also  looked at Mr Morgan’s article, “Algeria plays a master’s game in northern Mali” from July 12, 2012, before viewing my post “The West’s intervention in Maili” . Furthermore, it also meant that the author of this post began a reflective chewing of the cud on the nature of his own writing when reading the quote, “Easy reading is damn hard writing“, from the 19th century American author, Nathaniel  Hawthorne, which is embedded into the header of Mr Morgan’s blog.

And the blog – not mine, of course – is “easy reading”, albeit the type of reading which requires you to activate the type of schemata that is not available to all and sundry. Indeed, the content reflects the affective and cognitive engagement of someone who can obviously access an in-depth reference to what he is writing.

All of that brought me to an additional chewing of the cud and the conclusion that writing like this is rarely to be found in the mainstream media, despite Mr Morgan having a profile at the ‘Guardian’. Indeed, it might be noticed that his last published piece of work for that newspaper appears to be on the 15 May, 2015 and it appears that his continued writing might be dependent on donations.

This is the reality of a world where a mediocre mainstream media continues to batter our heads with its daily drivel, while offering decent writers a “cameo appearance” in their rags with the proviso that they compromise themselves.  A world where credible authors who synthesize and evaluate are neglected, even when their hard writing culminates in easy reading. Of course, if that were to be otherwise, it might be expected that the tenous platform given to the Mr Morgan and others would be closed down tomorrow and do you know what …………….. they would do it in the name of freedom.

Posted in China, Uncategorized

Reflections on the Nationalistic Narratives that help to keep an Absurd System in Place

The book was bought in Foyles today; ‘Never Forget National Humiliation’ and with the pigs pigging it in Capitalism’s temples from Beijing to Bicester Village, Vancouver to Venice, Shanghai to St Moritz, the evidence would appear to suggest that  “Wuwang guóchǐ” has long since replaced the “4 legs good, 2 legs  and bad” narrative and doesn’t “building Socialism with Chinese characteristics sound like a bad joke?

No, post Tiananmen the Marxist “facing the truth in the face” narrative just has to take a back seat and while the present mumble jumble, gobbledygook makes little sense, that little is a little more than preaching equality in the quite crazy kleptocracy. Moreover, like everything else in China, they are only doing what the West has been doing for the last three hundred years or so.

Apropos of which, there was me, after buying the book, sauntering down Whitehall. The centre of empire, an older empire, but not long gone and, somehow, still hanging around. The statues of this, that, and the next guy who reveled in privilege and led millions of Tommies to the slaughter as they plundered the globe and my mind sort of drifted to my grandfather and his hatred of Churchill on spotting his – and people like my grandpa don’t get a statue – monument at the bottom of the street, just across from Westminster Abbey.

Yes, the blighty Brits have their very own equivalent of “Wuwang guóchǐ” and it goes something like “never think about what it really was”, is and will continue to be. At least, until the shit hits the frying pan. Oh, and the shit will hit the frying pan! On across the river, down to and over Lambeth Bridge and through the jolly nice gentrified residential area with “Starbucksies”, wee Waitroses, nice apartment blocks, and up to Victoria Station.

British economic growth in a nutshell in front of your face, rentier capitalism, and they haven’t quite managed to understand it, have they? The compound growth shit, just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in Beijing, it doesn’t work Birmingham, Bangkok, Burnley, or Berllin ….. it doesn’t work anywhere! And back to ‘Never Forget National Humiliation’ …. well, you have got to think of something to distract the people and get them to participate in keeping this shit going.

Posted in Uncategorized

Three short conversations in London

Went down to Cricklewood High Street this morning to do my laundry, threw it in, and then went to Costa Coffee, where I saw, or thought I saw, Ken Livingstone a couple of weeks ago, to wait for it to finish and there he was sitting beside me and talking to me about the pollution on Crickewood High Street and me telling, or trying to tell, him about the pollution in China.

There was a sort of lexical chain there, but not enough to establish any real coherent and cohesive conversation. Still, the conversation got a little bit interesting when Ken expressed his opinion that politicians are not brave enough to implement real change,even if that only had me talking about how, one way or another, change will be forced upon everyone as the capitalist growth model is doomed to blow up in all our faces.

By that time, of course, either a lack of interest in what I had to say, or a lack of ability to comprehend what I was talking about had the once Mayor of London drifting back to his copy of the Guardian.

Still, it was that bit about politicians lacking courage that had our references on this small planet touching and if implementing real change means that George Osborne doesn’t get to shoot off a machine gun on holiday in Vietnam and the kleptocracy in the People’s Republic of Amnesia doesn’t get to shop in Harrods and buy property here there and everywhere, then the thought would have to be that it would be difficult for them to see it in their interests to do so, even if it should be crystal clear to all and sundry that the shit is just about to hit the frying pan.

Anyway, back to the laundry and the Iraqi guy, who works there, was watching a shia cleric on television. On my mentioning that it was a shia cleric who was spouting out the hamdullahs, the Iraqi expressed some surprise at my exopheric reference which then soon led to us getting into a conversation about this, that, and the next thing and which went all the way back to the battle of Kerbala. A conversation that sort of petered out just after the Iraqi emphasised that it is not the ordinary people who are the problem, but rather it is the politicians. Yes,  Ken, even when the shit is hitting the frying pan, it is quite difficult to see politicians implementing any solutions when the evidence would appear to suggest that they are part of the problem.

Back home and, with the laundry put neatly away, it was time to make my way to Foyles where I am writing up this post. Still, there was time for another little event before getting on the number 16 bus and, on my way to the bus stop, I started talking to a colleague. A greek lady with native speaker level English who asked me where I was going and when I said, “Foyles”, she just didn’t know where, or what “Foyles” is, and when I started talking about my conversation with Ken Livingstone her response was to ask who Ken Livingstone was, or is.

Yes, it really is all about the reference and when I wonder why so few people read my blog, I really should be coming to the conclusion that very few people understand it and it might just be that we should talk to people in a language that is intelligible and by that I don’t just mean using words in a structured and conventional way, but rather using words and terms that person you are talking to can actually access. Now, where is that book by Slavoj Žižek I was looking for?



Posted in Uncategorized

Might have seen Ken Livingstone in Costa Coffee this morning

In London for a few weeks and I have already been here for a few days. Could swear I saw Ken Livingstone in Costa Coffee in Cricklewood this morning. An “oldish”, very casually dressed man, who would hardly cut a dash in the more chic parts of this city, but then cutting a dash was never on Ken’s agenda.

Anyway, there he was, a copy of the Guardian under his arm, coffee bought, and off he went to a nice quiet little corner of the cafe and his, no doubt, daily cognitive engagement with the latest episode of the daily drivel.

Didn’t approach him, of course! Thought about it and, perhaps, bringing up the now months old scandal of his pummeling by the media for his supposedly “anti-semitic” remarks. Thought about it and thought about having a little tête-à-tête about Ilan Pappe, the Balfour declaration, the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine, ….. thought about it, but didn’t.

And then  I thought about Winston in the Chestnut Tree Cafe, but then, even if Ken didn’t betray anyone, this “oldish”, very casually dressed man, deserved to be left alone with his cup of coffee and his copy of the Guardian.

Posted in Uncategorized

Munich shootings the all clear comes through

Thomas Baumann, a police spokesman, has just declared that only one person was responsible for the shootings, but added that at this point he cannot say anything about the killer’s identity .

However, with the perpetrator having commited suicide it shouldn’t be too difficult for the authorities to construe his identity in the next couple of hours and so it is off to bed and it is with interest that I await the narrative the authorities will have put together by the time I get up tomorrow.