Sunday, January 1, 2012

Layer 503 . . . Happy New Dragon Year, Five Blessings, Years of Revolutions, David Lammy, Social and Economic Policies, and Class War

So here it is . . . Merry January 1st. And a Happy New Year!
"New Year occurs on different days in different countries following Buddhism."
"Different countries holding values and principles of Buddhism celebrate New Year on different days of a year. Basically, dates of New Year are drawn on the basis of luni-solar Buddhist calendar, which varies from one country to another. 
The Buddhist following countries of Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, and Lao have extended three days New Year celebrations. They celebrate it on the day of the first full moon of the April month of Georgian calendar. Alternatively, all Mahayan countries have their New Year celebration slotted for the day of the first full moon of the January month of the Georgian calendar. Natives of China, Vietnam, and Korea celebrate it either in the month of January or in the early part of the February month, and those belonging to the Tibet region celebrate it in the month of March."
Confused? Oh yes.

However, it seems we're heading into the Year of the Dragon.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2012 is the Year of the Dragon, which begins on January 23, 2012 and ends on February 9, 2013. 
Unlike the wicked, fire-breathing dragons of Western mythology, China’s celestial dragon symbolizes potent and benevolent power. Dragons are ancient, majestic, wise, and intelligent, and Dragon years are considered particularly auspicious for new businesses, marriage and children. Dragon years also tend to boost individual fortunes and the world economy.
The Year of the Water Dragon (1992, 1952 and 2012) is noted for its calm, visionary intelligence, and balance of right brain creativity with left brain logic.
If you subscribe to the dawn-of-a-new-era theory of 2012, then it’s easy to see how the influence of the Water Dragon will increase the likelihood of success for progressive movements gaining momentum all across the globe. Energy conservation and green energy-producing technologies, curtailing Global Warming, challenges to multinational corporations, attention to world hunger and the renewed health of the oceans and sea creatures will all likely fare well.
If your expectations tend more toward disaster, then you might expect tsunamis, hurricanes, monsoons and other weather extremes to be in the headlines.
But of all the Dragon years, the 2012 Water Dragon is most likely to bestow the Chinese Five Blessings of harmony, virtue, riches, fulfillment and longevity, adding even more weight to the growing belief that 2012 will be about breakthroughs, not disasters.


Yesterday's Guardian magazine was basically a review of -

2011: A Year of Revolutions

The last time the Guardian did a feature on "A Year of Revolutions" was 1989.

What high hopes we had back then for the countries of eastern Europe, and ultimately Russia. How little we understood that the USA had big plans for those places - and that the Shock Doctrine would ensure that formerly "socialist" and communist countries would leap from the frying pan of Soviet domination right into the fire of full-on neo-liberal Chicago-school capitalism.

How little we suspected that these countries would quickly (with indecent, shocking and reckless haste) privatise and sell off their state assets for stupidly low prices, just as we'd done in Britain, back in the dark days of Thatch. How little we realised that with the help of American economists and "advisers" Russia would become a country fit for oligarchs, billionnaires and gangsters.

So good luck Egypt, Tunisia and Libya - may 2012 bring you real freedom, democracy and prosperity. Let's hope that lessons have been learnt.


Last week there was an issue of G2 that also focused on the key moments of 2011, in which David Lammy MP wrote a very good piece on the Tottenham riots. He is, of course, the MP for Tottenham, and was born and bred on the Broadwater Farm estate, which gives him plenty of credibility - in my book, at least. Also - having been a junior minister in the last government, he's one of the few who seem prepared to say upfront that New Labour screwed up badly.

This is a must-read article.

How to avoid a repeat of the UK riots

For the big society to work, big business needs to share its power with a lost generation it has cast aside


Yesterday's Guardian had a review by David Matthews of David Lammy's recently-published book -

Out of the Ashes by David Lammy

The MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, provides an excellent explanation for the 2011 riots, says David Matthews

Part memoir, part political essay, Out of the Ashes aims to "offer a way forward for Britain" following this summer's riots. This is an ambitious task. All the indicators suggest Britain is going backwards economically, socially and politically. But David Lammy hits the ground running as the MP for Tottenham, in north London, and his book demands to be read.

Thanks to the outwardly banal, consumerist nature of the riots, David Cameron was seemingly "on trend" when he proclaimed the riots were "criminality pure and simple". 

Written off as the work of a "feral underclass", who deserved the draconian sentences they got, this supposedly criminal enterprise looked less a political problem and more one for the courts to deal with. But as Lammy reminds us throughout the book, a continual lack of education, ineffective parental guidance, poor role models, ill-discipline, unemployment and a host of social and developmental ills created the perfect storm for a riot. Yes, the rioters' behaviour was criminal. Yes, people have free will. But go to Tottenham, Hackney, Toxteth, Salford and witness the conditions people are living under. We know that poverty isn't just about a lack of money. It's about a lack of opportunity, prospects, hope. 

Failures of politics and society further up the food chain played a major part in the riots, as well as craven greed. Lammy points the finger, not just at Thatcher and Cameron, but at Blair and Brown too. This quartet has mortgaged British society, economically and morally. Riots and recession alike are their legacy to us. 

Ultimately though, it is capitalism and consumerism that are in the dock. "Consumption should supplement our relationships, not become a substitute for them," he says. He quotes a Blackberry message sent by a rioter to one of his young constituents, which in the pidgin text-speak of 21st century Britain, illustrates the flashmob mentality of many of the rioters: "What ever ends [area] your from put your ballys [balaclavas] on link up and cause havic, just rob everything. Police can't stop it." This is freedom "without any sense of duty" he argues. "Our society needs to reconnect with other important, informal regulators of behaviour. Notions of decency towards others. Pride. Shame. Admiration. Scorn."

But this prescription cuts both ways. Simply imploring our feckless youth to join the scouts or go to church to find salvation won't cut it in the current climate. Lammy knows this, which is why his coup de grace is aimed at the moneylenders, and by extension, the politicians that empowered their greed in the first place: "We cannot live in a society in which banks are too big to fail but whole communities are allowed to sink without trace." Cameron, I hope you're listening.


I had an interesting conversation recently with a friend who still insists that New Labour did some good things, and that Blair was a capable leader who was responsible for the 1997 landslide victory.

How can I put this? NO he fucking wasn't. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Blair was/is a clever psychopath whose main achievement was his cunning plan to take over the Labour party (in cahoots with Mandelson and Brown) so that he could achieve his ego-driven aim of becoming Prime Minister. By 1997 the country was so sick of the Tories after 18 years of Thatcher/Major that a stuffed donkey could have been the leader of the Labour party and it would still have won a landslide victory. Fact.


As the cuts bleed harder, the cruel Tory truth will emerge

In my political lifetime, I have never seen a more callous or inept crew in charge. This is no time for Labour to lose its nerve

by Polly Toynbee

The NHS by next winter will make constant headlines: the £3bn cost of disruption and privatisation will seem exorbitant as services go bust and waiting times soar. Crime is already rising, especially robbery and burglary, as youth unemployment increases and youth services vanish. With Sure Start and child literacy programmes disappearing, future trouble brews. 

The OECD's latest report on rising inequality finds the bottom 30% with just 3% of UK wealth, while the top third commands 75%. With money comes the power to sway governments to protect tax privileges and loopholes. The IFS predicts another 600,000 poor children in the next two years but shamelessly Cameron and Clegg still promise social mobility, knowing the IFS says it is already reversing. As Warren Buffet says of the class war: "My class has won."

This is no time for a Labour loss of nerve. When even Tory MPs attack crony capitalism and FT leaders warn of a corrupted capitalism that is eating itself, Ed Miliband has hit the right theme. Keep hammering the distorting political power finance wields for its meagre 7.4% of the economy. Reclaim "the state": it is not a threatening monolith but a motor for economic growth, with regulators to keep capitalism straight. "The state" is not a faceless threat: it is doctors, nurses, teachers, park keepers, police, tax collectors and apprentice trainers, all precious assets. Reclaim Blair's best heritage, when Labour's state improved life for most people, from lower crime to no waiting lists, better schools and public places, with better chances for more children. No apology needed.

This is a rich country: how that wealth should be generated, invested and shared is our choice, not iron fate.

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