Saturday, April 13, 2013

Alexei on Thatcher . . . and Personality Disorders

Damn you, Alexei Sayle! You beat me to it! - the observation that Thatcher was a classic case of  Borderline Personality Disorder.

This is what Alexei actually said to Jon Snow on Channel 4 News on the day that Thatcher died:

"I think of her as the first modern Personality Disorder politician. I think that's why Blair is so cut up [distressed]. They've both got similar narcissistic Borderline Personality Disorders. She was just . . . bonkers. She seemed completely nuts . . .  This woman was crazy. This woman was completely false. She had a completely messianic sense of her own rightness. She came out with strings of cliches and prejudices. It didn't mean she wasn't an effective politician . . . She just came out with prejudices strung together as policy."

Thank you Alexei!

I think he's wrong, however, about Blair, who is clearly a psychopath. Too strong? Take a look at the Wikipedia (etc) lists of criteria for diagnosis of psychopathy, and then tell me he isn't.

Women, for some reason, don't tend to be diagnosed as psychopaths. Instead, many women can be clearly seen to have Borderline Personality Disorder [Also called Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder.] It may be a wide spectrum, but here's the list of criteria for diagnosis:

* characterized by unusual variability and depth of moods. These moods may secondarily affect cognition and interpersonal relationships.

* impulsive behaviour

* intense and unstable interpersonal relationships

* unstable self-image

* feelings of abandonment and an unstable sense of self.

* often engage in idealization and devaluation of themselves and of others, alternating between high positive regard and heavy disappointment or dislike.

* feel emotions more easily, more deeply, and for longer than others do.

* people with BPD are often exceptionally idealistic, joyful, and loving. However, they can feel overwhelmed by negative emotions, experiencing intense grief instead of sadness, shame and humiliation instead of mild embarrassment, rage instead of annoyance, and panic instead of nervousness.

* especially sensitive to feelings of rejection, isolation, and perceived failure.

* often aware of the intensity of their negative emotional reactions and, since they cannot regulate them, shut them down entirely. (This can be harmful to people with BPD, as negative emotions alert people to the presence of a problematic situation and move them to address it.)

* impulsive behaviours are common, including: substance or alcohol abuse, eating disorders,  and reckless driving.

* experience chronic feelings of emptiness, inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

* experience transient, stress-related paranoid ideation

* marked tendency to act unexpectedly and without consideration of the consequences

* marked tendency to engage in quarrelsome behaviour and to have conflicts with others, especially when impulsive acts are thwarted or criticized

* liability to outbursts of anger or violence, with inability to control the resulting behavioural explosions

* difficulty in maintaining any course of action that offers no immediate reward; unstable and capricious (impulsive, whimsical) mood

If you wanted to be flippant about it you might say that women like Thatcher behave as though they're having an ongoing triple-strength bout of PMT. The condition certainly seems related to levels of oestrogen.

People who knew Thatcher tend to speak about her intensity, her rage, her inappropriate anger, her temper, her love of combat, her deliberate picking of quarrels and fights, her desire to dominate and her inability to consider or to tolerate views that were different to or in opposition to hers.

She would, however, balance out such behaviour with a pretence of solicitousness and caring, which many in her circle took to be genuine. She was a decent enough actress, and knew how to manipulate others, as well as bully them. She abused both her personal and her political power. She was charismatic, but not in a good way.

If she saw herself as some sort of national or international supermum, then that wasn't in a good way either. She was massively over-opinionated, quite possibly because she was at heart very insecure, and therefore willing or needing to latch on to some sort of faith or ideology, such as the neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism she learnt from the likes of Hayek and Keith Joseph. Having become a disciple of these political and economic beliefs, she ran with them like a true believer. Her mission was indeed to convert the world to this ridiculous, materialistic, fanatical, 'free market' doctrine, the results of which we're all living with now.

It's possible that the dementia which set in during her time as prime minister arose from stress, from lack of sleep, from physical and emotional exhaustion, and from her BPD.

Whatever. I suppose it's a pity that nobody in her family or in her immediate circle of advisors was able to see that there was something seriously wrong with her, and therefore help her to seek professional help with her condition. Not that she'd have listened to them, or been willing to entertain the thought that she had some serious issues. That's the problem with BPD - it's a vicious cycle.


Whilst on YouTube for Alexei, take a look at these other clips -

Margaret Thatcher Death Celebrated By Critics   -

Margaret Thatcher's death celebrated in Brixton    -

MARGARET THATCHER DEAD!! Brixton Celebrates Party - Ghost Town   -

'The Witch is Dead' - Street Party - Brixton - 8th April 2013: Part II    -

The Late Night Street Party "Celebrations" in #Brixton following news of Margaret Thatcher's Death  -

'The Witch is Dead' - Street Party - Brixton - 8th April 2013: Part III    -

Glasgow George sq . THATCHER IS DEAD 8/4/13    -


Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead   -


Friday, April 12, 2013

On The Day That Thatcher Died . . . An Epitaph of Tweets

On the day that Thatcher died there were millions of tweets pouring into cyberspace. This selection of them is an archive for anyone who didn't really understand the feelings of the majority of people in Britain about Thatcher.
How dare politicians tell us we must respect Mrs Thatcher - she ruined our society - she was as loathed as Saddam Hussein, she really was. -- Julie-Ann (@BienSoeur)

Best thing the left can do after Thatcher's death is resist the coming hagiography & ensure her shameful political record is fully contested -- David Wearing (@davidwearing)

Thatcherism is undead. -- Daniel Trilling (@trillingual)
Whatever we blame Blair or Cameron for; they're only continuing that woman's work. The destruction of the welfare state is her epitaph. -- Dan Thompson (@artistsmakers)

Nothing to celebrate. The battle continues. -- Thee Faction (@TheeFaction)

@PhilosophyExp @stefanstern civility? she fucking sold it along with our other national assets -- e_p_smythe (@e_p_smythe)

@BienSoeur I can't believe the number of people mourning her loss given the social injustice and inequality she promoted. So much hypocrisy. -- Sue Hill (@SusieSpur)

The death of Thatcherism would be something to celebrate. The death of Thatcher is just... the death of an old lady. -- Holly Robinson (@holbolrob)
Watching TV news I feel like a North Korean as government and media put a spin on events that clearly doesn't reflect opinions of population -- Steven Dick (@dickmagician)

If you didn't live under a Thatcher govt pls don't get upset with those of us who did and who are NOT feeling griefstricken right now... -- Charlie Moores (@charliemoores)

Any and all Thatcher defences will be met with blockings, no exceptions -- Jim (@jcw163)

I think the hand-wringing folk fail to see that we aren't just crowing, we're all genuinely pleased -- Jim (@jcw163)

Think of her children. Her racist, disgusting children. -- Murray (@muzrobertson)

RIP, Mrs T. "Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there; I do not sleep; I am the thousand benefits cut; I am the A&E department, shut." -- Stuart Houghton (@stuarthoughton)

My dad: "I feel very sanguine about it. She may be dead but we've got these bastards instead and they're even worse." -- Ellie Mae O'Hagan (@MissEllieMae)

I have two nice, well dressed ladies in their 70s here laughing that mrs thatcher has died. She wasn't loved, she was loathed by most. -- Julie-Ann (@BienSoeur)

Busy day for Mephistopheles today. -- Drac Noise Person (@Dracnoiseperson)

Thatcher is DEAD! At last, the miners and heavy industry workers whose lives she destroyed can rejoice. -- Steve (@Cadrieu)

What bitter irony in a week when many are suffering further division & humiliation the women that started this strain of conservatism dies! -- Elizabeth (@lizzjones18)

#Thatcher may have died, but we should not be distracted from the need to fight her rancid ideology which still prevails. -- Jack Darrant (@JackDarrant)

I hope people took no happiness from the deaths of Pol Pot, Hitler, Pinochet, Marcos or Franco. That would be wrong. -- Otis B. Driftwood (@DocHackenbush)

The greatest peacetime British Prime Minister of the 20th century was Clement Attlee. -- Jacob Richardson (@jjarichardson)

As Davina would say, "Let's have a look at your best bits." To start with "No sanctions - Nelson Mandela is a terrorist." -- Mark Steel (@mrmarksteel)

As a member of society, can I just say: "There is no such thing as Margaret Thatcher." -- Pete Sinclair (@pete_sinclair)

#Thatcher's legacy was destruction of the economy,& ppls livelihoods,3 generations of destitution & individualism over community. #NoTears -- Ed Pomfret (@EdPomfret)

I'm feeling oddly elated, and I don't know why. ;-) #NotReally #IActuallyFeelMorbidlyIndifferent #Thatcher -- Lee Hyde (@anubeon)

Interesting taboo around reactions to death. Why is it ok to have sadness reaction but not happiness? Is the dead person supposed to care? -- the greener grass (@TheSilverGreen)

So I'll try some mindfulness. I feel sad for her friends/family in mourning. I feel glad for the symbol of a tyrant's passing. I move on. -- the greener grass (@TheSilverGreen)

It shows how pathologically split we are as a culture that we can't tolerate *both* responses. Also how immature that we fear death so bad. -- the greener grass (@TheSilverGreen)

Observation: "the left" being warned re family in grief. "The right" allowed to parade Thatcher's legacy in front of every family she broke -- the greener grass (@TheSilverGreen)

Thatcherism has led to the tragic premature and ignored deaths of many thousands of people over 30 years. Let us remember them today. -- AdamRamsay (@AdamRamsay)

     *      *     *     *    *

This was surely the sweetest and most innocent tweet of the day -

Am I the only one who doesn't know who Margaret Thatcher is or what she's done wrong? -- Carissa Fairhurst (@CJFairhurst)

And finally, whilst I have some respect for Phillip Blond - the Red Tory - this is ridiculous. It's probably the vaguest and blandest thing he could think of saying about Mags:

The thing I liked most about Mrs Thatcher was that she had a global vision for Britain - she knew we mattered and wanted to make us matter -- Phillip Blond (@Phillip_Blond)

Here's the thing, Mr Blond - everybody on this earth matters. Thatcher didn't think the working classes mattered because they didn't, on the whole, like her, agree with her, or vote for her. So who is this "we"? As for her aspirations for Britain - she was full of ridiculous and untenable "global visions" - none of which were rooted in any kind of reality. Thanks to her privatisations, deregulations, etc, Britain and its financial system, as well as its manufacturing sector, became completely busted.


Suzanne Moore's thoughts this week:

At least in Thatcher's day we knew what we were up against

She and her spawn clung like zealots to the idea that the market would somehow step into towns stripped of industry. And the ultimate free market did fill the void all right. Heroin flooded into decimated "communities".

This nostalgia is to do with activism being thrilling. She was all you wanted in a hate figure: pro-apartheid, a shrill-voiced, demi-wigged prig whose veins flowed with some repulsive idea of respectability.

She absolutely performed gender as it suited her, switching from housewife to warrior queen to grandmother. The whole housekeeping model – though incorrect – still underpins the logic of the cuts.
Thatcher, though, did not invent Thatcherism: Keith Joseph, among others, shaped it and credit must be given to cultural theorists such as Stuart Hall, who deconstructed this mixture of post-Fordism, aspiration and hegemony. I was working at Marxism Today when this was happening and many of those people became ultra–Blairites, for the analysis of Thatcher's appeal resulted in New Labour. When I started working there, "the project" was revolution. When I left, "the project" was New Labour.

What matters now is that in these ultra-conservative times, oppositional culture bafflingly appears to have little to coalesce around but tax and toffs. Maybe because what remains of her agenda is privatisation that is so internalised, it is immoral. By this I mean that a loathing of those who have little, who are weak or uncertain is justified by a political discourse which says we can longer afford the weak. The Thatcherite fetishisation of strength enables the coalition to trample on the already broken. We are saving money apparently because some humans are not worth saving. That's just housekeeping.

Cameron will exploit her in death; grief, like nostalgia, is a commodity after all. A politics of utter selfishness, certainty and greed is meant to have won the day.
Thatcher dies alone. But in the Ritz. Joyless.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rejoice! More Thoughts on the Death of Thatcher

It's looking quite possible that "Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead" will be the most downloaded track of the week by the time Thatcher's funeral takes place next Tuesday. Meanwhile, street parties have been taking place, along with chants of "Maggie Maggie Maggie: Dead Dead Dead!"

It's impossible to underestimate just how hated Thatcher had become in this country by the time her Conservative colleagues got together and kicked her out of her Prime Ministership, on the grounds that she'd become an electoral liability and was quite possibly losing the plot completely, along with most of her marbles.

Today the House of Commons was recalled so that the Conservative party could come back together to tell one another what a brilliant leader she had been. There were 8 hours or so of speeches, which is in quite a big contrast to the 3 speeches that were made in Parliament to mark the death of Winston Churchill those many years ago.

Jon Snow ‏@jonsnowC4
How come MPs/Lords recalled at our expense for Mrs T when they could hve returned 4 free next Monday, before funeral, a week after she died?

Tom Delargy ‏@derekrootboy
Labour MPs will feel ashamed of themselves for not having guts to stand up and be counted. Only Glenda Jackson did it. Well done. #Thatcher

Seumas Milne ‏@SeumasMilne
#Thatcherism wreaked 'most heinous social, economic & spiritual damage' on Britain: @GlendaJacksonMP spells it out

Owen Jones ‏@OwenJones84
Good on Glenda Jackson for smashing the Thatcherism love fest, and telling the truth about the social devastation unleashed in the 1980s

Owen Jones wrote this superb article for The Independent:
Thatcherism was a national catastrophe that still poisons us

We are in the midst of the third great economic collapse since the Second World War: all three have taken place since Thatcherism launched its great crusade

This current crisis has roots in the Thatcherite free market experiment, which wiped out much of the country’s industrial base in favour of a deregulated financial sector.

Champions of Thatcherism hail the crippling of the trade unions, which were battered by anti-union laws, mass unemployment, and crushing defeats of strikes, not least after the rout of the iconic miners. This has not only left workers at the mercy of their bosses, but has made them poorer, too.

We could go on. Britain was one of the most equal Western European countries before the Thatcherite project began, and is now one of the most unequal.  Thatcherism is not just alive and well: it courses through the veins of British political life. The current government goes where Thatcherism did not dare in its privatisation of the NHS and sledgehammering of the welfare state.

The challenge ahead is the same as it was yesterday: to tear down the whole edifice of Thatcherism, heal Britain of the damage done, and build a country run in the interests of working people. It’s a fight we must all fight. The champagne is on ice until we win it.

Russell Brand wrote an equally impressive piece for the Guardian:

She became leader of the Conservatives the year I was born and prime minister when I was four. She remained in power till I was 15. I am, it's safe to say, one of Thatcher's children. How then do I feel on the day of this matriarchal mourning?

I see her in her hairy helmet, condescending on Nationwide, eviscerating eunuch MPs and baffled BBC fuddy duddies with her General Zodd stare and coldly condemning the IRA. And the miners. And the single mums. The dockers. The poll-tax rioters. The Brixton rioters, the Argentinians, teachers; everyone actually.

Thinking about it now, when I was a child she was just a strict woman telling everyone off and selling everything off. I didn't know what to think of this fearsome woman.

Perhaps my early apathy and indifference are a result of what Thatcher deliberately engendered, the idea that "there is no such thing as society", that we are alone on our journey through life, solitary atoms of consciousness.

Perhaps, though, Thatcher "the monster" didn't die yesterday from a stroke, perhaps that Thatcher died as she sobbed self-pitying tears as she was driven, defeated, from Downing Street, ousted by her own party.

I hope I'm not being reductive but it seems Thatcher's time in power was solely spent diminishing the resources of those who had least for the advancement of those who had most. I know from my own indulgence in selfish behaviour that it's much easier to get what you want if you remove from consideration the effect your actions will have on others.

Is that what made her so formidable, her ability to ignore the suffering of others?

If you behave like there's no such thing as society, in the end there isn't. Her death must be sad for the handful of people she was nice to and the rich people who got richer under her stewardship. It isn't sad for anyone else.

All of us that grew up under Thatcher were taught that it is good to be selfish, that other people's pain is not your problem, that pain is in fact a weakness and suffering is deserved and shameful. Perhaps there is resentment because the clemency and respect that are being mawkishly displayed now by some and haughtily demanded of the rest of us at the impending, solemn ceremonial funeral, are values that her government and policies sought to annihilate.

I can't articulate with the skill of either of "the Marks" – Steel or Thomas – why Thatcher and Thatcherism were so bad for Britain but I do recall that even to a child her demeanour and every discernible action seemed to be to the detriment of our national spirit and identity. Her refusal to stand against apartheid, her civil war against the unions, her aggression towards our neighbours in Ireland and a taxation system that was devised in the dark ages, the bombing of a retreating ship – it's just not British.

Alex Nunns ‏@alexnunns
Under Thatcher, crime rose by 79%.

Dispelling the Thatcher myths

Alex Nunns offers an antidote to the media fawning over Thatcher – and argues her biggest victory was getting her opponents to buy into her mythology

When a political leader dies it becomes compulsory to lie about their record. While much of Britain openly rejoiced at the death of Margaret Thatcher, the media snapped into reverential mode, giving over hours of airtime and several thousand miles of column inches to representatives of the ruling class to solemnly recite myths about her achievements.

This wouldn’t matter so much if, like Thatcher, these myths were dead, and weren’t still shaping our politics. But they are. So here are some of them, debunked.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did more to institutionalise Thatcherism than the woman herself. Before New Labour, in the early 1990s, in the midst of a recession, it was a truism that Thatcherism had been an economic failure. The fact that many of the myths discussed here have been revived is in large part due to New Labour. When even Thatcher’s opponents accept Thatcherism’s success, why should the media challenge the record?

Blair responded to her death by admitting (although understating) what everyone already knew, that ‘some of the changes she made in Britain were, in certain respects at least, retained by the 1997 Labour government’. It is often said that Blair’s only legacy will be Iraq, but he will also feature in the epilogue of every biography of Margaret Thatcher.

Thatcher tore at the social fabric of Britain, destroyed swathes of its economy and inflicted vindictive harm on large sections of its population. But she built nothing. Her main success was in the minds of her opponents.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tales of Iron Ladies

The smug, self-satisfied voice of Andrew Neil continues to drone from the radio, thanks to the BBC, so it's time to string a few thoughts together on an amazing woman who's been a constant in my life for as far back as I can remember.

Aunt O is my mum's eldest sister and also my godmother. Having no children of her own she's been exceptionally conscientious in carrying out her assigned role. Last Friday evening she collapsed in her kitchen and spent a very cold night on her kitchen floor. She was found there, propped up against a cupboard, by a neighbour who called in around mid-morning the next day to drop off the one newspaper she still bothered to read - on account of it carrying the details of the following week's television.

Incredibly,she was still breathing, in spite of being almost blue with hypothermia. Later, at the hospital, it was confirmed she'd broken her left femur, just below the ball joint at the hip. It was around midnight that the orthopaedic surgeon explained to me that an operation to replace the top part of that bone was necessary, even though, at the age of 97, there was a slight risk that she wouldn't come through it.

Aunt O had been on a kind of bed in A & E for the whole of the afternoon and the evening. Thankfully my cousin J was able to be with her throughout the afternoon, and had stayed until around 10.30 when it was confirmed that a bed would 'soon' be available. I'd arrived there myself around 8.00, and found the entire waiting room in front of the reception desk overflowing with relatives and friends of the sick and the injured who'd been brought in that day.

There must have been some very sick and injured people in there, and there must have been a minimum of staff, because my aunt needed to wait eight hours before she could have an x-ray and a proper assessment. During that time her temperature had gradually risen and her blood pressure had come down. It's just as well that she's an iron lady. [An agency nurse confided that she'd never go back to work there after her latest shift because of the extremely poor organisation and management of the place, which calls itself a university teaching hospital. This was exactly my attitude after experiencing neglectful and pathetic management within certain high profile engineering businesses back in the day.]

Born right at the end of the Victorian/Edwardian era, the first few years of my aunt's life had been lived during the first World War. By the time the second World War broke out she was twenty five, married, and living still in Longford, on the outskirts of Coventry. She still recalls vividly the time of the Blitz, and taking shelter under kitchen tables as shrapnel intended for the local gas works, railway lines, factories and coal pits whizzed through her house.

She was a factory worker for the whole of her life. She was one of Coventry's army of skilled factory workers whose dexterous and tireless hands and fingers shaped and assembled metal and plastic, electronic and mechanical components, and built things of value. All gone now, of course. Even Jaguar moved away, just a few years ago - the final insult to a city that had once been at the heart of Britain's industry and commerce, and as a consequence had been bombed and battered, but not broken, during Hitler's onslaught.

Clearly Coventrians have some issues with fascists and mad politicians who have grand designs and not much concern for the lives of 'ordinary' working people. How ironic, then, that Coventry's industries were finally demolished and destroyed not by Hitler but by the Thatcher gang and their successors - who clearly had and still have no regard for those 'hard working people' who are clearly not 'one of us'. What's more, we, the people, are proud not to be one of them.

We're proud of the fact that we continue to believe that there IS such a thing as society, and that education and health care should be free, paid for from taxes, and of high quality. We continue to believe in social justice, progressive taxation, decent housing for all, and in the elimination of poverty. We continue to believe in greater equality across society, rather than a society of haves and have nots. We continue to loathe the Thatcher woman, and her legacy, and all of those who think like her - greedy, nasty, selfish, arrogant, petty bourgeois individuals with their divide and rule mentality, their elitist and snobbish attitudes, their self-regard and their assumption of intellectual and cultural superiority. As for the upper classes, working class Tories and Ukippers - let's not even go there.

It's just as well Thatcher is going to be consumed by the fires of a crematorium and that she won't have a grave we can spit on.

As for my aunt, she's doing fine. Twenty four hours after her operation she was sitting in a chair, eating a meal. She's as tough as they come. Her little house is her Ritz, and in a couple of weeks or so she'll be back here, with a higher level of support and care, regardless of what it costs. She won't feel she wants or needs that, of course, but this time she'll allow us to take better care of her, however long she may live. That's the least she deserves. Truly it was people like her who built this nation, who fought for it, and who have maintained it, in spite of the neglect, the deprivation and the denigration they continue to experience from the billionaires, the bankers, the plutocrats, the neo-fascist newspaper owners . . . and the heirs of the Iron Lady.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Why It's Still Kicking Off Everywhere - Part Two

Notes from Paul Mason's lecture:
Why It's Still Kicking Off Everywhere
SOAS, London University, 10th January, 2013

The digital communications revolution is having a profound impact on the world.
[NB Clay Shirky - Here Comes Everybody]

In the four years since 2008 the iPhone and its Android equivalents have conquered the world. And in every student's garret there is now a wireless laptop.

There is now a sense of empowerment through connections based on trust. The trust comes from various signifiers embedded in various forms of communications and "cultural signals".

Governments and political establishments are no longer invulnerable. We all have the ability to attack their spin, lies and propaganda.

"The Counterculture of Protest" - Manuel Castells - Networks of Outrage and Hope.

Whole populations are now "tasting freedom", enjoying the safety of cyberspace and also occupying urban spaces.

A combination of technology and economic literacy is creating a new zeitgeist. The spirit of the age is scornful of hierarchy, "discipline", "targets" and other management-speak terminology.

There is a sense of solidarity towards a kinder, more human system.

However - we can see the danger of failing to go beyond political gestures, and failing to deal with repression. There is a feeling of disorientation, and not knowing what will happen next.

It seems "indignatos" are more motivated by the need to fight fascism than they are by the need to fight poverty.

Hierarchical working class organisations have had their heyday and are in steep decline. Modern work forces us to live multiple lives, adopting multiple personalities.

Social networking skills are extremely valuable. See: Richard Sennett - The Culture of the New Capitalism.

There is collective disillusionment. These new movements are not trying to take power, as such. They have learned that power, when monopolised, is 'evil'.

There's a quest for an alternative, more civilised, more self-controlled space within capitalism. "The Way" is everything.

There is no such thing any more as "normal life". "Non-market" alternative lifestyles - previously adopted by deliberate drop-outs - are being forced on "workers".

Another factor driving change is a psychological shift towards a quest for personal liberation - in order to become "a new kind of human being". People now want freedom, informality, beauty, lack of inhibition, etc. The Internet has become a kind of "social laboratory of the self" and a "collective mental arena". This gives rise to the formation of diverse communities. There are many attempts to create utopian communities.

The political parties can't accept that the hierarchical era is over. They are completely out of touch.

These new citizens see themselves as Autonomists, not Anarchists.


By a bizarre coincidence yesterday's blog post was published an hour before I noticed a tweet from Paul Mason giving a link to the cover article in today's Guardian G2. The above notes were also written up during the day yesterday, just before the G2 piece was about to go online.

Please take some time to read the G2 article:

From Arab Spring to global revolution

In an excerpt from his book Why It's Still Kicking Off Everywhere, Paul Mason argues that a global protest movement, based on social networks, is here to stay

Something real and important was unleashed in 2011, and it has not yet gone away. I am confident enough now to call it a revolution.

There is a change in consciousness, the intuition that something big is possible; that a great change in the world's priorities is within people's grasp. The impervious nature of official politics – its inability to swerve even slightly towards the critique of capitalism intuitively felt by millions of people – has deepened the sense of alienation and mistrust.

Social media have grown more complex. Slowly, quietly, the mainstream media have become, for many involved in activism, politics and journalism itself, a secondary source of information, while social networks have become the primary source. This, in turn, speaks to the emergence of an undeclared dual power between the world of ideas and the world of official politics.

If I could list only one and not 20 reasons why it is still kicking off, it would be the rise of the networked individual colliding with the economic crisis. Something fundamental has happened – a shift in human consciousness and behaviour as momentous as that triggered by the arrival of mass consumption and mass culture in the 1900s.

The change, as sociologist Manuel Castells argues, is one-off and irreversible, like electrification, and it will condition all politics going forward. So the challenge for traditional politics, right and left, religious and secular, is, as Castells argues, that the networked social movements actually reflect the reality of "everyday" or "normal" life better than the old hierarchical forms.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why It's Still Kicking Off Everywhere

The journalist and writer Paul Mason recently gave a brilliant talk to a large audience at SOAS, London University - based on his book -

Our world is changing dramatically. The global economic crisis has given way to social crisis: corrupt and dictatorial politics enmeshed with a global financial elite - and an ever-widening gulf between the haves and have-nots. In 2011 this profound disconnect found expression in events that we were told had been consigned to history: revolt and revolution. In this compelling new book, Paul Mason sets out to explore the causes and consequences of this new wave of struggle. From London to Cairo, Wisconsin to Tehran, he charts the new forms of collective action: fluid networks of agile, Twitter- and Facebook-savvy networks of youthful protesters who understand how power works. The events, says Mason, reflect the expanding power of the individual and call for new ways of thinking about political alternatives, elite rule and global poverty. - This is an interesting review of the book, which includes this paragraph:
If we go back to the early 19th century, any idiot could use a printing press, but it took real skill as a writer and business owner to produce interesting, entertaining, informed and well-distributed works. Similarly, and as he should know, it takes real skill for a historian to dig through (still mainly material) archives, and real skill for a journalist to assemble facts through documents and interviews. The internet does create the social network he discusses, and it does make publication and communication not only substantially easier, but completely different in many ways than what came before. But it doesn’t lend creativity, ingenuity, or good organising skills where it didn’t exist before. No matter what the invention – the press, the railway, the telephone – it still needs people of intellect and dedication to do something remarkable with it, and his over-enthusiasm unfortunately brings to mind a quote from Alan Partridge’s recent autobiography: ‘Wikipedia has made university education all but pointless’.

Here's Paul Mason speaking on the Guardian's website:

The new edition of Paul's book: