Posts Tagged ‘IT’

Kropotkin on Globalisation

February 14, 2014

Kropotkin Conquest Bread

On Tuesday, Barclays announced that they were shedding 7,000 jobs in Britain. The mobility of capitalism around the world is now a major feature of today’s global economy following the globalisation of capitalism and industry during the 1990s. Critics of international capitalism, such as Lenin in his Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism noted that this was occurring in their own time, the late 19th and vey early 20th centuries. The German Marxist, Karl Kautsky, also remarked in his writing on the movement of capital from the imperial heartlands to their colonies and what would become the Developing World. The imperialist powers were attempting to develop their possessions and open up markets and sources of labour elsewhere around the world, with the result that the industries in their heartlands would inevitably suffer.

Kropotkin in The Conquest of Bread also remarked on it, and denounced the way it led to factory closures, unemployment and starvation in the imperial countries of Britain, France and so on, and exploitation and the use of military force to quell discontent in the European empires’ subject nations.

‘The result of this state of things is that all our production tends in a wrong direction. Enterprise takes no thought for the needs of the community. Its only aim is to increase the gains of the speculator. Hence the constant fluctuations of trade, the periodical industrial crises, each of which throws scores of thousands of workers on the streets.

The working people cannot purchase with their wages the wealth which they have produced, and industry seeks foreign markets among the monied classes of other nations. In the East, in Africa, everywhere, in Egypt, Tonkin or the Congo, the European is thus bound to promote the growth of serfdom. And so he does. But soon he finds that everywhere there are similar competitors. All the nations evolve on the same lines, and wars, perpetual wars, break out for the right of precedence in the market. Wars for the possession of the East, wars for the empire of the sea, wars to impose duties on imports and to dictate conditions to neighbouring states; wars against those ‘blacks’ who revolt! The roar of the cannon never ceases in the world, whole races are massacred, the states of Europe spend a third of their budgets in armaments, and we know how heavily these taxes fall on the workers.’

The British Empire has formally retreated and turned into the Commonwealth, and Cameron has slashed the armed forces and their funding. In other respects, however, the analysis is pretty as true today as it was in Kropotkin’s day. In many cases, however, the massacres are now committing by the various developing nations for their elites to gain control of the sites of raw materials, so these can be sold to global multinationals. Hence the horrific bloodshed, in which over 4 million people have been killed, in Central Africa for control of diamonds and some of the precious metals used in the IT industries, including mobile phones.

Roll-Call of the Poor and Disabled, Killed by the Government’s Policies

November 28, 2013

A day or so ago I reblogged the video Still Oaks had made on the people, who tragically committed suicide due to the government’s welfare policies. Many were disabled people, who had been declared ‘fit for work’ by ATOS, when they clearly were anything but. Others were simply unemployed, who found it impossible to live on the meagre income supplied by the DWP. There’s a list of the people mentioned in the video posted by Still Oaks and Annanna, who helped Still Oaks make the video, over on the web forum DWP Examinations. The forum’s subtitled ‘Free Speech for the Disabled’, and is clearly intended to allow the disabled themselves to discuss and criticise the DWP and its policies. The people included in Still Oaks’ video are:

1/ John Walker

2/ Linda Wootton

3/ Elenore Tatton

4/ Brian McArdle

5/ David Groves

6/ Stephen Hill

7/ Nicholas Peter Barker

8/ Mark and Helen Mullins

9/Richard Sanderson

10/Martin Rust

11/Craig Monk

12/Colin Traynor

13/Elaine Christian

14/Christelle pardo,Kayjah Pardo

15/Mark Scott

16/Cecilia Burns

17/Chris Cann

18/Peter Hodgson

19/ Paul Willcoxson

20/Stephanie Bottrill

21/Larry Newman

22/Child EG

23/Paul Turner

24/Christopher Charles Harness

25/Sandra Louise Moon

26/Paul Reekie

27/Leanne Chambers

28/Vicky Harrison

29/Stephen Cawthra

30/George from Chesterfield

31/Wayne Grew

32/Kevin Bennett

32/Iain Hodge

33/David Elwyn Hugh Harris

34/ Elaine Lowe

35/ Lee Robinson

36/ Ian Carress

37/ Edward Jacques

38/ Charles Barden

The list is part of a wider discussion, ‘Death by Government’. Other posts by Annanna in this thread give some details on these poor souls. It’s a depressing mixture of people from all walks of life and types of disability. Some of them were obviously extremely talented academically. Christelle Pardo, who killed herself and her baby, Kayja, was a philosophy graduate. Others were manual workers, whose talents clearly lay with their hands, such as a farm labourer. Several of them had psychological problems, such as a young man who suffered from schizophrenia, epilepsy and alcoholism. This man’s alcoholism is not necessarily an indication that he was somehow responsible for his own poverty. It looks from here like self-medication. This is the term psychiatrists and mental health experts use to describe drug and alcohol use by the mentally ill to try and alleviate their condition. In our society, one of the ways people try to cheer themselves up when their down is to go for a pint or two. So it is with those suffering from depression or anxiety. It’s not hard to see how that can lead to dependence on this socially accepted drug, which in turn will exacerbate the sufferer’s condition. The important point here is that in these cases, alcoholism can be a consequence or a symptom of the disease, not a result of moral weakness of the part of the victim. Other victims included severely disabled people, for whom there should have been no question of them being able to work, such as a triple amputee.

I’ve come across a few severely disabled people, who nevertheless possessed the talent and strength of character to hold down often extremely well-paid and responsible jobs despite their appalling physical condition. One young lad I met a few years ago had a disease that left him almost totally paralysed. Nevertheless, he was a computer whizzkid, and his expertise allowed him to earn the kind of money some of us only dream about. And he wasn’t the only one. A young woman in a wheelchair told me over twenty years ago about one of her friends, who was also paralysed from the neck down. This man, was also a computer genius, working on them with the kind of stick attachment, which you see Stephen Hawking using to work his wheelchair and speech synthesiser. It’s one of the positive advantages of information technology that it has allowed disable people like these two to have a career of their own. The problem is the DWP seems to assume that if a few, very talented people can do it, then others in a similar position should. If they can’t, then it must be their own fault, somehow.

It should be self-evident that severely disabled people need considerable support and care. When I met the lad I mentioned above, it was in a meeting of one of the clubs in Cheltenham at the time. I think they were holding their AGM. He was taken in by his nurse, who then went to the bar to sit quietly drinking coffee once the lad had been wheeled to the table to talk about rules of procedure and the financial status of the club. Or whatever. Stephen Hawking is one of the foremost examples of a man, who has made spectacular achievements despite his terrible condition. Helping him do this, however, have been a supportive family, nursing care, and the type of advanced motorised wheelchairs and voice synthesis technology that many people can only dream about. All too many other disabled people simply don’t have that level of social, medical and technological support.

There is also the question of how much support or care an employer is prepared to spend adapting their premises to the needs of their disabled employees. Now I have to say I really have little knowledge of the equalities legislation in this area. I understand that businesses, or at least public organisations, like museums and libraries, are required to make their premises wheelchair-accessible. I’m also pretty sure that they cannot legally discriminate against a disabled applicant when it comes to jobs. I am also aware that there have been some very good employers out there, who have adapted their workplaces to accommodate their workers, who suffered from particular physical ailments. One lady I used to work with had a severe back condition, and so she sat in an orthopaedic chair at work. Others may not be so fortunate to have such caring employers. And in a crowded labour market, an employer can always find some other reason not to take someone on, regardless of whether or not they’re disabled.

My point here is that there should be no question that severely disabled people like the triple-amputee are not able to work. This does not mean that they should not be given the resources they may require to work, or that their talents should not be cultivated and neglected. It also doesn’t mean that they should be discriminated against either. It just means being realistic about the immense impact severe disability has on someone’s ability to work. IDS and his wretched crew, however, have decided that as exceptionally talented people like Stephen Hawking have succeeded in having a career, so people with less support and more modest intellectual gifts should do also. There’s a parallel here to the Stakhanovite system through which Stalin industrialised the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Stakhanov was a miner, who was given state of the art tools and support. His output was then measured by the bureaucrats, who then made it the standard for other miners, regardless of their ability, and the tools and other resources available to them. Stakhanov and his team smashed production records, and the USSR industrialised extremely quickly. The human cost, however, was immense. Cameron’s and IDS’ policies towards the disabled similarly makes the exceptional the norm, and, like Stalin, punishes those, who can’t keep up.

Still Oaks and Annanna’s thread, ‘Death by Government’, is at It’s grim, moving reading. Like Still Oak’s video, it puts the people forward from behind the statistics, so you can see, who IDS’ policies have killed.