Posts Tagged ‘Taxis’

RT: Transport for London Bans Posters Attacking Balfour Declaration

October 28, 2017

This video from RT over here in Blighty discusses the controversy surrounding the plans to commemorate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. This was the pledge by the British foreign minister, Arthur Balfour, that the British would support the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. There have been protests and demonstrations by Palestinians in London, who argue that the Declaration should not be celebrated. Instead, the centenary should be used to apologise for the historic crimes and injustice meted out to the Palestinian people.

Eisa Ali, one of the presenters of this piece, then discusses how the Palestinian Mission here commissioned a series of posters to show the oppression and ethnic cleansing suffered by the Palestinians under what critics, like the Palestinian ambassador Manuel Hassassian, have rightly described as an apartheid regime. These show a series of ‘before’ and ‘after’ images. One is of a thriving Arab town, full of homes and with its mosque, as it was before the Israeli occupation. After the creation of Israel, it becomes ruins, containing nothing but rubble, although the mosque still stands.

These posters were banned by Transport For London, which didn’t want to put them up. However, some individual black cabs are showing them. The Palestinian ambassador states that he believes that there was pressure on TFL from two sides, including the government, not to show these posters. He states that to add insult to injury, Theresa May has also invited Benjamin Netanyahu over for a meeting.

Looking at Mr. Hassassian’s name, it seems to me that he might be a Christian, or of Christian descent. It should be remembered that 25 per cent of Palestinians were Christian before the establishment of the state of Israel. That proportion has gone down to one per cent. The American religious right has claimed that this is due to Muslim intolerance. That’s certainly there, as Christians have been victimised by Muslim Palestinians as suspected collaborators. But it’s also because they’ve also been subject to massacre and expulsion as Arabs, just like their Muslim friends, relatives and neighbours. As for Jewish Palestinians, they were tolerated only because their labour was needed. The leaders had inherited all the racist assumptions about Arab inferiority of the European countries they came from, and they believed that the Mizrahim, Jewish Arabs, like Arabs generally, were culturally if not racially inferior. In the 1960s tens of thousands of Jewish Palestinians were officially expelled from Israel, because they were held to be Arabs, not Jews, on the grounds of their cultural assimilation.

I mention the decline of the Christian Palestinian population simply to put the matter straight, not to stir up any more Christian anti-Semitism, which I absolutely condemn.

I just want to make the point that Christians in America are being deliberately given a very distorted view of events in order to bolster western colonialist attitudes towards the Palestinians as a whole, and generate Islamophobia against the Muslim population, in order to manufacture support for what is a White, imperialist settler state.

Theresa May has also said in the Commons that the Balfour declaration should be celebrated.

No. It shouldn’t.

This doesn’t come from any racism towards Judaism or the Jewish people. This country has benefited immensely from the contribution of its Jewish people in just about all areas of life, culture and endeavour.

It simply comes from the fact that Palestine was not ours to give. Its indigenous people had been there for millennia, even if Arabs were relative newcomers, having conquered the region in the 7th century AD. Palestine contained not only Muslims, but also Arabs and Jews, as well as the Samaritans, who are mentioned in the Bible, and who are gaining in numbers.
The result of the Balfour Declaration was their massacre and expulsion from their historic lands. Those that remain are forced into what have been described, with more than a little justification, as ghettoes, and are subject to a form of apartheid. This has all been described by many highly courageous Jewish and Israeli journalists, writers, and activists, as well as by the Palestinians themselves and others.

It has also resulted in immense harm to the wider Jewish people. At the time of the Declaration, the majority of Britain’s Jewish community, including its leading families, who had been here since the 17th century, were resolutely against it. They wanted to be accepted as fellow Brits, and were afraid that the passage of the Declaration would mean that they would be suspected of dual loyalty. The businessman and presenter of the British version of The Apprentice, Sir Alan Sugar, said in one programme that he had been a member of the Jewish version of the Boy’s Brigade. He didn’t mention it, but the lads enrolled swore an oath ‘to be a good Englishman and a good Jew’. You can also see the pride in British citizenship in paintings such as David Blomberg’s modernist depiction of the interior of a Jewish bath house, which is painted in the red, white and blue of the Union flag.

Similar views were held by the Jewish communities elsewhere across Europe and the world, in Germany, where there was originally much less anti-Semitism than Britain, and Poland. But the Declaration has contributed to anti-Semitism through the fear that Jews, or an influential portion of them, have more loyalty to Israel beyond that of the other nations in which they live. And Zionist groups have at time collaborated with the real anti-Semites, in the hope that rising persecution of Diaspora Jews will result in more of them emigrating to Israel. Tony Greenstein and others have shown on their blogs and writings, over and over again, using and reproducing contemporary documents, that this was the case. But simply repeating this historical fact will get you smeared as an anti-Semite.

This should not be to condemn Israelis. Professor Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian, now at Exeter University, who was driven from his homeland because of his courageous defence of the truth against official lies and persecution, has defended his former compatriots as decent people. In one interview he described how he opened his house up, every Thursday night, to anyone, who wanted to visit him to hear his side of the story. He shortly found that his front room was full of people wanting to hear what he had to say, and find out for themselves whether he was the terrible anti-Semite the officials claimed.

It should be to condemn the actions of successive Israeli governments, in constructing a racist, genocidal state. And the actions of Britain itself, and our officials and politicians, for their part in the massacre and dispossession of an entire people.

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Who Really Wants Driverless Cars and Further Automation

March 30, 2017

This follows on from my last article, where I commented on a piece by Secular Talk’s Kyle Kulinski about a report produced by the accountancy firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers. This predicted that by 2030, a third of all jobs in Britain, Germany, and America would be lost to automation. Japan would also be affected, losing roughly a fifth of all jobs. Kulinski in his piece quoted a report by the BBC. This came out about a year ago, and the issue was the subject of a documentary, possibly on Panorama. I think it’s very likely to come true. One of my friends watched it, and was really frightened.

This is an issue I feel passionately about, but don’t think it’s really being taken at all seriously. And I’m very much unimpressed by some of the reports, which uncritically hail every new development in automation as a benefit, without taking cognisance of the possible drawbacks.

One example of this is the issue of driverless cars. The car industry has been trying to create one of these since the late seventies. They’re mentioned in the Usborne Book of the Future, a children’s book about the possible developments in technology and space I can remember reading as far back as 1979. More recently, the companies developing them have been testing them on the road. These have had disastrous results. Several of the driverless vehicles have crashed, and there has been at least one fatality.

I don’t know a single person, who actually wants one of these. And certainly there are no end of people, who feel that these machines would actually be less safe than those driven by a real, flesh and blood human being. But nevertheless, whenever they’re mentioned, it’s always in terms of how wonderful they’re going to be. A few months ago Points West, the local BBC news programme here in Bristol, did a little piece on research into these cars at UWE, complete with a brief interview with Tassi, one of the scientists working on the project. This annoyed me, because there was absolutely no suggestion at any point of the possible down side to the project.

There are about 40,000 truckers in Britain. These are the people, who are most likely to lose their jobs to driverless vehicles, as haulage companies introduce them to cut labour costs. Other professional drivers likely to be affected will include taxi and bus drivers, possibly ambulance men and women. Thus we’re looking at 40,000 plus losing their jobs, for the profit of their companies. And if other areas of the economy are also losing jobs to automation, it’s unlikely that they’ll find other employment. But no hint of that from the Beeb.

Also a month or so back, Points West also did a piece about James Dyson’s decision to set up a centre for technical innovation in an old army base in Wiltshire. This was hailed as good news. The programme and the presenter on this segment, Will Glennon, also reported the establishment of a place where inventors and businessmen could meet to make deals in one of the old engine sheds in Bristol’s Temple Meads Station, and similarly celebrated the technological advances being made at the city’s university. They also talked to the head of the Institute of Directors, or a similar organisation. In actual fact, this captain of industry really didn’t say anything controversial. What I found infuriating was the complete absence of any kind of awareness that this could have a massive detrimental effect on the employment of ordinary people in the city and beyond. Glennon simply took the line that this was all wonderful, and something we should look forward to and be proud of.

But clearly, if it leads to nothing but one third of the working population being thrown out of their jobs, with no means of support except Jobseekers Allowance – and what a farce that is, if there are no jobs – this isn’t. And I found it actually insulting that the team at Points West should think it was.

Now I’m not a luddite. I can see how the scientists working on these projects are interested in them as scientific problems. But they have social consequences. Kevin Warwick, the cyberneticist and quondam cyborg at Reading University, actually states in his book The March of the Machines that one of the five reasons he lists for automation is to save on labour costs. Which means employing fewer people. In the current social arrangement, this means more poor unemployed people, with the benefits going to the rich and the technicians and engineers responsible for producing these machines.

And if that’s the case, ordinary working people have absolutely no reason to welcome or celebrate these advances. They may lead to cheaper products, but if you don’t have a job that will pay you enough to purchase them, then there’s no point.

But this seems lost on the producers of the programme in question, and a media and corporate environment which sees these very much as benefiting the rich middle class to the exclusion of everyone else.

As I said in my last post, welcome to the nightmare world of Megacity 1.

Chunky Mark on the Horror of Theresa May’s Cabinet

July 14, 2016

Theresa May was declared the winner of the Tory leadership contest. Yesterday, she moved into No. 10, and now today she has announced her cabinet. This includes such luminaries as Boris Johnson (foreign secretary), Jacob Rees-Mogg (Secretary of State for India) and Liam Fox. In this video, Chunky Mark the Artist Taxi Driver gives his considered view of this cabinet of horrors. As you’d expect, it’s a rant, and Mark compares May and the rest of her cabinet ministers to some of the classic monsters of horror cinema. May herself is the Queen from Aliens, and he likens all of them to the Omen, Norman Bates, Pinhead from Hellraiser, and Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s It. He says at one point that they’re so horrific, he expected poltergeists to fly out of No. 10. This is Margaret Thatcher’s revenge from beyond the grave, he tells his viewers. And none of them have been elected. The leadership of the country was simply transferred from one Tory to another, without our consent or involvement.

But he has a point. These people are monsters. May stood in the street yesterday, and announced that she was going to work to continue the Tory party’s work of creating a more equal Britain, and not one that was for ‘the privileged few’. This is surely a lie, as flagrant as any the Tories have ever uttered. Chunky Mark points out that she praised David Cameron’s social programme, which has seen even more people forced down into misery and poverty. And May is, of course, the authoritarian, who wants to spy on everyone with her ‘snoopers’ charter’. Chunky Mark goes a bit far when he says that she wants to implant chips in our heads. But as Lobster has shown in a number of articles on mind control, the technology is there, and has been refined ever since one of the scientists involved in developing the technology stopped a raging bull with it in an experiment for MKULTRA back in the 1960s. The paranoiacs might be nuts, but sometimes they’re right.

Mark also discusses the shouting that was also heard on camera when May made her speech. You never saw them, and nobody from the BBC decided that the public should listen to them, or hear what they had to say. They were protestors from DPAC – Disabled People Against Cuts, protesting against the cuts to Disability Living Allowance and the PIP. But the Beeb didn’t want you to know that.

He also covers May’s stance against Scots independence. The British Conservative Party also includes the Scots Unionists, indeed, until the 1970s, the Conservative Party was known as the Unionist Party north of the Border. And May has made it abundantly clear that the Conservative and Unionist Party will never let the Scots have their independence.

The Chunky One is also rightly incensed about the vile racism in all of this crew. One of May’s new ministers declared that our society was being wrecked by North African and Syrian immigrants. Chunky Mark points out that they’re refugees, who’ve been forced to flee their countries because of the wars we’ve started there, and our own looting of them. Then there’s Boris Johnson with his infamous rant about ‘watermelon picaninnies’ and how Obama hates Britain, because he’s half-Kenyan, and we tortured his people. It’s a very dark joke when this man becomes our foreign minister. And then there’s the appointment of Jacob Rees-Mogg as the Secretary of State for India.

It’s a rant, but an accurate one. This is indeed a cabinet of horrors, in which people, who are clearly deeply unsuited to any kind of responsible cabinet role, have been given the posts to which they are the most unsuited. Kenneth Clark said in his unguarded conversation with Malcolm Rifkind that if Boris got in, he’d have us fighting three wars at the same time. Well, he’s not Prime Minister, but he has been made foreign secretary, so perhaps he’ll have his chance yet. Completely absent from all of them is any concern for the poor, or for anything except corporate profit. Cameron’s was an administration of aristos and corporate elites for the rich. That has not changed one iota, no matter how much May spouts about ‘equality’ and not working for the ‘privileged few’.

Gorbachev and the Introduction of Co-operatives in Perestroika

May 7, 2014

Aganbegyan Pic

Abel Aganbegyan, leading economist of Perestroika

One of the ways the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, attempted to reinvigorate the country’s economy was through the establishment and transformation of state industries into workers’ co-operatives. They were also intended to create jobs for workers, who had been made unemployed through Gorby’s other reforms aimed at making the country’s industries more efficient. This started with 1986 Law on Economic Activity, which permitted a very limited amount of private enterprise. The only people permitted to work for themselves, either as self-employed or in co-operatives, were pensioners, students and employees working after hours. The materials they used had to be surplus to those of the state industries. The co-ops were restricted to a list of 29 permitted activities, such as taxi-driving and dress-making. This effectively legalised what many Russians were already doing any way. In March 1988 the restrictions were further lifted, so that the co-ops were allowed to pay staff and do business with foreign nationals. A further law in August 1990 allowed the co-ops near total freedom. By the end of 1990 there were nearly 260,000 co-operatives employing 6.2 million people, including those with other jobs. They produced 70 billion roubles’ worth of goods and services. 10 billion roubles were for the Soviet population. The co-ops were originally envisaged as small firms, but three-fifths of the new enterprises were in the former large state industries.

However, the impact of the co-operatives on the retail market was much smaller. Co-operatively managed garages, home decoration, household repairs, tailoring and dressmaking, catering, small manufacturing and retail only accounted for 2 per cent of the products bought by Russian consumers. Many of the new co-operatives also became more-or-less ordinary capitalist industries by a law which allowed profits to be drawn on investment, rather than the amount of work put in. See ‘Co-operative’ in Andrew Wilson and Nina Bachkatov, Russia Revised: An Alphabetical Key to the Soviet Collapse and the New Republics (London: Andre Deutsch 1992) pp. 49-50.

Abel Aganbegyan, the Soviet economist and chief architect of perestroika, describes the reasons behind the establishment of the co-operatives and the experiments in setting up the system in his book, The Challenge: Economics of Perestroika (London: Hutchinson 1988) pp. 196-9. He states that they were set up to give Soviet workers a sense of responsibility as co-owners, describes the co-operative’s management system, including the election of brigade officials and directors. There was even a nationwide competition to find the new manager for the Riga car factory, organised by Komsomolskaya Pravda, the newspaper of the party’s youth group. Describing the election of managers and officials, he writes:

The working collective carries out its functions both directly at meetings of the whole working collective and through democratically elected Councils to represent its interests. The decision to broaden the rights of the working collective was not taken dogmatically, but out on the basis of generalisation of the experience accumulated at individual enterprises in the Soviet Union. At the Kaluga Turbine Factory, for example, a council of brigade leaders, representing the working collective’s interests, has been operating effectively for many years. The fact is that here collective labour brigades were genuinely organised. Each brigade elects its brigade leader, so that the brigade leaders’ council is a democratically elected body. The factory has major productive and social results to its credit and, moreover, the long-term development policy of the enterprise is in the main the responsibility of the brigade leaders’ council.

For the first time working collectives are being given extensive rights such as the right to elect the manager. This affects the election of managers of all ranks: the brigade elects the brigadier, the workers and section foremen the section head, the working collective of the factory elects the director of the factory, and the whole working collective of the association elects the General Director. These elections are planned as a creative process. They must be preceded by public competition for managerial posts, with a preliminary selection made by, say, the working council. Each candidate then meets with the workers in the sections, departments and enterprises, attends meetings and meets with representatives of public organisations. Each candidate for the post of manager draws up a programme of action and presents it to the working collective. Secret elections then take place with votes cast for a specific person, whose particulars and potential are known, and for a definite development programme for the enterprise. (pp. 197-8).

He then proceeds to describe the election run by Komsomolskaya Pravda for the ailing Riga Car Factory.

This factory produces the RAF microbuses which gained popularity in their day, but had eventually ceased to meet the increasingly sophisticated demands as needs changed and technology developed. The factory was in a deep crisis and stopped fulfilling the plan. A new leader was needed. Under the aegis of the newspapers Komsomolskaya Pravda a nationwide competition was held for the post of director of the factory. A total of four thousand applications was received from all corners of the country and a commission was specially created composed of car construction specialists (from the Ministry of Car Industry), from the factory and from local bodies. About thirty candidates were shortlisted. They studied the factory and made their proposals for it. One the basis of a detailed examination of these more concrete data the list of candidates was further reduced to eight. They came to the factory, familiarized themselves with the work, stated their views on how to improve the situation and finally the working collective in a secret ballot selected its factory director. This turned out to be V.L. Bossert, an energetic young manager, 35 years of age, who up to them was working as the manager of the Omsk Factory, a major producer of gear boxes for the Moskvich car. The collective supported the candidacy of this new director and gave its views on his programme for the full reconstruction of the factory and the design of a new model of microbus which would be on a par with world standards. Having elected the director, the collective began to work intensively and soon fulfilled the plan. The number of claims for replacement of defective goods was reduced. The financial situation of the enterprise improved, people started to receive prizes and work motivation grew. Parallel to this, work continues on designing a new car and reconstructing the factory.

This experience has proved to be successful and it has caught on. Based on the RAF factory’s example, tens and even h7undreds of other enterprises have organised elections for directors. Success is assured wherever this is carried out not as a mere formality, but were competition is guaranteed, where time is given and conditions are created for the preparation of imaginative programmes of development for the working collective, and where people really feel they are participating in the advancement of their enterprise at management level. In discussing the question of appointment of leaders by election, we have studied attentively the experience of other socialist countries, Bulgaria and Hungary. In Hungary in particular, this democratic mechanism has been very effective. In re-election for the post of direct 8 % of former directors were voted out, but 92% had their competence at management confirmed by the collective. In this was the quality of managers has been improved. pp. 198-9).

apprentice_sir-alan_pink-pigeon

The Apprentice’s Sir Alan Sugar: Now imagine someone in overalls and work boots saying to their boss ‘You’re fired!’

The competition sounds like a radical Socialist version of Top Gear or Dragon’s Den. Certainly it would have been interesting to see Clarkson covering the election by car factory workers of their manager, all the while careering round Moscow or, in this case, Riga, while making sneering comments about the condition of the roads and Soviet era cars. As for Dragon’s Den, it might be a bit too dangerously subversive for the Dragons. After all, it turns the class system on it’s head by empowering the workers to sack incompetent bosses. Which might actually make it perfect as a kind of anti-Apprentice. After all, how many of the more pompous captains of industry, priding themselves on their ability to make ‘tough decisions’ to close down factories and throw thousands out on the streets for their profit and that of the shareholders, would welcome standing in front of committee of proles and being told ‘You’re fired’. Now that really is an idea for a TV show.