Thursday, 24 February 2011

Serve you? Not if I can possibly avoid it!

Note: This rant came out after seeing an advert for "Mary Portas Mistery Shopper" or somethink equally asinine. The sight of half a dozen middle aged nincompoops with an oversized sense of entitlement holding signs that read "Serve Us" while standing somewhere on "The High Street" positively turned my stomach. I despise the "Service Sector" with a passion, not least because I used to work for it and hated every minute of it. This country would do well to be reminded that not that long ago the word "serf" was on fashion for very dark purposes. And if things carry on like this it won't be long before it's brought back, with "Vintage" written somewhere on the label.

There are few things more damaging to a human group than having some people being served while they are never the ones doing the serving.

Ms Portas and similar, do I sneak in to your workplace to pass negative judgement about how you do your job? Because I am sure that many people would jump at the opportunity to tell TV presenters how bad their performance is and how poor the material that they make has become.

But that’s impossible, of course. There are “mystery shoppers” for the poor, but surprisingly there is no equivalent for the rich. A good, strong argument can be made that while poor workers, those at the bottom of the hierarchy, are more and more policed to make sure they don’t step an inch out of line, rich workers, those at the nosebleed section of the social hierarchy, are not policed at all, with disastrous consequences for everyone. As we have seen, those on the financial sector, with the most power and the most money, have been left to do as they damn well please, and to Hell with the people who have to live with the consequences of their reckless behaviour and pay for the privilege.

The poor are then living in a police state and a “police market”. They are watched over by an increasingly fascist state obsessed with wanting to know how much money they have and how they use it, where they live and whether they are crippled enough to not be fit for labouring. They must subserviently report the most intimate details to an inquisitive Big Brother if they are to access their right to not live in complete destitution. “Benefits” are a right, in case anyone has forgotten. While at work they are watched over closer and closer, to a dehumanizing, demeaning, and degrading point, if they are to be paid the lowest wages that the law allows.

Meanwhile the wealthiest people on the planet can wreck holy havoc over the global economy and escape accountability.

How about a big demonstration outside Wall Street banks, with millions of people holding placards that read “Serve US”?

Just in case there are some woolly-brained middle class people who don’t understand what I’m saying here and who have the temerity to demand better service from the lowest paid workers in society, let me put it in plain English.
Want more than minimum service? Pay more than minimum wages.”
Or for those who feel outraged at this statement: want to be “served” better? Pay more. I’m sure that Chanel, Dior, and the like will be more than happy to pander to your every need. It will cost you, of course. But the right to be treated like royalty has to be paid. At least in an economy where "serfdom" is not imposed by brutal force.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Wealth For The Old

People may say that it’s only just and fair for people to be rewarded after working for decades. Indeed. But the fact of the matter is that people need safe homes and a secure income when they are raising kids, not when those kids have flown the nest. People cannot wait to have children when they retire. And the needs of children and families are, unfortunately, above the desire for a second home or a fancy holiday.

In most places of the world, it is the young who have to support the old. In exchange for this, the eldest have status and the right to push their weight around. Their contribution to society comes in the form of “accumulated years of life”. In more traditional communities this means “wisdom”. In our culture, however, it means “wealth”. The greatest thing you can do to accrue wealth is to live for many years. Specifically, the oldest have an advantage because house prices increase in time, which means that nearly everyone is guaranteed a nice return for their investment.

The status and the right to push their weight around belongs to the young, while the wealth belongs to the eldest. Not only that, but our culture makes it almost impossible for the eldest to pass down what they have accumulated through years of living experience: wisdom and wealth. You don’t need me to tell you that in this society, it is the young who preach to the old, not the other way around. Wisdom that comes from years of living experience is disregarded entirely. There is a reason for this: one way increases investment in needless junk, while the other halts it.

I saw this couple on the telly today. They were easily in their 60s and looking for a "property". Big, gorgeous house with an extra room "for when the kids come to visit". Very simple example, I know, I've seen worse. One woman alone in a five bedroom house, her children all grown up, one of them spending a fortune to rent a flat in London with someone else.

On the other end of the scale, we have "journalists" asking some 14 year old kid named Justin, who happens to be a famous popstar, what he thinks about abortion. If you believe this to be irrelevant keep in mind that the words of this kid have more value to other kids his age than the words of "grown ups".

This culture has it all backwards.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Joys Of University

Pay. Nearly £4000 for one year. Pay for the privilege of being insulted. Over and over again. Not over a 2:1? Check! English not first language? Check! 4 grand to spare, presumably under the proverbial mattress? Check!
Barriers. Walls, even. That’s what they are, that’s what they are there for. To keep you out. Don’t think for a second that they are there to teach anything. I’ve spent enough time in academic settings to know that the learning process is anecdotal. They are walls designed to keep millions out, to kill your aspirations and dreams, to eliminate all sight of opportunity from your unwritten destiny.
I read their “requirements” and my anger bursts out inside me with two very determined words. Fuck you. I don’t normally swear, so this is a sign of how much contempt I have in store for their values and their rules.
I cannot help but wonder how people worse off than me would react to these institutions. My feelings, if nothing else, at least give me a taste of the experiences of those further down in the social hierarchy. How much contempt do they have?

How much of what society presents as “good and noble” do they respond to with hatred.
It is entirely reasonable to hate those who hate you. It is entirely reasonable to spit at the door being shut on your face. It is reasonable not only to despise the values used to keep you away but also to despise the very institutions based on those values.
And that is why the poor, the “working classes”, the marginalized, the oppressed, don’t want to take part in the “paper chase” of the Ivory Tower. Because they are kept away, on purpose. And because we humans tend dislike those who dislike us.
They may not want to “improve themselves”, where “improve” means “being more like the elites”. They may not want to be like the ones who look down on them. They may not believe that the “good and noble” institutions are actually all that “good and noble”. And here lies the problem. Because everything that our society deems “truth and beauty” has had the blessing of the elites. It will espouse their values.
The “oppressed” are then deprived, one way or another, of any semblance of “truth and beauty”. Either it is kept away from them on purpose, in which case they won’t be able to access it, or it will reflect the values of those who keep it away from them on purpose, in which case they will be the ones rejecting it.

Fuck you, university. I wonder what I’ll do without you.   

Friday, 18 February 2011

Make Room!

I ended up where I am, here, a “radical dissident” because the world failed to make room for me. I tried doing what I was supposed to be doing. I tried really hard. I even went the proverbial “extra mile”. An entire ocean worth of “extra mile”. But I failed to find “my place” because the world hadn’t made space for me. And others like me. It’s not enough to have a system, a society, a human world that only works for a few on the top, and increasingly less so for those who come afterwards. Society has to work for everyone. It has to make room for every single person on the planet. And if it doesn’t, it must be changed. Simple as that. It won’t do to blame everyone who hasn’t “made it”, who isn’t amongst the “top”, for failing to get there. A society that only makes room for a few at the top is not good enough. And if I haven’t found a place it cannot be entirely my fault. Yes, we should all adapt to the group to some extent. But when good, honest, ethical people have to become more corrupt in order to exist in this world, it’s time to change the rules.  

Thursday, 17 February 2011

No More Room For Number Two

How could I begin to describe the pain at being left with nothing to do, no way to influence your surroundings, no path to follow. Being told you are nothing if you’re not “number one”. We live in a true binary now: there are only 1s or 0s, you are either on the top or you don’t exist. Not for us the lie that we are the “salt of the Earth”. No need to pretend that the rulers descend directly from the Gods. Today’s rulers are Gods. They lie and tell us they are “one of us”. As if!
We are hit with the same tune over and over and over again: you too can “make it”, you too can “be a number one”. Never mind that this is increasingly not the case. What people often forget is that the more we believe that “you too can make it”, the less we will believe that “not making it” is acceptable. The more we believe that rising to the top is possible, a matter of trying “hard”, or “following your dream”, the more we will believe that staying at the bottom, with all the “average” people, is, conversely, the result of not trying very hard, not “following your dream”.
But it’s not a matter of “working hard”. It may have never been so, but it’s specially not the case today.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Story So Far...

Welcome to my new blog. I used to write the blog “Beyond Feminism”. But now I want to start afresh.
If you know me from my previous blog, thank you for joining me here. I have admittedly neglected writing anything in a while now. There is a story behind it (the blog and the consequent non writing on the blog).

The Story So Far…

Some years ago I started a blog with the purpose to write about feminism and more, hence the name “Beyond Feminism”. My goal was to explore “dissenting” ideas (aka “The Left” and everything that encompasses it) within a feminist framework. That didn’t quite work out, since the “Feminist” camp and the “Left” camp don’t seem to mix up very well. On the one side “Feminist” blogs take little notice of things like “the economy” and instead frame their opposition to the system in terms of “privilege”, which is extremely limited. On the other side, the “Left” likes to take little notice of “Feminism”, just so it can continue with the long held tradition of ignoring women.

There was a problem with that approach. I was writing a blog about politics following the “traditional” way people go about when they discuss politics. But it didn’t work. My writing was excruciatingly painful to produce and not at all satisfying, personally. I was writing “without myself”. I would perform a function similar to that of a computer: political ideas go in, they get analyzed and they come out. At no point would I play the role of “human being”. The result? A painfully boring read and a painfully painful write.
Eventually, inevitably, I burnt out. But I learned the lesson: if you love writing but you are hating writing, change the way you write.

That is why this blog will be written in a different voice. One that is easier, more personal, and has the potential to be fun, creative and humorous. It has the “potential”, it doesn’t mean that it will be there all the time. It is difficult, after all!
I want to write in a way that makes me feel better, which I believe will in turn make those who read what I write feel better.

No more struggling to get my ideas to sound like they come from a journalist! No more suffering because I fail to write like a University professor! I am neither after all. I am me, a little, unemployed, poor young person with big dreams, big ideas but little understanding of the practical side of things. Compensating lack of experience and knowledge with enthusiasm, willpower and the occasional bout of creativity.
Trying to make the world a better place. Trying to empower people so that they speak out. Trying to help them see that the truth they held close to their hearts was true all along. 

It is my belief and hope that my words can help people. If you are one of them, thank you for coming and I sincerely hope you find my words helpful. Please bear with me while I get a new blog-mojo. I am experimenting with new modes of expression and new ideas. There is no telling what will be coming out of all this!

Here I am, trying to create something more “holistic”. Trying to make “one” out of many bits of Truth. Expect Philosophy, Left, Feminism, Spirituality, Literature and highly adulterated New Age-y-ness.