Our Summer Of Dumb

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AgentPete

Capo Famiglia
Guardian
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May 19, 2014
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London UK
In London, this is more than a long, hot summer. There is something in the air, and it’s beginning to feel a lot like psychosis.

It kicked off with the crazed attack on Westminster Bridge, where a deranged soul with a van and a knife injured 40 and killed five. Inspired by that, if inspired is the right word, three sad cases replicated another lethal van and knife attack on London Bridge. A presumably-retaliatory attack near Finsbury Park Mosque left another trail of death and destruction.

Then we had the Grenfell Fire. God knows how that inquiry will pan out – I think most people are expecting a cover-up of some sort – but it’s significant that the Council’s management organisation was happy to pay its “fire risk assessor” a whacking £250,000 in consultancy fees, but simply couldn’t see its way to spending another £6,000 on fire-proof cladding for the building. The consultant recommended that his report should not be shown to members of the public, or even residents, or even the local fire brigade. Utter, total lunacy.

And there is more – lots more. Yobs as young as 15 are riding round town on their scooters, spraying pedestrians with concentrated acid. Some of these attacks have some kind of addlepated motivation - others lack even that. One of these scumbags appeared in court recently like some sort of rockstar, blowing kisses to his “supporters”, grinning and gurning just like Justin Bieber.

No-one thinks the Summer of Dumb is over yet. I don’t know where it came from, or where things are headed, but right now, I feel like spending the next few weeks on another planet, well away from the more insane members of my species.
 
Quite a perspective there, put so well. A parallel thought has been going through my mind for a few months, that being the consideration, for the second time in my life, of taking my headscarf off. Some major reasons underlining that consideration which overlaps some of the concerns in the above post. I have never shared this so 'publicly' before. So you really have heard it here first! Scary times for all and a bumpy summer of decisions for me.
 
At my local tube station, an architect just (allegedly) attacked a teenager with headscarf, nearly included that in my list. I’m sure there are many similar incidents at the moment. Hell, even the Haredi Jews in Stamford Hill are fighting each other. Although over exactly what doctrinal differences I can’t easily see online, they’re a very closed community. But not, it seems, completely isolated from the pervasive insanity that’s abroad at the moment. My own view – yes, I’d take it off.
 
Swinery abounding. There is always trouble somewhere in the world, but there is indeed a strange cloud...or tidal current, described by astrologers in their symbolic terms of Pluto transiting Capricorn. Cycles in the collective unconsciousness, this one set till 2024. The pendulum swings.
 
It is an odd time to be alive, that is for sure.

On the moped issue, I could rant for hours. One of my best friends is a Sergeant with the Met and is literally (and he has not got much left as it is!) tearing his hair out at the moment in utter frustration at the situation. Effectively the powers that be have given a green light to the little shits to do what they want because they are immune from direct police intervention in terms of pursuits. Members of the public intervening seems to be the most effective tactic against them. Throw in these awful acid attacks, and once again I will swerve the political aspect to the situation, which is only now starting to surface due to a squeamishness on the part of our supposed betters to face up to the reality of what is behind them and you have a horrible situation that has the potential to spill over into awful consequences.

I have a lot of friends from the former Yugoslavia and one comment that has stuck with me from several of them, independent of each other, is that this country is starting to feel like Yugoslavia did in the years leading up to it all going pop. They say the Brexit vote was the start.

Now I will put my cards on the table and say that I voted to leave and would do so again today but this disunity that seems to be taking hold in the UK at the moment is worrying. Do I think we will all start fighting each other? No. But I do think that all sides of the political debate need to take stock a little and consider what they are saying about those they disagree with. To much virtue signalling from both sides at the moment.
 
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I could quite easily foresee a future (for London) where it’s basically Gated Communities Vs. The Rest.
 
I could quite easily foresee a future (for London) where it’s basically Gated Communities Vs. The Rest.

London is a strange old place at the moment and is struggling with how it comes to terms with its future as a global city. Always believed that London is one of the few cities in the world in which somebody who was not born there can, after a period of time making it their home, stake a valid claim about now being a fully fledged native (although they cannot claim a particular distinction. Being a North/South/East/West Londoner is still a matter of heritage in my opinion) and that is a positive aspect to how it has evolved from its more industrial previous self but with that brings a whole raft of other issues such as people buying property here and then leaving it sitting empty.

London has to be a city in which people live, die, trade, build and generally make it a hub for both commerce and creativity. Not just a playground for the worlds super-rich to view as a safe haven should their own natives grow too restless.

And the class divide that now exists in the inner parts of the city, even extending out to zones two and three now is growing worse. I grew up in Peckham and our neighbours in those days came from similar socioeconomic backgrounds with all the attendant aspirations and downsides that it brings with it.

Now in that self-same street you are likely to have a barrister next door to a refugee family and with a crack dealer thrown in for good measure just along from them. They might share a post-code but their kids do not go to the same school, they do not shop in the same places and effectively live in what might as well be parallel universes.

Will that lead to conflict in the future? Possibly. And with the current vacuum in political leadership, who steps in to direct this anger leaves a lot to be desired.
 
Yes, I have never been more happy to live in this little backwater at the bottom of the world. Not that we don't have our own problems here, our own little insanities, but they're playing out in a reasonably civilised manner here. Seems like all hell has broken loose in the Northern Hemisphere, though. Stay safe, everyone.
 
I could quite easily foresee a future (for London) where it’s basically Gated Communities Vs. The Rest.

Atlanta was like that when I lived there from 2000-2003, with gated communities patrolled by armed guards. Subdivisions (housing estates) that couldn't enclose their land retrospectively, often employed security services to cruise the roads.

As with many cities through history, ethnic immigrants settled in clusters. Parts of Atlanta were populated by Koreans, other places by the Chinese, while Stone Mountain is 75% African American. There were areas, which as a white man, I would never go to after dark. Atlanta gloried in lots of sad statistics, including having twice been Murder Capital of the U.S.A.—that is, the most murders in a year. It wasn't uncommon for there to be 4-5 murders a day when I lived there, and one day the morning newsreader gleefully announced that nine corpses had been found overnight—which equalled a record set in a day of rioting in the 1960s!

With policeman here being increasingly armed with guns, it will surely lead to an escalation in villains carrying guns. Weapons are cheaply available in eastern Europe, following the breakdown of the Soviet Union. A Makarov automatic pistol bought for £15 on the streets of Sarajevo can be sold for ten times that in London.

I'm not being cynical, but it's worthwhile to consider the problems that the world is currently facing by stepping back and taking the long view. Things don't just happen—someone is pulling the strings of society. Think who benefits from increased spending on armaments, prisons, and security in general. It's those who are already super-wealthy. Destabilising countries that are already vulnerable adds to the profits of corporations controlled by billionaires. War is a profitable business. As Sun-Tzu said: In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.
 
OK, so this is what I've been pondering for some time now.

Most people, bye and large, get along with each other. We have to as a species, otherwise we would still be in the trees.

And of course, I should set against the list above all the countless acts of kindness and generosity that happen every day pretty much unacknowledged.

But we have a blind spot for psychopaths.. We seem to elect them, we're constantly bamboozled by them in business, and at work we're happy to grant them the corner office.

We don't even seem to have a vocabulary to recognize, describe and deal with them. Our institutions seem to actively nurture them.

I really don't know how we should deal with this situation, but we surely have to.
 
OK, so this is what I've been pondering for some time now.

Most people, bye and large, get along with each other. We have to as a species, otherwise we would still be in the trees.

And of course, I should set against the list above all the countless acts of kindness and generosity that happen every day pretty much unacknowledged.

But we have a blind spot for psychopaths.. We seem to elect them, we're constantly bamboozled by them in business, and at work we're happy to grant them the corner office.

We don't even seem to have a vocabulary to recognize, describe and deal with them. Our institutions seem to actively nurture them.

I really don't know how we should deal with this situation, but we surely have to.

Isn't that because our institutions are psychopathic?

The documentary The Corporation used the DSM-IV definition of a psychopath a few years ago and applied it to modern corporations - lack of empathy, inability to stay within the law, etc - and found that corporations ticked every box. It's no accident that people who are similarly ruthless, power hungry and short-sighted make it to the top of these institutions - because institutions will promote individuals who share their values and marginalise those who don't.

The same applies in politics and the media. It astonishes me that Tony Blair is still considered a "valid" voice and continues to be given a platform by the mainstream media. It's hard to see his actions re Iraq and total inability to appear remorseful as anything other than psychopathic yet our political culture still grants him credibility and has even used him to state that Jeremy Corbyn, who opposed the Iraq war and the neoliberal policies that led to the 2008 financial disaster, as unsuitable to lead a country. Why? Because in a psychopathic culture someone like Blair is a suitable leader. Someone who opposes war and the proliferation of nuclear weapons is "dangerous" and portrayed as more or less deranged by the culture.

In my opinion this is the problem the world faces. Most individual people, by and large, are good and can get along pretty well, but our institutions are murderous and destructive and lead us down a very dangerous path.
 
The current situation in the world, with strife over immigrants, unemployment and poverty resembles the situation in Europe in the 1920s & 1930s. This saw the rise of right wing politicians, such as Hitler, Mussolini and Franco—plunging us into another world war—bad enough, but this was before nuclear weapons!

Sad to say, there's no quick money to be made from peace. Easier to profit from instability, even if it means warfare.

Noted pacifist Spike Milligan summed things up well, with this observation:

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Interesting (and almost comforting, in a sad way) to read this – I have thought for at least the last decade that our institutions and politicians have become more sociopathic and psychopathic. Definitely Tony Blair. Theresa May isn't far behind him. And that nasty piece of work who runs RyanAir. People have never been as important as profits, but institutions used to at least pretend they were. Now they don't even bother with the pretence. They have utter contempt for their clients, i.e. us. Politicians won't answer questions, they just repeat propaganda, or their preferred soundbite. Our press colludes with this. Corruption trickles down from the top, whether it's governments or institutions. My friends used to smile indulgently when I said we were all allowing ourselves to be ruled by psychopaths and no one was calling them out. More of them agree with me now. I'd love to say human kindness and love will prevail. Sadly, history shows otherwise.

I have no idea what the former Yugoslavia was like in the years leading up to their wars but I agree with Matnov's friends that something has taken hold of Britain since Brexit. It is sliding into a sewer. If Britain were a person I'd say it has serious mental health issues and is heading for a breakdown. The problem isn't whether someone voted Leave or Remain (in the interests of transparency, I'm for remaining), it's that so many people on each side are completely intolerant of the other's viewpoint. Intolerant to the point of violence. That's what starts wars.

I have other friends – the ones way out there; I love listening to them, though it's usually with my eyebrows up in my hairline – who believe we have about five years.
 
Quite a perspective there, put so well. A parallel thought has been going through my mind for a few months, that being the consideration, for the second time in my life, of taking my headscarf off. Some major reasons underlining that consideration which overlaps some of the concerns in the above post. I have never shared this so 'publicly' before. So you really have heard it here first! Scary times for all and a bumpy summer of decisions for me.

Emurelda, I don't envy you your decision. My instant reaction (I have a quick temper :( ) was Sod them. Keep it on! Why should you take your scarf off! But, you know... when my brain finally gets to put a word in edgeways, I think it's better to live and fight another day than make yourself a target for some low-life scum (or even an educated architect...)

Whatever you decide, good luck.
 
A couple of things to consider, both of which are contentious areas, are who is the puppet master when it comes to banking and how is violence in society affected by censorship regulations.

It's easy to only look so far into the causes of the economic recession. Most people, including the news media, point to irresponsible banks who lent mortgage money to so-called subprime borrowers—people with terrible reputations for repaying loans—who, sure enough, defaulted which led to the bank repossessing their property. This led to a decline in property values and a rise in interest rates, with many unable to borrow through official channels at all—hence, the rise of loan sharks and a massive increase in homelessness.

A few bankers have been punished, but only a few, and the fines and prison sentences they received were laughable considering the sums they lost. Banks were bailed out by the taxpayer to prop up 'The System'—which had plainly failed, but that's not allowable, so the innocent are left with the bill to put things right. The thing is, these scapegoats and the high street banks they worked for are known about—boo, hiss! What isn't publicised is the super wealthy elite who are pulling the strings. They don't even appear on Forbes' Rich List. They never lose out.

A few people own lots of banks: Secrets Of The Elite: Why Forbes’ Rich List Doesn’t Include The Wealthiest Families On The Planet

As one of the founders of the Rothschild bank said, way back in 1838:

Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.

With violence, people get hardened to it as they see so many images of pain, mutilation and death every day if they use the Internet. Politically, I'm left wing and libertarian and largely opposed to censorship. But, when you can go online and find specific instructions on how to construct a bomb or find ways to buy weapons, then that's a recipe for disaster. Simply clicking on a mainstream newspaper site, such as the Daily Mail, anyone can watch people be attacked in street fights or dying in accidents and terrorist atrocities. Videos of such things start automatically. It's not shocking news anymore—it's a form of entertainment.

I posted these thoughts and left the Colony, opening up the Guardian newspaper website, where I found this story—proof of what I said—and who wants to be right about something like that?
 
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The word is 'evil'. Manifesting both sides of 'the argument.'

Those boys are evil. An old fashioned word, but that is the word.

Corbyn, or what he represents beyond that apparently avuncular, uncle-like presence, I deeply fear and mistrust, and I come from a mining city. But, what if money itself IS the business of the future, and those money people don't actually give a damn about trade, but about creating or exaggerating, currency differentials and plucking them? Varoufakis is an interesting read on that subject.
 
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Emurelda, I don't envy you your decision. My instant reaction (I have a quick temper :( ) was Sod them. Keep it on! Why should you take your scarf off! But, you know... when my brain finally gets to put a word in edgeways, I think it's better to live and fight another day than make yourself a target for some low-life scum (or even an educated architect...)

Whatever you decide, good luck.

Thank you.

Tomorrow I will be commuting into London and I've decided to try it without the headscarf. I used to have a tough stubborn attitude against changing but it's now about putting it in perspective and being pragmatic.
 
Thank you.

Tomorrow I will be commuting into London and I've decided to try it without the headscarf. I used to have a tough stubborn attitude against changing but it's now about putting it in perspective and being pragmatic.

Good luck. I'll think of you – I used to go up and down the tubes, from Turnham Green to Tower Hill for over 20 years. I hope you get a sunny day.:)
 
Be safe @Emurelda. Friends back in the US think I'm crazy, choosing to stay here, where the earth has been doing its best to shake us off for the past six years. But I would rather face the impersonal and inevitable violence of the earth than the personal hatred of others. Kia kaha--be strong. Remember that for every hater there are millions of others walking beside you.
 
I spent my formative years in an East coast town, where the Tall Poppy syndrome ruled. If you looked too different from the norm (which I later discovered was pretty darn unusual) you would get thumped.

One of the nice things about moving to London was the almost total indifference of bystanders to whoever you were and however you looked. It felt great. I hope we can get back to that, soon.
 
Why do you fear and distrust Corbyn Katie-Ellen?

He's an iron fist in a cosy glove, but I could as meaningfully ask, why don't you? But I don't. I assume that if you think differently, you have your own reasons, they are as valid as mine and I'm not getting into whose is more valid as a matter of personal respect and because democracy, imperfect democracy is a numbers game and that's how it's got to stay.

I loathed Maggie. My husband thought Maggie was the bees knees but we've weathered 25 years of that particular difference.

Something stinks in the global banking cartels. I doubt Theresa May will sort it any more than the last few PMs in both top parties, and the EU - which is not Europe - is complicit. Chatting the other day with a young woman working in a shop, while I was buying sandals for my daughter, the young lady said that Macron was a shit; a money man shit, but what was the choice? - the others were double-shits. This, cheerfully volunteered in chat chat while telling me that tourism in Rocamadour has been quieter this last couple of years.
 
I spent my formative years in an East coast town, where the Tall Poppy syndrome ruled. If you looked too different from the norm (which I later discovered was pretty darn unusual) you would get thumped.

One of the nice things about moving to London was the almost total indifference of bystanders to whoever you were and however you looked. It felt great. I hope we can get back to that, soon.


If you looked too different from the norm (which I later discovered was pretty darn unusual)


Heeeheeeee! Worra can of, um, worms.
 
No offence intended, Katie-Ellen

The reason I picked up on the mention of Corbyn is that I think he's a key figure in a debate about psychopathic institutions, not because of his personal characteristics but because of what he stands for (based on how he votes)

The website theyworkforyou.com tracks politician's voting records.

For info:

Corbyn voted against the Iraq war 6 times (Theresa May voted for 5 times, David Cameron voted for 5 times, Gordon Brown voted for 5 times)

Corbyn voted against renewing Trident nuclear weapons 4 times (TM voted for 6 times, DC voted for 4 times, GB voted for twice)

Corbyn voted 5 times for raising benefits in line with prices (TM voted against 5 times, DC voted against twice, GB voted for twice)

Corbyn voted 21-1 times against reducing corporation tax (TM voted for 16 times, DC voted for 5 times, GB voted against 4 times)


I've compared Corbyn's actual voting record on key issues with the last 3 PMs to highlight how different he is from the status quo on key topics. It doesn't seem far fetched to presume that the astonishing outcry against him from the media, MPs in his own party and business organisations is because they recognise that he is different and the people/institutions that rule the country do not want change.

Indeed, the perspective of these people/organisations is so startling that Corbyn has repeatedly been labelled a "threat" and a "danger" because he is a pacifist opposed to warfare and nuclear weapons. It's worth thinking about this for a second: a man who opposes the construction and use of weapons that would vaporise millions and cause countless others to die from radiation poisoning is a "threat."

For me, that says it all about the psychopathic nature of our institutions/political culture.
 
Swinery abounding. There is always trouble somewhere in the world, but there is indeed a strange cloud...or tidal current, described by astrologers in their symbolic terms of Pluto transiting Capricorn. Cycles in the collective unconsciousness, this one set till 2024. The pendulum swings.
How were the stars during the Summer of Love? Those were the days!
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