Tuesday, 14 October 2014


Can we change the world without taking power?

Recently, in ROARMAG,  Professor John Holloway revisited his thesis about changing the world. He recognized the need for change, but he wanted to minimize the role of the state, and challenge the workings of capitalism.  I want to argue that any challenge to capitalism requires the direct role of the State.
Some people argue that anarchy would be most effective. I want to argue that anarchy may satisfy the demands of the one, but we need the support of the collective.

What is meant by "we"?    
All references to we  are usually directed at the peoples who live in Europe and the United States and/or are part of the systems of capitalism.

Who do I include amongst those who can change the world?
Should I include all or some of the 7.2 billion people that live on earth and live in families, tribes, sects, classes, working groups; hierarchies;communities; neighbourhoods; ;nations, states, exercising different languages, celebrating different histories, cultures, and religions.  What about the tribes of Amazonia in Brazil?: feeding off the trees and flora; with own languages; unaware of the people who live beyond the forests? or the Inuits of the Arctic who survive on the glaciers?  What about the the millions of refugees, and migrants desperately trying to find a better, safer place to live?
Would these communities want survival or change? Would it ever be possible for them to act in unison ? Of course, it would not be possible to know all these peoples, although I may come to know what their preferences are by means of modern media.

Population maps show us that the world population lives in river valleys, estuaries and coastal lands as well as grasslands and forests. The maps also reveal that most of the Earth is empty …..... Yes, it is empty because many lands are unfit for human habitation, the hot deserts: and cold deserts; the tropical rain forests of Africa, and South America; the glaciers of Arctic and the Antarctica; and the cold lands of Russia, and Canada.  It may be the case that there will be a natural limit on the number of people on earth.   But at the moment it is 7.2 billion,more than at any time in history.
Can 7.2 billion people change the natural world? When the winds blow at 100 miles an hour; or the rains fall at 50 inches an hour, or the temperature rises to 50c in the summer, it is clear that we cannot cope with the vagaries of nature. The extreme events destroy our homes and factories and communities.
However, over a long period of time, the actions of 7.2 billion people are causing changes in the atmosphere, and the biosphere. As a result of our development of industrial processes and products since 1800’s, we are increasing the levels of nitrogen, carbon, and methane in the atmosphere, altering oxygen levels, the balance of green house gases, and raising the global temperatures by +2c each year, We are now being urged by environment agencies to lower the temperatures by changing our behaviour and reducing pollution and emissions. For example,as we have taken to driving cars,and lorries and increasing carbon emissions, so we will have to stop driving petrol vehicles and reduce carbon levels, and adopt renewable energies such as solar power and wind power.

What is meant by "we"?   The UN and many charities estimate that
5 billion people try to thrive and ;survive on less than $10 a day; among whom are
3,25 billion  on $2 a day.
1 billion people are known to starve to death each year, of which many are children.

I live in a world in which the norm is to be poor, and starving. I live in a world in which it is expected that a minority forms a privileged elite. In this world the elites exploit the majority with no shame. They see nothing wrong with paying little for a lot of work; living amongst communities that have little to eat, depending upon food banks and nowhere to live.. We are poor and starving; abused and exploited. And ;we are the majority. The central element of global society is poverty!  That is, lack of money and resources.
Following more than 500 years of Euro-capitalism and colonialism, it is declared in 2014 by FORBES: Merrill Lynch; Morgan Stanley, the TIMES  and other rich lists that 1,654 people across the world are billionaires, in control of $6.4. trillion, amongst 12 million $millionaires who control $46 trillion…………..the so called 1%.

.We consider that money is power; and purchasing power allows 12.16 million people to influence and control the lives of the other 99% of the global population: what is consumed and produced, what jobs are available, how much money is shared: money is power. The World Bank tells us that in 2013, the world produced $85 trillion: most of which went to enrich the 1%.

Discussions about ;wealth always seem to assume that wealth is the norm, and poverty the exception. This is not true. 
It is true that 12 million rich people form a significant group, but it is less than 1% of the 7.2 billion. Poverty is the norm.
Any debate about who takes control has to accept the fact that most people in the world are trying to survive. Their poverty results in their starvation; malnourishment; without sanitation; no clean water; subject to disease; inadequate medical care.This evidence indicates that the key social change that must take place to reduce poverty and attain a fair, just, equal society, is the redistribution of $52 trillion private wealth, and the $85 trillion world GDP.
It is clear that the billionaires and millionaires are not going to take part in this social change. Government authorities, State agencies, are to be directed, entrusted to redistribute the wealth of the 1% to the 99%. Of course one could argue that the 99% direct their actions to the removal of the 1,654, and the 12 million, [all of whom are known] and confiscate their riches for the benefit of all.

This needs to be done peacefully in democratic parliaments organizing legislation to promote social change. It will only be done if the actors are committed, honest, just, and not corrupt.

Saturday, 4 October 2014


Islamic State in Syria and Levant looking for a Caliphate.
Kurds looking for home!
Turkey looking for Empire
Communities in Conflicts in ARABIA.
Recent events in Syria and Iraq, triggered by the actions of the ‘Islamic State ‘and their Caliphate, have revealed the complexity of the struggles.
Indeed the situations are so complex that the views of the USA and UK seem naive and simplistic.
Of course the USA, in particular, is acting in the belief that ‘might is right’: a privilege that it vigorously denies to other countries.
A corollary of this view is that the peoples of the countries that the USA invades or attacks : ‘hate’ the Americans!
The Kurds are taking advantage of the situation to further their claims for 'a homeland'. They lost their place during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after 1918. But in 2014, they are fighting the ISIL, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey and the USA to re-establish Kurdistan. But no one wants to support them. Their conflicts are leading them nowhere.
At the moment, the Christian American and European democrats are busy intervening in the affairs of Muslim Ottoman Arabian dictators and all the associated tribes and religious sects.
The current conflicts are economic [to protect sources of oil] ;  political [to support the Israelis, and other friendly regimes, and to control the growth of Iran; Syria; Egypt, and Turkey];  and religious [to stop the rise of extreme sects]: and a combination of all these. For example, the leaders of the ‘Islamic State’ have captured oil fields and refineries, and are selling the oil to their enemies to finance their wars against the infidels! At the same time the forces of the USA along with allies from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, are attacking these sources of oil and gas so as to get rid of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ and protect their own prosperity.
The emergence of the ISIL, Islamic State of Iraq, and Levant, has resulted in direct aggression against various groups who are declared the enemies of Islam. Recently, ISIL/ISIS/IS have been accused of being an enemy of Islam, and subject to attack by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, the USA, and the EU.
ISIL is perceived as challenging the viability of  the first Caliphate, and thereby the Prophet Muhammad, by declaring itself as the fifth Caliphate and the Caliph Ibrahim as the  leader of Islam, contrary to the rulings of  the many sects and tribes.
Having been identified as the enemy of the USA and the EU, ISIL has become identified as the enemy of  Sunnis and Shias in Arabia.
632 AD: the Prophet Muhammad  had founded the religion of Islam, and  left behind a community of 100,000 followers. These Muslims were organized as an Islamic State in Arabia, centred in Iraq and Syria. They were arguing about who should succeed Muhammad on his death. There were many claimants among the relatives and family, sisters, daughters, cousins, sons in law, and supporters.
The divisions of the Islamic religion were not resolved and   those who chose Abu Bakr, came to be known as ‘Sunni’; those who chose Muhammad’s son in law, ‘Ali’ were called ‘Shia’.
The history of Islam has been punctuated by the conflicts between the Sunnis and the Shia Muslims.
2014 AD: it has been calculated that there are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world: 85% Sunnis; 15% Shia.
In the ‘Middle East’, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, are Sunni: Whereas Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar are Shia/Shiites. It is clear that the conflicts between these countries is rooted in religion. The USA and the EU and Russia are perceived in the ‘ Middle East’ as the agents of Christianity determined to undermine Islam.
At the same time, ISIL is being seen as an enemy of Islam! On the other hand, it is clear that they regard themselves as the Saviours of  Sunni Islam, getting rid of all dissidents and heretics.
The situation is made more complicated by the struggles for power between the tribes and religious sects of Arabia. As well as the divisions between the Sunni and Shia, there are the Bedouins, Ottomans, Kurds, Jews; the Muslim Brotherhood, the Ba’ath Party, the Bahai: The tribal defence forces of Hezbollah, Hamas, Mahdis, Fatah.; The sects of Mahmud, Karim, Druze, Copts, Maronites; Alawites, Ibadis, Ismailis, the Shafis, the Sufi, the Wahabbis; Salafis, Yazidis, Zaidis.
The conflicts are not between countries/nations. It is between families, tribes and sects!
At any one time these groups can be involved in conflict which may result in the death of many thousands of citizens e.g. the attacks on the Yazidis, the aggression of the Alawites in Syria; the attacks by Hamas against the Israelis; the claims for land by the Kurds; the on going rebellions in Yemen.
Turkey has entered the ‘ring’ with the Parliament agreeing to organize their troops in opposition to Syria and the IS and in support of the USA.
The role of Turkey is perplexing in that it is the ‘rump’ of the Ottoman Empire that ruled Arabia/North Africa for many years. Currently it is a member of NATO, and therefore an ally of the USA, and will be a key player in the USA/Arab League coalition. At the same time, it is an enemy of the Kurds and opposes their claims for a homeland. However, it is the homebase for more than 1million refugees from Northern Syria, including  Syrians and Kurds.
At this time, the ruling families of Arabia are to be counted among the richest peoples in the world, controlling the supply of oil and gas to the world; as well as the financial markets. We have to reconcile excessive materialism with intensive spiritualism, as well as the divisions between Sunnis and Shiites.
It is worth noting that the present conflicts may be settled, and peace restored., and the USA withdraw, but the religious differences between the Sunni, Shia, and Jews will continue in many forms for many years.

In the light of the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Caliphate and the Caliph we need to consider the significance of their rulings on Sharia Law.
‘Sharia’ is a code of conduct for all aspects of Muslim life.
’The clear, well trodden path to the water’.
For example, it embodies the Five Pillars of Islam: declaration of faith; prayer; fasting;charity; and pilgrimage. It is expected that men and women dress with modesty and do not expose private parts. Women in particular should conceal their whole bodies. This is applied differently in different countries. For example, it may be acceptable for women to wear dresses that cover the body, but not the head.
The rulings about marriage are complex and controversial. Marriage should be between ‘virgins’, who are pure, not abused. nor violated. When this is not possible, it is essential that the man must not be a fornicator at the time of the marriage.. Of course, the demand for a virgin bride makes it possible for the man to marry a virgin child. Reports have shown that 3year old girls have been promised for marriage.
The practice of ‘child brides’ is illegal in the UK. It is a crime. In this case Sharia  is in direct opposition to civil law in Europe.

SHARIA LAW is Islam’s legal system expressing how to behave socially, in family affairs,finances, business.

Sharia Law is based on the Koran, as the word of God ; the sayings of Muhammad the Prophet; and the fatwas - the rulings of the leading scholars in their debates about the interpretation of the laws.
For example, Adultery is a crime. Sodomy is a crime.Theft is an offence. Apostasy, the leaving of the faith, is a serious offence. Usury is illegal.
It seems that there are  no standard punishments. They vary according to the nature of the offence, and the rulings of the law courts.
But the punishments are severe and include: caning, lashing with a cane; cutting a hand off; cutting a head off as in executions; stoning to death. It is the severity of these punishments that appal the citizens of Christian countries. Although it is worth reminding ourselves that execution by electric chair, or by lethal injection, is still common in the USA.  Comments about  Sharia Law and courts make it clear that while the offences are common, the punishments are rarely performed. It is unusual for offenders to be stoned to death, or have their head cut off. In Europe  Muslim lawyers will argue that it is important to observe the laws of the country you live in, rather than rigorously apply Sharia  Law or even incorporate it into the civil law.

However, the rulings by  the 5th Caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant have insisted on the strict application of Sharia Law and punishments. Recently, the Muslims of Indonesia have reaffirmed the strict adherence of the codes of Sharia.
In both cases, traitors to the faith will be punished by death : having their heads cut off. Women who dress without modesty are caned with a 100 lashes. Financiers who lend at interest will be punished.
The severity of the punishments in Sharia Law is  justified on the grounds that the offenders know what the punishments are if they are caught by witnesses. But  as they continue to offend. It is argued that their defiance of the laws invites strict punishment.
On the other hand the Caliph of ISIL insists that Muslims must endeavour to reaffirm the truths of Islam, and the rulings of the Koran. If they do not, they will be punished according to Sharia Law, risking humiliation, mutilation  and death.
It seems that the militants of ISIL are intent on a campaign of Holy War in which all sects of the Sunni and  Shias are to be treated as  heretics, as traitors to the faith, and executed  in war.
All Americans are to be regarded as the enemies of Islam and are to be executed in war and peace.
One has to conclude that the Caliph of the Islamic State is intent on a world war! and the 5th Caliphate  is the centre of Islam, in opposition to Saudi Arabia, to Egypt, to Indonesia, to Nigeria, to Pakistan, among others.