Monopoly and the ideologies of division
I believe that all people, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or culture share one thing in common. That is the desire to live in peace, sheltered from the elements, without fear of hunger. It really is that simple. However, there are those in positions of power who would have us believe that some are not deserving of these basic human rights.
This week the Prime Minister, David Cameron, let slip his thin veil of respectability when he referred to refugees, who are currently existing in the appalling squalor of the ‘Calais Jungle’, as a “bunch of migrants“. He would later refuse to apologise.
Of all the things that separate us only geography occurs naturally. The others, such as religion, racism, homophobia, sexism and class are merely man-made divisions that help create the illusion that somehow there are fundamental differences between us.
Whatever framework you use to make sense of the world, religion, science or political ideology, it is difficult to understand what material advantage any of these toxic forms of thinking confer on our species. Yet they exist, lurking in the deepest recesses of the human consciousness, waiting for their moment to consume us.
Their influence waxes and wanes. Sometimes rational thought holds sway. During such periods humanity takes giant leaps forward in the fields of art and literature, science and engineering. These are the great ages of human enlightenment. Sadly though progress is all too often punctuated by moments of collective psychosis, during which decades of progress are undone.
Consider recent events. The legacy of western interference and conflict has led to the emergence of a death cult in the middle-east. This movement is hell-bent on imposing an ideological perspective that would not be out of place in the ‘Dark Ages’.
Other religions have similar wings. For example, Christianity has the ‘Ku Klux Klan’ and other extremist factions who would similarly love to oppress us all with literal translations of their holy books. They too carry out lynchings and summarily execute those they deem inferior. After all a death cult by any other name is just as odious.
Today millions are fleeing such dangerous ideologies in the east. Men, women and children, often alone and terrified, are literally running for their lives. Many don’t make it; drowning in the seas, agonisingly close to dry land. Others are met with fear and hostility the moment they reach ‘safety’.
In Dover this week, a small group of fascist thugs brought mayhem to the streets carrying ‘Refugees Not Welcome’ banners. Meanwhile in Stockholm dozens of masked men set out to beat refugee children in a train station.
In whose name is this happening? Who could possibly have a vested interest in fermenting such hatred and thuggery? More importantly, who benefits from it?
The Prime Minister’s words are dangerous, precisely because they hand ammunition to those who carry out such attacks and provide the moral cover for such acts of barbarity.
In uttering such divisive words, David Cameron is in danger of becoming just another bed-fellow of these extremists. They both preach that we are only safe within the confines of own tribes. That outside there are those who would seek to take everything from us. We need him and his fellow travellers to protect us from the outsiders who are coming after our scarce resources; or so their story goes.
In reality it is those who present themselves as our saviours, while monopolizing everything they can lay their hands on, who present the greatest threat to our freedom and prosperity. I’m reminded of a brilliant passage from ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’, a posthumous classic written by Robert Noonan, under the pseudonym Robert Tressell.
“Poverty is not caused by…………..”over-population”. It’s caused by Private Monopoly. That is the present system. They have monopolized everything that it is possible to monopolize; they have got the whole earth, the minerals in the earth and the streams that water the earth. The only reason they have not monopolized the daylight and the air is that it is not possible to do it.”
Noonan goes on to imagine a world in which the monopolists have been able to bottle up the air in huge ‘gasometers’ and charge the rest of us for the privilege of breathing it. He then suggests that people would submit to such a new reality in the same we they accept monopolization of the earth and all of it’s minerals today.
What if someone dared to challenge such an arrangement? What if he were to smash a hole in the ‘gasomoeter’ and steal the air? Tressell makes this prediction as to how their fellow citizens would behave. “You would fall upon him in the name of law and order, and after doing your best to tear him limb from limb, you’ll drag him, covered with blood, in triumph to the nearest Police Station and deliver him up to “justice” in the hope of being given a few half-pounds of air for your trouble.”
It may seem an outlandish prophecy, until that is you reflect upon those masked men in Stockholm who beat children for daring to walk across borders in search of the safety of Swedish air. Are these refugees not just smashing holes in the ‘gasometers’ erected by the European monopolists? How grateful must these monopoly men be to the fascists who deliver ‘justice’ on their behalf.
We are told we don’t have the resources to help these desperate people. This tide of humanity, sweeping across Europe, has been portrayed as either a surge of migrants in search of the good life, or terrorists in refugee clothing seeking to undermine our way of life. Such narratives seek to dehumanise those in peril and undermine their cries for help.
In truth we live in an age of plenty. If only the monopolists would release their death grip on their vast stockpiled riches. Instead they choose to squander the wealth the rest of us create; on war and weapons of mass destruction; on tax breaks for their cronies in the city.
There’s an old joke about the capitalist, the worker and the refugee. They have a hundred cookies between them. The capitalist takes ninety-nine of them and tells the worker, “be careful that refugee is trying to steal your cookie.” This is exactly the lie we have been continually sold for centuries. We should see it for the mind-trick it is.
To paraphrase the great Robert Noonan, the cause of our current problems is not the refugee, it’s not the “greed” of the poor, the unemployed or the underemployed. It is not welfare or Trade Unions. Instead it is the present system of private monopoly and international capital; that seeks to plunder the worlds resources for its own purposes and wages war against those who seek to take a piece of that which is theirs by right.
Think of this the next time you read a newspaper owned by a monopolist, or hear a Prime Minister telling you to be careful of the refugee who wants to steal your cookie.