Skip to content

Humanity missing in action: The uncivilised west.


It’s not been a great year for humanity has it? we seem to be lurching from one low point to another and just when you think we have reached rock bottom, new depths are somehow reached. For many of us it is hard to resist the creeping tentacles of despair.

After all, this is a world in which a man who boasts of sexually assaulting women, can muster the support of 40% of the American electorate. And where this same failed businessman turned politician, who advocates building a wall to keep out Mexicans, a people he openly claimed were rapists, also wants to ban people from entering the United States on the basis of their religion.

In Britain local councils fine people for sleeping rough and the poor are subjected to degrading and inhuman tests aimed at establishing whether they are “deserving” of state assistance. Many are then refused that aid only to die or commit suicide shortly afterwards, while the state and the media actively deny this is going on.


What is beyond question is the fact that last year over one million people were dependant on food banks to get by; and 400,000 children received food parcels in the United Kingdom. Of course all of this has happened against the backdrop of a government that sought to cut welfare for the disabled and poor families, while the super rich continue to dodge their taxes. In addition the public services we depend upon, such as the National Health Service, are now in crisis with no prospect of help forthcoming from central government.

Europe is perilously close to fracturing and countries are deeply divided and politically polarised. The rhetoric of the far right, once whispered only in the darkest recesses of society, and by its dregs, is now openly opined by main-stream politicians.

Consider the demolition of the ‘Calais Jungle’ and the dispersal across France of some of the most vulnerable and traumatised people on the planet. Many of these are children, some unaccompanied by adults and at risk of child exploitation and human trafficking. Now reflect on the response of British politicians and media outlets to the suggestion that the United Kingdom, one of the countries responsible in no small part for this humanitarian crisis, should take in around thirty of these poor and desperate souls.


In the last week I have heard one MP suggest that those fleeing violence, torture and war should be subjected to forced dental examinations, before being allowed safe haven. Why? Because he feared some of those being allowed into the country may actually be adults fleeing the same privations. Why should their age matter at all? Surely people in desperate need deserve help and support irrespective of how old they are. Are we really saying that we are only prepared to help children and the adults can fend for themselves?

Of course this position is defended in terms of ensuring that there is ‘no abuse of our hospitality’. Frankly I don’t believe the hysteria that greeted images of refugees, apparently ‘too old’ to deserve safety, has anything to do with ensuring due process is observed. Instead it is my belief that this reflects the increasing divisiveness and cruelty of the political elite; who are now completely at ease with inciting bigotry and appealing to the basest fears of the population, in order to advance their political aims.

There has of course been opposition to this drift towards intolerance and xenophobia. The most notable of which came from a musician, Lilly Allen and a football pundit, Gary Lineker. The latter was branded a “Left Wing Luvvie” for questioning the humanity of a country that would deny help to those in need because of their age. One particular newspaper, infamous for peddling lies and distortions, actually called for him to be sacked for “telling lies about refugees.” You couldn’t write it, but apparently they could.


The same accusations of left-wing bias have been aimed at film maker Ken Loach, for his moving depiction of the plight of those facing humiliating health assessments in order to deny them benefits. ‘I Daniel Blake’ has been decried, by Conservative politicians and journalists on the right, as “Poverty Safari.”

Let’s reflect on that phrase for just a moment. “Poverty Safari”. How utterly offensive and abhorrent. Only the industry that dreamt up “Benefits Street” and other exploitative television could come up with such a phrase. It frankly says more about them than it does the poor. Do they really see those living below the poverty line as animals? Mere sport for the wealthy and privileged to enjoy and entertainment for the masses? It appears they do.

It has also been suggested that Loach is a “revolutionary socialist” and that the film is an attempt to ferment unrest. Of course their protestations are absurd and there is ample evidence, published in the same media outlets who are now seemingly perplexed by the reality depicted in Loach’s film, to support the assertions made by him.

If we were to be kind, we would say that such outrage stems from the fact that many of these critics live a sheltered existence and are rarely exposed to the horror of 21st century poverty. Another interpretation is that such denials are calculated to distract and prop up a system from which they are all beneficiaries. I’ll leave the reader to decide which it is.

It is claimed that Mohandas Gandhi, on a visit to the United States,  was once asked by a journalist what he thought of western civilisation. He is alleged to have replied “I think it would be a good idea.” The western world Gandhi observed was far from civilised. Fear, starvation and war were endemic, and it was beset with intolerance, cruelty and oppression. Sound familiar?

I am frequently struck by the arrogance of the permanent political class and their fellow travellers in the media. They sit atop a corrupt and bankrupt economic model, that is incapable of providing education, health, employment and housing to all of its citizens, while passing judgement on the rest of the world. They turn a blind eye to the squalor many of their fellow citizens endure and question the morality and worth of those at the bottom of the pile. Worse still they propagate the lie that there is no alternative.


As a socialist, I am sometimes lectured about how mine is an ideology that can never work. “The world just doesn’t turn that way,” I am told. Of course there is also the old standby “Look at Russia, socialism has totally failed.” As if people like me are advocating the imposition of the sort of political oppression run by a bureaucratic elite that became a characteristic of the former Soviet Union.

Of course I am equally within my rights to point out that Capitalism has failed and continues to do so, not just in one country, but all over the western world. The fact that people living in capitalist economies suffer poverty and deprivation of liberty is undeniable. It is an economic system that holds back the ‘Third World’ and maintains its status through the imposition of debt, while advancing its claim over natural resources through military adventures and the tactics of regime change.

So called ‘Western civilisation’ knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Nothing moves in those economies, unless there is a profit margin associated with it. And charity is seen in terms of the generosity of the rich and not as the abject failure, of a system to provide for its own, that it truly is.

This so called great ‘civilisation’ is destroying habitats, pushing species to the brink of extinction and beyond and tipping the temperature of the planet beyond the point of no return. At the same time some political leaders actually deny this is happening, seemingly content to leave the problem to future generations.

These are all global problems, that humanity is attempting to solve on the basis of the ‘nation state’. It is a strategy that is hopelessly doomed to failure. It is surely time for those movements, that have developed in opposition to this mess, to embrace an internationalist perspective.

It is very encouraging to see the UK Labour Party attempting to bring together European Socialist Parties, in order to address the issues associated with Brexit in recent weeks. This surely must become a template for socialists across the western world.

For the west to refer to its self as civilised is delusional. In the face of mounting social, political and economic crises its basic humanity is missing in action. If our governments won’t work together across borders to solve our problems, maybe it’s time our people did.


  1. Reblogged this on My World, Your World, One World and commented:
    Read to last paragraph – For the west to refer to its self as civilised is delusional. In the face of mounting social, political and economic crises its basic humanity is missing in action.
    We are not helpless – just nearly impotent – go out and do something or if you can’t do that, write in support to a representative, a paper, a friend

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged – with note to “Read to last paragraph – For the west to refer to its self as civilised is delusional. In the face of mounting social, political and economic crises its basic humanity is missing in action. We are not helpless – just nearly impotent – go out and do something or if you can’t do that, write in support to a representative, a paper, a friend”.

    Thanks for the effort put in to put this into words. I am a supporter of Positive Money – whose main point is that the monetary system needs reform – and whose way of working is not authoritarian but highly informed inquiry so that people may possibly agree with the solution PM puts forward, but mostly work towards serious political debate about our money system. I (and they I think) believe it is a mistake to put forward only one solution. Even if we get a debate about money creation it won’t be PM that decides what the solution is. Work together – with both the agreements and the disagreements, again, thanks for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well argued as usual Jeff, I was particularly interested in your observations on the presumed failure of the practice of socialism. I have just returned from Sarajevo and what a sobering experience that was, all the local activists I spoke to be they Serbs, Bosnians, Macedonians et al, all were of the same opinion that life was much better under Tito and that the current complex of nation states operating under a quasi neoliberal agenda (the governments of most of the states that make up the old Yugoslavia are little more than gangsters with mafioso practices) are completely failing their citizens and are using the threat of further civil war to keep the people afraid and compliant. Under Tito, socialism was the big tent that kept everyone warm and dry but the sense of despair there now is palpable, with a small elite enriching themselves in completely shameless ways while the general populace live in frightened enclaves determined by ethnicity and religion, with politicians constantly appealing to base nationalism and fear in order to maintain their political grip. One activist said to me ‘think Northern Ireland with three extra religious and ethnic divides.’ Another told me they should pay a handful of Brits, Americans, French, Germans and other civil servants to come and run the place for ten years in order to clean it all up. Little do they know eh!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Alan that’s fascinating. I imagine those experiences are replicated throughout the old eastern block, at least among the older generation. While political oppression during the soviet era is undeniable there were clearly gains made under those regimes and the vacuum left behind has, as you say allowed crooks and gangsters to clean up. Your description of the the ethnic and religious divisions unleashed by the collapse of Tito’s regime is also on point.
      My feeling is that there were huge advances economically and technologically under soviet rule, as well as social gains in terms of employment, healthcare and education. The challenge is to understand how we prevent a bureaucratic elite siphoning off all those gains and ultimately undoing it all. The answer for me lies in democratic and cooperative ownership of industry and decision making processes.
      How fascinating and uplifting to once again be discussing alternative models based on socialist principles. Thanks again Alan.


  4. The Old Continent should invite the refugees, due to the wars it set up and funded; as a source of renewal, as fresh neuronal cells that will salvage Europe from Alzheimer’s. These people, these children (mainly the children), if they are given a chance to live, to work, to study, to create art, will contribute to the birth of a new continent. Europe is in its death throes, senile and grouchy, a Megaera with rotten entrails, contaminated by the fascisms it bred – and never perished.

    It’s historically proven that closed societies cannot evolve;eventually they wither away till they are self-terminated. What engenders evolution is the crossbreed of populations, cultures and civilizations. An isolated population will degenerate – with regard to the genes and the culture. The immigrants, besides being a cheap labour force, so much needed from the multinational corporations and the nations, are a source of vitality and innovation.

    Great Migrant invasion? Except when white Europeans do it, it’s ok. Look at Australia, North America, South Africa and New Zealand…..full of white European migrants. White man’s double standards.

    Because colonization is the number one reason for immigration, its cause and effect and the consequences of invading and occupying other countries. For 500 years Native European migrants have wreaked havoc on Earth, before that no one knew where Europe was. The rest of the world is now pioneering the settlement of Europe. Great European countries who exported state terror to other countries and then criticise the fall out. Something wrong with that logic.

    Maybe we should think about the consequences of bombing countries before we bomb them? If we destroy their country, they should be allowed in ours. Is weird how after thousands upon thousands of years of conflict we haven’t yet learnt the lesson: If you invade a foreign land, destroy their homes and ravage the land the locals will be displaced and roam around looking for a new place to settle… And for thousand and thousands of years at the start of each war the warmongers have uttered “this time it’ll be different” We know this, but this has never been about people; it’s about making money from waging wars. And that’s what our governments excel in. And they know very well about the consequences, but they simply couldn’t care less. The more they bomb Arabs, the more refugees will come seeking help and asylum, which means the extreme right in the West gets more support. Which means there’s more public support from just bombing them over there instead.

    Did we help Iraq? Afghan? Libya? Syria? No. I wonder when all the experts will realise our foreign policies are not working. Players like UK and USA take all the refugees since their are the main bombers.UK and USA should take all of the immigrants since these two are the ones that destabilised middle east in the first place. It would be great if instead of arguing about who should take how many we simply accepted that displaced people need a home and we should be making sure they have one, in a spirit of open humanitarianism.

    All modern civilized countries should take their fair share. All of Europe, all of the wealthy Middle East, North America, Australia. Everyone should play their part. The question isn’t why but why not. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s a human thing to do.Turkish president,what he said at United Nations meeting about Europe and the refuges…Well shame on all of you really..You regard yourselves humans and acting on humanity..Even animals have a better sense of sincerity..All the rest of you are false and you should be ashamed of yourselves..

    Fair share of former colonial powers, especially the UK and France who gained an edge over the rest of Europe by plundering the world and still have their tentacles spread into developing nations is much much greater than fair share of other European nations who might not be as wealthy but have built their economies without plunder and rape. That is, if you really want fair share.

    But in reality the same old warmongers create a mess and then expect the whole Europe to pay for it. It doesn’t work that way. Seriously, stop trying to involve us into your white guilt crap. We know you treat us as second class people, too white to complain about discrimination and not English enough to get the perks of being white. It is YOUR mess, YOU clean it up, you neo-colonialist manchildren! There were no problems between us Sunnis and the Shiites before USA invaded Iraq giving the fake reason of the presence of nuclear bombs. Then Iraqis started immigrating. Life was peaceful between us and the Alawis until Russia and China supported the blood thirst demonic system of Bashar. So Syrians started fleeing Syria. It is 100% true. It is the west who created refugees!

    And the main responsibility for Syrian refugee crisis lies on Moscow for keeping Assad on life support, but as it is always the case, Western Europe is too afraid to stand up to Putin while Eastern Europe simply can’t be stuffed anymore dealing with the Russian mongrel knowing that no one will support them. Refugees for the most part do not damage a society, they enrich it. It’s why Germany accept masses, because in a pragmatic sense, refugee descendants become harder working than Germans themselves. They are less likely to claim welfare and become politically liberal after generations.Europe is being overwhelmed by refugees true, simple solution is for everyone to take a fair share.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: