Greece’s crisis

Greece seems to be on the verge. In certain quarters, they are being treated as pariahs. It is as though the entire country is a crime organisation.
But Greece hasn’t invaded any other country. It hasn’t taken any land from another country. It hasn’t carpet bombed anybody. It hasn’t executed or kidnapped anybody. It hasn’t made slaves of anybody – at least not for several thousand years. It doesn’t produce & export arms. It doesn’t possess nuclear weapons. It hasn’t threatened its neighbours it hasn’t committed genocide on anyone. It doesn’t torture prisoners. It holds fair & free elections & frequently changes government.
What it has done is break the rules of capitalism. Greece has overspent on its income. That is all. Economics is the post World War II religion. Issues such as human rights, peace, justice are not really valued very much.
So why is Greece being treated with such disdain? Indeed the country is being treated with contempt & hatred even.
It seems just wrong. In fact the amount of money owed by Greece is not that much. It is made up to be. The international press & the main players in the EU, Germany & France are excoriating Greece as though they themselves are pure as the driven snow. Apart from anything else Germany in World War II did commit all of this; all mentioned above. The Germans are in no position to preach to anyone. They were helped greatly by the United States & others after World War II. Germany has been the recipient of huge amounts of debt cancellation & was given aid to help it become what it has become & has been for many decades – a massive economic super power. Greece will never become an economic super power. Indeed it can never recover from the present crisis by cut-backs to hospitals & so on.
It is about time they were forgiven their economic profligacy & helped to become again part of the European family.

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The ways of the World

So Kraft is merging with Heinz. I think it is Heinz which has numerous adverts on commercial radio. But I don’t take too much notice of these things. It think the advert says, it has to be Heinz. I don’t why they think anyone would be taken in by this.
Shell has taken over a company called BG (it is the first time I have ever heard of them) for 70 billion uk pounds. Such is the way of the World.
It seems like only yesterday; it was a year or 2 ago when Kraft took over Cadburys which was said to be a quintessentially British company. Jobs depended on it etc etc. Kraft gave certain assurances about that but as soon as they done the deal, they reneged on these promises. I don’t think anyone was surprised.
Big corporations rule the World. They are unaccountable, they pay little tax, they move around the world looking for the cheapest labour & the more oppressed. They care little about the workers or their conditions or pay they receive. They seem to believe, the rulers & the people who manage & run these companies that just because they have much money & some power that they are better than the rest of us who don’t.
I don’t know how big Heinz is. I don’t think it was that big in the sixties & seventies when I was growing up. It was mainly famous because it was run by an Irish rugby player, Tony O’Reilly.
When I was growing up, I did often ask myself how it came to be that people had such businesses. In fact I don’t think we were taught anything about business & about capitalist economics at school. In fact we weren’t taught anything about economics at all. One teacher, masters as we called them, admired Chinese communists, collective farms & so on. I assume he didn’t know anything about the implementation of the system; the millions who died & the abject failure of the system. The problem, one problem, is that capitalism itself has so many problems, problems of inequity, the contradictions haven’t yet seen its downfall but the logic of the system is that in the end it will destroy itself.
So now Kraft & Heinz have merged. It is neither good news nor bad news. It is just the way the system works.
The mantra always seems to be jobs. To me, this idea is exactly why the planet is in the state it is. it is a moral chimera. The issue has become a moral one or at least a so-called moral issue. In fact it is nothing of the sort. He who doesn’t work doesn’t eat as Lenin said. Or at least something like that. At the time the Soviet Union was in crisis; in fact it was during all of its existence until the very end when it was finally scrapped by Yeltsin – or maybe it was his predecessor Gorbachev. Gorbachev certainly laid the ground for its abolition.
The so-called laws of capitalism – by which all of the World’s economies are governed are treated as though they are immutable. We hear phrases – although not so much these days – like you can’t buck the markets. This isn’t even true or untrue. It just makes no sense. Apparently we all have to be competitive. Jobs, innovation, competitiveness, growth etc etc. Capitalism is based on the movement of capital but all these accoutrements weigh in.
It has come to head over the EU & Greece. In capitalist terms Greece has broken the rules. But they have created many jobs – many of them, it is true, kind of non-jobs. For example it is said & may be true that there are more people who work on the railways than there are passengers.
It must be admitted that most people do buy into the corporate dream. That is to say that they buy food & other goods from this supermarket specifically. They show pride in showing loyalty to this supermarket or that. It is said that there is competition between big companies. But in reality the competition is mainly to screw customers & staff & make money for those who own the company. It really is absurd, capitalism. It seems to produce what is called prosperity or something but in reality it just creates envy & unhappiness.
The real question is, does life has any meaning?
I assume the answer is no. We are born procreate, try to shove away the hurt, try to feed ourselves. We try to find some reason for our existence. But there is none. Now that not many people believe in the Christian religion there is little meaning apart from soap operas, football, consumerism generally & other superficialities which don’t bring lasting contentment. Religion used to bring meaning. The only people it brings meaning to these days are crazed Islamic fanatics & it seems unlikely (to me at least) that they are happy.
We just happen to be in that in this solar system, in this part of the universe which sustains life. This crazy species to which we belong – homo sapiens – has made itself top dog. But we haven’t worked how to combine our super intelligence with happiness.
State socialism didn’t work in the Soviet Union & its satellites nor in China or Cuba or the Mozambique & one or two other countries. But that doesn’t mean to say that capitalism is a good or logical system.
The meaning of life isn’t within the capitalist system. The rules of capitalism aren’t immutable. Yet, people talk as though they are. With the onset of climate change & Islamism, it looks like the world & its ways, the present ways, the capitalist ways are coming to an end.

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Greek & German antipathy

The more you look at the current crisis of capitalism in Greece, the more sympathy you have for the Greeks
The problem is that the crimes of Nazi Germany were so great that no matter how much financial compensation the Germans offer or actually pay can in no way compensate for the Russian campaign, the holocaust, forced labour camps, the blitz, Poland. Czechoslovakia & the other East & Central Europe countries, etc. Many countries occupied by them didn’t really fight back. The French for example during the 1st 2 years that they were occupied didn’t kill a single German soldier. They sent more Jews to Germany than Hitler asked for. We shouldn’t condemn countries for not fighting back. The Germans shouldn’t have invaded them in the first place. Most countries were either invaded by them & occupied by them & the people just wanted to get on with their lives. In World War II near on 100 million people lost their lives. If you read memoirs of the Germans during World War II, the writers of these memoirs dwell at length on their own suffering & only mention in passing or not at all the suffering that they themselves inflicted. I mean, has there ever been a more evil monster than Hitler? His plan was to conquer the entire World; in fact an absurd plan which doomed all his military aspirations & his country to military defeat because they were simply fighting on too many fronts. Some countries fought back. The Norwegians for example. Willie Brandt, who was Chancellor from 1969 to 1974 fought with the Norwegian resistance during the war. When he went to Poland he knelt before a memorial to Jewish victims of the holocaust. He certainly was a good man but it is hard to think of many other Germans of that time who were. But many Germans steadfastly condemned him until his death & indeed afterwards for fighting against the Fatherland as the Nazis liked to call their country. Angela Merkel, in fact has a murky past, implicated not with the Nazis but the communists. After the wall came down, she decided that she was a right wing politician. She is a Christian Democrat Chancellor. Her father was a Lutheran pastor. He owned 2 cars & was allowed to travel freely between East & West, an almost unheard of privilege. She is only World leader who speaks Russian & English fluently. She claims to believe in God.
The Germans have paid compensation of a sort. They haven’t paid a huge amount of money. The amount they paid wasn’t going to inconvenience them nor was it going to help the nations it was paid to, greatly.

Der Spiegel reports that ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s draughtsmen deliberately avoided the term “Peace Treaty” in 1990 partly because they knew it would trigger Greek claims for the repayment of a 476 million Reichsmark loan that was forcibly extracted from Greece during the Nazi occupation. Analysts put the value of that loan today at up to €11 billion (although a report prepared by Greek experts puts it at €100 billion).
I found the above somewhere on the internet.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, the elected ruler, albeit the ruler of the country, wasn’t even born at the time of the World War II – as indeed I wasn’t. But she has sought to deflect from the fact that most Germans don’t care about the issue; the issue that is that the Germans want to sweep the issue under the carpet. But it won’t go away so easily. The Germans launched 2 wars in the 20th century; now in the early part of the 21st century, the issue won’t go away. In the first World War about 16 million people died in the 2nd World War it was almost 100 million. The Germans are the main culprits in this carnage. Angela Merkel recently visited Japan & tried to deflect from the issue by accusing the Japanese of not facing up to their war crimes. The implication being that they the Germans had. But this cannot be the case. Scratch a German & you’ll find a Nazi. I mean, The Greek debt isn’t that much. Ther Germans might as well forgo the money. If they don’t, they might be stirring up a hornet’s nest. The people of most of the European countries subjugated by the Germans will never forgive them. Apart from anything else, the Germans owe the Greeks 11 billion Euro because of a debt forced upon the Greeks during the occupation of Greece during World War II.
Angela Merkel’s attempt to defuse the situation – the situation of the Greeks bringing up the issue of the war wasn’t defused by attempting to deflect the spotlight onto the Japanese; it fooled no-one. The truth is that we all want to believe that the Germans truly penitent about the war but they aren’t. The truth is that they got away with it. What should have happened is that after the war Germany should have been completely dismantled. The territory should have been given to the surrounding countries. The map of Europe would have looked somewhat different but the German issue would have been settled once & for all.
The Germans say that they want Greece to be competitive as though the laws of capitalist economics are immutable. They are not. Apart from anything else if every country became what is called competitive, the Germans themselves would make only a little money from the system. The contradictions in capitalism will only stop an implosion if it is flexible & the rules are broken frequently. They talk about German taxpayers working to subsidise the Greeks. During World War II millions including Greeks worked as slaves to the Germans building bombs, V1 & V2 rockets & other armaments. They were not fed properly & when they were too weak to work they were killed. Ther Germans must face up to this.
The other side of the argument is that the Greeks don’t pay any tax & they don’t work much & they are unsympathetic to others, refugees for example, who are in dire straits. I know this. But it doesn’t deflect from the basic facts of the case nor the injustices that Greeks have suffered.

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Prince Andrew & the monarchy – a dying institution

Something has happened on the internet. There seems to have been a news black-out on the royal family. These people still exercise some power but it is almost invisible, almost… it doesn’t take much to work out what is going on. Yesterday MSN & Yahoo were full of the story of Prince Andrew & the allegations that he has had sex with at least one under age female. Today the stories are nowhere to be seen. Yesterday, apparently, the story was no. 1 trending, today, it is nowhere.
This is the link for the story
It details Andrew’s various women; women, that is, that he has dated, s the expression is. No doubt he has done more than that. If he has had with one under age woman – a euphemism for a child – then he has probably done it with more than one, maybe many.
Presumably what is called the establishment, the church, the civil service, the aristocracy, the armed forces, the police, parliament itself, the cabinet including the Prime Minister himself have made the decision that the matter should go no further & put pressure on the written press & the electronic media, to remain silent on this matter. It is hard to foresee how it will end. Presumably though the courts in America aren’t going to let the matter drop. And in the end the truth will out which indeed it may have already.
Still there are those prepared to defend him, Prince Andrew, in spite of all the sleaze & scandal surrounding him. Among those who have stood up & defended him is Boris Johnson which suggests that he believes there is nothing wrong with an adult having sex with a child. In which case we need to know if Boris Johnson is himself guilty of this.
The idea of monarchy dates back to the beginning of time. Ruthless men grabbed power & then claimed that they were acting on behalf of God. Their offspring & then the descendants thereof may even have believed them.
The key to the survival of the monarchy was the hereditary principle. In fact the hereditary principle still survives sometimes without the aid of a claim to divine right. Syria & North Korea are just examples of sons taking over after the father died. Democracy has proved to be a bit of an illusion. In some of the Arab Spring countries the hereditary principle has just continued. In fact if we consider America, their some semblance of the hereditary principle. There are the Kennedys – part form anything else Al Gore is part of the Kennedy family, the Bushs, the Roosevelts… no doubt there are other examples, many of them, further down the pecking order.
Monarchy was its peak in the Middle Ages, when the Feudal System prevailed. Under it the serfs, the people of the country that is, the people she were serfs were tied to the land. They were the property of the Lord who owned the land. If they tried to escape they were branded & returned.
Down the ages, the monarchy has tried to hold onto as much power as it could. James II, I think it was or it might have been one of the other Stuarts – there wasn’t much difference between one or the other of them – said that a free monarchy meant that he, the monarch, was free to do whatever he liked. Charles I was overthrown. Cromwell who installed himself as the dictator of this country – he defined himself as Lord Protector – whatever that was supposed to mean – cut of the Kings head. Elizabeth I cut off the head of the Queen of Scotland. Gradually the power of the monarchy has been eroded. These days it is thought to be nothing more than a figurehead but it does in fact have some strange & mysterious powers. It appears that they can, for example, veto government bills – that is pieces of prospective legislation, laws & so on. It also appears that they can prevent the media printing detrimental views of them. It seems that programmes on BBC which have something or other that the Royals didn’t like have been pulled.
Queen Victoria was very unpopular mainly because she became a recluse after the death of her husband. Somehow the monarchy have managed to navigate through rough waters, scandals & setbacks, especially in recent years. I can’t believe this will last. The monarchy seems to be popular when religious faith is on the wane & vice versa. I can’t see religious faith being on the up but you never know…
Prince Andrew is quite a sleazy character. If it wasn’t for the fact that he is in fact royal, hardly anyone would have heard of him. He doesn’t do much & is paid a quarter of a million pounds a year for doing not much.
These days, people widely excoriate the Royal Family but excuse the Queen from this & to some extent William & Catherine. Those such as Hilary Mantel who offered the most mild of criticism of Kate brought the dogs of war upon herself. These days people are not much caught up in the mystique of the monarchy so much although there is some of that. There seems to be within people the need to admire, love even something or somebody who seems glamorous. We can understand it without condoning it.
In the end people are going to get bored by their antics, by their parasitism, but their uselessness & most of all by the fact that they seem to believe themselves better than the rest of us. They seem to believe in the principle of divine right.
The embers of a dying & irrelevant institution are dying out before our eyes. We are witnessing the last rites. People are coming to see that the monarchy is worse than irrelevant, it is dangerous & unnecessary. We should open the doors to democracy. We should become a republic, just like most other European countries.

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The Elgin Marbles

I wish to say something about the Elgin Marbles.
To me these so-called cultural icons are much over-rated. To me, the nation state is the cause of much trouble & wars. They were created, I presume, because it was the best way to control people, to make them subjects or slaves of the ruler. Africa is an example. Originally tribal, it was divided up by Europeans & became a series of nation states. National boundaries in Africa cut across tribal boundaries. It isn’t surprising that Africa seems to be in a constant state of war. The West didn’t create Al Shabbab or Boko Haram but possibly the West did create the conditions under which they could arise.
If the Greeks want the Elgin Marbles (they call it or them – I have never seen it or them – something else I know) let them have them. I don’t know what it is or they are. I would surmise their aestheticism is questionable but the received opinion is that they unsurpassed, I surmise. It is said that if Lord Elgin hadn’t bought them & then transported them to England they wouldn’t exist anymore. It is also said that he paid good money for them & thus the deal was done. The Greeks claim (I think) that they were stolen. We British have stolen much art & indeed countries; we are responsible for the slave trade or at least a goodly part of it. I can’t see that we have any particular moral right to keep hold of them. The British Museum is stuffed full of artefacts stolen from what was the Empire. Myself, I am against colonialism & imperialism; to me they represent all that is worst in the history of the World. The British Empire is not something for the British to be proud of but it did leave a legacy of some good in some countries. For example trains in India.
But if the Greeks are so keen on them being returned, why not? Apart from anything else, it is hardly going to do us, the Great British Public – I use the phrase with irony – any harm. It will probably make the people of Greece happy for a couple of months & then they will forget all about them. They may indeed be subject to neglect & vandalism but that won’t make anybody’s life any worse. Greece has real problems, Britain has real problems, the West & the rest of the World indeed has real problems. ISIS, Boko Haram Al Shabbab & climate change to name but 4.
Art, sculpture & so on are not worth more than people. The issues that should be concerning us, the human race, are climate change, the issues of war & peace, poverty, famine, overpopulation, issues of capitalism & crime.
If the Elgin Marbles aren’t going to be given back to the Greeks they will be constantly lobbying for their return & may even hate us for it – or at least some Greeks, possibly only a few. Nevertheless, it will cause hard feelings & the Elgin Marbles are not worth it.

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Roya Saberinejad Nobakht & Ghoncheh Ghavami

Reynah Jabbari was an Iranian woman who was executed because she killed the man who she said tried to kill her. In general, there has been much sympathy for her. Not all comments on the internet have been sympathetic to her. She was hanged on the 25th of October. She claims that she was drugged & then the man tried to rape her. It was claimed that she had planned to kill him all along because she had a penknife on her etc etc. In other words it is ok in Iran to rape a woman because she isn’t allowed to defend herself. It is crazy. If she had been raped it would have been she who would have been in trouble because she would have been guilty of being immoral (or something). There was an international outcry about it. But there were many who had little sympathy for her. I am not one of those. It is true that in part, sympathy for her has been garnered because she is good looking. This is a shame. But it is how the World is, especially with women. Were the victims old & ugly males, there would probably be no interest at all.
At the moment, there are 2 British Iranian women in Iranian prisons. It is said that they are both in Evin prison, the worst & most notorious prison in Iran. They are Roya Saberinejad Nobakht & Ghoncheh Ghavami. Their cases haven’t attracted as much attention as they should have. Roya was sentenced to 20 years for writing on her Facebook page that the régime in Iran was too Islamic. There were all sorts of weird charges. It was said that she was inciting riots or something, trying to overthrow the government, that sort of thing. Ghoncheh Ghavami was condemned for trying to watch a volleyball match, which women aren’t allowed to do, in case they see men or something.
As has been pointed on Facebook & elsewhere on the internet, whilst in prison she will probably be raped anyway.
Both these women will be lucky to emerge alive. It is hard to know how long Roya will be in prison. It may not be that long. A reasonably satisfactory solution would be for both of them to be released back to the UK in a gesture of goodwill to the UK. There would presumably have to be a quid pro quo but what exactly that would be is hard to say. Something to with the truly evil Islamic State terror group or the nuclear issue, one presumes.
The British government has done little about it as far we know. There may have been representations that we have not been told about. But somehow it doesn’t seem very likely. It isn’t a subject which has attracted much media attention, presumably because although the women are British nationals, they were not born in the UK & many would regard them as foreign. The UK is a cosmopolitan country. There are immigrants from the EU, from the Commonwealth & elsewhere. There are refugees. There are those who are living illegally. There are those who have married somebody British. In fact I am not sure how Roya & Ghoncheh came to have British passports. But that as it may, they do have.
The government of Iran has somehow managed to sort of get away with it. Get away with human rights abuses but it is not universally seen as one of the bad guys. But their human rights record is appalling. Apart from the issue of the mistreatment of women is the issue of the hundreds of executions which take place every year.
I would like you all to read this from the Human Rights Watch website about Reynah Jabbari.
as it, inter alia, says, the death penalty is irreversible.
Of these 3 women Reynah Jabbari is no longer with us. Roya Saberinejad Nobakht & Ghoncheh Ghavami are but are in mortal danger. They need the help of the British Foreign Office.

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Immigration is such a hot topic. People seem to be complaining left, right & centre about it. Even enlightened people – or at least those we have assumed to be enlightened – seem to be jumping on the bandwagon. In the comment section of the various pieces on the internet about Yashika Bageerathi – at least those that I have read, she seems to have garnered little sympathy. Yet she is a model citizen, more so, I daresay, than many of those condemning her. The World is a mess. In theory, it should be ok for anyone to live anywhere. But obviously this is not possible. The twentieth century & the first part of the 21st century has vast swathes of refugees travelling from continent to continent. It started during World War II. The Nazis invaded, occupied & enslaved (albeit for only a year or 2 before they were driven out) most of Europe & much of the Soviet Union. Since World War II & the ending of the European empires, Africans especially have aspired to better lives. Latterly it has been people from East & Central Europe.
The term economic migrant has been much used to denote something detrimental about those who travel abroad to work. In fact work & jobs have become so sacrosanct that they are only allowed for the few, it seems.
In the case of Yashika, she seems to be something of a phenomenon; it appears that she has many great qualities as well as talent.
It appears that the whole family is about to be removed. To me, it seems inconceivable. But this is what nearly all European countries are doing. That is they are busy removing people who were not born in their country. Britain is not the worst offender. America, The United States of America that is, has 400,000 people in detention centres awaiting deportation; most of them one gathers to Mexico. Of course New Mexico from whence cometh the migrants or at least through, was annexed by the United States, together with California & Texas in the 19th century. This is not so different from Russia annexing the Crimea; in fact come to think of it, it is exactly the same & America is becoming extremely sanctimonious about that…
America is a land of migrants. The true & rightful owners of the land are the indigenous so-called Indians.
But I digress. The point is that there is much xenophobia around. Foreigners are (I suppose) feared. Often they are despised.
Those of us who feel that on the whole visitors to the country are guests who greatly benefit the country & add to the well-being of the country seem to be in a minority. The internet is full of xenophobia. People are very cruel. The present wealth of this country was built a long time ago on empire & slavery. But people don’t look at it that way. Gordon Brown found himself in deep trouble when he referred to a woman who was going on about Polish immigrants, I think it was, as a bigoted old woman, which is exactly what she was & presumably still is. He had to apologise for what he said which was deeply humiliating for him & for those of us who agree with him on the subject. If he had realised that he had failed to turn off the microphone he would (presumably) not have said it.
Politicians have to pander to the bigots. It really is humiliating for those of us who deplore the racism that it engenders. Immigrants have been the making of this country. Ed Miliband himself was vilified when some entirely untrue allegations were made about his father, by a paper whose antecedents supported Hitler. Miliband’s father was a distinguished academic who happened to be a Marxist. He came to Britain to escape Nazi persecution & served in the Royal Navy. Yet even Ed Miliband talks about restricting immigration. Perhaps there are too many people in the country. It is certainly true that London is very crowded these days – dare I say it – overcrowded. But this fact becomes xenophobia. The human race needs to learn compassion. We need to replace blind prejudice with understanding. Those of us who do not depend upon votes are not forced to humiliate ourselves by saying what we do not mean.
Fear of immigrants is based upon fear; a fear which is not justified. The case of Yashika Bageerathi is deeply shocking. She is exactly the sort of person we need in this country. The country is all the worse without her. She is a person with intelligence & compassion – unlike many (I presume) of those calling for the removal of her & others.

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