Home » Backpacking in Thailand » Have we reached the tipping point?

Have we reached the tipping point?

“According to the United Nations, world population reached 7 billion on October 31, 2011.”

  • Worldometers info

 

Hi! Howya doin’? Oh well, okay, fuck you, buddy!!!

You may be wondering why it is that the world and your neighbours appear to have become peculiarly restive in the years since the banking collapse of 2007/8?

After all, there has been no major war – if you discount the absurd ‘war on terror’, that is more a neurosis than a war, yet which is used as a common pretext for extrajudicial murder by the military-industrial possessors of the best technology.

Looking at the globe, as I do from time to time, indeed there appear to be almost no active large-scale conflicts of any kind at the moment: only the horrible civil war in Syria, plus the ISIS insurgency, that drags on.  (Thirty years ago, I started to write a story called The Game Without Rules, where the major powers set aside a part of the globe for unlimited warfare so that we could have peace everywhere else. Only I couldn’t get past that bit.) Elsewhere now, it is pretty much just rumblings.

Yes, we see plenty of armed tension, looming disagreements, territorial squabbles, small-scale insurgencies and kidnappings justified on grounds of tribal, religious or sexual primacy: the disintegration of civil society almost everywhere, from the tear-gassing of refugees on the Macedonian border, to the racial abuse of football players by neofascist groups in Germany and Russia, to the drugs trade, to the barely suppressed violence at rallies in support of the controversial US presidential candidate, Trump, to the wasting of cities in Chechnya, to the widespread viral hate campaigns carried on the internet, the drugtaking in sport.

Are we really just fed up with finagling politicians, grotesque wealth inequality and the perception that things aren’t getting better for us as a class, thanks to women’s rights, equality, immigration, austerity, whatever? Or is there some deeper psychology at work, to suppress our joy that there might be 52 different varieties of coffee on the suprmarket shelf, where thirty years ago there were two; or that we are living 15 years longer?

(I think I can be forgiven for my increasing annoyance at my neighbours, a droopy young couple who simply refuse to get their overflowing toilet cistern fixed, or at least have a go at fixing it themselves, even though the waste of water must be costing them £2 a day…. And now I have damp in my kitchen wall….)

You must indeed have experienced multiple minor incivilities on a day to day basis on your phone, on the road, in the street, at your school or in the workplace, personal or racial abuse, and feel that the number of incidences is forever rising. You may see things on the TV that you believe could happen, although they have not happened to you (or anyone you know). You may, as I am, be irked by breaches of normal good manners, salesmen on the phone addressing you by your given name and asking how you are today? as if it was any of their goddamn business. Or you might take internet bullying so badly, you are on the point of committing suicide. (Stop! Just switch the stupid thing off! Throw it away! I have…)

Kindly note the standfirst to this piece. We are now at 7.4 billion and counting. Is that maybe just one too many?

Everyone seems to hate everyone else. We are seeing the rise of new politicians as potentially noxious in their way as Hitler, Franco or Stalin. A neofascist almost made it to the presidency of Austria last week. Hungary and Poland, Ottoman Turkey, are in the grip of ultra-nationalist forces. Thailand has fallen under the spell of a brutal military junta, not that the sex-tourists have noticed. Benevolent socialist regimes in South America are once more being ousted by corrupt landowners and business interests. Putin is playing the nationalist card daily to ratchet up his personal ratings. Marine Le Pen is leading in some French polls. Boris Johnson is playing a dangerous game, flirting with extreme nationalism in ‘safe’ old Britain, where social and racial tensions are rising. Even the extreme Left is making a comeback. The disastrous old, pre-1914 faultlines in Europe, Russia, Sino-Japan are re-emerging.

And as millions of people flee northwards, away from war, climate change, poverty, economic and sexual exploitation and shitty governance, to imagined prosperity, they meet only suspicion, hostility, razor-wire and racial hatred. Sadly, it does not occur to them that the teeming populations of the north are not all like their colonial masters, but subordinate wage-serfs ourselves.

As WB Yeats put it, ‘Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold.’

The ‘Brexit’ campaign to force Britain out of the European Union is a perfect example. It is in all respects a rightwing coup attempt, mounted by a loose coalition of ultra-conservative politicians who feel their class have been out of power for too long, who have sensed that the unpopular austerity that has followed the financial crisis of 2007/8 has given them an  opportunity to focus public fear and suspicion of ‘incomers’ on the old centrist consensus, now seemingly discredited and broken.

What a telling thought. It’s the ‘incomers’ that are destabilising our civilization, sullying our historic purity! As are the failings of institutions such as the EU, NATO, the Police, NHS, social security or the child support units of local authorities, unable to prevent violent abuse of young children by parents; and the organised sexual abuse of minors, mostly by people of a different colour and culture.

Low-level violence against ‘The Other’ simmers everywhere you look. And no wonder.

In the early 1960s, US ethologist John B Calhoun conducted a famous series of experiments in which he showed that overpopulation was the prime cause of social breakdown in rats and mice. Having first established ‘Utopian’ colonies of rodents, kept perfectly in balance with enough food, drink and sex, he began to introduce additional individuals, with catastrophic effects. See if you can spot the similarities with our own, increasingly disordered human societies:

“Many [female rats] were unable to carry pregnancy to full term or to survive delivery of their litters if they did. An even greater number, after successfully giving birth, fell short in their maternal functions. Among the males the behaviour disturbances ranged from sexual deviation to cannibalism and from frenetic overactivity to a pathological withdrawal from which individuals would emerge to eat, drink and move about only when other members of the community were asleep.”

The social organization of the animals showed equal disruption:

“The common source of these disturbances became most dramatically apparent in the populations of our first series of experiments, in which we observed the development of what we called a behavioural sink. … As many as 60 of the 80 rats in each experimental population would assemble in one pen during periods of feeding. Individual rats would rarely eat except in the company of other rats. As a result extreme population densities developed in the pen adopted for eating, leaving the others with sparse populations.

And then absorb the following, random report:

“Explosive growth in London’s East End boroughs will bring the capital’s population to nearly 10 million within eight years, according to official government projections, while towns in the north-east and north-west of England will see their populations fall.

  • Guardian report, 25 May.

“In (Calhoun’s) most famous experiment in the series, “Universe 25”, population peaked at 2,200 mice and thereafter exhibited a variety of abnormal, often destructive behaviours. By the 600th day, the population was on its way to extinction.” (my emboldening)

  • Wikipedia entry: ‘Behavioural Sink’ (See also under: ‘John B Calhoun’)

“The United Nations estimates (global population) will increase to 11.2 billion in the year 2100.”

  • Wikipedia

I’m not so sure it will. Not if we can help it!

 

Excuses, excuses

Sorry, sorry. I know, I haven’t Posted to this, muh bogl, for over a week.

Nearly two.

I’ve been working! I have regular work, twice a year. It pays for my jazz boot-camp in France in July.

And when I’m not working, I’m walking Hunzi, who has a real emotional problem with me leaving him for a few hours a day – in the morning, or in the afternoon.

I generally get back at lunchtime, but if my morning shift overruns we’re in trouble. Although he never tears up the carpet, and such (although he did find my dinner the other day, on the kitchen counter, through a cardboard box and a vacuum-sealed microwaveable polybag. The little ratbag.)  He’s just very… unhappy without me.

I can scarcely bear to imagine how I am going to feel one day without him. But that’s life: a fair exchange. You get five dogs’ worth of them before you die, the poor little buggers get 14 years of one of you.

So, in fact he has more walks when I’m working than when I’m not. He’s not stupid, he knows. These creatures have evolved hyper-skills in emotionally blackmailing us.

And, ooh look. It’s light outside, still at 20.59 (a minute to nine). Maybe we can squeeze another mile or two in, along the cinder path that leads to the exurban space that passes for our local park, and maybe even round the sewage works? There’s nothing on TV, except this rubbish.

Bring the ball, dad!

 

Critics Corner

“This is a great blog. A fantastic read.”

  • Winnie Kubiak (Spammer)

I couldn’t agree more, Winnie. Wouldn’t you like to read the rest of it?

 

EU referendum blues

I can’t.

I just  can’t write another word about the shockingly poor EU referendum ‘debate’. I’ve said all I have to say: I don’t want to be a second-class citizen in Europe, and that’s that. I especially don’t want to be trapped on a small island with these fuckwits in charge.

Hundreds of history perfessers have written to The Times todey to say they agree with me: Britain has held the ring in Europe since the C16th. If the major pan-European institution is now the EU, we need more than ever to be inside it. Whenever we have stood outside Europe, sniffing loudly on the sidelines, carnage has ensued.

So, go on you Tory cunts (Conservative and Unionist National Treasures).

Tell me I’m talking “rubbish”.

That’s about the level of debate you have managed to dredge up so far, you intellectually lazy, power-hungry, ‘born to rule’ entitlement-baboons. Gove, Grayling, Duncan Smith, ‘Dr’ Fox, the dimly illuminated Bertie Wooster-alike Ree-Smogg; the homophobic misogynist, Bone. Not forgetting the ubiquitous braying pub-bore and dodgy used-car salesman, Farage. (God, how I miss Spitting Image.)

Has it occurred to any of you vapid changelings with weirdly shaped heads that there’s a reason why we’ve had moderate, centrist governments for all these years?

It’s because we don’t want your sort lording it over us in government.

It’s because we don’t want to rename the Spring Bank Holiday ‘Margaret Fucking Thatcher Day’.

It’s because we don’t want you disposing of our human rights, workplace and equality legislation as you think fit.

Now fuck off. Leave if you want to, but just go. Quietly. With respect for our island story – the future, not the past.

 

The price of freedom

Dashing hither and yon, the Italian Navy has plucked four thousand, four hundred ‘migrants’ in a single day from the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean. Not a few have drowned, some victims of their own silliness in capsizing their boats rushing athwart decks to greet their saviours; others abandoning slowly sinking, unseaworthy vessels, a deliberate provocation by the traffickers to the countries of the North to come and rescue their clients.

It has to be observed that the vast majority of them appear to be young men of Maghrebian appearance. This is entirely because the genuine Syrian refugees who filled our screens with their dead children and disposable dinghies last summer while crossing in their tens of thousands to Greece are being turned back by the Turks after a squalid deal was done to capitulate to the tyrant, Erdogan; and we are asking no questions as to their fate.

When reserves of compassion are low, we feel, do we not, that our limited resources of accommodation and aid ought to be reserved for the families fleeing the war without end in Syria, a war we might have prevented; or perhaps, the men of Afghanistan who face death at the hands of the Taleb for ‘consorting with the enemy’, i.e. us, as military interpreters; or the Nepalese Gurkhas who have served with the British army for generations, whose country was devastated by the earthquake just over a year ago.

But the tens of thousands of workless, hopeless young men of the Maghreb and the Sahel, who are only doing what Norman Tebbit’s father did, getting on their bikes and looking for work? Benefit-sucking, Muslim scum – probably IS infiltrators, to boot.

It is easy and a temptation to divide the world’s refugees into the deserving and undeserving poor. To do so, we need to turn our backs on history: we created their countries much as they are today: virtually uninhabitable, wartorn, corrupt, economic basket-cases, we looted them of their limited resources for four hundred years, invested nothing and left them with power vacuums to be filled by kleptocratic nationalist demagogues whom we continued to support until the stench of corruption, incompetence and brutality began to offend even our rhino-hided sensibilities.

We created the post-colonial deficit, that these kids have inherited. Do we really owe them nothing?

One can easily imagine that the level of desperation to get to wealthy Europe becomes amplified in the crossing of deserts and seas, at the mercy of slavers, robbers and rapists. From my own position of comfort in well-watered West Wales, I can see all too clearly the pathos implicit in these people’s faith in the opportunities we must surely afford them to find work; new lives, since I myself have been actively looking for a permanent post since 2008 and have had only three interviews.

Many people I know with PhDs are in the same boat, as it were. Over a hundred of the supposedly well-paid senior academics in our universities have today issued a blanket resignation from their duties as examiners. It’s not a strike, as such, but a declaration of common principle.

At a time when low-wattage, cost-cutting Vice-Chancellors have been greedily stuffing their own mouths with cash, to the tune of an average 6.6% more per annum, the academic staff have been offered 1.1% and told to like it. Their salaries have decreased in real terms by 14% since the crash of 2008. Their tenure is insecure, their contracts adverse; teaching hours are being handed to unpaid postgraduate students. Our universities, as so our police, the military, the NHS, social services, housing, are in crisis. As a veteran of the deregulatory Broadcasting Act of 1972, I recognise the signs.

Once the systemic inefficiencies have been identified and redefined by HR department weasels, austerity produces little but ash.

The French have got it right again. As I Post, the streets of Paris and other cities are burning, tear-gas once more hangs in the boulevards and pavement cafes. The sans-culottes are rioting: how dare a Socialist government try to abolish their cherished 35-hour week, and make it possible for their hated employers to sack them? The petrol pumps run dry; one by one, the power stations, ports and railways shut down.

Do these economic migrants, poor sods, understand what they are getting themselves into?

Perhaps they should be told.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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