Alt Left: Labour Isn’t Working: A Radical Program for the Party to Reacquaint Itself with Victory

A most interesting text out of the UK but a group calling itself Alt Left. Though I don’t agree with them on everything, in a broad sense what they are arguing for is more or less within the broad scope of what I had in mind when I founded the Alt Left. This group calls itself Alt Left Publishing.

I had to cringe at some of the more rightwing things this group wants Labour to do, but the fact is that Labour needs to win elections, and if they have to be a bit more conservative to do that, well so be it. As long as we are not electing Blairites, Labour will always be much better than the Conservatives, and UKIP doesn’t look very good either (sort of neoliberal Trump Republicans-lite).

As usual with the Democratic Party here, the Left is shooting itself in the foot with massive overreach by being wildly SJW in ways that the majority of people do not support, and by being fantatically anti-immigration when 70% of the British public want a slow-down on immigration.

Labour is getting massacred on this issue, as many working class folks are anti-immigrant and feel that immigrants are taking their jobs and in addition, these people feel that they are losing a sense of their country.

Working class Labour voters are left on economics while being rather socially conservative, and that’s the Alt Left right there. What’s the point of alienating working class voters, screaming racist at them, shoving hundreds of thousands of unwanted immigrants down their throat, and bombarding them with SJW extremism that most of them reject as too radical?

As the piece points out all this is doing is making more and more of these socially conservative working class Labour voters defect to UKIP, mostly over the immigration issue.

Labour is also alienating people by being openly unpatriotic. I’m not a patriotard myself, but I do want the best for my country, so I suppose I love my country more than a corporate types who deliberately harm our country. I certainly don’t want to do my country any harm! I may disagree with domestic and especially foreign policy, but I’m not so angry about it that I want to screw the country over. I mean I have to live here too you know.

At any rate, the people around Corbyn are openly unpatriotic and do not pay proper deference to national symbols and institutions. Most British people are patriots, particularly socially conservative working class folks.

While I love Hezbollah myself and even have a soft spot for Irish Republicans, most British people despise both Hezbollah and in particular the IRA. The latter is heavily due to anti-Catholic sentiment in mostly Protestant UK, a tendency that goes back to at least the 19th Century to “anti-papist” and “anti-Romist” sentiment at that time. At any rate it does no good when Corbyn lauds these groups. All it does is create more UKIP voters.

What’s the point? Politics is after all the art of the possible.

While I love Jeremy Corbyn of course, most British people dislike him, and Labour has been shedding votes since he took over. It doesn’t matter whether I love Corbyn or not. What matters is that most British people hate him. And a leader hated by most of the population should definitely go in favor of someone more popular.

There are other good suggestions here about being tough on crime and the causes of crime. This is an issue near and dear to socially conservative working class voters, and Labour, like the Democratic Party, suffers from a soft on crime problem. That’s not necessary and anyway, crime hurts the working class.

This is a very long document, 12,000 words and 25 pages. I edited it quite heavily. The Alt Left Publishing website can be reached by clicking on the title below.

Happy reading!

Labour Isn’t Working: A Radical Program for the Party to Reacquaint Itself with Victory

Labour Isn’t Working in many ways lays the foundations for the Alt-Left. It establishes fundamental principles like the importance of group identity, the need to restrain the free market, and rejection of radical social justice.

It’s my view that whether your interest in politics is keen or fair-weather, you’ll be intrigued by the book, though I do recommend it particularly strongly to Labour party members and to those interested in the Alt Left and what it stands for.

The transcript can be read in full below, or alternatively downloaded for free here.

If you’d like to purchase the text in E-book format you can do so here.

T. James

Cover JPEG

Preface

The modern Labour party is out of touch with the working class whom it exists to represent, and many of whom turn increasingly to the Tories and UKIP for answers. Labour has been too scared to address immigration, too complacent to address jobs and too divided to address Europe.

The working class is dead. Long gone are the days of the Welsh miners’ choir and the workplace union meetings. The flat cap is worn now by avant-garde members of the rural middle class, men too old to shake a habit, and metropolitan hipsters.

Blackface isn’t the inevitable consequence of a day spent hewing coal from the center of the earth, but is now a racial faux pas. Where once a hard day’s work involved forging world-class steel, for many it’s now manning a call center in order to best resolve Mrs Smith’s broadband issues.

The modern economy necessitates that even the bricklayer has his own local advertising, Facebook page, and website. He doesn’t consider himself part of a homogeneous working class, but instead an entrepreneur, and rightly so.

The production and harvesting of real resources has been shamelessly outsourced to third-world countries. We allow the rest of the world to grow our food, forge our steel, and sew our shirts, and in doing so, we not only deprive our own people of work, but we impose it on others without the benefit of health and safety, a minimum wage, regulations, or any semblance of automation.

Britain’s economy is overly reliant on the financial sector, leaving us vulnerable to the next U.S.-born crash. Where people once took pride in their work as builders, now they are resigned to employment in this coffee chain or that.

Nationalism now rises in tandem with uncontrolled migration leading to names like Le Pen, Wilders, and Farage taking the establishment by storm. What appeared to be a consistently declining level of global violence has begun to reverse itself in recent years, as the wildfire of extremism continues to ravage the Middle East, prompting the worst migrant crisis yet seen in human history.

Humanity is on the precipice of upheaval, there are new questions, and few answers. Left-wing parties across the West are struggling to rally support, caught between the relentless march of globalization and the toll it takes on workers the world over.

The British Labour party is no exception to this trend, and its inability to mount a competent opposition to the government is enabling a period of unchecked Conservative rule. Exerting scrutiny on the executive is essential to ensure that its policies reflect national needs and not self-serving ends. Thus it is in the interests of both Conservative and Labour supporters that the Labour party resurface as a government in waiting and not persist as a party of protest.

In the wake of the 2015 shock general election defeat, long-time backbencher and maverick Jeremy Corbyn, assumed power in the Labour party. Propelled by an anti-establishment appeal and left-wing policies thought to have been consigned to history, he easily defeated his three opponents.

His unprecedented victory prompted a surge in party membership, from some 200,000 to over 500,000, making it notable for being the largest left-wing party in Europe. It appeared that the man to reverse Labour’s fortune had made himself known.

Yet at the time of writing, far from arresting the party’s decline, the Corbyn administration has only exacerbated it. Polling shows Labour now trail the Conservatives by as much as 18%. The 23rd of February 2017 marked a historic by-election defeat for Labour, not just because they had held the seat of Copeland since 1935, but also because it was lost to the governing party.

Owing to resignations, the shadow cabinet is more of a skeleton crew, much of it manned by newly elected and inexperienced MPs.  The vast membership, which was seen as the formation of a campaigning vanguard, has since been shown to be in large part idle, indicative of a niche opinion in the country, and a thorn in the side of the parliamentary party.

That’s not to say that Jeremy Corbyn killed the Labour party. He merely sits atop its coffin. The party has been in a state of managed decline since de-industrialization stripped it of a clear reason to exist. The program detailed herein will therefore not lay blame exclusively at Corbyn’s door, though it will do so where appropriate, but instead will lay blame where deserved, and offer remedies where needed.

It’s not enough to insist that the electorate are deficient or suffering from a false consciousness when they reject you time after time. Nor is it good enough to abandon the values upon which the party was founded in order to pursue public opinion at the expense of all else.

Instead the party must align its core principles with the will of the people, conceding ground on either side where necessary. It’s essential that in order to recover, the party enter a period of reflection, and in doing so it must produce a meaningful answer to the question so many are asking: “Just what is the Labour party for?”.

If it’s to defend the NHS, then that’s an insufficient reason for the electorate to eject a sitting government. No doubt the creation of the NHS was Labour’s finest hour, but to relentlessly invoke its name at every public rally like a war cry is to cement in the mind of the public the idea of Labour as a one-trick pony.

If it’s to be a nicer version of the Tories, this too is inadequate. Aside from the fact that the Liberal Democrats already occupy that ground, the public at large will always opt for competency over compassion.

It’s vital that should Labour ever seek to win again, it must first rediscover its identity. It should reforge its raison d’être from an anti-Tory think tank to a government in waiting, able to steady the nation through what promises to be a turbulent future. Drawing from various tendencies within the party, significant research, personal experience, and observable reality, what follows is a detailed roadmap for Labour’s return to government.

Chapter I – The New Working Class

Labour once had a core demographic on which they could rely: the working class – a monolithic block who worked almost entirely in heavy industry. Commonly united in tight-knit communities centered on a factory or pit, they were class conscious and proudly so.

To inherit one’s father’s job was not just an expectation but a de facto right. The membership of the Labour party and consequently its leadership still holds to these antiquated views of what it means to be a worker. So long as they fail to recognize the nature and needs of modern workers, they will fail to produce policies that appeal to them.

This isn’t a failure exclusive to the left of the party. After all, Blair did once assert that, “We’re all middle class now”, a view still manifest among those of his ilk who exist in substantial number within the parliamentary party.

It’s not so much that this view denies the existence of the poverty-stricken or the manual worker but that it sidelines them. It relies on those people to vote for Labour consistently and is unconcerned when they stay at home, since most such people live within Labour safe seats won on a minimal turnout.

This leads us to a divergence in approach: one that caters to a romanticized and now largely deceased working class and the other which overlooks it entirely. To portray the party as these two schools of thought and nothing but would be disingenuous, but they do have the most to say on the subject. The so-called ‘soft left’ offers little thought on the matter, and the Kendallites have been too preoccupied with plots in recent times to set out any clear views at all.

In order to identify those whom Labour must bring into the fold, we must first establish those who vote for it currently:

Old Labourites. Blue-collar chaps for whom the memories of Thatcherism are still all too vivid. Formerly miners and manufacturers, many now live in the deprived post-industrial communities of Wales, the Midlands, the North, and Scotland. Increasingly, their inherent social conservatism and skepticism regarding immigration has led them to vote Conservative and UKIP in increasing numbers.

Londoners. Labour enjoys ever-growing support within London, a crowd often misidentified as being part of the ‘metropolitan elite’. While much of this demographic could be characterized by the sort of person who hangs a picture of Marx in their parents’ Kensington 4-bed, such people are a minority. Labour’s London support base can be differentiated by its social liberalism, particularly in its concern for LGBT rights, feminism, and police practices.

Public sector workers. Over 56.5% are unionized and the Tories have been slashing their wages for 7 years. They vote Labour consistently, although they do so in worryingly declining numbers. Guarantee a wage rise above inflation and increased expenditure on our public services, and these voters are locked down.

Ethnic minorities. This demographic can be more or less divided between those of African and Asian descent. The black British demographic is concentrated predominantly in London and Birmingham, the product of a generation who were invited to the UK to rebuild in the wake of the Second World War.

Now living in overwhelmingly deprived communities, over 70% vote Labour. Similarly, Asians of both Islamic and Sikh denominations vote by a substantial margin in favor of Labour[i],  despite having (in common with the Black British community) a deep social conservatism and entrepreneurial spirit that would perhaps more naturally put them in the Conservative camp.

As these groups continue to move out into the suburbs and expand their businesses, it’s likely their transition from being staunch Labourites to reliably Conservative will only accelerate.

Entryists. Often hailing from Trotskyist outfits, their influence is at a peak within the Labour party since the days of militant expulsions. Such people are self-professed associates of groups such as the Alliance for Workers Liberty and the Socialist Workers Party. Though not great in number, it seems Tom Watson had it right when he suggested there are some “old hands twisting young wrists”.

This coalition cannot win elections; it lost in 2010, 2015, and it will do so again in 2020, if not before. Where previously Labour had a clear platform that spoke directly to workers the country over, they have so far failed to adapt to the new nature of work in the 21st century.

Talk of workers’ rights to the 4.6 million self-employed[ii] means precisely nothing. When Jeremy Corbyn gives speeches about Keir Hardy, he might as well be reading from Istanbul’s phonebook for all the relevance it has to the voters he’s attempting to reach.

This sort of rhetoric would suggest that Labour now stands on a platform of reviving heavy industry when in fact no such plans exist. It’s evident that such populist polices are not incompatible with electoral success in modern times.

We can look to Donald Trump’s rise to power as evidence of this. A campaign punctuated with the cry – “We’re gonna put the miners back to work!” – roars which carried the rust belt states and Trump himself to an electoral college victory.

While such an agenda should never constitute the headline of a Labour campaign, there is room for it to form a fractional element of a wider economic plan. With the benefits of automation and clean coal, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t create new jobs in coal, steel and manufacturing: industries whose revival would be predicated on a new regime of tariffs and public infrastructure spending.

Though Labour are often happy to ingratiate themselves with the attendees of events like the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival and the Durham Miners’ Gala, they have nothing substantial to offer on the issue of heavy industry yet are content to bask in the romanticism of it.

While the decline of the British steel industry predates recent governments, it now faces a crisis that threatens to end its very existence. The proximate cause of this crisis is China dumping its own steel at below cost price on the world market. This is comparable to a supermarket opening next to a corner shop and offering loaves of bread for 10p.

Inevitably, the former will put the latter out of business, and then, when it’s free of competition, it is able to raise its prices with impunity. Similarly, if we surrender ourselves to a reliance on Chinese steel, we’ll face higher prices in the long run. Failing to protect them would deliver a coup de grâce to the last bastions of our national manufacturing industries, prompting the decline of communities and our capacity for self-sufficiency.

It’s for these reasons Labour would do well to adopt policies to the effect of the following:

  • Introduce tariffs on Chinese steel to such a point that it becomes unaffordable in the UK.
  • Lobby other European nations to form a steel block, not dissimilar from the Common Agricultural Policy, which will allow for free trade in steel amongst nations with comparable wage levels and health and safety standards.
  • Legislate that all public works must use British steel with appropriate caveats (e.g. certain types of steel are not produced in the UK).
  • Cut the disproportionately large foreign aid budget from 0.7% and put some of that money into retraining post-steel communities and investing in new technology for existing plants

As the supply of steel drops, the free market will necessitate investment leading to the construction of new steel plants, not only in the UK but across Europe. It’s an excellent example of triangulating socialism with capitalism and reaping the rewards of the free market in the 21st century.

Now, I don’t suggest that such policies should be the focal point of a Labour manifesto by any means, on the contrary, they should be towards the bottom of the list, but they most certainly should be on that list.

Such a policy, though necessary, is not an election winner, and speaks only to a specific group of people. It should be brought about in tandem with policies that resonate with the 4.6 million self-employed individuals who are in dire need of strong representation.

These people are more inclined to identify as entrepreneurs than as part of the working class. Mechanics and carpenters are now business people not proles. They don’t care about the history of struggle, or talk of how the EU is essential because it ‘protects workers’ rights’ which is nonsense in its own right, but they do want to have constant work with good pay and little else.

Indeed, until pressure from the Tory-supporting press prompted a u-turn, the Chancellor meant to levy upon self-employed people an even higher tax rate. In the wake of such a clear display of contempt towards the self-employed by the Conservatives, no better opportunity exists for Labour to launch an appeal to white van men the country over.

So, what problems do self-employed people face, and what policy platforms can appeal to them?

By definition they don’t have an employer from whom they can claim sick, maternity, or paternity pay, their work can be inconsistent, and they must continually reinvest their earnings to facilitate the survival of their trade or business.

Such policies should include:

  • Cutting taxes for the self-employed, allowing them to free up income they can use to cover the cost of sick pay and other work-related benefits (alternatively, introduce self-employment working tax credits where feasible).
  • Lowering VAT so that consumer spending increases, thus pushing up demand for new wardrobes, landscaped gardens, vehicle modifications, and so on.
  • Forcing the banks that we taxpayers bailed out to provide loans where feasible to self-employed individuals at a special low interest rate for the purpose of buying tools, refurbishing workshops, or taking on trainees.
  • Sending apprentices to work with the self-employed rather than with huge multinational chains, where they exist as little more than wage slaves.

Again, such policies won’t provoke a landslide electoral victory, but they are essential to attract to the Labour cause the sort of voters who are not only needed to win an election but whose interests lie in the Labour camp; the clue is in the name, after all.

But policy isn’t enough. We can’t expect people who work two jobs and maintain other responsibilities besides to read complex manifestos and pay attention to policy documents – to do so would be an unreasonable burden. Instead we need to talk in a language that ordinary people understand. That is to say: we should speak like normal people.

In 1917 the Bolsheviks condensed a complex economic program into three simple words: ‘PEACE, LAND, BREAD’. It was a message that was understood by every echelon of Russian society without exception. This is no means to advocate Bolshevism, but it serves to demonstrate that exactly 100 years ago, without the benefit of social media, YouTube, spin doctors, and hashtags, it was possible to create easily digestible slogans that summarize a policy platform.

Yet somehow the modern Labour party is entirely incapable of developing a slogan, sentence, paragraph, or message of any length or format that appeals even remotely to its core vote or to those it needs to incorporate into it.

In 2015 Labour produced “A Better Plan for a Better Future” as its campaign slogan. This inspired precisely nobody and means exactly nothing. Given that unemployment in 2015 was 1.9 million[iii], how about this: “Labour Will Give You a High-paying Job”. Or with a little more finesse “Higher Pay, More Jobs”.

At the end of the day, despite the Twitterati’s various obsessions, jobs are the primary concern of most voters, and they have been and should continue to be at the forefront of any Labour campaign. Moreover, nobody speaks the language of the 60’s union bosses or the Marxist Politburo; talk of ‘comrades’ and ‘struggle’ should be consigned to the dustbin of history unless in the context of a historical discussion.

This chapter has thus far dealt with the need for and the avenue by which the traditional northern post-industrial vote can be shored up, and how best the 4.6 million self-employed can begin to be brought across to Labour in greater numbers, as well as a brief mention of language and communication which will be dealt with in greater depth in a subsequent chapter.

With all that said, there remains one ever-growing and crucial voting block who cannot bring themselves to vote Labour for reasons easily condensed into one word.: Immigration.

Blue-collar blokes are sick of being called racists for daring to criticize immigration. There is nothing left wing or liberal about the free movement of people; to the contrary it’s a right–wing, neoliberal idea that disproportionately favors employers.

The Labour party has no need to become radically nationalist, but by God it should be patriotic. It should fly the Union Flag and St. George’s Cross at every speech and every office, and the same for the Welsh and Scottish flags. But above all, Labour should call for a points-based immigration system that guarantees people the world over get a fair shake at entering the country on the basis of having the skills we need in the economy.

Let’s take India’s best scientists and China’s best students and do so on the understanding that they will commit themselves to the country for a specific amount of time. Let’s not feel obliged to take unskilled workers, of which we already have a surplus, in order to further drive down the wages of construction site laborers, baristas, and private hire drivers.

So, here’s a ‘radical’ suggestion for a slogan “British Jobs for British Workers” the words of one Gordon Brown as recently as 2007. This is the sort of slogan that should be plastered so thickly on the walls that they begin to be structurally integral to the building they occupy. Like communication, immigration will be dealt with in detail in a subsequent chapter, but in relation to appealing to the forgotten working class, it must be a cornerstone.

Over 900,000 people are apprentices[iv], mostly young women – an  ideal demographic for Labour voters. Since an apprentice in their first year is entitled to a below-subsistence wage of £3.40 an hour, and those most likely to enroll in an apprenticeship are poorer to begin with, it’s a total no-brainer: Labour should be promising every apprentice in the country a pay rise.

To those who suggest this would be irresponsible spending, we’ll be enjoying the benefit within two years of not having to send the EU hundreds of millions of pounds a year, of which a fraction could be spent on improving apprentices’ pay.

Here’s another groundbreaking slogan “A Pay Rise for Apprentices”. It’s time the unions with their multi-million bound budgets and 6-figure wage packets stopped resting on their laurels and actively began unionizing young apprentices the nation over. An offer of free membership for a year would be hard to refuse.

Others talk of an ‘anti-boss’ brand of populism, but as well as being counterproductive, since we absolutely want bosses to vote for Labour, time has rendered it irrelevant. We now live in an age where peoples’ bosses are oftentimes a relative or a friend, where this isn’t the case, it’s rare that employees don’t know their manager or supervisor outside of the workplace on a casual basis, at the very least as acquaintances.

Any anti-business or anti-boss talk cannot be part of a modern Labour party’s rhetoric or policy. Where there is room for populism, it’s anti-corporate populism.

Let’s make sure Google, Starbucks, and Facebook pay the taxes they’re duty bound to, given that without a taxpayer-funded education system they would have no employees, without the NHS they would have to provide insurance, without public roads they would have no means of haulage, and without internet and phone-line infrastructure they would have no means to even exist.

From the gains made by appropriating the correct levels of tax owed by such corporations, let’s move these profits into delivering tax cuts for small business owners, incentivize them to take on new employees, and expand their trades. It’s by means such as these that Labour can successfully convert traditional Conservative voters simply by offering them a better deal.

We can also reach the middle classes. For the first time in their history, junior doctors went out on strike, and did so on several occasions in the wake of Jeremy Hunt’s punishing reform proposals. Legal professionals are in the process of a mass exodus from the legal aid program, with Scottish wages having dropped over 20% from 2007/8-2013/2014 and trainee barristers earning salaries as low as £12,000 per anum (with training costs of £17,000)[v].

While an opportunity clearly presents itself to launch an appeal to traditional middle class Conservative voters, the Labour party is too embroiled with internal affairs to mount any effective effort.

On this point of traditional Conservative voters, it’s time to speak to farmers once again. We will soon have control over farming subsidies, let’s outbid the Tories on this issue and in addition offer an innovative rural apprenticeship program in order to train future generations in the ways of agriculture, while also aiding overworked and beleaguered farmers.

Furthermore, let’s force supermarkets to pay a fair price for dairy, meat, and vegetables, while subsidizing the cost to the consumer, paid for by an equivalent tax on sugary foods in order to ensure farms thrive while still protecting consumers and simultaneously improving the health of the nation.

Once free from the Common Fisheries Policy, let’s put our fisherman back to work and become the fishing capital of Europe. It makes no sense to subsidize corporations through working tax credits. Labour should promise an increase in the minimum wage and use the welfare savings to fund new infrastructure in our now-decrepit seaside towns.

Through this dual approach, we can not only increase the quality of life of those left behind by globalism while once again making British seaside towns worthy tourist attractions, but also bring back into the fold voters who have long since deserted Labour for UKIP.

Through these methods, we can expand our ever-shrinking coalition to include people from all walks of life, while still staying true to Labour values in a modern and relevant way. Let’s go forward in lockstep with farmers, fishermen, carpenters, shopkeepers, laborers, dockers, lorry drivers, and lawyers.

Some may ponder, then, might this not alienate the metropolitan middle classes, who as of this moment form the last bastion of the Labour bloc vote? Well, the biggest genuine issue for such people is the absurdly high house prices which keep people off the property ladder to middle age, and some of the highest rents in the world.

All the while we spend £25 billion every single year on housing benefit[vi], money which goes straight into landlords’ pockets, (not that we don’t want landlords to prosper).

It’s time to announce a national house building program that takes the money straight out of the housing benefit budget and puts it into building 250,000 homes a year until the housing shortage becomes a surplus, at which point the free market will dictate rents, house prices will return to affordable levels, and the UK will once again become a home-owning democracy.

This is how we can offer concrete solutions to clear issues that will resonate with the 8 million people who live in London. Such a program would also lead to the employment of hundreds of thousands of people, prompting a higher tax revenue and increased spending in local economies throughout the country.

In summary, in order for Labour to properly construct policy that appeals to the working class, it must first understand how the working class has evolved over the past century. It should adopt a dual approach that halts the decline of traditional manufacturing and shores up our export market, while simultaneously engendering job growth in emerging markets, with an eye to appealing to those whose new nature of work leaves them without a natural party to vote for.

This program should incorporate the good work done by Ed Miliband in formulating policies to re-introduce security into the workplace, particularly in dealing with ‘zero-hour’ contracts, while also acknowledging that such policies do not have a broad enough appeal amongst swing voters. Labour must push for full, proud, and secure employment. By these means, Labour will rally all elements of the modern working class to their cause. 

Chapter II Foreign Policy and the Military

Foreign policy is not an election winner. Even when Blair’s hated decision to invade Iraq prompted the largest marches ever seen in the UK, the Labour government comfortably held on to power in the 2005 elections.

However, it’s important to remain principled and strive always to do what is right and best, both for the people of our nation and for those abroad but never at the expense of either. Moreover, Labour faces challenges from the left, notably the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, whenever it assumes an overtly pro-war posture.

There is scarcely a sentient being on earth who still believes Iraq, Libya, or Afghanistan were successful interventions, and for all the times it’s been said, it’s clear we haven’t learnt the lessons of the past. The Labour party should make it clear that they will not involve themselves in foreign military entanglements that do not directly concern the security of the United Kingdom and its allies.

British blood should not be expended to remove a foreign dictator only for that nation’s people to find liberation give way to an unimaginably worse kind of tyranny as has happened when ISIS filled the vacuum that Western bombs created.

Having said that, it is crucial that Labour demonstrate that it does not take security lightly, and its commitment to having first-class armed forces should be clear to everyone.

We have a Conservative government that has sacked soldiers before they could claim their full pensions, moved hundreds of thousands of positions into the reserve army, has aircraft carriers that we can’t land aircraft on, and now, most bizarrely, is offering troops the option of not serving in combat zones in return for a pay cut.

In uncertain global times, Labour should put itself forward as a patriotic party committed to the primary duty of the state: the protection of its own people. It’s essential that a commitment to at least 2% of GDP on defense be made in line with NATO requirements as well as a commitment to nuclear weaponry.

The latter is contentious, particularly within Labour circles, but there are some universal truths on this matter. Firstly, Trident has been commissioned, and should Labour win power, they will inherit the system no matter what their policy is. Secondly, the majority of the population are in favor of nuclear weapons, and confusion on the issue only allows the Tories to portray Labour as a threat to national security, philosophical arguments about MAD aside.

It’s also right that we reverse the horrible mistreatment suffered by our veterans. No individual who has laid their life on the line for the nation should be allowed to sleep on the streets, and as part of the aforementioned house building program, there should be guaranteed homes for veterans with subsidized mortgages, a cost to be taken from the 2% of GDP mentioned earlier.

There should also be jobs in the public sector reserved for them, particularly in the police and border forces. It’s my view that the treatment of veterans is a legitimate use of the term ‘military spending’.

Our foreign aid spending is disproportionate, badly allocated, and unsustainable. We are running a budget deficit of £40 billion, and continue to borrow more money to spend abroad, often sponsoring foreign militaries in proxy wars, or putting money into the pocket of despots to secure exploitative trade deals.

After the United States of America, we are the second biggest foreign aid donor on the planet in real terms. We spend $18 billion compared to the U.S. spending of $31 billion[vii]. That is over half of their expenditure despite being significantly less than half the size of their economy.

There are many cases in which it is not only right but morally incumbent upon us as a nation to send funds and resources abroad, to combat Ebola as a recent example.

But setting an annual target of 0.7% of GDP and dispersing that money across the globe, borrowed money in the first place, only exacerbates the economic conditions this country currently faces, and in the long run will prevent us as a nation aiding other countries to our fullest capacity, since our economic growth is constantly hampered by this gross cost.

Foreign aid does a lot of good, and where it does so it should continue to do so, but where reasonable savings can be made, this is exactly the course of action that should be pursued. The liberal, Guardian–reading, mocha-sipping elites will tweet furiously in response to such a suggestion, as if there’s something essential about the budget being set at 0.7% rather than 0.6%.

It’s important to ignore these people, whose numbers appear  more significant online, as they represent a minority as has been shown time and time again, with only 1 in 4 supporting the current foreign aid policy[viii].

For those who suggest that giving money to space-program-pushing India will somehow engender good relations with developing countries, I’d suggest we could better build relations by ceasing to hinder their economic growth through climate regulation (with caveats) and ending the practice of Western and Chinese companies exploiting the developing countries’ natural resources.

We currently face the worst refugee crisis the world has yet known, and as a party, people, and species, we have a duty to help those in need. In the immediate future, we should accept lone child refugees and house them with willing volunteers in the UK.

Subsequent to this, we should quiz every local council in the country and see what facilities they can spare to house other refugees, prioritizing families. However, there are 60 million displaced people globally and counting. The UK cannot effectively double its population by accepting every single individual – even 5% of that number would bring the country’s infrastructure to its knees.

Thus, longer-term solutions must be found, and they begin with rich Middle Eastern countries which have so far allowed the burden to be shouldered by their neighbors like Lebanon as well as Western nations, namely Germany.

It is time we lobbied Saudi Arabia, to whom we sell jets and whose pilots we train in order to better fly them, we gave a free ride when they invaded Bahrain, and continue to do so as they fight in Yemen killing civilians with British bombs, and whose disgusting head-chopping record gives ISIS a run for their money.

This is not a suggestion to cut ties with the Saudis or the UAE, but given the support both militarily and diplomatically that we provide for them, it’s reasonable to assume we can make demands of them: and if ever there was a need to, it is now. These countries should be taking in great numbers of refugees. They have the infrastructure; they just lack the will.

Further to this, the foreign aid budget should be used to contribute to a wider transnational program to build U.N.-protected safe zones across the Middle East, to prevent refugees making the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean, which in itself will save thousands of lives but also to keep them safe from terrorism and keep them fed, watered, and sheltered until such time that they can return to their country or region of origin.

The geopolitical landscape has suffered a seismic shift in the past year alone, and upcoming European elections look to continue that trend. The long and short of the matter is that we have distanced ourselves from our European neighbors so long as their current rulers last anyway, and thus we must move closer to our historic allies in the U.S.

However, Jeremy Corbyn (perhaps out of some need for the adoration of the echo chamber of his cult of no personality) is making a frequent habit of attacking President Trump vocally, viciously and publicly. He’s joined in such attacks by other high-profile liberals, notably the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

When the Cameron government shamelessly courted the Chinese into buying out our public infrastructure, John Bercow was front and center in welcoming Xi Jinping to address both houses of Parliament.

Yet in a stunningly hypocritical fashion which must require Olympic levels of mental gymnastics to justify, Bercow has come out against Trump addressing Parliament and intends to block him from doing so, all the while being supported in these efforts by the leader of the Labour party. Part of the problem is the disingenuous hysteria around Trump that you’ll find in the Guardian, Mirror or indy100.

But putting that aside, even a blind man can see that it’s absolutely within British interests to foster closer cooperation and trade with the U.S.A., the biggest economy in the world, which also has in common with us in language, culture, and history.  In fact, for anybody who considers themselves on the left, a closer relationship with Trump can only be a good thing for world peace, given his thus-far successful moves towards détente with Russia.

On this point, there’s no need to paint Putin as the eternal bogeyman. There are elements of his governance which we can all criticize from one angle or another, but to invoke the words of a separate J. C. for a moment, “Those without sin should cast the first stone”.

The domestic policies of Russia are entirely an issue for the Russian people, and continuing to burden Russia with ever worsening sanctions not only destroys diplomatic relations but is mutually harmful for both our economies. Let’s work with Trump and Putin to defeat ISIS, and in doing so we will position ourselves closer to their ears to best influence them on any human rights issues we find significant.

We claim ownership of an island over 7,000 miles away from our shores on the basis that its citizens voted in a referendum to remain British. This is no bad thing and we should continue to respect the right to self-determination.

However, when those in Crimea, who are 65% Russian by ethnicity[ix], vote overwhelmingly to join the Russian state, the Western political class sees this as grounds for a proxy war in Ukraine.

This is made even more bizarre by the fact Crimea was part of Russia as recently as 1954, when Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine, and now over 60 years on, it’s reasonable that its inhabitants would rather unite themselves to a superpower rather than a failed state.

Some will surely cry ‘appeasement’ to the idea that we should improve relations with Russia. To those people, I say: compromise is essential in international relations, we can’t preach to the world how they should live and operate, and it’s arrogant and pseudo-supremacist to try and push our liberal democratic model on every culture and people of the earth.

That’s not to mention that Putin did little when we invaded Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, supported French action in Mali, and imposed sanctions against their Iranian allies, yet liberals appear indignant at any suggestion that the Russians be allowed the same freedom in their international actions.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t assume a strong posture – we absolutely should – which is one of the reasons this text has hitherto advocated the maintenance of Trident and spending of 2% of GDP on defense.

Working closely with our American allies, we should aim to maintain peace through strength, but this is by no means mutually exclusive with closer cooperation with Russia, with whom we should be seeking to strike trade deals, closer ties, and better relations. In short, we should make allies, not enemies, wherever possible.

Most people aren’t concerned with international relations. They want food on their table, a roof over their heads, and enough disposable income to live a good life. However, it will never be the case that Jeremy Corbyn could be elected Prime Minister on an anti-American ticket.

It’s a simple truism that the U.S. is a crucial ally, and to worsen our relations in the context of Brexit would leave the UK essentially isolated. Trump’s lewd comments about women are not a hill Labour should be dying on, nor a hill they should have even assumed a position atop in the first instance.

Instead Labour should have a foreign policy that doesn’t indulge in 3-dimensional chess and virtue signalling but instead sends a very clear message. Labour will be second to none in defense of the nation, second to none in rebuilding relations, and unwilling to expend British blood or treasure in foreign wars that do not concern us.

In Europe, let’s form bilateral trade agreements and maintain the same standard of intelligence sharing as exists today, both of which are perfectly possible without power sharing in a technocratic bureaucracy.

The upshot of this in messaging terms is that Labour should state loud and clear that Labour will keep you safe, prioritize our own citizens, and maintain a humanitarian outlook on global affairs. Little else is necessary, and Corbyn’s famous hand-holding with the IRA and Hamas are enough to set him up for a decisive defeat in any British election.

Chapter III – Immigration

Immigration became a taboo subject in the realm of political discourse with the dawn of the Blair Age. Conversation on the matter was shut down, and dissidents were branded racists, outcasts, and forced into silence. A mixture of concern and outrage boiled up amongst those left behind by New Labour, leading to the return of two British National Party candidates in the European Elections of 2009.

Fortunately, both of those vile individuals have since lost their seats and faded into obscurity, with those voters now opting to side with the far more moderate UKIP. Nigel Farage single-handedly put immigration at the center of British politics, and his influence led to a vote to leave the European Union, within which the primary concern amongst Out voters was immigration.

This had been a sleeping giant for some time, and Farage was able to awaken it. However, even now in a post-Brexit world, the issue of immigration is still taboo for many, particularly in the mainstream media. It’s rare that anyone advocating a merit-based immigration system as opposed to no controls at all isn’t branded a racist by a ‘Question Time’ panelist or political opponent.

It’s an issue that’s particularly pernicious on university campuses and in inner cities. In the former, anyone to the right of Chairman Mao on the issue is considered Hitler’s earthly avatar, and in the latter, it’s a common occurrence to find your trip through Central London punctuated with stalls of the Socialist Workers Party distributing leaflets that read along of the lines of ‘Let all refugees in now! Stop racism!’.

Speaking of the SWP, whilst Labour seems curious about its own credibility gap, meanwhile its own shadow chancellor is giving interviews to the SWP[x], so whoever is running the Labour PR machine should enjoy the ‘benefit’ of instant dismissal.

The fact that the views of a tiny vocal minority are over-represented on television and online media makes people scared to air their true opinions, only taking action within the security and anonymity of the ballot box. Over 70% of the country believe immigration controls are not tough enough[xi], and this is a figure Labour leaders should be more concerned with than the number of retweets a platitude about multiculturalism can receive online.

Overwhelmingly, the country is dissatisfied with current levels of immigration. This includes Black and minority ethnic voters of all stripes who believe the number of immigrants should be reduced, and they do so by sizeable majorities[xii].

It’s pertinent to mention that immigration is disproportionately a concern for the working classes, and many of them have fled Labour, leading UKIP to be the main challenger to Labour in a great many constituencies in the 2015 election. Although it’s proven difficult for UKIP to directly take seats from Labour, there are two problems that this bleeding of voters poses.

The first is that it will lead the Labour vote in northern communities to be split with UKIP, thus allowing a Tory candidate to take a seat with as little as 30% of the vote. The second problem is that these UKIP voters distance themselves so far from Labour when they look at its middle class-centric tone that they jump ship to the Conservatives, and if that happened in large enough numbers, a Labour general election victory would be inconceivable for a generation.

We are in the process of leaving the European Union, and thus we will no longer be shackled to the free movement of labor which has given every citizen of the EU the right to live and work in the UK. However, neither the Conservatives nor Labour have made clear the path ahead.

What better opportunity then for Labour to appeal to its forgotten voters, take back the defectors, and win over Conservatives by proposing a strict points–based,Australian-style immigration system. Let’s legislate in order to ensure that only immigrants who possess the skills and resources we need have the ability to settle and work in this country.

Let’s mandate that immigrants should have an excellent grasp of the English language, not just because such a skill is essential (particularly in the medical profession) but also because it will ensure universally beneficial integration.

At the same time, we should make it clear that this country already has enough unskilled workers, unemployed, and disabled people who are struggling to cope as it is, and it should not be incumbent on the country to take more such people in.

It’s here the points-based system comes into its own: for example, if there is a shortage of unskilled labor, we can adjust the requisite points for entry and mandate that people who enter under such circumstances have jobs waiting for them.

Some suggest a migration system based on merit is xenophobic, and to those people it’s worth mentioning that we’ve applied a points-based system to non-EU citizens for years, and as members of the EU, we were giving preference to European migrants who were predominantly White over Indian and African migrants.

A points-based system is totally equitable and accepts people based on ability, irrespective of skin color, creed, or nationality. This is entirely in keeping with the sort of values that led to Labour’s foundation and should remain at the forefront of any respectable leftwing movement.

There is a myth that there is something ‘left wing’ or ‘progressive’ about uncontrolled migration, or that it would be desirable to have an unlimited number of unknown individuals entering the country every year.

Let’s be clear: the free movement of labor is a rightwing, neoliberal, capitalist policy, not dissimilar to the free movement of capital. It’s a symptom of an anarchic free market system that serves the elites extremely well; it drives down the price of labor for corporations, affords the middle classes cheap gardeners and nannies, and perpetually rigs the job market in the employers’ favor.

It’s a fundamental leftist belief that the free market is not infallible, requires regulation, and this regulation should pertain not just to levels of taxation and regulation but also to the distribution of workers.

This is not advocacy of immigration control on the basis of electoral populism, or economic philosophy, though it would indeed be popular, and it does follow philosophically; instead it’s an advocacy on the grounds of basic math.

Plainly, the UK cannot sustain the number of immigrants coming into the country every year. 300,000 is the rough annual net migration figure to the UK per annum. Many point out rightly that a large number of these people are students, and they’re right to do so.

However, whether student or worker, they still take the same toll on transport, health, and social infrastructure.  As a nation, we are building around half the number of houses we need every single year, at around 135,000[xiii], creating a clear deficit in housing availability. That’s not to mention that our own domestic birth rate is over 800,000 per year[xiv].

We already have a dangerous housing bubble which threatens to collapse at any moment, pulling our entire economy down with it, and it’s only exacerbated by such migrant numbers. Of course, part of this problem is that we don’t build enough houses, and issues pertaining to that were detailed in the first chapter.

However, the costs of building such enormous numbers of houses and providing the associated infrastructure would be to say the least prohibitive, and even if it were feasible, it would not be desirable.

Aside from housing there are huge costs associated with the NHS, when people who have never contributed arrive able to take full advantage of it without question. This is one of the factors that has led to a record NHS deficit of £1.85 billion[xv]; although of course underfunding remains the direct cause of this crisis, immigration serves to aggravate it.

You’ll hear from Labour politicians and often to the thunderous applause of their echo chambers, the following platitude: “You’re more likely to see an immigrant working in the NHS than using it”.

Aside from being disingenuous, since it’s entirely determined by happenstance and geography, the point they are trying to make is that because immigrants work in the NHS, we should allow an unlimited number of immigrants to enter the country, as if the former warrants the latter, which is a total non-sequitur.

Yes, we have a large number of migrants working in the NHS, and that’s a good thing to. Let’s keep them there and continue to allow medical professionals into the country in line with demand. Having controlled immigration and having Indian doctors are not mutually exclusive; in actuality an equitable points-based system will incentivize and drive up the number of highly qualified migrant workers relative to unskilled workers.

The people are crying out for a credible party to come out strongly on immigration, and if Labour did so, they would take the country by storm.

Chapter IV – And the Rest

Regarding inertia

As of this writing the most commonly seen Labour slogan is “Working together for real change”. The problem is the party is not working together, and presents no change. The conflict within and between the constituency and parliamentary Labour parties is wreaking havoc on Labour’s public image, and as the well-known adage tells us, voters don’t vote for divided parties.

However, this text will not attempt to dissect the intricacies that have led to this point; instead suffice it to mention a couple of key issues.

Jeremy Corbyn will never receive the support of the current MPs and therefore must go. The only alternative would be to begin a process of deselection across the country –  a sort of Trotskyist Night of the Long Knives, which would only leave the party’s reputation in tatters and replace experienced MPs with amateurs.

There is a divide within the parliamentary party between those representing constituents who are socially conservative working class and middle class social liberals. While Labour has always been a broad church that has incorporated numerous factions, the divisions now seem to be intensifying like never before.

Party loyalty is at record low rates, and people are now more likely than ever to throw out of office the candidate of their forefather’s choice and often on the basis of a single issue. This is more contentious than ever post-Brexit, given that some Labour MPs represent constituencies that voted overwhelmingly to Remain and others the reverse. Inevitably MPs jostle with one another to represent their diverse constituents.

The remedies are imperfect for both issues. For the first, Corbyn must go, which is easier said than done; and secondly the Labour party must support the will of the people and push for a real Brexit that rejects freedom of movement. Neither solution is ideal, but both are necessary, not least because the majority of the country hate Corbyn, and the majority of the country voted for Brexit.

On to the second, and more important, element of the slogan: “Real Change.” The most obvious change that has taken place in the last couple of years is the transformation of the Labour party from a party of government to one that wallows in political oblivion. Change is an important message to transmit, but the kind of change needs to be clear, and Corbyn’s Labour has thus far advocated very few changes indeed.

In fact, in my research for this work, I wanted to see exactly what policies Jeremy Corbyn had promoted in order to deal with them individually. However, when I tried to access Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘priorities’ on his website, it returned an error page reading “Unfortunately the page you were looking for was not found”, which is so patently ironic that no explanation is needed.

Further hunting will lead you to an article in the Mirror listing several flagship policies, which range from unpopular and bizarre like abolishing the monarchy to leftist clichés like ‘tax the rich’, and standard Labour talking points like re-nationalizing rail.

An eager hunter will find a more exhaustive list in a Telegraph article, which is pretty damming for the Labour party PR machine when the right-wing pro-Tory paper gives more policy detail than Labour themselves do. Eventually, one will stumble upon the ‘Jeremy for Labour’ page detailing ten broad policy positions. A brief glance is enough to know it’s a slight rewording of Ed Miliband’s 2015 manifesto combined with some broad meaningless jargon.

“We will build a progressive tax system so that wealth and the highest earners are fairly taxed, act against executive pay excess, and shrink the gap between the highest and lowest paid – FTSE 100 CEOs are now paid 183 times the wage of the average UK worker, and Britain’s wages are the most unequal in Europe. We will act to create a more equal society, boost the incomes of the poorest, and close the gender pay gap.”[xvi]

Do we not already have a progressive tax system? What rate should the highest earners pay? Will you cap executive bonuses? How will you boost the incomes of the poorest? How will you close the gender pay gap?

Such questions could be the only reasonable response to reading such general non-offensive meaningless milk-and-honey talking points. Anyone who feels the media hasn’t given Corbyn’s Labour a fair shake and has undertaken to do their own research will only be doubly disappointed when they discover that in the two years of his leadership, there’s scarcely a new policy to speak of.

For those who seek out concrete information, they should be rewarded with definitive and detailed policy proposals signed off by renowned economists, think tanks, and financial organizations.

Such policies should include pledges to build huge tidal power stations taking advantage of the fact that our nation is surrounded by water, to build offshore wind farms (including specifications on how many of them, at what cost and where the money is coming from), and to build new motorways, detailing how many people such a project would employ and projecting the economic benefits it would bring to this city or that. Alas, nothing of the sort exists.

Not to harp on about political antiquity, but Harold Wilson talked of the ‘white heat of the technological revolution.’ It’s not something that was ever truly delivered on, but it’s a phrase that stuck. What better time than now is there to renew the scientific and technological revolution? In the age of drones, self-driving cars, nanotechnology, and interstellar rovers, the modern Labour party has very little or nothing to say about it.

As a people we have the potential and as a country we have the need to host research and development facilities for the world’s leading technology firms and to have factories producing technology for the modern age. Labour Shadow Ministers should be meeting with Tesla and Microsoft, putting out press releases and winning support amongst the firms of the future, letting them know Britain is open for business.

In tandem with this we need new and forward-looking training schemes. The youth vote is overwhelmingly Labour but also the least likely to turn out.

Labour councilors, MPs and its half million members (Where are they?) should be knocking on every door of every council estate, meeting the unemployed, disenfranchised youth, and giving them a clear, concise piece of paper offering them a world-class training program that Labour guarantees to introduce if it wins the election.

Give these people something to aspire to and something to vote for outside of the Blue and Red tribal dichotomy which means very little to most people.

AddendumI have returned to this section to note that shortly after the time of writing, the Conservative government has unveiled so called ‘T-levels’, which promise to train youngsters in the practical and technical fields of the future. Once again, Labour has been too slow on the draw and attempts to do so now would appear to be a derivative imitation.

Put before people a plan that they can understand and offer them a future: through training programs, scientific advancement, industrialization, automation, pay rises, and tax breaks. Talking points must give way to the tangible.

What matters to most people when all is said and done is the food on their table, the money in their pockets and the roof over their head. Naturally, a sense of community drives many voters, but elections cannot be won through street marches in aid of the NHS. It’s an established truism that Labour will best serve the NHS, and people understand that all too well, but it cannot rely on this one-trick pony to carry it through to government.

Tough on Crime, Tough on the Causes of Crime

Possibly the best thing to come out of the Blair era was the acknowledgment that the great mass of Labour voters were not ultra-liberal, as the Westminster establishment would have you believe but are in fact deeply socially conservative. As such, it’s crucial not only for the execution of justice, but for the electability of the party that Labour are seen to come down hard on criminals and serve justice to victims.

This should come in tandem with core Labour values about alleviating poverty, which we know to be the leading cause of crime since the devil will find work for idle hands to do. Any attempt to crack down on crime must do so heavily and stringently on perpetrators, while simultaneously delivering a revolutionary jobs program to put those idle hands to work.

As a consequence, such people will be able to sustain a family and home, thus giving people a stake in society they would be unwilling to discard with wanton criminality. The Tories have shamelessly cut back the numbers of police to levels last seen in 2003[xvii]. Prisons are being sold to private companies and the conditions that occur within them as a result is nothing short of disgraceful.

Prison guards are striking, and criminals are forcibly taking control of their own prisons, if such a thing could be believed to be true in 21st century Britain. Not only is this a national crisis that warrants an urgent response, but it’s a political opportunity Labour has thus far made no move to exploit.

It should call for and develop credible plans to introduce an increase in police numbers, prison reform, and higher wages for those on the frontline keeping our streets safe. Labour should be tough on crime because it’s the working class who suffer disproportionately at the hands of criminals without the benefits of gated drives and suburbia to protect them.

The Labour party has thus far failed to make political capital from any of these issues. It should go forth hand in hand with the police unions and declare that Labour will be second to none in its commitment and strength of purpose to cut down crime and clean up our prisons. Labour will serve the interests of victims and not criminals once again.

Corbyn’s irreparably damaging comments that he was ‘unhappy’ with the shoot-to-kill policy have done nothing to reduce the idea that Labour are soft on crime. The party needs to push the message night and day until it’s accepted as a truism that under Labour the streets will be safe again. 

Speaking to the People

Many in the Labour party have become totally removed from the voters they serve. Famously, Emily Thornberry poured scorn on a white van man for daring to hang the English flag on his own home. She was roundly attacked by people living outside the ultra-liberal Westminster bubble and was forced to resign from her then position as Shadow Attorney General, though since then Corbyn has secured her promotion to even greater heights.

It’s no surprise that working-class people continue to turn to UKIP in such numbers, when Labour’s North London elite mocks anyone patriotic or traditional in outlook. The voters of Rochester and Strood where the comments were made had nothing in common with Emily Thornberry and the beliefs she manifests, yet she felt perfectly entitled to go there and belittle the very people whose support she should have been trying to secure.

Unsurprisingly, Labour came 3rd in the constituency, losing over 10% of their vote share on the 2010 election. Seats like these are essential to take in order for Labour to have any hope of winning a general election.

Such events are symptomatic of a wider problem, which at the moment is embodied within the Labour leadership. The public watched in outrage as Jeremy Corbyn failed to sing the national anthem during a Battle of Britain commemoration. The papers made hay when Corbyn made a half-hearted bow at the Cenotaph, and did so, by the way, in a tatty suit. When the Red Flag is sung, it brings a smile to activists’ faces but confusion to the country at large.

Corbyn is known to be a republican. There is no problem with that. But he must understand that the vast majority of the country are in favor of the British monarchy because it speaks to their patriotism, is synonymous with their British identity, and is associated with the wars from times gone by and those lost in them.

Any leader of any party should sing the national anthem with gusto, and do so in the finest black suit with the boldest red tie. A refusal or failure to engage in the traditions that venerate the nation and honor our war dead sends a clear signal to the working class of this country that Labour is not the party for them. Indeed, many in the country view Corbyn as directly ‘anti-British’ given his close ties to IRA figures and his now infamous comments calling Hezbollah his ‘friends’.

Some will suggest that the aforementioned are merely superficial issues. In many ways, they are an issue of presentation, but the image the Labour party and its present leadership is not a secondary or tertiary concern, it should be the primary concern for any party seeking to win power.

It’s all well and good having an excellent manifesto, but if no one reads it or gives it credence because they believe its authors are intrinsically unpatriotic, then the manifesto is entirely useless.

Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure as leader is essentially a job interview with the British people at large. He must win their approval in order for them to grant him power. Yet he can’t be bothered to wear a decent suit, which in the opening days of his leadership campaign was endearing and charming, but at this point marks him as an unprepared amateur.

The Labour party has a war coffer of funds at its disposal, including membership subscriptions of over 500,000 individuals, a long list of big private donors, and a great deal more cash donated by trade unions. Yet for all these resources, there isn’t a single advisor who can tell Corbyn not to wear black suit trousers with a blue suit jacket during Prime Minister’s question time. When members of the public go for a job interview, they dress to impress, and they expect their leaders to do the same.

We need a leader of the Labour party flanked by the Union Flag, bellowing the national anthem, and embracing patriotism the same way the people do. Sadly, it appears the liberal elite feels shame and embarrassment at any suggestion of national pride.

There are people who understand this. Andy Burnham makes a particularly good example. A working-class lad who graduated from Cambridge, he returned to his home town to represent Leigh as a member of parliament, where he notably worked to secure justice for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster cover-up.

From a cold reception in a speech at the Anfield Football Grounds in 2009, he returned after five tireless years of fighting for justice to a well-earned hero’s reception. He wasn’t afraid to speak about that which for so long Labour had considered taboo, namely immigration, and during his bid for the leadership in 2015, he did just that.

Burnham rightly acknowledged all the good that immigration brings, from economic growth to cultural enrichment, while at the same time talking about those left behind by uncontrolled immigration. He talked of a factory worker in his constituency who sat alone during lunch times as he was the only English-speaking worker.

He rightly identified that immigration had disproportionately taken a toll on Labour’s industrial and post-industrial heartlands, and since his failed campaign, he has become even more vocal on this issue.

Alas, for some reason he lacked a certain spark during the campaign, though that aside, he spoke directly to the country, but yet it was the niche Labour party membership who had for the first time the total say on the new leader. Consequently Corbyn won. Burnham has moved out of the front line of national politics towards a campaign to be the mayor of Manchester. Let’s hope that he and his fellows plan a return in the near future.

Chapter V – Conclusions

There absolutely is a place for social liberals within the modern Labour party. The Labour party has a history of pushing through excellent liberal reforms from Barbra Castle legislating equal pay for equal work between the genders to the introduction of civil partnerships under Blair.

Throughout its history, Labour has been at the forefront of liberal reforms that have liberated people of all stripes, and it’s a good thing too. It’s also right that the Labour party platform deals with discrimination against transgender, gay, and black and minority ethnic individuals, but it should not do so at the expense of all else.

Too often, Labour party circles have discussion dominated by issues that (while important) effect .01% of the population or less. The cry of ‘racist’ or ‘transphobe’ is too often an excuse to shut down freedom of speech, particularly on university campuses and by individuals associated with Labour at a student level.

How can it be that lifelong gay activist Peter Tatchell, feminist icon Germaine Greer, and the left-of-Labour George Galloway have all been no-platformed or attacked on our university campuses. The attitudes that lead to such absurd action are rife among Labour party members and less often to be seen amongst the general populace, for whom these individuals would be considered far left, not something-or-other-ophobic.

There’s a false equivalence between parties like UKIP, a liberal isolationist organization, on the one hand, and fascism or racism on the other, and the comparison between them is consistently pushed by groups like Momentum, the Alliance for Workers Liberty and the Socialist Workers Party, all of which are groups operating with or within the Labour party.

Here’s an excerpt from the SWP publication the Socialist Worker, which I have seen distributed by Labour party members outside meetings and talks:

“And in Stoke Central the racist UKIP party, which came second there at the last general election, wants to whip up racism to take the seat from Labour. Socialist Worker is calling for a vote for Labour in both elections. They will be seen as referendums on Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour—and Corbyn could be forced to resign as leader if Labour does badly.

The racist right will feel ecstatic if UKIP leader Paul Nuttall wins in Stoke. Labour has rightly attacked Nuttall for his previous statements supporting privatization of the NHS. But Labour’s official campaign has not challenged UKIP over its racism. Labour will be most effective if it both attacks the cuts and also confronts UKIP divisive racism.”[xviii]

It’s simply not enough to shout ‘racist’ and expect to win an argument. In fact, at this point it’s no longer even a case of diminishing returns, but it’s actually backfiring, making people more inclined to vote for UKIP when their concerns about migration are met with insult by leftists. We on the left should be trying to win debates, not shut them down.

This isn’t an appeal to the SWP to change their tactics. They are free agents and can do as they please. But the fact that the Labour party leadership meets with them, gives them interviews and is commonly seen marching alongside them is indicative of the sort of attitudes that fester in Labour and also appears to be a soft endorsement of such views.

It’s part of a wider problem where certain social liberals are going so far in their anti-racism campaigns that they shut down free speech within the media, on university campuses, and on the streets, more often than not targeting people who were never racist in the first place.

In short, these liberals have become the very illiberal people they believe they’re fighting against. Such people are fooled into believing the rest of the country is on their wavelength, buoyed up by thousands of retweets and Facebook likes, yet they do not appear to understand that their online presence is an echo chamber. The more their preaching is welcomed by the converted, the more steadfast they become in their initial beliefs.

Most people in the country are not anything close to this level of ultra-liberal, and such attitudes do not resonate with them. The great mass of people are patriotic and socially conservative, and their concern with politics extends to ensuring the system provides them with a safety net and the opportunity for employment.

That doesn’t mean the country at large doesn’t have a sense of and desire for social justice. Of course it does. But the best way to ensure it is to first establish economic justice. When Labour party figures engage in extended diatribes about intersectional feminism, which to most people of both genders means nothing, it turns the public off.

Liberalism is a welcome element of the Labour coalition, but it cannot continue in such an extreme form, nor can it override concern for the economy and for jobs. Labour need to talk less about rules surrounding transgender usage of bathrooms in North Carolina, and more, much more, about jobs.

Corbyn’s position is untenable. He has had second chance upon second chance and failed to rehabilitate his image or reform his party. His name is toxic and his leadership destructive, and for these reasons, he must go.

In his place, we need a strong man or woman who understands the patriotism that stirs within Labour’s core vote, who understands the nation’s deep social conservatism, and who is prepared to meet the electorate’s demands for homes and jobs. Perhaps an Andy Burnham, a Gisela Stewart, a Dan Jarvis, a Richard Burgeon, or someone else entirely.

Labour must overcome its misconceptions about the people’s wants by breaking free of both Westminster and its online echo chambers.

The public are not shocked or angered about cuts to the benefits bill, in fact it’s a popular position[xix]. On this, let’s deliver the biggest benefits cut yet seen, and let them fall on the corporate welfare that now costs over £50 billion a year between working tax credits and housing benefit alone.

Let’s force corporations to pay a living wage, and put the working tax credit savings into a jobs program that will mop up any collateral unemployment. Let’s build houses until prices fall and housing benefit drops to record lows. Let’s cut old-age benefits for the very richest pensioners who have no need of them, and distribute that money to the needy elderly according to their ability and means.

Over a million food parcels were distributed by food banks to hungry citizens throughout the country in 2015[xx], evidence if any more were needed that our infrastructure, welfare, and employment programs are totally failing the British people.

Unfortunately, the people accessing these food banks are the least likely to turn out in a general election. Let’s take Labour’s mass membership and send it to deprived communities to knock on doors and win support from those who have never voted before. Such an effort should be supported by its hundreds of MPs, thousands of councilors, and hundreds of thousands of trade union affiliated members.

Labour’s war coffers are full enough to help out its members when they sacrifice their time for the party. Travel and other associated costs should be subsidized in such campaigns.

Let’s take a strong message into the heart of the country, into Scotland, Wales, the Midlands and the North, that Labour will deliver British jobs for British workers.  It will carry through to the agricultural areas which the Tories presume to sit upon since time immemorial and deliver a program to get British farms working again.

Let’s go into London and make clear that Labour is the party for social justice, and that begins with housing. Guarantee the construction of at least 250,000 homes every year and provide credible plans on how it will be done because whether you’re Black, White, trans, gay, straight, male or female, your primary concern is shelter, of which there is currently a dire shortage.

Let’s spark off a renaissance in 21st century manufacturing, now with the benefits of automation and renewable energy. Take to the public a message that cuts in the foreign aid budget will deliver a program of nuclear, tidal, wind, and solar energy expansion that will not just create innumerable high-paying jobs but will have the added advantage of saving the climate.

Let’s wade into the realm of the intelligentsia and say loud and clear that Labour is the party for true liberals, those who believe in rationalism, freedom of speech, and tolerance. Let’s talk to those who face the prospect of a life behind bars and deliver to them a place behind a college desk, a workbench or the wheel of a JCB.

Let us go to the people and promise them; Jobs, Homes and Health.

[i] Khan, O. (2015 May 15) Race and the 2015 General Election Part 1: Black and Minority Ethnic Voters. Retrieved from http://www.runnymedetrust.org/blog/race-and-the-2015-general-election-black-and-minority-ethnic-voters

[ii] Monegan, A. (2014 August 20) Self-employment in UK at Highest Level Since Records Began. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/aug/20/self-employment-uk-highest-level

[iii] BBC Business. (2015 March 18) Economy Tracker: Unemployment. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10604117

[iv] Mirza-Davies J. (2016 November 21) Apprenticeship Statistics: England. Retrieved from http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06113/SN06113.pdf

[v] Blacking, D. (2014 July) So You Want to Be a Legal Aid Lawyer? Retrieved from http://lacuna.org.uk/justice/so-you-want-to-be-a-legal-aid-lawyer/

[vi] BBC Business (2015 September 21) Why Is the UK’s Housing Benefit Bill so High? Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34290727

[vii] OECD. (2016 April 13) Development Aid in 2015 Continues to Grow despite Costs for In-donor Refugees. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/ODA-2015-detailed-summary.pdf

[viii] Leach, B. (2012 December 19) One in Four Support Britain’s Foreign Aid Policies. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/9770644/One-in-four-support-Britains-foreign-aid-policies.html

[ix] Lubin, G. (2014 March 16) How Russians Became Crimea’s Largest Ethnic Group, in One Haunting Chart. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/crimea-demographics-chart-2014-3?IR=T

[x] Socialist Worker (2017 February 28) Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell Spoke to Socialist Worker on the Recent By-election Results. Retrieved from https://socialistworker.co.uk/art/44161/Shadow+chancellor+John+McDonnell+spoke+to+Socialist+Worker+on+the+recent+by+election+results

[xi] Migration Watch UK (2014 November 18) Opinion Poll Results on Immigration. Retrieved from https://www.migrationwatchuk.org/briefingPaper/document/249

[xii] Migration Watch UK (2015 March 25) Immigration Policy and Black and Minority Ethnic Voters. Retrieved from https://www.migrationwatchuk.org/briefing-paper/11.37

[xiii] Castella, T. (2015 January 13) Why Can’t the UK Build 240,000 Houses a Year? Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30776306

[xiv] BBC News (2013 August 8) More UK births Than any Year Since 1972, Says ONS. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23618487

[xv] Dunne, P. Mckenna, H. and Murray, R. (2016 July) Deficits in the NHS 2016. Retrieved from https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/files/kf/field/field_publication_file/Deficits_in_the_NHS_Kings_Fund_July_2016_1.pdf

[xvi] Our Ten Pledges to Rebuild and Transform Britain. Retrieved from http://www.jeremyforlabour.com/pledges

[xvii] Newburn, T. (2015 November 24) What’s Happening to Police Numbers? Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34899060

[xviii] Clark, N. (2017 February 14) Clive Lewis Backs off, but the Labour Right is out for Corbyn’s Blood. Retrieved from https://socialistworker.co.uk/art/44091/Clive+Lewis+backs+off%2C+but+the+Labour+right+is+out+for+Corbyns+blood

[xix] Wells, A. (2011 May 16) Strong Public Support for Benefit Cuts. Retrieved from https://yougov.co.uk/news/2011/05/16/strong-public-support-benefit-cuts/

[xx] BBC News. (2015 April 22) Record Numbers Use Food Banks – Trussell Trust. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32406120

“Problems” and “Solutions”

Discuss Severaid’s quote and my examples given below, agreeing, disagreeing or expanding on the notion.

The chief cause of problems is solutions

– Eric Sevareid

I think this guy is onto something.

Examples:

War on Terror – Solution was all out war on “terrorism” – really just disobedient Muslim states and some international guerrilla/terrorist groups.

The “solution” did not solve the problem at all, and in fact it made it much worse and introduced quite a few new problems.

The “solution” to the “Muslim terrorism problem” did nothing to alleviate the problem, and the problem only expanded massively, in the process destroying much of the secular Muslim world and replacing it with ultra-radical, armed and ultraviolent fundamentalists. Several new failed states were created out of functioning but authoritarian secular regimes.

A wild Sunni-Shia war took off with no end in sight. A new Saudi-Iran conflict expanded to include all of the Sunni world against Iran and some Shia groups.

The policy was incoherent – in places (Palestine, Iraq, Syria, and Libya) secular nationalists were overthrown and replaced with radical fundamentalist regimes (Iraq, Palestine) or failed states teeming with armed fundamentalist actors (Yemen, Somalia, Palestine, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Mali). In other places, fundamentalist regimes were overthrown and secular nationalists were put in (Egypt).

We alternately attacked and supported radical groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. An awful Russia-Turkey conflict took off on the Middle east with the US and NATO siding with Al Qaeda and ISIS supporting Turks. The US attacked and armed fundamentalists to attack Shia Iranian, Hezbollah and Houthi armies waging all out war on Al Qaeda and ISIS. In Yemen we actively attacked the Shia who were fighting Al Qaeda while supporting Al Qaeda and fundamentalist Sunnis with intel and weaponry.

Some Kurds were called terrorists and support was given to those attacking them. Other Kurds were supported in their fight against ISIS. In actuality, all of these Kurd represented the same entity. There really is no difference between the PKK, the YPG and the rulers of the Kurdish region. Meanwhile, Kurds fighting for independence were supported in Iran and Syria and attacked in Turkey though they were all the same entity.

Billions of US dollars and thousands of US lives were wasted for essentially no reason with no results or actually a worsened situation. Russia, one of the most effective actors in the war against Al Qaeda and ISIS, was declared an enemy and attacks on them by our allies were cheered on.

A horrible refugee crisis was created in Europe.

Muslim populations in the West were substantially radicalized.

Instead of ending Islamic terrorism, Islamic terrorist, conventional and guerrilla attacks absolutely exploded in the Middle East and to a lesser extent in Europe, Canada, Australia and the US. It also exploded in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Thailand, the Philippines and of course Syria and Iraq. There was considerable fighting and terrorism in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Morocco and Jordan. The Palestinians ended up much better armed than before and the conflict exploded into all out war on a few occasions.

Terrorism and guerrilla war exploded in Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon, Somalia and Kenya with some new attacks in Niger, Mauritania, Chad and Uganda. Somalia took a turn for the worse as a huge Al Qaeda force set up shop there and the country turned into the worst failed state ever with nothing even resembling a state left and the nation furthermore split off into three separate de facto nations.

The “solution” failed completely and simply ended up creating a whole new set of problems that were vastly worse than the original problem for the which the solution was directed.

Technology: Technology itself could be regarded as a lousy fix to many problems.

“France’s Response to Paris Attacks Encourages ISIS’s Caliphate Fantasy,” by Eric Walberg

Eric is a personal friend of mine and he published this on Academia.edu so that usually means anyone can grab it as long as you credit them. Lately, Eric writes for the Iranian media, presumably for money. I believe Kieth Preston is also writing for the Iranians these days.

I am putting this up mostly to provoke discussion.

France’s Response to Paris Attacks Encourages ISIS’s Caliphate Fantasy

Eric Walberg

France’s emotional response to the recent tragedy, devoid of reason and ignoring history, just makes matters worse.

 

The death toll in the November 13 attacks in Paris stands at 127. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sent a message to his French counterpart Francois Hollande condemning the attacks. “In the name of the Iranian nation, itself a victim of the evil scourge of terrorism, I strongly condemn these inhumane crimes and condole with the bereaved French nation and government.”

In contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened his weekly Cabinet meeting by calling on world leaders to condemn terror against … Israel. He began by addressing the killing of two Israelis, ignoring the 81 Palestinians who have died in protests this month. “The time has come for the nations of the world to condemn terrorism against us as much as they condemn terrorism anywhere else in the world.” He pledged Israeli intelligence assistance to France, adding “An attack on any of us needs to be seen as an attack on all of us.”

Translate: France’s tragedy is a wake-up call for solidarity with … Israel.

France’s Colonial Legacy

Until 2012, France was spared serious terrorist attacks, but its enduring colonial mentality continues to stoke anger. Most evident recently was the official defense of anti-Muslim hate literature published by the magazine Charlie Hebdo. Rather than persecuting the Islamophobes, which would have prevented blowback by enraged Muslims, the French insistence on freedom led to an attack in January on the Paris offices of the magazine, killing 12 people and wounding 11 others.

Worse yet, the new Socialist President Hollande pushed ahead with a return to outright colonial invasion, with air strikes and arms to Syrian rebels in opposition to both the Syrian government and ISIS supporters. This confused policy only makes sense if the intent is to dismantle the Syrian state and refashion a Syrian puppet government, harking back to France’s invasion of Syria-Lebanon following WWI in collusion with Britain, when they destroyed the Ottoman state and set up puppet regimes across the Middle East.

France was slow to adjust to post-WWII decolonization, and stubbornly maintained its military presence not only in Vietnam but in the Middle East. Along with Britain, now both humiliated bankrupt powers, it was in no position to enforce its will, and it handed over its colonial possessions to the US either directly or via the new world order institutions. Plus, of course, intrigue where a glimmer of independence appeared, as in Iran in 1953 or Egypt 1956.

Worst of all was the horror France inflicted for more than a century in Algeria. Algeria had to suffer a long, brutal war of liberation in which a million Algerians died before France finally left in 1962. French meddling in Algeria since has only compounded the animosity, especially the support given the military coup in 1992 in which 200,000 Algerians died.

France’s current return to openly colonial policies, first in Afghanistan, then Libya, Mali and now Syria, are guaranteed to have dire consequences. To its credit, France did not support the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, but there are now 3,200 French troops there.

France and US Support the Terrorists

France and the US have played a dangerous and foolish hand in their great games of asserting world power, at times using jihadists (1980s in Afghanistan) and at other times attacking them (1990s+ in Afghanistan), sometimes both at the same time (2011+ in Syria).

“Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar,” John McCain told CNN in January 2014. Is McCain not aware that two of the most successful factions fighting Syrian President Assad’s forces are Islamist extremist groups Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, and that their success is due to the support they have received from Qatar and Saudi Arabia? A senior Qatari official told The Atlantic journalist Steve Clemons that “he can identify al-Nusra commanders by the blocks they control in various Syrian cities. But ISIS is another matter. As one senior Qatari official stated, ‘ISIS has been a Saudi project.’”

France doesn’t have a wild card like McCain, but, like the US, supports Islamic fundamentalists in Syria and elsewhere through its ties with the Saudi and Qatari regimes and its actions in Syria. Even after it became obvious to everyone that the regime change project in Syria has led to an expansion of terrorism, Hollande was still pursuing it.

But then this hypocrisy goes for all the western nations, in the first place Canada, which has been bombing Syrian rebels and, at the same time, just signed a $14.8b arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The largest arms exports contract in Canadian history will be remembered as going to one of the worst human rights violators in the world and a funder of ISIS-related groups in Syria and Iraq.

In fact, Canada’s record on bombing Muslims in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, on restricting burqas and promoting ‘free speech’ defaming Islam, mirrors France, and led to a shooting last year that penetrated the parliament buildings in Ottawa and had Prime Minister Harper cowering in his closet.

Harper’s answer, when he had stopped shaking, was the same as Hollande’s: he insisted that “Canada will not be intimidated” by acts of violence and remained committed to Canada’s efforts “to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations … who bring their savagery to our shores.” He did admit that “we’re all aware and deeply troubled that both attacks were carried out by Canadian citizens, by young men born and raised in this peaceful country,” but, like Hollande today, failed to draw the logical conclusion.

Powder Keg

France has the largest Muslim population in Europe at 4m. Despite its claims of “liberty, equality and brotherhood”, it is considered the most racist country in Europe. French-Algerian communities still live on impoverished housing estates, go to bad schools, and have few opportunities for social advancement.

Discrimination in everything from jobs to housing is routine. There are few French-Algerians in politics, the law, the media or any other profession, though the prisons are full. Hollande refuses to reverse measures like the burqa ban and has highlighted his opposition to halal meat and praying in the street because of a lack of mosques.

Populist rightwing politicians like Nicolas Sarkozy and the National Front’s Marine Le Pen routinely portray alienated migrant communities as France’s enemy within. Le Pen garnered 20% of the popular vote in the first round of May’s presidential elections.

In their communique, the perpetrators of the recent attacks listed France’s crimes as leading a “new crusade” in Syria, as well as defending Charlie Hebdo magazine, and just because of general French decadence and racism. They claimed their targets were well chose ― a football match between ‘crusaders’ France and Germany attended by Hollande, and the Bataclan exhibition where “hundreds of pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice” (the California group Eagles of Death Metal).

“This is for Syria,” were the last words of one of the Paris attackers. But he could have said it was for Mali, or Libya, or Iraq. France is very proactive against Islamists worldwide, especially in the face of what is frequently seen as British and American retreat. Over 10,000 French troops are currently deployed abroad. In addition to Iraq, there are over 5,000 troops in western and central Africa. Last week Hollande announced that France will deploy an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf to assist the fight against ISIS.

As with Osama Bin Laden’s strategy of promoting dramatic terrorist attacks in the West to provoke a crackdown and to radicalize Muslims, the strategy behind the current attacks is to generate a French crackdown to encourage Muslims to follow ISIS’s caliphate fantasy. It has worked all too well so far, and Hollande’s vow to be “ruthless” in his response leads him and France in the wrong direction.

In his address on recent events, Iran’s Leader Imam Khameini acknowledged that “there are voices of criticism in the West about its colonial past. But they only criticize the distant past. Why should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past and not to the current problems?”

Originally published here.

The Jihadis Brought Slavery with Them

Here.
All of these people are Black. The Tuaregs and the Arabs are lighter skinned Blacks then the rest, and they have more Caucasoid features, but these are all Black people we are talking about here. In fact, Tuaregs are ~86% Black by genes and only 14% Caucasoid, about the same as US Blacks. Arabs may be the lighter, but the distinction between an Arab and a Black in this part of the world is not strong. An Arab is more someone who is a pastoralist and speaks Arabic. A Tuareg speaks the Tuareg Berber language and is a pastoralist. The Blacks probably speak an African language, are darker and look more African and may be agriculturalists.
But what matters more is if you were born into slavery or not. Slavery has been going on forever in the Sahel. There are still 200,000 slaves in Mali. There are also many in Mauritania and Niger. Food is so scarce at times that some slaves enter into bondage voluntarily just to get something to eat. The slave masters are very cruel to their slaves, treating them worse than animals. Although slavery is illegal in Mali, the law is hardly enforced.
What is interesting is that with the coming of radical Islam in the form of the Islamist jihadis, the slavery issue got worse. Ta Tuaregs and Arabs largely supported the Islamists and they took advantage of the coming of the jihadis by enslaving their Black neighbors, reclaiming old slaves, or enslaving their Black workers. Now that the French ran the Al Qaedists out of Timbuktu, the slaves have been freed, but there are now deep wounds that will take ages to heal. The Blacks here are very angry at what the Arabs and Tuaregs did to them, and they will not forget soon. This is a very brutal part of the world.
In some ways, this mirrors the genocide going on in Darfur, with the pastoralist Arabs committing genocide against the agriculturalist Africans. In the same way, both are Blacks, but the Arabs speak Arabic, are lighter, taller, thinner and have more Caucasoid features. The Blacks are darker, speak African languages and have been African features. The Arabs have always treated the Blacks with contempt in Sudan even before the Darfur genocide.
The war against South Sudan was similar except that it was a religious war. The South Sudanese were more African, spoke African languages, and tended to be Christians and animists. The northern Arabs committed mass murder on the infidels of the South. A favorite way of killing the infidels was crucifying them on a makeshift cross. Similarly, radical Islam was used by the northern Arabs to radically Islamicize their cause and once again, it seemed the extra dose of Islam made the Arabs that much more racist against the Blacks.
It is important to note that this war was seen as a jihad against the infidels by the radical Islamist regime in the North. Their idea was the that Southern infidels should be given the choice of converting to Islam or dying. There were in fact many forced conversions and similar to the situation in Mali, many South Sudanese, especially women, were kidnapped and taken as slaves to the North, where they served in their Arab master’s homes. The slavery often had sexual overtones as the women were made to serve as sex slaves.
As you can see, we are dealing with a Sahelian regional phenomenon here. But note also the deep connections between Arabs and the enslavement of Blacks in this part of the world. Arabs have been enslaving Blacks forever. Saudi Arabia only outlawed slavery in 1963. There was a report recently of a castrated Black slave being offered for sale by a wealthy Gulf Arab. The ad selling the slave appeared on Facebook.

“Facing the Next Fifty Years: Global Warming,” by Abiezer Coppe

Climate change is killing 150,000 people a year now. That is the estimate of the World Health Organization for the year 2000, and now it is ten years out of date. So let us double that:

The once in a thousand year 2010 Moscow Heatwave caused an estimated 15,000 deaths.

For the “we have nothing to do with it” global warming deniers, here is a little primer on the current state of the science.

The science is already in.

There are metacommentaries on Russia’s heatwave here and here.

Climate records are being broken all over the world this year.

This is the actuality. It does matter. We can, all of us as individuals, do something.

Stopping global warming is actually a dream from which some of us still have to awake: it is more realistic to prepare ourselves and our society for the shocks that will inevitably come by practicing bioresilience. Our extraordinary adaptability as a species will be tested to the utmost in the next one hundred years. We have never had a challenge like it in the history of mankind.

Slowing the rate of growth of human carbon emissions (the global economic recession did so last year, although I see no real evidence at the level of political leaderships to cut carbon emissions) is one goal for the political elites, with eventual cuts at some unspecified date in the future, but a reduction of carbon emissions by 90% is actually what we must aim at as a society, which involves almost inconceivable transformations in the way we live, work, eat, travel and generate energy. A worldwide citizens’ movement is our tool.

We shall still move to a hotter world, but one that we shall survive, with far more modest and local lifestyles. We/I will also make the spiritual shift in our/my consciousness, and create new ways for ourselves/myself and our/my children to connect with and appreciate the beauties of nature in our over-informatized and mediatized world. Spiritual shift has now become a categorical imperative. Be the change you want to see. May I be the change I want to see…in me and in my world.

We have the luxury, in the privileged West, of having a little bit of potential space in our lives to accomplish this. If you are starving, drowning (as in Bangladesh and Pakistan), living at the edge of subsistence (Mali, Niger and Southern Sudan) and walking 12 miles a day simply to fetch water, there is much less space.

And the very poor are not producing the carbon emissions. It is us, in the developed world. I am not asking for guilt or a hair shirt: I am asking for awareness. And action. From myself, and from you!

Too much information, especially about such an explosive topic, actually creates anxiety and depression: have you noticed? I did in 2006, when I studied global warming nonstop for months. Too much (usually poor quality) information is actually the curse of our world: paying it too much attention creates a state of no peace.

Therefore we/I need to learn new ways to care for ourselves/myself, as we/I reconnect with the warp and weft of our ineffably beautiful and breathtaking living planet.

In time, perhaps, too, biodiversity will start to return to a planet currently in the sixth great extinction crisis of its long geological history. We need not be a plague on the planet. It is not our purpose here.

Once we come from a place of deeper peace and connection in ourselves, we rule out fear and chase it from our bodily abode: we then inspire others to seek that as well. Our activism has a more transformational quality on all around us. I have much to learn, much to heal, and much to change in myself.

Most campaigners, and part of the scientific community (James Hansen in particular), think that emissions cuts should begin at the latest by 2015. With the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition in power until then, we certainly have our work cut out.

“Business as usual” = civilizational collapse, sooner or later. And unimaginable human suffering. The suffering of Pakistan at the moment, but multiplied a million fold…

If you do not care, do not have children. They may not forgive you. Consciousness is rising about the scale of the challenge we face.

If you wish to be up to date on the subject of global warming, read the scientists! I suggest here and the NOAA, plus the climate progress website mentioned above.

I read them, and I am not a scientist.

The human race currently emits 29 billion tons (29 gigatons – more here) of carbon a year. And we do not do it by breathing or farting alone!

We have multiplied our biological carbon emissions as a species many fold through the development of technology, which required the burning of fossil fuels, the ancient sunlight of antiquity. Thus we become our own Nemesis.

It is difficult to point to any aspect of our current material lives that is not dependent on fossil fuels in some way, from plastic bags to cheap food.

We are changing the climate, and without global carbon emission reductions there is a point of no return, where positive feedbacks kick in and carbon emissions from natural processes such as the melting of the subarctic tundra, the loss of arctic sea ice in summer, and the burning of the world’s forests, start to render annual human emissions almost insignificant, kicking global warming into high gear.

We have – perhaps – a little window of opportunity now. It is human to hope. Nobody knows how long we have. It seems, from my many years of reading on the subject of global warming, that the window will certainly close by 2030.

And that date is based on the most optimistic of all projections.

When the climate “tipping points” are passed (the scientific consensus – but no one really knows – is that this starts to happen at 1.5 to 2 degrees centigrade above preindustrial global temperatures: we are currently 0.8 degrees Centigrade above), we are in for a very rough ride indeed.

That article is from yesterday’s UK newspaper, The Independent.

Given the current levels of urgency regarding this issue on the part of the global elites, runaway global warming is currently more likely than not.

Anthropogenic global warming has the potential to be the new global genocide. A genocide of the poor by the richest countries, with the highest per capita output of carbon emissions. Ask a Pakistani farmer in Sindh province how he is doing at the moment, and what his prospects are for 2011.

With runaway climate change, civilization will collapse, and there will – at some point after 2050 – be a catastrophic collapse in the global human population in the “business as usual” scenario (I do not like James Lovelock’s politics at all, but in that sense he is hard to contradict). For more on this, see Anatoly Karlin’s review of Six Degrees, by Mark Lynas.

It is a very graphic and a very detailed description, degree by degree of global warming above pre-industrial levels, of how human-induced global warming is changing the world we live in. And the précis saves you reading the book.

By 2020, at the current 0.2 degrees Centigrade of global warming per decade, we shall have passed the threshold of 1 degree of global warming globally since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Here is Anatoly Karlin’s summary of one degree of global warming.

One Degree

Though the Great Plains are one of the world’s great agricultural breadbaskets, a desert slumbers underneath. Increased dessication and pummeling storms will erode away the thin topsoil, recreating the Dust Bowl on a giant scale and re-awakening the sand dunes. More irrigation will only postpone the inevitable. There will be large-scale migration to the wetter Mid-West and Great Lakes regions. AK: actually called the Great American Desert during the 19th century!, and is now dependent on depleting Oglalla Aquifer.

Higher rainfall, glacial melt and strengthening Siberian rivers may interrupt the Gulf Stream (part of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation system), drying western Europe and cooling it by as much as 2 C – recreating the conditions of the Little Ice Age during the worst winters. However, most models predict this will be a slow death. AK: If not, expect increased European dependency on Russian gas during the 2010′s and 2020′s.

In Africa, Kilimanjaro will lose its remaining ice by 2020 – causing wildfires, fish stock declines and problems with hydroelectricity production. Based on paleoclimate, in the long term, there will be a greening of the Sahara (into a savanna) and an enlarged Lake Chad…however, models say that there will only be a short interlude of heavier rains in the Sahel and on the West African coast, followed by even fiercer drought.

Coral reefs around the world will be increasingly bleached and taken over by seaweed; polar bears are pushed off the top of the world and creatures like pikas are shoved off the planet, accelerating the Anthropocene Mass Extinction event. Hurricanes will become stronger and more ubiquitous, spreading to the South Atlantic. More rockfalls in the Alps. Increased incidence of drought in the Amazon, pushing it to the brink. Atolls become doomed worlds, fated to submerge amidst the rising waves.

It will have taken around 250 years for a one degree rise in the mean global temperature to occur. However, climate dynamics are like a slumbering beast. There is a great deal of inertia locked into the system. First, there is very good evidence that the level of greenhouse gases being added to the atmosphere is itself rising. Secondly, the rate of global warming has been speeding up. Therefore we can, optimistically, expect the second degree of global warming after 2050, even with a concerted scaleback in emissions. That is within my children’s lifetime.

Now read Karlin’s summary of two degrees. Many of us will live to see this. At 0.3 degrees centigrade of increase in the global mean temperature per decade, two degrees arrives in 2053. A “climatic flip” is also possible: a sudden, dramatic acceleration, leading to climate collapse, from our perspective. The British Meteorological Office considers four degrees of global warming a possibility by 2060:

Now read Karlin on four degrees of global change. Are we not living through a planetary emergency?

Please read Anatoly Karlin’s review of Lynas if you read nothing else I reference. It is a glimpse into the uncertain future toward which we are headed, with no stars to steer by.

Global capitalism requires 3% compound growth to continue in existence, as David Harvey explains here in 3 parts. Capitalism must expand, or die. Both natural and institutional limits to the self-reproduction of Capital are a mortal threat to its very being. 3% compound growth, and our additional numbers, explain why the human species has moved from using 62% of planetary biocapacity in 1961 to 144% of planetary biocapacity in 2006. Is your country living within the mercy of its ecological means? Check the ecological footprint network atlas.

Not sustainable, and not a good outlook for the species. “No future, no future, no future for me,” as the Sex Pistols once sang.

I suspect, therefore, that the answer to human survival in this century and the next, and a civilizational level higher than that described in the visionary and beautiful written novel of our potential future in a much warmer world, Far North by Marcel Theroux, lies in a re-visioning and implementation of communism.

Read it and see what you think; then comment.

Despite the 20th century deviation of Communism from its original envisioning by Marx and Engels and the ecological disasters of the Eastern Bloc, Mao’s China and the Soviet Union, Marx’s vision of post-scarcity communism was profoundly ecological.

Cuba is the only country in the world today that lives within its ecological limits (page 14).

I find it very heartening that there remains one country in the world that has, largely by default, found a sustainable way to live, and that it is, with all its human rights and politico-economic flaws, a non-capitalist country.

Cuba is a glimmer of hope in a world ruled by the mantras of greed and growth. But not the only one by any means. People are waking up all over the world. Morales’ Bolivia, one of poorest countries in the world, and heavily dependent on extractive mining, has produced one of the most visionary ecological statements of the last year (to find it go to the Climate and Capitalism website).

Hope was the last thing left in the Greek myth of Pandora’s box, which we have, in the course of industrial civilization, unknowingly thrown open wide.

May we not let hope fly away altogether: this is my prayer for my children and yours, their children and your grandchildren.

Map of the Romance Speaking World

Here is a very nice map of the parts of the world that speak a Romance language, in whole or in part. The main languages covered here are Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian.

Nice map of the Romance languages of the world. Click to enlarge.

The heavy Spanish speaking zone is Spain, Rio Muni, New Mexico and Latin America except for Brazil, the Guyanas, Haiti and some Caribbean islands that speak French. To a lesser extent, it is spoken Spanish Sahara and Belize. To a much lesser extent, it is spoken in  parts of the US and in the Philippines where it is a dying colonial language.

The heavy Portuguese speaking zone is Brazil, Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, other parts of Africa and East Timor. In the latter countries, it is a lingua franca.

French is heavily spoken in France, Quebec, French Guyana, French Polynesia, Belgium and Switzerland, less heavily in much of Africa, especially Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Mali, Togo, Cote d’Ivorie, Burkino Faso, Senegal, West Africa, Central Africa, Djibouti and Madagascar, less in the rest of Canada, and even less in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Louisiana, where it is a dying colonial language overtaken by national languages in Southeast Asia, Arabic in Northwest Africa and English in Louisiana

Italian is spoken heavily in Italy and less so in Libya and Albania.

Romanian is spoken heavily in Romania, Moldova and Serbia.

Bad Place to Visit, Wouldn't Want To Live There

Repost from the old site. This article has produced a tremendous amount of controversy, angry comments, and even, oddly enough, virulent hate mail. I guess I hit some raw nerves. I stand by my comments that these cities are some of the worst in the world, and, in doing further research on the Net, have found only further support for my thesis.
Some of these cities, such as Bogotá, for instance, have large wealthy districts that are apparently quite pleasant. If one is rich, one can make a nice life just about anywhere on the globe. But this is not important – what is important is how the majority live.
The title is a play on the line, “Nice place to visit, wouldn’t want to live there”, said about many less-than-desirable tourist locales. This post is about the worst places on Earth to visit, and probably to live too. The ratings were based on research done on the Internet in various places, including here and here.
I’m going to focus on the places that are dirty, smelly, crime-ridden, trashy, rip-off havens, unsanitary and dangerous (Third World), and avoid places that are merely depressing, unsightly, rude, etc. (First World). Why? Because I live in the US, and those Third World qualities are going to be the most disturbing to me. I’m also avoiding active war zones because everyone knows they are horrible.
To be fair to the “Third Worldists” out there, I noted that many people slammed various places in France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Finland, South Korea, Ireland Italy, the US, Great Britain and Australia for various reasons, mostly because they are said to be unfriendly, depressing, tacky, cheesy, boring, etc.
Detroit seemed to top the list as worst US city, along with Newark (though it had one fan), East St. Louis and New Haven (though some liked New Haven) were runners-up. Various small towns in the Rockies (especially Idaho) and Texas also were listed. For some reason, a lot of people hate Vancouver, BC in Canada.
To my thinking, many of the horrible cities below point out the catastrophe of Latin American, Indian, Indonesian and Philippine capitalism. In much of Africa, capitalism doesn’t seem to working very well.
For all its faults, impoverished Cuba certainly does not resemble any of these Latin American hellholes in any way, shape or form. I don’t think that capitalism in the First World is failing, but looking at many of the cities below, it’s hard to argue that capitalism is doing anything but failing in those places.
Some of the winners in the Loser Destination Contest:
Colon, Panama: A dirty, crime-ridden disaster of a city. The most dangerous city in Latin America, full of residents who seem like they would just as soon knife you as say hello. Other than the free trade zone, the entire city seems to be sprawling slum. Colon has no redeeming qualities. This city topped many worst lists.
Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador: Guayaquil is horrible. A stinking, steaming, downright dangerous heap of a city with miles of slums. With armies of glowering gang members, this place is dangerous even in mid-day. There are garbage dumps everywhere with corpses laying out in plain sight and guns going off all the time. Quito is similar. Guayaquil topped many worst city lists.
Johannesburg, South Africa: How sad that this country now has one of the worst violent crime rates on Earth. Although popular with tourists, this city is downright dangerous. This city also topped many worst lists. This blog supports the Mandela government, but the problems of this tragic nation seem insurmountable.
*****
Lagos, Nigeria, or the whole country: This city, and even the whole country, seems to top everyone’s list. Garbage is everywhere, the city stinks, the poverty is horrible, animals are slaughtered on the streets, and it seems that at least half the population wakes up every morning thinking, “Who can I rip off today?” Up to 90% of the economy may be “underground”, off the books, or crime-related in some way or another.
Nigeria has what must be the worst government on Earth and the country is rated the second most corrupt on Earth. The national airlines are dangerous and not recommended. The ripoff attempts often start as soon as you land at the airport and won’t let up until you leave.
It’s best to assume that most, if not all, Nigerians you meet in Lagos are out to rip you off in some way or another and then proceed from there. The city is full of impostors, and you really do not know if anyone is really who they say they are. The police and Customs officials are all crooks and so is 99% of the government.
Most bank and post office employees are also crooked. Imagine waiting in line at the post office, and a group of swaggering gangsters with fake ID’s strut in to pick up their stolen goods reshipped from overseas. They go straight to the front of the line ahead of everyone else, pick up their stolen property, and walk away laughing, having paid off the Post Office clerks. Welcome to Nigeria.
There are Internet cafes all over the city, where 150,000 full-time Internet scammers ply their trade in plain view of anyone to see, and the government doesn’t bat an eye or lift one finger to stop them. In many cafes, 80% or more of the patrons are Internet scammers. Nigeria is now world-famous for Internet scams. Even out-of-work TV newscasters scam away in the cafes, trying to steal from Americans.
The scammers started out with the famous 419 email scams but have now branched out into lottery, romance, auction, roommate, orphanage and check-cashing scams. The scams are continuously evolving, and Nigerian con artists are widely acknowledged to be some of the best in the world, as they have been practicing the art for decades now.
On highways outside of Lagos, you can see numerous vehicles wrecked on the side of the road, or even in the middle of the road, some with dead bodies still in them or beside them. Thieves pick through the wreckage and rifle the corpses looking for stuff to steal. All of the roads are dangerous, as armed robbers often set up roadblocks to shake down travelers.
Nigeria is now a world center for counterfeit pharmaceuticals, credit card fraud and drug dealing, and a district of Lagos, Oluwole, is now a world center for top-notch forgery.
The FBI and the US Merchant Risk Council recently came to Nigeria and inspected 40 packages coming into the country from the US to check for stolen goods. 39 of the 40 packages contained stolen property.
When the agents arrived at a Lagos neighborhood and tried to arrest an 18-year-old boy for reshipping scams that targeted US merchants, much of the neighborhood – up to 100 people – rushed out of their homes to defend the local punk from Big Bad Whitey.
Although the country is awash in oil, the power goes out all the time because the government power company is so crooked. The power company has either stolen all of its own budget money or the power comes in, but the crooked company resells it on the side.
As with elsewhere in Africa, Whitey is blamed for all the troubles here. Hatred of Whitey is higher in Nigeria than in much of the rest of Black Africa and the White visitor will definitely feel it.
The degeneration of Nigerian society is complete, and the culture appears near collapse. Mobs lynch thieves in the street and kill them in public for as meager a crime as stealing a cellphone, yet crime rages on anyway. Anyone can just up and say they own your house, put it on the market and sell it and you are out a house. Law enforcement, courts and anything resembling government seem to be nonexistent.
******
******
Lima, Peru: When they tell you to visit Peru, they don’t mean the nightmarish capital. There are teeming slums as far as the eye can see, horrible crime (although not a lot of violent crime), pickpockets everywhere, and on top of all that, the sun never comes out. The fog mixes with the smog and the filthy streets to make a toxic brew. Lima made many worst lists.
But it has its fans, and the upscale Miraflores district is said to be nice. The execrable Shining Path took up their nihilistic, deranged war in this country for a reason – because Peru is a rotten heap of a country.
******
******
Medan (Sumatra), Jakarta, Surabaya, Indonesia: Jakarta is a reeking city with terrible pollution, open sewers and wrenching poverty.
Medan seemed to top many lists for worst city on Earth, though it has a few fans. It’s hot, dirty and polluted, with factories, thieves and leering, menacing men everywhere. There is also nowhere to stay, not that you would want to stay anyway. Besides Medan, the rest of Sumatra is much better.
The river running through Surabaya is so polluted you might vomit walking across the bridge. As you suppress your gag reflex, you will look down and notice that people are actually washing their clothes in this river.
*****
*****
Mumbai, Patna (Bihar), Calcutta, all large Indian cities, India: Indian cities are very dirty and teeming with some of the most miserably poor and wretched people you will ever see, but at least there is not a lot of crime. The Hindu religion keeps crime down because believers fear they will be punished by returning in the next life as something terrible, like one of the huge rats you see scurrying about.
Mumbai has pollution that is so bad that people actually get lung cancer from breathing the air. Mumbai, a stinking and sometimes dangerous city, made many worst city lists.
Patna is the sorry capital of Bihar, the poorest state in India. It’s dirty and miserable, and it’s almost impossible to even get a taxi to get you out of town, which means it’s hard to leave the place.
Calcutta is generally agreed to be one of the worst cities in India.
*****
Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang, China: Deadly pollution, mostly from coal.
Bucharest, all of Romania: Stalinist pollution covers the whole country and everyone seems depressed.
Bali (in particular Kuta Beach), Indonesia: Hopes so high, reality so low. It seems everyone is out to rip you off. Surly locals hungry for money. Dangerous roads, nightmarish traffic, rude, leering men. When it rains, the sewers flood into the streets. Very high crime rate, hustlers everywhere. Most of the rest of Indonesia is pretty nice. Kuta is a tourist trap gone to Hell.
****
Manila, Philippines: A crime-ridden hellhole. There are armed guards everywhere, especially in front of banks due to constant bank robberies. Their nemeses, criminal gangs armed to the teeth, roam streets filled with prostitutes and transvestites.
It’s a town where everyone seems like they are out to rip you off in one way or other, and the hotel workers and cab drivers are all crooked. The latest advice is to have your Filipino friend meet you at the airport and head straight to their place, thereby avoiding all the ripoffs and con artists that seem to descend on every tourist. Traffic is horrible, and pollution is so bad it kills people. But some people don’t mind it.
****
Gdansk, Poland: Combine a high crime rate and daylight robberies with totally crooked, thieving officials, and you get this Polish city. However, a number of others said it’s just fine.
****
Mexico City, Villahermosa, Mexico: Mexico City is a dirty, polluted city suffering an insane, surreal epidemic of street crime, especially violent crime. Add 20 million people, stir well, bring to a boil, cover with a lid of otherworldly smog, and simmer.
Reportedly, tons of human waste are blown into the air every day, and much of the population has constant respiratory infections. The sewer system is reportedly above ground and more or less runs through lots of neighborhoods where many people are residing.
Villahermosa is a Mad Max-style, violent, crime-ridden disgrace of a city. There are stabbings and shootings galore here, even with a 10 PM curfew in place.
*****
Tangier, Morocco: This is a dangerous place with lots of street crime. That’s unusual for a North African country, but Tangier is so close to Europe that it is almost a part of Europe.
*****
Cairo, Egypt: Cairo has horrible pollution, smells terrible, there is trash everywhere, nothing works, there are armies of miserably poor people and it boasts some outrageously awful traffic. In the souks there are huge rats and wild, mangy scavenging dogs running about in plain sight. There seems no escape from aggressive, pestering hawkers. On top of all that, all the Customs officials are criminals.
The crime rate is fairly low, though. Thank President Hosni Mubarak. 25 years ago, Cairo was one of the great world cities.
*****
Bangkok, Thailand: This gigantic city has pollution so bad you need to wear a mask over your face. However, some folks like this city and say it has many positive attributes.
*****
Brindisi, Naples, Italy: No one seems to like Brindisi. It’s a sad, dirty, polluted and ugly city, with hostile, brawling, drunken locals, hungry stray dogs, belligerent drivers, horrible traffic, and miles of soul-killing tenements.
You would think that despite all of that, being genuine Italians, they could still manage to make a decent pizza. Forget it: even the pizza is terrible. Brindisi topped many worst lists, although it has a couple of fans.
I had never even heard of Brindisi and had to look it up on a map. It’s located in southern Italy on the East Coast, southeast of Naples. Naples has a great deal of crime, and many think this city is overrated as a tourist destination, although others say that, despite the drawbacks, it has its joys. All of southern Italy has a lot of crime, but it’s mostly property crime.
*****
*****
Athens, Piraeus, or the whole country, Greece: Greece, especially Athens, gets mixed reviews. A lot of people really hate Athens; others don’t. The detractors say the city is dirty, ugly, depressing, polluted, and covered with garbage and traffic. I was surprised that Athens made the list, as I had always thought it was a wonderful city.
The port city of Piraeus is a nasty place. The whole city smells like a giant sewage treatment plant, and the ocean offshore has a sickening color to it.
*****
****
Suburbs of Paris, France: These tragic towns, full of hostile Arab immigrants angrily refusing to assimilate to French culture or join French society, are a sign that the French model is not working well, at least for some folks.
There is a terribly high crime rate here, and cops and firemen often won’t go there because they get attacked as soon as they show up. These mournful towns are packed with angry, unemployed young Arab men who like to seriously riot every year or so, or even more often if the mood strikes them. Lately, they have been staging mini-riots every night. If only 100 cars are burned, that’s a good night.
Otherwise, Paris, of course, is one of the world’s great cities. But that doesn’t mean you might not walk into a subway station reeking of urine and see junkies shooting up in plain sight. But still, Paris is a must on any serious travelers’ list.
******
Brussels, Belgium: As with Paris, the districts with many Arab immigrants are quite dangerous and unpleasant, but the rest of the city is as nice as any big city.
Abidjan, Ivory Coast: With one of the worst crime rates in Africa (although it has plenty of competition), this city topped many worst lists.
*****
Bangui, Central African Republic: One of the worst cities in Africa, as bad as Lagos. The crime rate is totally insane. The locals will try to steal everything you own and even a contingent of armed guards will not be enough to protect you.
Your hotel room will feel like a war zone. This fiendish city made a number of worst city lists. Lonely Planet’s guidebook more or less tells you to avoid this city altogether. Here is a harrowing report of a visit to Bangui.
*****
Bamako, Mali: Mali has one of the worst governments in Africa, admittedly a race with a lot of competition. Bamako is a sick joke of a town, where the tourist surcharge is rigorously enforced, and the ridiculous, potholed streets are undriveable by any vehicle.
Guatemala City, Guatemala: A totally dangerous, dirty, polluted, terminal patient of a city, full of scary, heavily armed teenage soldiers. The soldiers are there to keep the teeming, crime-ridden slums that stretch as far as the eye can see, from overrunning the place. But this city has a few fans.
Belize City, Belize: This sweltering, miserable, impoverished, crime-ridden, very dangerous city is built on a swamp, with a jungle for a backyard. The beggars are aggressive and even menacing, and shady characters shadow you on the streets as you walk about. Cops are nowhere to be seen. This is one of the worst cities in the Americas. But the rest of the country is a great place to vacation.
*****
Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Sao Paulo is the industrial engine of Brazil. This major city is full of garbage and very dangerous. There are hustlers as far as the eye can see, chaotic streets that render maps useless, not enough cops and Godawful traffic.
Rio de Janeiro, the popular tourist destination with the killer skyline perfect for any postcard, is a deceptive place. It’s a very dangerous city with lots of violent crime. Street gangs armed to the teeth regularly shoot it out in military-style wars with the cops.
Death squads of off-duty cops funded by local businessmen roam the streets at night, murdering homeless, drug-addicted street kids and petty criminals with impunity in a sickening “social cleanup” campaign.
There are pickpockets and muggers all about, often in menacing, youthful gangs (especially on the famous beach) and they frequently operate in broad daylight. A dystopian horrorshow of a city.
******
Nairobi, Kenya: Unfortunately, this city is seriously crime-ridden. Even locals admit that violent crime has reached catastrophic proportions.
Caracas, Barquisimeto, or the whole country, Venezuela: The crime is very bad here, sadly, and there is garbage everywhere you look. This blog supports Hugo Chavez, but crime in Venezuela is a tragic, long-standing problem with no quick fixes.
Guinea-Bissau: There is no water, no electricity, no place to stay, and the only hotel is half-demolished.
San‘a’, Yemen: In a Dickensenian touch, children are actually chained up here in order to beg!
Moynaq and Nukus, Uzbekistan: These two cities broiling in a merciless desert have been ruined and turned into ecological dead zones by Stalinist pollution.
*****
San Pedro Sulu, Honduras: This sad town has a horrible amount of crime. Swarms of locals will attack you on the bus, trying to steal your luggage. You will have to fight them off if you wish to retain your suitcase.
Like the rest of this wreck of a country, it’s full of US gang members gone home to Honduras. People here are very poor and desperate. If you can make it to the nice part of town and afford to stay there, though, you can be quite safe.
*****
*****
Dakar, Senegal: According to some, this large West African city has horrible street crime – it is very dangerous. They say if you don’t have armed guards with you, don’t even go outside your hotel room.
However, others report that they spent a week there and found it to be safe, in fact safer than many American cities. Violent crime is reportedly rare, and the country is one of the most stable in Africa, and has been that way since independence.
*****
Port Au Prince, Haiti: This filthy, degraded, extremely dangerous and desperately poor mess of a city is best avoided at all costs. It sports open sewers, enslaved children, riots, killings and lots of other fun things. This blog did support President Aristide’s efforts to improve the tragedy of a nation called Haiti.
Lome, Togo: Criminals are as common as mosquitoes here, walking around fearlessly in broad daylight in this terrible city full of miserable people and crooked taxi drivers.
*****
Istanbul, Turkey: The 200% tourist markup is fully in force in this dirty, ugly city full of harassing, hawking, hostile locals and crumbling buildings, and you can scarcely find a merchant who does not enforce it. There is also a lot of crime here, including some violent crime, unusual for a Muslim city. The weather is lousy, but there are some pretty mosques to visit. However, Istanbul does have a fan or two.
The rest of the country is a great place to visit, has many fans and is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Best bet for Turkey is just to head to the tourist spots and blow off Istanbul altogether.
*****
Phnom Penh, Kampuchea: This city has become a very dangerous, crime-ridden place. The gangs of little girl prostitutes add a particularly poignant touch.
*****
Bogotá, Colombia or really the whole country: Bogotá is one of the most dangerous places in the Americas but there seems to be agreement that Colon, Lima and Guayaquil are worse. Really, all of Colombia is dangerous as Hell, to be honest.
This comment about Bogotá was recently rebutted by a Bogotán blogger, with more comments here. His post aggressively taking issue with this entry is in Spanish, but my Spanish is good enough to get the gist of it. Also I am getting a lot of comments coming in from Bogotáns on the Internet aggressively objecting to the content.
The sole issue that these Defenders of Bogotá are taking issue with is my contention that the city is a very dangerous place. To be honest, Bogotá used to have a truly horrible reputation for crime, but in recent years, there has been a huge effort put into cracking down on street crime. For some more agreement that Bogota is dangerous, see here, here, here and here.
I will now attempt to prove that. There are twice as many murders in Colombia as in the US, and the US has seven times as many people. That means that the murder rate in Colombia is an outrageous 14 times that of the US, and the US is considered to have a high murder rate for the developed world.
Colombia has the highest murder rate on Earth, with Washington, DC and Johannesburg not far behind, but in the case of Colombia, we are talking about a whole country, not some festering city. Out of every 100,000 people, 60-70 will be killed every year. Defenders may try to argue that this is due to a simmering civil war, but 75% of the 25,000 homicides are merely of the criminal variety.
On an average day in Colombia, there are 2 bank robberies, 8 highway robberies, 72 murders and 204 assaults or muggings. You have a greater chance of being murdered in Colombia than you do of dying of cancer! Death squads made up of soldiers and off-duty cops roam the streets, murdering drug-addicted, petty criminal street kids, transvestites, homosexuals and prostitutes.
In fact, probably more prostitutes and homosexuals are murdered per capita in Colombia than even in the most barbarian parts of the Muslim World. Want to fly a plane in Colombia? Don’t. There have been 138 plane crashes since World War 2, with 2,745 deaths.
One of the most popular things in Bogotá is scopolamine. This drug is used by crooks to disable their victims so they can rip them off. It is sprayed in the face, dumped in your drink or spiked into a cigarette. Bogotá hospitals receive an incredible 2,000 scopolamine victims every month, or an astounding 66 a day. The drug knocks you out and can cause medical problems.
Colombia has one of the world’s worst road systems. Many roads are not even marked. Drivers are reckless and many cars don’t have headlights at night. Cows have a tendency to wander into the road.
Taxis are totally dangerous and are best avoided, if possible. Women are advised to avoid all taxis at night. Anyone is advised to avoid any taxi that already has someone in it.
In many cases, this is a criminal accomplice of the thuggish driver. In addition to getting scopolamine sprayed in your face, another popular scam is the “jump-start”: you are told that the taxi has stalled and asked to get out and help push. As you do so, the taxi driver leaves with your luggage.
Buses are also best avoided. Thieves haunt the buses, waiting for you to fall asleep, at which point, they rip you off. Certain bus lines are frequented by thieves offering drugged gum, sweets, food and cigarettes. After the drug knocks you out, they rob you blind. In addition to theft and druggings, kidnapping and extortion are also rife on buses.
In view of all of the above, it is nothing short of amazing that all of these Colombians are angrily protesting my characterization of their country as dangerous. Or perhaps they doth protest too much?
*****
Managua, Nicaragua: This dirty, crime-ridden, dangerous disaster of a city has a bombed-out look about it. This blog supports Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista Party and prays that they can ameliorate this mess.
*****
San Salvador, El Salvador: See Managua. Full of dangerous former LA gang members. Death squads roam the streets, slaughtering gangsters by the dozen, but for every one you kill, it seems five more pop up in his place.
This blog supports the FMLN’s efforts to reform this ruined land, but the crime here has become so terrible, one wonders if anything short of an act of God could make things better. In fact, I used to make contributions too the FMLN’s weapons fund via an FMLN agent in Los Angeles during the 1980’s.
*****
*****
Detroit, New Haven, Newark, Gary (Indiana), Hammond (Indiana), USA: Detroit topped all lists as the worst city in the US. An ugly, dangerous, depressing and filthy city with a downtown that looks like a war zone – a despairing district surrounded by miles of crumbling, abandoned industrial buildings, torn-down fences and rusting cars.
Newark is similar, with few to no redeeming qualities. It’s a frightening, polluted city with a postwar look of miles of weedy, trash-strewn vacant lots where crumbling apartment buildings have been torn down. It’s also a dangerous city with a high crime rate.
New Haven, despite the presence of Yale University, is similar. There are legions of homeless, begging drug users clogging the streets, and the crime rate is very high due to hordes of crack-dealing gangs shooting it out on the streets. Congress and Columbus Avenues are notorious for drive-by shootings, drug dealing and muggings.
It is reportedly the HIV capital of the East Coast due to IV drug use. A lot of the more respectable people have been moving out for some time now. Although much of the city is quite ugly, New Haven does have its bright spots, thanks to Yale. There are nice parts of town, parks, trees, etc.
Gary is yet another postindustrial Rust Belt train wreck of a town. A grimy town full of abandoned factories, overgrown lots, rusting fences, graffiti, barred windows and vomit. Go downtown and see tall buildings all boarded up, with no vehicles in sight and unhinged stoplights swaying in the wind – for all practical purposes, a ghost town. This was once a vibrant, working-class city, and now it looks like Road Warrior.
Hammond is similar, a suicidally depressing city lined with shuttered factories on the shores of Lake Michigan. Yet another Rust Belt post-industrial ruin.
*****
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: A collapsing, dirty, crime-ridden hellhole.
Osaka, Japan: I never would have thought that this city would make the list but according to my friend Tumerica, she says it is the worst city she has ever lived in. I tagged her with the title of this story. In blogging, tagging mean you are supposed to write on the topic – kind of like, “Tag, you’re it.” I will let her explain why Osaka is such a crappy place in her post here.