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02 January 2009 @ 11:34 pm
On the ninth day of Christmas, blamebrampton gave to me ...  
A moment of seriousness, and a little life history.

This year looks as though it will be an economically difficult year. People of my age have seen things this bad twice before, in the late 80s and in the 70s. Both times, there were good things that came with the economic crunches, and the very very bad.

The good things were multiple. People helped each other. Skills were valued and used, and we stopped acting as though everything was throw-away. Coming from a family of rabid environmentalists who used saddles until they fell apart and would trot out clothes from any point in the last century when the grandkids whined they wanted dress-ups, this was perfectly fine by us! 

The bad things were summed up by the National Front. All of a sudden, anyone 'outside' was unwelcome. This seemed absurd to me then and seems absurd to me now. And yet the patterns of insularity and closure that were comparatively understandable when they led to a 'buy local' campaign became horrific when they were the basis for campaigns of radical racism.

I never knew anyone who joined the National Front, I'd have stopped talking to them if I had. But I did know people who said 'Well, I don't hold with their violence, but I understand it ...' To which I responded every time: 'Bullshit.' Because it was. And if anyone was going to argue that white was right around me, I was going to put my inner arm against theirs and argue that I was whiter and therefore righter (this argument once worked a treat for me, sadly.)

This time the racism is quieter, but looking at the US, I strongly feel that the Anti-GLBT sentiment that has bubbled up again having the same source. And I can't talk about any part of the Middle East without frothing, so I won't.

The thing that we forget when times are hard is that all of us are responsible for each other. Those economic refugees coming to Europe are coming from countries that we have locked into contracts that skew their economies away form local production and distribution. Those drug addicts stealing our laptops and bikes are the natural consequence of campaigns against injecting rooms and medically prescribed heroin

This year, look out for what you can do to make your community a community for every member, not just the ones who are like you. Find ways of including its newest members, see if you can help the oldest. The National Front didn't become popular the last two times because most people are evil, it was because most people feel powerless, and that leads to anger. If you and those around you work to empower each other, even if it's just with community gardens and local bartering of services, then you will gain the benefits of cooperation, and not go down the paths that lead to futility and anger.

Sorry this one is a bit of a downer, I've been reading online papers from around the world and I am ever so slightly nervous. And I am just about to go and finish yesterday's list!
Catscatsintheattic on January 2nd, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
Feeling powerless is what makes people grab at straws. It's like a rule: the less power and education, the quicker to become a member of a radical-racial movement. And National Front movements all over the world are the worst kind of straws ever, because they can be deadly.

It scares me every time I think about that dynamic.

Edited at 2009-01-02 01:35 pm (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I watched it happen twice in England, saw it a little in Australia, saw it a lot in South Africa and Northern Ireland, and I'm banning myself from talking about the other environment where I had first-hand experience because I froth.

None of us can give people degrees and comfortable jobs overnight, but all of us can stop and talk with those around us when we hear them starting down the us and them path. Because being challenged on racism, sexism and homophobia really does help people step away from them.

Let's not be scared, let's be active!

Edited for appalling typos!

Edited at 2009-01-02 01:42 pm (UTC)
Catscatsintheattic on January 2nd, 2009 03:11 pm (UTC)
Wow, you've been to a lot of places! *is impressed*

You are right about being active instead of being scared. I try to use those things as examples in my courses, especially when we talk about different types of conflict. It's important to raise as much awareness as possible.

And I argued with my mum on Christmas - she can be stupid in very offending ways, even though she is not an evil person. It's still hard to be related to her. *sighs*
Rosefourth_rose on January 2nd, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC)
The National Front didn't become popular the last two times because most people are evil, it was because most people feel powerless, and that leads to anger.

Yes, it's really important to keep that in mind, because I think too many people feel secure that past atrocities can't repeat themselves nowadays...
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC)
Don't they read the newspapers?

(Oh why do I even ask, since it's painfully obvious even most politicians have no understanding of modern history. And certainly no active sense of irony!)
not your typical annihilatrix: Bleach: Kenpachifuriosity on January 2nd, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC)
I agree with everything you've said, except this:

Those drug addicts stealing our laptops and bikes are the natural consequence of campaigns against injecting rooms and medically prescribed heroin

I don't think drug addiction is a disease in the literal sense of the word. Addicts (with the notable exception of human smuggling victims, etc., who are actually physically forced to take drugs) choose the path they follow, and laying blame at society's feet for not supporting people who make stupid choices is, I think, counter-intuitive. That's like people getting cancer and suing tobacco companies. I know they sometimes win those cases, but I've always thought it was dumb. I've been a smoker for going on 2 decades, and if I end up with lung cancer in 5-10 years, I'll only have myself to blame. Drug addiction is nearly always in the hands of the addict, and while there is certainly overwhelming evidence that those from the disadvantaged strata of society are much more likely to turn to drugs than the well-off (who are mostly white, natch), I don't think enabling the addiction at the expense of non-users is ever going to be the answer.

OTOH, getting your laptop or bike stolen also shouldn't be blamed on drug addicts regardless of whether they do it or not. Protecting personal property from theft and damage is also something I think ought to be wholly in the hands of the property owner. Er, I'm a "take responsibility for your own damn self" type of person, I guess. >.> I do believe that if we spent less time blaming others for our misfortunes and more time acknowledging we're responsible for our own lives (and behaving based upon said acknowledgment), the world would be a much more peaceful place. Of course, this is never actually going to happen. :|
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC)
I agree with the last paragraph entirely! But I've spent most of my life living in countries where harm minimisation was the catchphrase for drug addicts, and waves of thefts only ever followed closures of services that forced prices up.

And while I agree that people choose to be idiots with their bodies, I also think that most western countries give shit-house drug education. My teenaged friends are all pretty clean because they have heard my reams of stories about my parents' generation's usage, and seen the equations whereby irregular E usage at dance parties comes out as more expensive than an annual international holiday, with the latter making you more interesting and more likely to have sex (safe, of course). And then there's the hydro pot conversation ...

I do believe in harm minimisation, it keeps people alive and injecting rooms keep needles off the streets, both of which are good things. I'd like to keep cigarette butts off the streets, too, given they are one of the major environmental pollutants produced by normal people, but there's less social condemnation there. Blessed be the smokers who dispose of their butts away from waterways!

That said, I never lock my bike up outside anymore, and would never dream of having my laptop anywhere out of my sightlines or in its hidey hole at home.
Shivshiv5468 on January 2nd, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
The BNP were putting leaflets through the door where I lived, and if you ignored the fact that they're racist and violent... the policies they were putting forward were Old Skool Labour. I can see why people who live on the margins of society would want to vote for them, because they're the only people that offer social housing or any sort of hope for the white underclass.

Of course, it's all lies, and unachievable, but the mainstream parties look at the immigration aspects of what the BNP talk about and think that's what they have to engage with / ape, when it's often the social policies.

blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2009 02:45 pm (UTC)
I think as long as Labour has a large middle class constituency that they *think* wants market forces controlling everything, that problem will continue. The one upside of the GFC might be that the expiration date on that model was last year.
Shivshiv5468 on January 2nd, 2009 03:28 pm (UTC)
My contempt for Labour is unbounded. It doesn't apply market forces. It applies lies and spin and thinks that fiddled figures mean that the underlying issue has been dealt with.
Snape's Angelangela_snape on January 2nd, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC)
If you and those around you work to empower each other, even if it's just with community gardens and local bartering of services, then you will gain the benefits of cooperation, and not go down the paths that lead to futility and anger.

Well said.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
Cheers, dear!
pingridpingrid on January 2nd, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
But I did know people who said 'Well, I don't hold with their violence, but I understand it ...' To which I responded every time: 'Bullshit.' Because it was.

I absolutely understand why people turn to extremism. Not, I hasten to add, because they're my own views, but because the root is always the same: fear, and a lack of knowledge, and selfishness. I can't think of any extremist behaviour that doesn't somehow boil down to fear - of change, or of the lack of change - combined with feeling hard done by somehow. And often people HAVE got the short end of the stick. They just don't see that they're not alone in that.

What, was I supposed to have a point? :p
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
Hee! Yeah, the distinction I was trying to make (poorly) was between those who say 'all right, so if I want to fix this issue I need to make sure there are jobs and food and education available', which is the right way to address it all, and those who say 'while I don't hold with torching their cars, there are an awful lot of group X around these days and I can see why that would annoy', which is so very not.

pingridpingrid on January 2nd, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
Ah, you mean the people who are afraid to just come out and say "I agree with what they're doing, but I'm afraid to join in the violence because it might affect me adversely if anyone found out". Yes, we laugh at them
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
That's the ones. Though I suppose less violence is always better ...
pingridpingrid on January 2nd, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
Oh yes. I have no problem with both being glad they're cowards and laughing at them for it! :D

2009 will apparently not be my year for increased sensitivity.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
I love you so much!
pingridpingrid on January 2nd, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous) on January 2nd, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
word! you've pretty much articulated what I get riled up over every single day! The undercurrents of racism, homophobia and islamophobia are in my opinion the most effective when they pass beneath the radar as they tend to mostly do.. Your post is especially relevant because now is the time people forget the message of tolerance and these undercurrents get stronger everyday.. (lol.. i completely froth whenever people get me started in the Middle East too *hugs*)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 2nd, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)

(and adds anti-semitism to the list, since it and islamophobia are like the salt and pepper shakers of contemporary bigotry.)
(Anonymous) on January 3rd, 2009 04:41 am (UTC)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7809193.stm *froths*

blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 3rd, 2009 05:15 am (UTC)
Oh FOR FUCK'S SAKE! Sorry, but that is simply absurd. Especially the airlines's 'defence' of its behaviour. An interesting factoid that whoever decided freaking out was a good idea might find useful in his or her future life is that Terrorists Do Not Bring The Wife And Kids Along.

The stupidity is making my head hurt!

(Anonymous) on January 3rd, 2009 06:20 am (UTC)
lol! i didn't even think of that! that makes perfect sense :) ugh.. it so completely disgusts me! Don't you ever get scared of what the future might hold if this sort of thing goes on?
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 3rd, 2009 06:27 am (UTC)
Sadly, as a keen amateur student of medieval and Renaissance history, I fear I may have a very clear idea. But I remain heartened by the fact that people know more and have more access to more divergent sources of information than in previous centuries.

I was immensely heartened on the train a few months ago when an OAP muttered something to her grandson about Islam being an inherently violent religion, and the grandson replied 'Well, yes and no, gran, remember that Salahadin cleansed the temple with rosewater.'

I knew EXACTLY the documentary he'd watched that weekend.
maya231maya231 on January 2nd, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
*nods* It's interesting because I was just reading about "siege mentality" (search at beyondintractibility.org, if you're interested in what I was reading...it's an interesting site) and although this more about countries or populations under attack by outside forces, some of the parallels are that communities become self-protective self-reliant but there is suspicion of outsiders and pressure toward internal consensus and uniformity: you're one of us or you're against us. Well, maybe off the point a bit but I just read this and saw your post--you know how the brain gets excited by ideas and sees connections everywhere, sometimes!

I didn't find this post a downer so much as a statement of hope for the new year that people try to do better. I hope our new president, as well, will help us as a country to move away from some of the siege mentality that I think our outgoing leader fomented.
uminohikariuminohikari on January 2nd, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
I was going to put my inner arm against theirs and argue that I was whiter and therefore righter

So, we should find someone albino..

I'm sorry, that was kind of inappropriate :x
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 3rd, 2009 02:30 am (UTC)
Heh, nice try, but I already know one and will trot her out ;-)
Welcome to Ant Country: I'm so sane it's driving me crazyant_queen on January 3rd, 2009 07:33 am (UTC)
I will never really understand the "when times get tough, let's unite and find something to blame and be angry at" mentality when it clearly doesn't achieve anything useful. However the alternative of taking responsibility for one's self and one's own situation in life and doing something useful about it never seems to catch on.

I have hopes that Australians at least will see that perhaps now may be a good time to install a rain water tank (and get the government rebate), some solar power (again with the rebate) and convert our quite sizeable backyards (that Australian suburbia is obsessed with having) into vegie plots and become a tad more self sufficient.