Freedom

I’m writing in the UK and I’m a UK citizen, I was born and bred here.  Any remarks I make have the full set of prejudices that I carry with me as a result of this, and must be considered in this light.

This said, racially I have some Asian background, but no culture because I was discouraged from having any.  I’m aware of it though and it has had influence previously in my life.

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We enjoy a certain amount of freedom in this country, and although we frown at the CCTV, the actions of the Police, (Protests, photography), we can roam the street with a certain amount of immunity from violence, (generally, there is always the criminal element), random arrests, spying, (but bear in mind what I said about CCTV) and the other trappings of rule that is an indication of an insecure culture and government.

I’m aware that people are fed up with our current government already, if the tweets and news I see are anything to go by, then they are very fed up indeed.  I think the Lib-Dems shall not see power again this century.  I think that people feel betrayed.

There is a time-line here.

In 2008 we had another financial crash.  Commentators doing the analysis called the recovery and rescue of the banks “Socialisation of the debt” and “Privatisation of the profit”.  The banks have us over a barrel, “the best will leave” if we are too punitive.  Banks will offshore their activities, more than they do already, and the government will lose billions in tax revenue.

That’s a problem, where does the power truly lie?  From the little scenario above, it seems that it lies in the hand of the banks who certainly do not answer to the will of the people.

But it seems from the unrest that the government do not actually answer to the will of the people.  There are many fine words about compromise, but they cut no ice when jobs are going, and we are approaching the one in ten of the famous song about hard times in the eighties.  People are angry, very angry.  Angry at the protests, angry at the cuts, angry at the damage, angry.

They have every right to be angry.  We should be angry.

We should be absolutely hopping mad.

Oh look there’s a student or hanger on throwing a half brick.

STOP

I started by saying that we enjoy freedoms in this country, and we do.  We can be dissidents, unlike say, oh I don’t know Liu Xiaobo, who today got Nobel Peace Prize, denounced by China as interference.  China needs to be put under pressure to free Liu Xiaobo, but it will not respond to it.  China was praised by Thorbjorn Jagland, according to the BBC, for “Lifting millions of people out of poverty.”

I’ve met plenty of Chinese Students, they are proud of their country.  I know people who have gone their and travelled freely, taught, lived, loved.  The everyday experience of the Chinese seems to be improving.  The government lets go of control slowly.

Liu Xiaobo should be freed, but rapid change in governmental policy is chaotic, sudden freedoms mean that one is free, as Heinlein once wrote, “free to starve too…” because economic changes come too rapidly for the government of the day to make sure that everyone eats, the trash is collected and that people are not too corrupt.  I invite the reader, and I’m going to apologise in advance to an entire country here, to compare and contrast Russia’s experience with China.  Forward to freedom, but not too fast, because otherwise there are no queues for bread or rice, because is no bread or rice.  Take a look, and I’m NOT apologising here, at North Korea.

The Chinese don’t riot not just because their government will oppress them, but because things are getting better.  Students have told me this.  They recognise that there are problems, but if you change everything all at once, things will go very wrong, and that there will  be unrest.  They have the assurance of a consistent government, even if we in the west think it is a bad government in many ways.  China creeps towards freedom, and Liu Xiaobo pays the price, because China needs activists, but the government will assert its power when it feels threatened, and thus he is in prison.  It is not a travesty of justice so much as a result of an individual losing the argument by might, the government’s might.  Free Liu Xiaobo.

We, here in the UK are changing things quickly, the new inexperienced government thinks that all the changes are necessary and good, and we do not.  We have good reason, people bandy about figures for how much tax is avoided on the part of big companies and rich individuals and I could do that too, but it is just sufficient in my view to say that rich individuals and big companies can afford big lawyers and fat fees and off-shoring to help them avoid tax, and I can tell you that in every contact I have had with the tax system weather as student, a company bod, a consultant or whatever, the same message comes, don’t pay tax if you don’t have to.

Fine, but now we say that there is a moral obligation for companies &c. to pay the tax they morally owe, because we subsidised the banks when they were in trouble.  Are they doing the same for us?   No.

No, they are not. They are in profit once more, and we are suffering the cuts.  And so student fees triple, the Lib-Dems guarantee that they are basically seen as liars, (I get that they are in coalition, but emotionally I feel the same, intellectually, more complex), and students are on the streets protesting.

I have seen interesting pictures around this, school girls protecting a police van, (well done those girls), random protesters protecting policemen under attack, and most clearly of all, someone saying “Wind the  window up !” to Prince Charles and Camilla.

Ah, now we arrive at it.

Remember the miner’s strike?  What happened?  It turned nasty, and new, and in my view pretty draconian laws were enacted to prevent secondary strike action, striking without some pretty severe rules on balloting, (think BA in the summer stopped several times by the courts, because that is what companies turn to now even for the smallest infraction of the ballot rules), and generally tore the heart of the unions, and I feel for the country.

France still strikes, rebels when the people get hacked off.  We laugh at them, then sympathise.

But oh, oh you protesters yesterday, you waste your time and effort, because we have already seen violence, and that is wrong.

Oh deface a building or a statue, these things can be repaired, though you risk offence if you deface, I dunno, the Cenotaph, when soldiers are still dying for Afghanistan, so doing that would be dumb right?

And say, attacking the Prince of Wales, who just happens to be Chancellor of the University of Wales, (as we are reminded in a typically flippant student council agenda), which includes Bangor, which I happen to be an Alumni thereof, and having participated a little bit in student democracy happen to that his Chancellorship is fully supported by the student body and has been for a long time.

I went off on one.

Point is, you dumb-asses, don’t attack the most “right on” eccentric royal and don’t attack the chancellor because now Cameron is going to rain a very large drum of Whoop ass on your heads and prosecutions will follow.  And then there will be new laws.

Stop cocking the protests up.  STOP.

Protest peacefully, give the police the run around, disobey, be dissident, but stop being violent, because you’re making a right mess of it if you do that, because the media does not then get the message across that we’re really really un-happy, it just shows a few more pictures of some arse-hole putting the boot in or swingin on the flag, or god forbid that damned silly still of Charles and Camilla looking horrified.

Stop being stupid, stop getting us in a situation in which the government is going  to punish us all by creating even more draconian and daft laws than the last one did.

And by the way, I’m no great lover of the police as the state enforcers, but these people have lives and families, and some of them even sympathise because they do not live in isolation from the rest of us.  Show them some respect by not beating the living daylights out of them and maybe they will not act out of fear either.

Yes, protest, disobey, be dissident, but do so peacefully; because unlike Liu Xiaobo, you don’t face being locked up just for being dissident.  Remember that you are essentially free.

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Addendum, and Police, remember that we don’t need this sort of bollocks from you either.  It cuts both ways.

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Corrected for grammar and spelling.

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