On the recent threat of eviction for 300 asylum seekers.

The above is not just about the eviction of the vulnerable. This is the neoliberal project ramping up and testing our resistance. This is a message being sent out to all of the vulnerable in our city and in our country. Neoliberalism flexing its muscle, in this particular area, to see how much we will take and what they can get and where they will go next.

It is not only about asylum, but to create fear in all of those in the grip off housing systems run by the psychopaths of business, who should be nowhere near providing social housing. That’s the councils job. But then, it is not a problem of Serco, the council or the government. It is a problem for the people who “make Glasgow” and is a plague on all of our houses. Because if it isn’t Serco, or Carillion, it would be some other parasite. Some other group of business hyenas, nipping at the heals of our public services, pensions, wages, working conditions, environment, education and commons, for a way in, till there are no public services left. When their work is finished after exploiting and wringing dry the safety nets afforded to poor and destitute, then they will come for the middle classes. It needs to be remembered, that middle class aspirations are as meaningless to neoliberalism, as are the mass evictions of poor families. The fight back should not wait till it comes to the doors of out houses but should start at the front end of the wedge with those who suffer most.
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My shame as a Glaswegian, is not caused by Serco. I know what Serco do and their ambitions. My shame lies in the fact that many in our city, who have the power to do otherwise, can stand back and watch these things unfold, then throw their hands up in disbelief, in feigned ignorance. It is the misconceived idea that people might think it will not affect or has nothing to do with them.

Asylum seekers are not weak, people. They are many courageous, strong and not faint of heart. The experience of their journey should tell us that. They are the kind of people whose experience we need on our side. They know what struggle means. They know how the system works, here and from where they have come from. That is why they need to be made weak, through racism, no right to work and scapegoated by Murdock’s press. And of course helped along by the stupidity and deniability of the polity and those who believe that they still have some power over corporations like Serco. This is something the various administrations gave up long ago when they agreed to the neoliberal projects terms. And why many fade into the background, richer, after their term of office.

Unlike short term party politics, neoliberalism, like rust never sleeps and if ignored continues to eat things away in the background throughout multi administrations, till eventually they collapse. Then we are left with the usual party games of “It wasn’t us it was them”. “He said she said” and on and on.

As the cliche goes. You can not keep doing the same thing over and over and expect something different to happen. We do not have any rights, whether you are an asylum seeker or are comfortable off with a job and house. Having and defending rights is an activity not a given. They do not come through protest, prophetic speech, bursts of energy, Facebook, voting, your council, government, or speaking truth to power. These things are helpful to a point, but are just a cop-out if not connected to organising.

Something different is beginning to happen. Many of our young folk are beginning to see through the overgrowth of fakery, the technological overkill that smothers thinking that has been such an influence so far on their lives. The idea that People do make change if they can become involved. And that becoming involved is about face to face communications.

Something different happens through diligent organising. Straight forward communication with those you find around us. Not just speaking to our friends, fellow activists, those you like, agree with, or those who have already been convinced. But to people who can expand and increase activism across the community. Struggle is continuous and there is a need to invest in building the institutions that can sustain the efforts of struggle against the Serco’s of any other name and their apologists. Proper organising, cooperation, and the ability to work together which many find difficult, is the elephant in the room.

The email list needs to get bigger every week as do the amount of people needing to be spoken to. Not just through email, but face to face. Community members need to be invested in personally, they need to be encouraged on board, they need to be encouraged to be the new community leaders. Those that live and work in the communities to be organised. Whoever they may be, locals, unemployed, homeless, asylum seekers and those nearest the destitution line. This has always been the case for organising, since the days of collectively protecting ourselves from the sabre tooth tiger. Today the predator is the warfare state.

One thing the right, the hate speechers, the racists and distributors of fake news understand is that. When ordinary people get organised they are less likely to be lied to. And when they do get organised they soon realise that they have more in common with asylum seekers and all others who suffer through the same generic persecution tactics, of divide and rule, and that the enemy is above us, not below us.

But how do ordinary people progress to something better through the constant and persistent brain scrambling media noise, of junk news, product placement and the advertising industry, rendering their brain only capable of thinking, survival?

How can they organise?

How does the young university trained activist and others, born with a keyboard in their hand, social media savvy, demonstration ready and a degree under their arm, understand about what is happening in a community? (remembering all communities are different, different needs.) How do they organise? The answer should be obvious if we juxtapose this and the last paragraph.

But not on Facebook

Many are realising. Facebook is the disease, not the cure. Which is why the far right like it. How can people organise around something that keeps moving and is designed to do the complete opposite to organisation?

2.2 billion people use Facebook and according to Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy and is probably the worst place to start to understand things.
“Facebook is a terrible place to deliberate about the world. It’s a really effective place if you want to motivate people toward all sorts of ends, like getting out to a rally. But it’s terrible if you actually want to think and discuss and deliberate about the problems in the world. And what the world needs now more than anything are more opportunities to deliberate calmly and effectively and with real information. And Facebook is working completely against that goal.”

Some of us may know all of this. But where do ordinary working people stand? The need for re-humanising and face to face politics has never been greater. The politics of how we communicate ideas, come to decisions and act on them. The idea is not to just defend ourselves when the Serco’s of the world decide to attack. But to build the kind of understanding, awareness and resistance that will deny this kind of tyranny over us and to stop our governments continued reliance on their services. This kind of learning needs proper discussion, not something that passes on a Facebook feed.

We see all around us the efforts of individuals, unions, pressure groups and all kinds of activities. We are ready to go. But we need to go together. The recent action against Serco is heartening and smaller victories can lead to bigger ones, when we understand the important roll solidarity plays in them. We need to each join something, talk to people, enroll a neighbour, get out, show up. It is the only way we have win things before and the way to win things again, if we can build on victories. We do not need to be party reps to knock on doors, talk to folk and find out what they are thinking. This old idea seems to be reinventing itself and should be built upon, like Living Rent, and so on. And while we do this, we need to rethink alternatives to the out sourcing madness and rentier culture that has replaced good governance and the prospect of a decent life for ordinary people. People do make Glasgow. But they need to start believing it and acting accordingly.

The mad people are running out of ideas for containing us. The young are getting smarter. This could be the time

“It may be easier than we think.” Ralph Nader

The Radical Imagination Project

The flowers of Scotland – Tap roots, history and education

“Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.” Cicero

About the need for grownups to take on some of the responsibility for what is going on around them. We can not leave the understanding of what is going on in the world to the education system.

Children are the flowers. We are the cultivators. We pass on the rich knowledge, the important nutrients, in our mentoring and guidance. Without these nutrients the aspirations of our young will continue to wither on the vine of capitalist indenture. Continue reading “The flowers of Scotland – Tap roots, history and education”

The last neoliberal frontier of social life

Recreational time particularly in a public park is personal and shouldn’t be defined or dictated by the state or held ransom by profiteering and commercial interests.

Fences have become topical these days from the mighty versions planned in the head of the president of the united states, to the barriers of asylum, the psychological, as well as physical barriers of  class, race, gender and commerce. The first thing we should think about in coming across a wall or barrier of any description is what is its purpose? For whose benefit?

The Radical Imagination Project tries to encourage folk to become involved in public life, because we believe it is the only hope we have for stopping the neoliberal project that has infiltrated every aspect of our private and public life. To a point which exposes just how lax our government has been that we now find ourselves subservient to possibly the worst and most dangerous western government administration in history.

Continue reading “The last neoliberal frontier of social life”

An eyesore on the linear development of the Clydeside

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Another industrial eyesore removed from the historical conscience

The antiques warehouse that used to sit on the waterfront giving a bit of diversity of why folk would be attracted to the river side. Burnt to a cinder over a weekend. No doubt to be replaced by more sterile blocks of flats. Eyesores to the gentrifiers, or should we say cultural colonisers, is anything that might sit at a funny angle, never mind architectural or historical significance, to the grid mentality that builds, not so much flats, but rather, sells investment in cubic meters of walled concrete.trigger more text

If we didn’t have the shipyard museum in Govan, and the one lonely column, that stands outside the supermarket in Springburn, what would we have? Where is our industrial heritage? What was once the site of the engineer works that built and exported steam engines all over the world. (25% global market share) Only one single pole remains there, one stanchion from the Hyde Park Works in central Springburn, is what Springburn has physically to represent the industry sweat and labour of its steam engine building past. What an embarrassment. Maybe the city planners should sneak in of a night time and remove it, or it may internally combust on its own, if neglected long enough. With this kind of disregard towards our industrial architecture, it should be no surprise that another remnant of our industrial past is bulldozed after going up in flames…

“Glasgow continues to maintain its reputation as the city in which historic buildings “go on fire”, the latest victim of ‘spontaneous combustion being Scotway House in Partick, close to the river Clyde.
A large two-storey pile of polychromatic brick and sandstone, it was designed by Bruce & May and built as offices for the shipbuilders and engineers, David & William Henderson & Co. Many of the record-breaking yachts built in the Meadowside Shipyard were designed in the building, which was listed at Category B. Empty and derelict, however, it had long been on the Buildings at Risk register for Scotland.
With the decline of shipbuilding, Scotway House found itself isolated on cleared ground between the new Riverside Museum – that absurd, impractical shed designed by the late Zaha Hadid – and the new Glasgow Harbour flats. It was first proposed for demolition in 2002. Three years later, the Glasgow Harbour developers proposed re-erecting it on another site as a restaurant. In 2011 it was proposed to restore it as a rock ‘n’ roll hall of lame. Last year it was proposed to convert it into a bar and restaurant next to a planned complex of student flats. All in vain. Last January part of the roof was damaged by fire, and last month the whole building was gutted by a far worse fire. It now stands as a roofless shell, and no doubt what is left will soon be (is being) cleared away for development.” Piloty Private Eye.

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Neoliberalism Balloon

Neoliberalism as a Water Balloon

Problems of Neoliberalism

By Edward Said In the decade after the fall of the Soviet Union, most of the world is in the grip of an ideology whose most dramatic embodiment is currently to be found in the race between the two main candidates for the American presidency. Without wishing to list the various issues that divide them, more »

Problems of Neoliberalism

By Edward Said

In the decade after the fall of the Soviet Union, most of the world is in the grip of an ideology whose most dramatic embodiment is currently to be found in the race between the two main candidates for the American presidency. Without wishing to list the various issues that divide them, I should like very quickly therefore to note what it is that unites them and in many ways makes them mirror images of each other. As I said in my last article (Al-Ahram Weekly, 24-30 August), both are passionate, indeed unquestioning believers in the corporate free market system. Both advocate what they call less government, oppose “big” government, and together continue the campaign against the welfare state that was inaugurated two decades ago by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. It is this 20-year continuity that I would like to describe in view of what has been the emergence and hegemony of neo-liberalism, a doctrine that has almost totally transformed the British Labour Party (now called New Labour) and the American Democratic Party under Clinton and Gore. The dilemma we all face as citizens is that, with few exceptions here and there (most of them desperately isolated economic disasters, like North Korea and Cuba, or alternatives that are useless as models for others to follow), neoliberalism has swallowed up the world in its clutches, with grave consequences for democracy and the physical environment that can be neither underestimated nor dismissed.trigger more text

As practiced in Eastern Europe, China and a few other countries in Africa and Asia, state socialism was unable to compete with the energy and inventiveness of globalised finance capital, which captured more markets, promised rapid prosperity, and appealed to vast numbers of people for whom state control meant underdevelopment, bureaucracy and the repressive supervision of everyday life. Then the Soviet Union and East Europe switched to capitalism, and a new world was born. But when the doctrines of the free market were turned on social security systems like those that had sustained Britain in the post-war period, and the United States since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, a massive social transformation was to ensue. I will come to that in a moment. But one must make an effort to remember those genuinely progressive policies had once produced a relatively new condition of widespread democratic equality and social benefits, all of them administered and financed by the central state. They were what gave strength to post-war Britain and the United States in the 1940s and 1950s. Taxes were therefore quite high for the wealthy, although the middle and working classes also had to pay for the benefits that accrued to them (mainly education, health and social security). Many of these benefits were the result of an aggressive and well-organised labour union system, but there was also a prevailing idea that the large costs of health and education, for example, which the individual citizen could not afford to pay alone, should be subsidised by the corporate body of the welfare state. By the beginning of the ’90s all this was not only under attack but had started to disappear.

First the labour unions were dissolved or broken (the British miners, and the American air traffic controllers). Privatisation of major services like transportation, utilities, education and heavy industry followed, mainly in Europe. In the US (where except for utilities, most industries were already in private hands, but prices were controlled by the government in the basic services sector), deregulation was the order of the day. This meant that the government would no longer play a role in making sure that the price of travel, basic commodities, health, education, as well as utilities such as gas and electricity, should stay within certain bounds. The market was to be the new regulator, which meant that costs and profits of individual airlines, hospitals, telephone companies, and later gas, electricity, and water were left to the private companies to set, frequently at considerable financial pain to the individual consumer. Soon even the postal service and a major part of the prison system were also privatised and deregulated. In Britain, Thatcherism virtually destroyed the university system, since it viewed each institution university as a supplier of learning, and hence like a business that in terms of profit and loss tended to be a loser, rather than a maker, of money. Many teaching positions were slashed, with an extraordinary loss in morale and productivity, as thousands of professors and teachers looked for positions abroad.

With the collapse of socialism everywhere and the triumph of aggressive right-wing parties and policies such as those headed by Reagan and Thatcher, the old liberal left in British Labour and the US Democratic party had two alternatives. One was to move closer to the successful policies of the right. The other alternative was to choose an approach that would protect the old services but make them more efficient. Both the British New Labourites under Tony Blair and the American Democrats under Bill Clinton chose the former course (moving towards the right), but skilfully kept some of the rhetoric of the past, pretending that many of the welfare services the state used to provide were there, albeit packaged differently.

That was simply false. Deregulation and privatisation continued, with the result that the profit motive took over the public sector completely. Budgets for social welfare, health for the poor and aged, and schools were slashed; defence, law and order (i.e. police and prisons) were fed more state money and/or privatised. The major loss has been in democracy and social practices. For when the country is ruled by the market (in the US a period of great prosperity for the top half of the country, poverty for the bottom) and with the state in fact given over to the most powerful corporations and stock market businesses (symbolised by the tremendous growth in electronic business), there is less and less incentive for the individual citizen to participate in a system perceived as basically out of control so far as the ordinary population is concerned. The price of this neoliberal system has been paid by the individual citizen who feels left out, powerless, alienated from a market place ruled by greed, immense transnational corporations, and a government at the mercy of the highest bidder. Thus elections are controlled not by the individual voter but by the major contributors, the media (who have an interest in maintaining the system), and the corporate sector.

What is most discouraging is the sense most people have that not only is there no other alternative, but that this is the best system ever imagined, the triumph of the middle-class ideal, a liberal and humane democracy — or, as Francis Fukuyama called it, the end of history. Inequities are simply swept out of sight. The degradation of the environment and the pauperisation of huge patches of Asia, Africa and Latin America — the so-called South — are all secondary to corporate profits. Worst of all is the loss of initiative that could bring significant change. There is hardly anyone left to challenge the idea that schools, for instance, should be run as profit-making enterprises, and that hospitals should offer service only to those who can pay prices set by pharmaceutical companies and hospital accountants. The disappearance of the welfare state means that no public agency exists to safeguard personal well-being for the weak, the disadvantaged, impoverished families, children, the handicapped, and the aged. New liberalism speaks about opportunities as “free” and “equal” whereas if for some reason you are not capable of staying ahead, you will sink.What has disappeared is the sense citizens need to have of entitlement — the right, guaranteed by the state, to health, education, shelter, and democratic freedoms. If all those become the prey of the globalised market, the future is deeply insecure for the large majority of people, despite the reassuring (but profoundly misleading) rhetoric of care and kindness spun out by the media managers and public relations experts who rule over public discourse.

The question now is how long neo-liberalism will last. For if the global system starts to break down, if more and more people suffer the consequences of a dearth of social services, if more and more powerlessness characterises the political system, then crises will begin to emerge. At that point, alternatives will be a necessity, even if for the time being we are being told “you never had it so good!” How much social suffering is tolerable before the need for change actually causes change? This is the major political question of our time.