Mike Vickers' Blog

November 11, 2016

Something’s rotten in the State of Denmark

The first impression of St Petersburg is that the city is so like any city in the West.  So many shops with Western Brand names.

The dominance of the consumer society even in ‘Communist’ Russia.

Leaving St Petersburg is even worst – just like departing Edinburgh Airport – the same maze of booze and perfume shops.

Western consumerism has even taken over Lenin’s Russia; he would have turned in his grave.

So how has this anything to do with the Trump disaster; not that I expect that Trump can in anyway live up to his despicable rhetoric? And he looks to be changing already

Consumerism is ‘The opium of the people’: it has failed in the US as it has failed in the North of England: there just isn’t any money to spend due to so many things; lack of jobs, austerity ; and those who used to, but no longer have the money, they are the ones, who are now rejecting liberal democracy.

The days of deregulation have blown the lid off so many things.

So what can we do about it and do about it we must, not for us but for our children.

Well I am coming round to Scottish Independence – I did vote for it in the Referendum but only in a half-hearted way.

Now it’s a must.

Scotland has at least set out a Future in the White Book (thought of course it is OTT) and Scotland needs to implement it.

Neither Brexit, Corbyn and Hillary have anything to say about the future: and of course Hilary failed because of it.  Trump unfortunately did have something to say and it was nasty but it appealed to the ones that had but not now.

As a start, what Scotland requires is political education in the schools.

I pick up something that came over in a recent David Hume lecture on the Big Bang

‘HB (Hamish Buchan) related to the Stewart Ivory scheme for providing education on Finance to sixth forms but this can only go so far as it is not yet an examinable subject and the scheme can only provide 100 mins per school’

Every school child and I mean every school child needs to know about democracy and what is politics, what is capitalism and what Marx had to say about it.

Religion is dead and rightly; but Consumerism is not its replacement with its basis of individualism.

There has to be something better and that is Community – which after all, was what yesterdays’ event on Scotland’s Towns Conference in Kirkcaldy was all about.

I came to politics far too late but the kids of today must be taught, so that they can take a rational and where necessary a passionate view when the time comes to act ie vote.

David Hume is reputed to have stated :

Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.

But of course Hume was a reasonable man.

BTW Kirkcaldy has a great Art Gallery including the Colourists and at present paintings and drawings by Kate Downie of the three Forth Bridges

And then again Martin Kettle’s article in yesterdays Guardian is a good read

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/10/donald-trump-voters-liberal-order

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December 10, 2013

Mandela

Filed under: Communications, In Our Time, Journalism, USA, World Class — derryvickers @ 10:18 pm

From the high flying oratory of Obama that brings tears to my eyes

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/10/barack-obama-nelson-mandela-memorial-service

To the arch cynicism of Simon Jenkins and I can’t repress a chuckle

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/10/mandela-coverage-banality-of-goodness

And finally to the cold reality of Okwonga

http://www.okwonga.com/?p=869

What a day!

And all thanks to one man: Mandela

January 1, 2012

2012 – A Year for Dialogue

Filed under: Communications, History in the making, Politics, USA — derryvickers @ 11:50 am

This is the year when:

  • A new President of the US will be elected or Barack Obama will hold off the onslaught. Should the US go back to its Constitution as written? – well not quite
  • The Euro will survive or not.  Germany wants to lay down strict fiscal rules of belonging – Is Angela Merkel the Bismarck of the 21st century?
  • There will be still no resolution between Israel and the Palestinians.  An interesting series of three programmes on the BBC on the 4000 year history of Jerusalem  highlighting the continual struggle between Jews, Christians and Muslims for control ‘illustrated the difficulty.
  • Scotland will move further away from the UK and England in particular or not.  Will an independent Scotland be more left of centre than England and will it become more like Norway?
  • More locally will our town of Linlithgow remain an historic town or develop into a ribbon commuter town for Edinburgh and Glasgow.  A commercial company wants to build a satellite town just to the east – because Linlithgow is one of the few towns under demand for new property.

These topics are all about centralisation or distribution, liberalisation or direction, freedom to do one’s own thing or be guided by rules.  Is your life better off with or without them.  The dilemma is that one man’s freedom is another’s loss.  An article in last week’s UK Guardian illustrates the point (though a few more examples would have been useful) – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/19/bastardised-libertarianism-makes-freedom-oppression

We in the West live in a capitalist society- we appreciate it – well most of us do.  But capitalism has its down sides.  Ha-Joon Chang’s book ‘Things They don’t tell you about Capitalism’ is a good reminder of the impact of our capitalism on others less fortunate than we.

If 2012 is to be a good year then there needs to be meaningful (sorry for use of this word) dialogues between the participants.  Can I commend to all a great book now 50 years on Political Dialogues by Maurice Cranston, published by the BBC.  The book reports on a number of constructed dialogues between philosophers of the latter half of the last millennium; dialogues include Savonarola and Machiavelli on the State,  Stuart Mill and Stephen on Liberty, Maine, Arnold and Morley on Democracy and one particularly interesting of someone living in Scotland Voltaire and Hume on Morality.  All these dialogues are just as relevant today as they were 50 years ago and when they were ‘conceived’ in the time of the philosophers themselves.  A key aspect is that there is no resolution of differences just a better understanding between participants; and, as Michael Sandel finishes his great series of Harvard lectures on Justice, the best we can hope for.  After all we all live in a democracy – not a totalitarian state and if ‘men of good will’ do not have the right to differ we are lost.

A Good New Year to everyone and keep up the dialogue!

April 26, 2010

Instant Communications – Think twice

Filed under: Communications — derryvickers @ 9:07 pm

Andy Gilpin at the West Lothian Coffee Morning last Friday brought up two communications topics worth considering a little further:

  1. Stop wasting time following your emails.  Look at them before 9 am, at lunch time and after 6pm
  2. Tweets are now being archived in the US.

Number 1 is certainly worth taking note and if possible following.  The trouble as I see it is, checking emails as soon as they arrive is at best only justifiable if you are waiting for a reply,  at worst it is habit forming – it’s like smoking, hardly rewarding but something you must do.  In the old days the Royal Mail delivered your letters by 9 am and you lived with it – now you can see you emails arriving as snippets.  Mine appear at the bottom right of the screen.  But like all habits you can live with them or take pills to help give them up.

To me far the more important one is that Tweets are being archived.  Already every note you ever wrote is now available to everyone across the globe whether they want just to look in or worse, dig up some incriminating evidence against you.  You can still delete your tweets as you can your discussions on Linked-In but soon they will be archived and it all becomes too late, they are for posterity

It first struck me hard that everything would never be the same again when I followed the Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly – remember Hutton – it was only seven years ago.  At the inquiry a whole raft of emails were brought before it written by everyone from the PM downwards. 

Andy said that emails should be at most a couple of lines long, but to me they are the replacement of the letter.  With the letter you had a chance to reread what you had typed or further back in time what someone had typed on your behalf.  You had time to reconsider – tone down any aggression, be more polite, less libellous.  No more – you look at the text on the screen – looks OK – Send and it’s gone after five, ten minutes thought, no more.   I’m sure that some of the emails that came before Hutton would never have gone out as letters.

More recently Stuart MacLennan, potential Labour candidate no longer – sent stupid tweets; even 140 chars is enough to finish yourself off for life.  I bet the Foreign Office chappie circulated his funny ideas to welcome the Pope as an email – he has now been moved elsewhere!

So what to do:

  • Take a little time, waste a tree, and print your emails, read them then send them.  It might just save your reputation.
  • Tweet softly because you tread on my dreams (with apologies to WB Yeats)

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