Potentially Violent Incidents

The first training course I ever delivered at the DWP(it wasn’t that then) was ‘Preventing Difficult Incidents’. The training course was based on the premise you could manage the number of difficult and potentially violent incidents in a jobcentre, by treating people with respect, being clear every step along the way, and even in a system which is largely shit, you could avoid violent and ‘difficult’ incidents by basically treating people like people and understanding they had no choice but to deal with you and that made how you treat them doubly important.

We used to measure how many violent incidents there were across the region, and if a blackspot showed up, a training need would be identified. It was part of the induction package given to the staff who populated jobcentres and benefit offices. All staff were trained to know they were responsible for the way they treated people and as a matter of policy those staff were trained to internalise responsibility for system failure. Which is fine when the system is only  failing a bit….

We teach the people who work in the DWP that if there are difficult incidents, it is their responsibility. It’s mainly low paid women, attracted to a job that fits round kids and offers stability and benefits. They act as barrier between those who decide policy, in the heart of our political media, and those who receive it.

A man cut his own throat in a jobcentre.

He cut his own throat, because of a policy that won’t even cut the fucking deficit and for the sake of about 15quid a week.

There is a woman who works in a jobcentre in the vicinity(I won’t say which), I got her that job over a decade ago. She now has to walk down the street facing those caught up in these policies, day in day out is coerced for pittance to do this to people she knows, Or face the other side of the desk.

I sat in a meeting sponsored by a think tank the other year, a very young man recounted the struggles he had had getting the slow old DWP to implement policy that I knew had caused real hardship and problems on a massive scale. I sat and looked at this dipshit, at a fancy desk, discussing how much trouble he had had, while he explained his transition to Aviva, from Yvette Cooper’s office. I wanted to rip his throat out. It was the first time I understood that policy really was scribbled on a fag packet to suit the highest bidder. As angry as I felt when I watched Len McCluskey and poppet Jones sell the People’s Assembly as an opportunity to fight austerity, claiming their political capital as a voice for people like this while selling them out to Miliband.

A man cut his own throat in a jobcentre. How could you not be angry?

Oh yeah, if you have a layer of low paid and mainly welfare dependent women there to implement policy and provide a buffer between anyone devising it, and exploiting it, and anyone living it. If you only understand that part of our economy in terms of executive summaries half read in the context of possible headlines and market benefit. If you needed people not to notice this was the cost of decades of your dogma supplanting discussion of reality. Or if there was something in it for you and no chance of you and yours ever experiencing the kind of unemployment where a pittance could make that much difference.

We are not all Trayvon Martin

We are all Trayvon Martin now right? The whole world looks at George Zimmerman and as long as we can shout his name, we can prove we are not him and as long as we can shout ‘we are all Trayvon’ that means there is nothing of him in us. This is just a racist in a backwards racist country and we are all Trayvon now so that country will be dragged out of ignorance into the warm fuzzy glow we all share, that we hate him enough that there will be no more Trayvon Martins without anyone ever having to reflect. Just shout loud enough over there.

Human  beings are funny creatures, when we are ashamed or afraid of something within ourselves, we seek out people with that quality so we project onto them that shame. Hating that quality in others is easier than reflecting.

The only way you can challenge structural oppression, is by understanding your place in that structure. How you benefit from that system, how you uphold it, how it impacts you and you it, and why you would seek to protect your place in it, and understanding how that system shapes your existence. Being honest that about why you seek to protect what is yours, to identify the way you do, to live the way you do and reflecting on your actions and impact on the world you are in. Not in order to argue with people on twitter, not for the sake of forming a new hierarchy of inequalities, but for the sake understanding. Not for the piety of micromanaging your language and behaviour for appearances sake, or to kid yourself you won’t always be offensive to at least someone and they may have good reason.

Only by reflecting on your place in the system can you understand that we are not all Trayvon Martin, some of us are the lawyer, the judge, George Zimmerman, the friend on trial as witness, the camera man…the woman who served these people coffee on the way into court.

You have to acknowledge that your heart stopped when you hadn’t realised you had landed to refuel, and you opened your eyes to a plane with men whose skin colour and ethnicity brought a pulse of fear you know has been falsely sold. Because when you are honest that that actually happened, you can be honest about where that came from, and how that came about. The car clicks President Obama says were the soundtrack to walking around, because of his blackness, are not heard by you because of your whiteness. That the change in pace of a woman on the street at night is because she is afraid and her fear is justified even if you have done nothing to cause it. All of a sudden you understand the system a little bit better, just by understanding yourself. And then you can start affecting it. Even if it is just one less click heard.

When you acknowledge you cross the street or instinctively put your keys between your fingers in certain situations, and you reflect on why that is. You understand where this is coming from, how it is part of your being. Understanding that the thing that drives you to put your keys between your fingers, is what creates the culture that allowed a boy to be killed because his skin colour was deemed enough to make him frightening.  When you know that, you see why we don’t all need to be Trayvon Martin. Why we need to understand why we are NOT Trayvon Martin and why we all need to understand who we are.

Why tackling what happened to that boy requires more than shouting his name and pretending you are the same. And at that point you can start listening and looking around at other perspectives, and with that you begin to be able to contextualise yourself in a system.

Not seeking the tolerance of those who benefit from standing on you, not arguing about who can tick the most boxes and remember the words some people used on twitter.  But changing the system just by looking at the whole picture and seeing how many perspectives there are in that picture and understanding what actually connects you and how things intersect, and knowing you can’t stand on someone you see as being as valid a perspective as yours. Instead of trying to create artificial connections that require tribalism to sustain, which is impossible in an environment where so many things need to be understood.

The common understanding built JUST by having to co-exist and co-operate with people who may be very different to you, shared humanity and human existence, soon removes the ability of one group to dominate and weeds out unacceptable behaviour.

A multitude of perspectives eliminates the batshittery quite quickly. Politics becomes a mechanism in democracy, instead of homogenous tribes standing on everyone for benefit of those in the court they wish to impress.

Our media no longer have the ability to impose a narrative on behalf of homogenous tribes for the benefit of those who can pay, without it being interrupted by new perspectives. That cannot be undone and started a process that is unstoppable. It is only by understanding we are not all Trayvon Martin that you can begin to understand how we all fit together and learn from watching the dominance of one perspective diluted and washed away, by the intersection of millions more.

That might mean understanding that you may not carry a gun like George Zimmerman, but you do react in a way you don’t like, when you see black skin. That doesn’t mean shouting as loud as you can at the next week’s George Zimmerman or he Daily Mail. When you take your top off for Femen, there are women who have the right to be offended at what you have done, even though you still think it was the right thing for you to do. T

Dear Deborah Orr,

The other day you made a funny. It made me snort tea on my keyboard, and I told you it was funny. You said something along the lines of ‘this aprobation will not last’. I didn’t know what aprobation meant and I do now, so thank you.

I wanted to explain something to you about my open hostility to the Guardian and the media focused, labour orbiting(even if they don’t know it) left. I thought it might help you understand some of the events of the last year and some that are unfolding to fill the next couple.

Foucalt said “The real political task in a society such as ours is to criticize the workings of institutions that appear to be both neutral and independent, to criticize and attack them in such a manner that the political violence that has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them.”

What I think you have to understand is the violence of what has happened in the last three years. It was only the cherry on a post war settlement that is over. It was allowed because of a failure of the political forces that defined that settlement, and was justified using a crisis that signalled we were nearing the end of that settlement.

The violence of unnecessary and unchallengeable austerity, delivered to silence along the inequality faultlines of political priorities, consolidating the knowledge of those who have grown up in this political system, was always going to have a profound effect on your world. Even without the falling newspaper sales and the interweb.(Arus Bridger is NOT helping by the way- my god-what is he on?).

What you fail to understand is that while you are a person(and a seemingly nice person btw) you are a part of the power structures in this country, and your part of that power structure needs validation in a way that is entirely different to the right.  You are the part of the power structure that speaks ‘for’. In fact the ONLY part of the power structures in this country that need validation from people to function.

This is a country where inequality faultlines have been blown open. We are in a political vacuum, and austerity could not be challenged because a very small number of people were having a conversation no-one was interested in because it had no relevance to them. Those people did not know their ignorance was creating such dangerous limitations.

The Guardian cannot decide if it is a force for good or a newspaper, and cannot triangulate it’s way into being either. The Guardian needed to subject themselves to the scrutiny they subjected Murdoch to, if they objected to media political power. The Guardian is part of One Nation against and indifferent to the same groups as the Tories. It has sold the political priorities of austerity while preventing challenge to them and claiming to be part of that challenge.

It provides home to the left half of a very homogenous political media class, the labour guppy pool and training ground, and the Guardian’s output is shaped by the values of the culture who create it. It is the heart of UK media focused feminism and so called ‘activism’.

We live in a country where democracy has been reduced to market requirements and press needs. The political priorities that exploited inequality faultlines were entirely dictated by the blindness or malice of a few institutions and the Guardian is one of them. That La Grauniad orbits the Daily Mail and validates is as big a problem as how the Daily Mail use the power conferred on them. The inability to move outside narrow and ridiculous parameters of debate, is what ensured discussion of what happened was avoided. It is what ensured there was no opposition, because noone can even talk about the problem.  The Guardian sold equality being rolled back as surely as did the Daily Mail. Many of you are sincere in your blindness. It was the blindness of your culture, and those within that meant austerity was technical fascism and not just the Tories on a rampage.

That journalism has been replaced by political comment, and power is held in a commentariat fishbowl by people who may be nice and mean well, is not our fault.  We were brought up to expect ballot boxes and truth being spoken to power as a pay off for being excluded from the world of those doing the speaking.

That it is blindness and not malice that allows this violence to be delivered while our ability to challenge it is removed, is not our fault. The effect of that violence is real and grows more profound by the day, democracy itself is in question while the structures that maintained it have been dismantled and sold.

It was not us who wound power structures around professional social networks, and unfortunately challenging those power structures now means challenging people. The power is always in the social network so that means your friends will be challenged.

You are coming across a generation whose writing is political because it has to make change, and who are largely uninterested in saving people’s feelings or climbing a greasy pole and don’t need to find a newspaper who will publish them. You are talking to people who have had to entirely figure out austerity and the politics of it by themselves just from watching and living the consequences.

Politics is personal again and history is now being written by the participants on the same platform as those who are supposed to be shaping it.

The last conversation we had before the one that triggered this post, (and I use the term conversation loosely-twitter is not a place where substantial conversation happens and we are worlds apart and you have no reason to know who I am) you said you felt that working class women should be willing to compromise on matters of sexual autonomy because of a banking crisis. I am not sure you entirely understood what you had said, or the consequences that lay under that statement. I am quite sure you are not aware of  the problem’s caused because media feminists mostly agree with you. The amplified and circular hoohaas of the hurt feelings when you and your class were introduced to discussion of intersectionality, showed you did not understand. Again, I don’t believe for a second that was malice, you just have no reason to know. The only reason we do is that we had no choice but to learn.

The conversation we need to have cannot happen within the parameters allowed by our current media left with their bleached white fantasy working class emblems. It cannot happen within a white upper class bit of the media that is the universalisation of the experience of Oxford and Cambridge women as feminism. It certainly cannot happen within the parameters allowed by the Guardian and whether you know it or not your paper’s role is to keep discussion where it is so we can all be hammered.

Your role in a healthy society is to be the safety valve to prevent change. We may be a healthy society but  the crisis being experienced within media/finance/politics cultures is being projected on to us in an appalling way. You are part of a power structure doing the projecting,  a structure which needs critiquing urgently. Even if you feel good intentions within make your institution benign.

The people you are coming across have had to learn what they fight for, and what they need, and part of that learning has been recognising that we have systemic problems, learning where power lies and how it perpetuates. Understanding that even the parts of the system that believe themselves to be benign are the problem and the first place to start. The arguments you have had and felt hurt by, have been part of that learning for those people. The repeated demonstrations of a class behaving as a class, a part of an inevitable process of education so change can happen.

A social network governing political discourse, who cannot hear of the effect of the power they or their institution wield, never mind reflect and accept they have that power or be accountable, is an extremely dangerous thing. A dangerous thing that has already had obscene consequences. A narrow left wing framework held by a few is no longer adequate, and the flaws within it are at the heart of what is happening now. Feminism needs to move past being Guardian articles. That you all moved on to twitter was fortunate. If the Guardian doesn’t adapt it will die, but that is no great shame if you all don’t adapt.

In order to challenge the system we need to challenge those within it. And that means you. Quite a lot of your colleagues are going to find they just do not have capacity or knowledge to deal with their new environment. They will be unable to deal with the challenges of that discussion.

You seem nice, your written thoughts have occasionally changed mine, and that is a power you have you need to recognise. I don’t feel any malice to you or your colleagues, and I don’t suppose any of the others you have come across do either, even if it felt that way to you. It’s just that asking politely doesn’t work and we need to deconstruct what you do for there to be change.

I am sending this because the process you have seen in the last year or so has only just begun. In the months and years ahead, I want you to know that when people are shouting at you, they are shouting at power. That you don’t know you have it, won’t have crossed their minds. That you are nice is not their concern.  That their ability to do so means they are fighting power that is already disappearing won’t cross their mind. Their only concern will be the conversation they need to have. Is not you, it’s them.

PS Sorry about your mum.

Dear Nigella,

I saw your husband’s announcement of his narcissism in the Daily Mail today and wanted to congratulate you and your divorce lawyers on this boon. As someone who knows a thing or two about this sort of thing, I felt compelled to write about the best ways I have found to deal with narcissists.

I notice your ex, Mr.Playful, regularly attributed his own motivations to you, projected his behaviour on to you. This is common in narcissists, and the most liberating thing you can imagine. They can’t see you, they can only see themselves as reflected onto you and once the idealisation of you as a possession has been interrupted by your insistence on being the fully formed human being they cannot be, they project their dysfunction on to you so they can attack.

They are attacking themselves. Let them. Let them do it loudly. Let them tell everyone they are doing so, and just wait. Live your life, be the person with a functioning inner self who can see those around them, and be everything they cannot be. Treat every word they utter as an admission, and know you can use that as a reliable compass.

Be grateful for every last ‘friend’ they recruit in their campaign and be glad you found out they were not your friend.

Decide what you want from your divorce. Your narcissist will want you to engage in a conflict he defines, to keep you in his control. Never engage a narcissist in the conflict they define. Be reasonable, but keep focused on the fact that you do not want their validation or agreement they have behaved this way to you and are not interested in them. Their lies and fantasies will get more outrageous the further you slip from their control and then YOU are in control. You do not want to be part of their theatre and self image. Stay focused on the behaviour if you have to, if you can walk away without even doing that, do so.

Here is the fun thing divorcing a narcissist, they are completely controlled by their behaviour pattern, they cannot deviate and when you don’t participate it is like watching a goldfish try to survive on the pavement. Be reasonable, be reasonable and be more reasonable but do not relent, do not retreat. Ask for what you want at the beginning then do not move. Let them move. Let them make noise, let them show you up and shout loud, and stay quiet. Be confident their behaviour will do the work for you. And when they have provoked you, attacked you and done everything they can, calmly remind them that you will not walk away from this process without what you have asked for. Which is largely you.

Do not grace your narcissist with the benevolence of your gaze, do not acknowledge them, do not look at them, make sure they know you cannot see yourself reflected in their dysfunction. Get a solicitor who understands narcissism(and most divorce lawyers do), and let them do your solicitors work.

I enjoyed reading your husband describe his narcissism in the Daily Mail, it was very undignified. Your lawyers must be ecstatic.

Military Coup

The dying days of a political and economic settlement are what educates those who formulate what comes after. Much of this blog was spent with an eye cast to Egypt, and today we are here again. President Morsi is gone. Existing political forces and the dissent neo liberalism defines is no longer adequate and cannot be imposed on the springs and occupies of a crumbling post war settlement.

BBC have celebrations as if this is a garden party, Al Jazeera announced shortly after my friend Sophie, that an interim President has been appointed and the constitution has been suspended,  and we watch as the unravelling of the Washington Consensus continues. Everyone is careful not to mention Israel or Palestine.

Channel 4 lamented and asked what happened to Egypt’s democratic moment, framing discussion about what was an series of revolutionary moments in a wider context, as we move as a globe past that understanding of power. I read back Gillian Tett’s astonishing comment piece on the reality of the economic parasite that underpins this revolution and the political manouvering to protect it.,.

The military were clear this time as well as last, about the need for the disposable bit of the system to be sacrificed, and terrified of the appearance they may be accountable, we see the same manouverings as last time.  Who funds the military, a question that still has the same answers as last time.

I read the tweets of those who had been so excited and naiive the first time, after watching a revolution channeled through a US funded media election, tied to condition after condition that the status quo would remain but under the oppression of Islamism. We have reached the point where people watched how the elite liberals capitalised on their social media use for their own political aims, how the Muslim Brotherhood as the existing force within a system that is over expected their route to power to be painless and from the tweets within Tahrir Square the female revolutionaries whose naiivety was shattered are still fighting their own battle in this public square. People will soon be naming their oppressor and will not be confusing passengers and drivers. US embassies have been closing as protesters make their feelings known and US citizens are warned to avoid.

Shock Doctrine always relied on shocks to deliver neo liberalism’s force, but now each shock educates and consolidates knowledge that was not consumed from media sources but learned. From this point on democratic legitimacy will be something that eludes all those who wish to maintain that post war settlement, the world is straining past it. The symmetry revealed in the unravelling is extraordinary.

Govt Appoint Rothschilds to Dump Toxic RBS Debts into a Tax-Payer Owned ‘Bad Bank’

Scriptonite Daily

PS5

In June this year, Osborne announced he was launching a ‘Bad Bank’ review for the partly state owned Royal Bank of Scotland.  Like Northern Rock before it, the Chancellor intends to sell off the valuable assets of the Bank to the private sector, while the toxic assets are retained by the public sector. And he’s paying the Rothschilds to draw up the plans. Yes, it is exactly as bad a deal as it sounds.

The RBS Story

RBS1 

In a nutshell: relatively small, parochial safe bank in Scotland decides to become a bigger player by taking more risk – and it all goes badly wrong.

Dating back to the 18th Century, the bank started with £111,347 and focussed on printing bank notes.  Over time it developed a personal and corporate banking business, and grew south of the border through the 19th century.  During the 20th century post…

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