Wishful Thinking

The last blog was full of wishful thinking. I apologise. It gets like that sometimes. Especially when someone who should never have been in power is still there after 40 years. It shouldn’t be that difficult to remove a bully from the playground. I’ve wished for years that the poisonous and deluded wretch who controls Libya would be deposed. The majority of the population of Libya have this last few months tried to take control away from him. He has tried to retain power by using the billions he still has to buy a mercenary army, PR and propaganda. This time the international community have not faltered.

I’m very pleased to have to admit that Cameron and Sarkozy have done a lot better than Bush/Blair ever could have done. You can say that’s unfair, because they now have the Iraq experience to draw on, but there is a general consensus that society is now in a period where defending what we have from invasion and destruction is paramount. As I’ve probably implied many times before, Blair promised so much for those who fell for his schmaltzy charm, but he was always so clearly ego driven, to the extent of rendering much of his posturing cringe-worthy. In the end, a self-important insincere pop star waving a transparently fabricated ‘dossier’ around that would prematurely end hundreds of thousands of lives. His apologists will deny this, but the hard evidence eventually reaching the public domain isn’t ever likely to absolve him.

There are still big problems in Libya. There is no really established ‘opposition’, so there is still something of a virtual vacuum in terms of who is likely to take over when the ugly Colonel is finally retired. He thought he’d bought himself time declaring ceasefires with the revolutionaries, but everybody knew that he would renege. Certainly the wording in resolution 1973 gives him no chance of recovering his former dictatorial powers. What he didn’t understand this time, with the whole world looking on, was that he had to affect an immediate change, or be removed. He obviously reached a stage, two months ago, where he was incapable of making a plan. The only one he has left now seems to be to turn this into as long a stalemate as he can manage. He now needs to be beamed up, but Scotty’s hidden the transporter. No more prostate cock-ups…

Resolution 1973 more or less enshrines in unbreakable law the fact that he can no longer be trusted to wield such power in the world by virtue of controlling 2% of world oil output. Although not a colossal player on the world oil stage, Libya’s oil wealth has been used by one man to distort fact for over 40 years. And Muammar Gaddafi has always had dubious intentions.

Gaddafi is the reason I wrote a certain pointed, anti-religious song, back in 1989, as a protest against him bringing an aeroplane down onto Lockerbie, Scotland, and killing 270 innocent people indiscriminately in the name of god. Although some recent evidence would seem to implicate collusion with elements in Syria, personally, I have never forgiven him, and I never will. I have a deep loathing of the man. In March (18/3/2011), he apparently threatened to plant bombs in European commercial aircraft. I’ve always thought of him as criminally insane.

I’m really pleased that the world community, albeit in the shape of North West Europe, acted so quickly. Many would not have acted at all. Democracy is not a popular concept in large parts of the world. Never-the-less, it seems that lessons have finally been learned from the debacle in Iraq. To those among you who despair at the thought of being a citizen of a country which is bombing another country, and to all of you who would protest against this seemingly invasive action, I would say this: You have something that Libya doesn’t. Freedom of expression. You throw away freedom of expression at your immediate peril. Libya is a country where human rights were virtually ignored. As the revolution happened, it looked like a prime candidate to become a failed state.

Failed states harbour all the worst elements of humanity, and represent the most serious danger to world peace. Libya has a virtual border with France. So do we. Do any of us want to see our standard of living, and the standards we have as a comparatively highly ‘civilised’ society undermined by wholesale piracy, looting, fundamental religious superstition, fear and degradation? I don’t. I don’t have a choice. I have to do all I can to stop that from happening. There are those here who will side with Gadaffi, because they will see it as an opportunity to further a violent brand of anarchy. Or to further some hopeless religious stupidity. Pathetic. They’d soon come crying home to mummy if they were ever captured by his regime, or by real pirates.

Of course, we all realise that the ‘Arab Spring’ will not change the religious fervour in the area, and in fact it is likely to enhance it, especially in the wake of an eventual settlement favouring opposition to dictatorship. The great prophet will likely be thanked with increased vigour. However, a hope I have is that there may be more room created for a more liberal attitude to eventually grow in the area.

I realise that when I wrote it in 1989, The Black Cloud Of Islam wasn’t very tolerant. It wasn’t supposed to be. I was horrified by reading about a happy little girl in red shoes who was on Pan Am Flight 103. Nor is ‘The Spirit Lives’, a song written in 1974 to oppose christianity, tolerant. In Britain, in 2005, a poll was taken that suggested that 30% of the population did not believe that there was a god. In France, it was nearly 40%. In other words, free thinking countries allow their populations to decide, themselves, on moral, ethical, political and religious positions. Those populations, in turn, inform their governments, over periods of time, with consensual decisions regarding society.

If a more liberal attitude is created by the ‘Arab Spring’, then it may follow that eventually, in those countries, it might be understood that there is a position that people can take that is areligious, i.e., a position ordinary people can adopt which is outside religion, and which comes to be accepted by those states as legal and valid.

As I’ve said before, it’s unrealistic to expect that religion could suddenly be viewed by the entire Muslim/christian populations as anachronistic. Actually, That’s impossible. Religious behaviour is very deeply ingrained in the human psyche. I would view it as a primeval reflex. Unfortunately, because of the likelihood that the pressures of urbanisation on such a profound scale probably fuel a constant increase in individual alienation, and because of the rigid inflexibility of parroted dogma, fundamental religious belief is frequently characterised by an attendant mindlessness. It’s likely to take many centuries of empirical fact building, and the gradual assembly and ascertainment of physical, chemical and psychical components to steady global society and quietly settle a lot of contentious issues in order to establish the primacy, veracity and legitimacy of actual universal law over the fallibility of universal superstition.

By actual universal law, I mean that body of law which can and will eventually be deduced and established pertaining to the manner in which the entire known universe can better be logged, described and perhaps understood. I say ‘perhaps’, because understanding is subjective. At least, that’s how I perceive it to be with this animal, in this shape, at this time.

One of the latest theories, to the effect that the ‘big bang’ is in fact the crashing into ours of a parallel universe 13 billion years ago, will make know difference!?

Even then, the religionists will not cease to exist. After all, the idea of an afterlife, and a supreme interventionist, is going to die very hard against an alternative of no afterlife; nothing. Or against the idea of having seven virgins to fiddle about with as some kind of pay-off for murdering infidels. Absolute lunacy! And insultingly misogynist as well. Personally, I think that ‘nothing’ is entirely preferable. I have no interest in cloud cuckoo land or pie in the sky. Dressing in robes and role-playing in an imaginary circus is controversial to say the least. The vulnerable, who largely don’t realise that they are, are always prey to superstition. ‘The meek shall inherit the earth’. Perhaps as intelligent machines capable of re-assembling themselves from off the universal windscreen.

Having briefly mentioned the way I view what I understand as reality, it’s worth returning to how the proponents of the ‘Arab Spring’ might well view theirs. Currently, theirs is perhaps one of high spirits, particularly among the fighters. As they die, they become martyrs. They become martyrs of the revolution. The other side become martyrs to the status quo. I had the good fortune, along with hundreds of thousands of others, to witness my home football team, Manchester City, win the FA Cup on May 14th. I celebrated. It’s only the fifth time they’ve won ‘The Cup’ in 130 years. The opposing Stoke City supporters despaired.

During the afternoon, it was plain to see that quite a few people, on both sides, were praying; something I’ve never done in my entire life. I haven’t been able to be that dishonest or slack. My views have never slackened enough for me to be able to think, for even a nano second, that I could allow myself to become that loose. As loose as it would take to actually pray, and for an outcome as well. What a bizarre concept!

But there it was, for all to see. In plain daylight, hundreds of people, on two sides, opposed to each other, were praying: for two different outcomes! They were praying against each other! This isn’t the first time that this has happened. Another such time was at a place called Old Trafford, near the Cheshire border with Greater Manchester, earlier the same day! Yet another mass prayer was probably performed by the army of Pyrrhus, who defeated the Romans at Asculum in 279 BC, but suffered such losses in doing so that his name has slipped into language as a metaphor for pointlessness. A Pyrrhic victory is a hollow victory. Might it not also be said that Pyrrhic worship can be said to be taking place when a million people pray to the same deity, in the same place, for two opposing outcomes? Can it be proved that your prayer is more powerful than your neighbour’s? Of course not.

The whole spectre of thousands of people praying in the same place for diametrically opposed outcomes represents wild unleashed superstition in action, with the inevitable disappointment of approximately 50% of those people.. absolutely assured. Absolute absurdity again. Luck is often involved, yes, but to infer that the divine interventionist chose to answer one set of prayers and not the other is about as likely as frogs speaking French.

We saw young people, especially, overcome by the magnitude of not only the event itself, but the emotional investment they suddenly find they have in greater community. We’ve seen involuntary crying all our lives. A helpless outward show of human emotion is nearly always extremely touching. To lapse into prayer or similar pie in the sky at these times is perhaps forgivable, but not for those for whom prayer has no worth. For them, the emotion, the resultant empathy and the tear is enough.

So it is for me as I witness the ‘Arab Spring’. I can totally empathise with the emotion, but of course I will never be able to reach the place where that takes the Muslim majority. Prayer, and especially no matter how devout, can for me never be reciprocated by ‘acts of god’, be they the sudden clefting of an ocean to relieve a traffic jam, weird apparitions of floating virgins or atrocities of ‘holy’ war. Not only would that defy all law, it would define travesty.

Although despicable, the killing of Osama Bin Laden in April by American commandos was welcome indeed. I would much have preferred him to be tried by The International Community, but for some nations, the International Community is synonymous with democracy, which is a no-go in two thirds of the world. The circumstances of his murder are always going to be disputed, but there is little doubt among sensible people that similar goons should no longer be allowed to murder people, and especially children.

Predictable news bulletins featuring obscure clerics in Pakistan claiming that according to the great Allah, his death has to be avenged by killing as many as possible, indiscriminately, as and when possible – fuel a sense of hopelessness in me akin to the feelings I had after Locherbie. Of course we have to continue to negotiate with the dim sources of light coming from that arena, but listening to the man in the street in Pakistan rattling on about Pakistani ‘sovereignty’ being invaded by America when it’s just been so graphically exposed that Bin Laden has been the main component in embroiling Pakistan in a war which isn’t going to end any time soon, is numbingly blind to your own predicament, and so finally hypocritical.

Yes, circa 40 Americans took out a proven major source of world conflict, because their leaders knew no one else would, and because they knew that if they’d have left it to anyone else it would have been a running sore for years. Personally, I don’t think that they gave him much of a chance. I don’t think that they could afford to. I don’t think that he was the type to strap a bomb round his waste, but once he moved, that was it. It was you or me soldier. Your hair trigger or mine.

Obama has given a good impression of being all mouth and not much substance in his term so far, but at that moment he took a great risk with his presidency and the American direction. A brave decision that could have landed him on his ear. All he’s got to do now is to negotiate a reduction in the current deficit of $14 trillion… To be fair to him, his credit has rightly risen.

What does $14 Trillion look like. Well, it’s 14 million times a million. In other words, give everyone in South East England a million dollars, kids and all, and you have it.

Meanwhile, the Arab youth have created a movement that’s going to run its course. They can see what they want on TV, Internet and in magazines. They don’t want to change their religion, but turgid mullah world isn’t willing to allow even the thought to cross a single mind in any case, so progress towards mass freedom of mind and expression is going to be slow.

The world isn’t yet joined, although manifestly it is. There are those of practically all religious persuasions urging ecumenical behaviour, but only in terms so weakly defined and so spasmodically approached as to render progress microscopic. In fact, disingenuous. Which is as it should be. After all, how can superstition become progressive? It can’t. Can it? Can people swap superstitions? Find new superstitions to indulge in? Progressive superstition? Sounds like a Stevie Wonder follow up.

Superstition can possibly turn into Obsessive Compulsive Neurosis, as we used to call it. It can fake progression by turning people into saints, or ‘prophets’, before their bodies have had a decent chance to become recycled. There’ll soon be a Vatican X-Factor, or maybe Mecca’s Got Talent. Featuring the urge to stampede enshrined in a perpetually ravenous media contest. No waiting for any puff of smoke any more. How many saints d’you need? Here, have a few more! Here’s one from Lytham St. Annes. No need for beatification; she was George Formby’s driver’s whippet.

Time for another wish! I wish honourable people of high regard like Sepp Blatter were naturally promoted to positions of high office in all areas of human endeavour!!

roy harper 1/6/11 tbc