Palestinians Exist

Nation statehood may have been, in the 19th Century, a progressive concept, especially for people suffering under the various Empires of that time. For the Jews particularly, with their long centuries of exile, pogroms, and being driven from place to place at the whim of petty princes and manipulative politicians, the idea that they should have a state of their own, with all the legal and diplomatic protections that statehood confers on its citizens, was a progressive idea. It was intelligent. It was humane.
Tragically, the State of Israel was promised to the Zionists by the same people who had promised the Palestinian Arabs their own State, on the same piece of land. It is merely another piece of British imperial arrogance, no different from all the other examples. Someone drew a line on a map, or signed a piece of paper, with no real concern for the ethnic, religious or cultural make-up of the peoples living in the area.

In this way the concept of the nation state failed to live up to its promise. The artificial entities that were created as those Empires ripped each other apart in the early 20th Century, became, or are currently becoming, the “failed states”of the early 21st.
Today, with travel, communications, manufacturing and commerce all operating in a shrinking global village, the nation state is losing any meaning it ever had.
Israel is a lost cause. The absurd idea that ‘God’ promised a particular bit of scrubland to a particular tribe of pastoralists is not a valid reason for continuing the agony, the torture, the mass slaughter that is happening in Palestine. Nor do hazy histories of iron-age conquest offer any justification for such suffering.
One state is needed; a single, modern democracy, with equal rights for all citizens, irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, or choice of folk-tale. This will be difficult to achieve. But every other solution is impossible.

The ‘two-state’ solution is not going to happen. Decade after decade, the Zionists’ relentless creation of ‘facts on the ground’ has made clear what has very rarely been voiced openly; namely that the two-state solution never was any part of the Zionist strategy. On the contrary, the Zionist strategy has been, from the start, to drive the Palestinians out of their geography, out of their history, out of the collective memory of the world. We are watching a slow but systematic act of genocide. You and I, and every other individual currently alive and capable of political engagement, is faced with a stark three way choice: actively to oppose this genocide, actively to support it, or inactively to acquiesce, pretending innocence.

Alice and Bob go Shopping

Alice is a beautician by trade, and Bob is a general labourer.

Alice’s skills are quite in demand; let’s say she can earn £16 an hour (take-home, after taxes). She is self-employed, and there are some times when the business is quiet. Bob’s paid work usually earns him £8 an hour (take home), when he can find any work, but quite often he can’t.

Let us suppose that each has both a normal bank card and a DWP time-bank card. The DWP time-bank, with which both Bob and Alice are currently in credit, is a large but fairly simple database, recording the amount of time each participant has spent working unpaid at some qualifying activity. I will explain this in more detail later.
Alice and Bob go into a supermarket. They see that, alongside the money-price displayed next to each item, some of the items (those currently classified as necessities) also show a time-cost.

The money-price of each good is determined by the usual market forces; the  time-cost is an estimate of the amount of working-time it takes to produce that good, from raw materials to supermarket checkout.

Let’s say that one particular item has a market price of £4, and a time-cost of 20 minutes. (These are not meant to be realistic figures; they are picked as simple numbers, to explore the principle.)

Alice elects to buy this item with her Visa debit card. Bob pays with his time-card. The DWP pays £4 to the supermarket for Bob’s item, and deducts 20 minutes from his time-account..

(The DWP is in no way involved in Alice’s transaction.)

Both Alice and Bob have acted in accordance with their perceived best interests. It takes Alice 15 minutes to earn £4, so she reckons the money- price is a better deal for her than the 20 minutes time-cost. Bob has bought the same item with 20 minutes from his time-account, which is a gain for him, since it would take him half an hour to earn £4 at his paid work.

For Bob’s purchase the DWP has paid the market price (£4) directly to the supermarket, which means the tax-payer has effectively paid Bob £4 for 20 minutes of work.

But how is Bob able to find the sort of work that puts credit into his time-bank, if he cannot find similar work at £8 an hour? And how does Alice, who runs a pretty efficient business of her own, come to have credit in a DWP time-bank?

Look around. There is plenty of work that needs doing, but no-one is able (or willing) to pay for it. Local government operations regularly have need of temporary workers, in all sorts of work areas. Non-profit organisations, suitably vetted, also might be entitled to advertise for unpaid workers, and to credit the time worked to the participant’s DWP account. A dedicated web-site could advertise all qualifying jobs in any given locality.

Also, if, on his morning walk, Bob notices a massive growth of Japanese knotweed, or a broken bit of fencing somewhere, why should he not be able to phone the local council, and offer to sort the problem, for some negotiated amount of time-credit?

If Alice wants to supplement her business income during the quiet weeks, and at the same time do something for her community, she might spend a few hours helping social services; maybe visiting old ladies, doing their hair and nails, drinking tea and chatting. That time could, if she wanted, be credited to her time-account. And why not?


A system like this, implemented nationwide, could mean the end of ‘unemployment’ as a category.


This Year… Let’s put the Meaning back into the Midwinter Festival.

Before everyone rushes back into the shopping hell that is ‘THE RUNUP TO CHRISTMAS’ (as the news-folk call it), I suggest you consider sending the following message to anyone you love, like, and actually care about. (And maybe you might also CC it to those relatives, colleagues and faint acquaintances that  you don’t particularly like, but who, you fear, will probably feel obliged to send you a card or buy you a present, and who will expect to get one from you. In short, send this message, or something very similar, to anyone who ought to be warned in plenty of time:
Dear (whoever)

This midwinter, and every midwinter thereafter, my house will be open, on several evenings, for the purpose of gathering together as many as possible of my real, actual friends. The intention will be to spend time together, eating, drinking, entertaining each other, and generally making merry. If you consider yourself my friend, this is your invitation. Also, if I am invited to a similar gathering at your home, I will do my best to attend, probably with a bottle or two in hand.

But please note, well in advance:

I will not be trudging round the shops trying to finds bits of stuff to inflict upon you as a ‘present’.
Nor will I be sending out pieces of gaudily-coloured cardboard, to clog up your letterbox, and the postal system.. If I receive no such piece of cardboard from you, I will be perfectly happy.

 Call it Christmas or Hanukkah, Diwali or Yule. Let’s celebrate it for what it actually is.  It is a time to get together, to take care of each other, to share what we have. Because the darkest days of winter can be grim.

Please don’t feel obliged to shove your way through all those over-stressed unhappy shoppers, putting up with the same set of ghastly Christmas tunes, glumly searching the piles of over-packaged, over-priced commercial crap, under the impression that you have to get a ‘present’ for me.

Really, you don’t.

Towards a Global Learning Net: A proposal

I have recently started following a free online physics course taught by Ramamurthy Shankar at Yale; sometimes I find I don’t understand the maths, so I turn to the Khan Academy to get up to speed. (eg on calculus). The Khan Academy site has a graphic ‘web’ connecting different elements of mathematics, so you can study what you will need to know before you go on to learn the bit you want to know.
This is an excellent learning structure for maths and the hard sciences; but I think it could be used, suitably modified, as a model for all the different subjects for which there are good learning resources online; a kind of Global Learning Net, built as a Wiki.
There are many sources of learning freely available online, and more are being added every day. In addition to the college-based projects like Coursera, there many others, eg Khan Academy, BBC Bytesize, which teach subjects from a much more basic level.
And then there are other, less academically-formal sources of knowledge; free-to-read textbooks in PDF, TV documentaries, well-informed debates and discussions programmes, available for example on Youtube.

What is needed is a kind of directory/guide, enabling anybody with access to the net to study anything they want to study, whether as part of some formal academic course, or for their own personal interest. Such a guide would also be very useful to professional educators.

All of these free sources of knowledge could be linked as elements in a net, with two kinds of arrows attached to each element; one sort of arrow (green?) suggesting more advanced elements on the same subject, and another sort of arrow (red?) pointing to some more basic elements.

Using a Wiki structure, any suitably knowledgeable contributor, happening upon a relevant resource, would be able to attach some (red and green?) arrows to that resource, thus linking it into the net.
I have at present no clue how to establish a Wiki capable of growing into a Global Learning Net, but I would love to hear from anyone who does!