Blog Action Day - Inequality
How can there be economic equality in a world where giant corporations control the world economy and 1% of the world's population control most of its wealth? How can there be gender or racial equality when most of that 1% are white males? How can there be equality in the biosphere when fossil fuel extractors are wealthier than any of the governments who might seek to control them in order to limit ecological damage?
These days you follow the money to find political power. Neo-liberalism - the economic philosophy so beloved of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan - has changed the world fundamentally and any attempts to curb its excesses are labelled as socialist threats. It was this philosophy that allowed the banking crisis to happen - and it wasn't the banks who paid for their costly errors, it was the ordinary people.
And it's not just the banks. Governments are in such thrall to the fossil fuel industry that attempts to persuade them to introduce measures to deal with climate change have so far been ineffective. Most of the military conflicts in the recent past have been driven by the need to control resources. It seems that the ordinary person in a supposedly democratic society has little power to change anything. We are in the world that Martin Luther King warned us of back in 1967.
"We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a 'thing-oriented society' to a 'person-oriented society'. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered." [Martin Luther King, 'Beyond Vietnam']
Our human rights and democratic freedoms are being steadily eroded in the pursuit of profit and ideological domination. Thanks to the 'War on Terror' we now have only limited rights to protest and we have lost our right to avoid imprisonment without trial, and judicial review of immigration issues. Whistle-blowers to government corruption and illegality are pursued as traitors.
Britain has its own Guantanamo. There are prisoners in jail under the terrorism legislation who have been there for more than 10 years but who have never been charged with any crime because no one could find any evidence to do so. They, or their lawyers, do not even have the right to be told why they are there. They are now so radicalised by the injustice that the government is afraid to release them.
And there are small children having to live without mothers or father because the government will not allow the spouses of British citizens, the parents of British children, into the country - a reaction to a frenzy of fear about immigration figures and electoral votes. They include a British teacher who went to teach in Moscow, married a Russian girl while he was there and had 2 children. When he tried to move back the UK he had to leave his wife behind at the airport.
Another teacher married a woman in South Africa and found that when he returned to the UK he couldn't bring his wife back. A New Zealander who married a British man after living in England for 5 years, found that she was suddenly persona non grata when she applied for permanent leave to stay after her marriage.
My own daughter is bringing up 2 little girls on her own because her Cuban husband can't get a visa to live with them. Things are no better in the USA. Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, who married an Australian passport holder, had to mount a year-long political campaign to get her husband (who owned a business in the US) allowed into the country.
There is no longer any appeal process over immigration decisions, except to the European Court of Human Rights (a procedure that takes years). Habeas Corpus doesn't apply when the Terrorism (or immigration) legislation can be invoked and it is being used whenever and wherever convenient. The UK government is also discussing whether to opt out of the European Human Rights convention - a very worrying threat.
We are not all equal under the law, and moving away from a fair and just society at the speed of light. This is a terrible process to witness for someone who believes passionately in a fair society where resources such as health, education, housing, justice and the opportunity to work, are available to all.
We are facing a perfect storm of economic and climatic turbulence and we, the ordinary people, the 99%, need to reach out to each other and work together if we are to make a different kind of future for our children and grandchildren.
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