Remembrance Day

I suppose, if asked, we’d all opt for world peace. But it’d probably be quite tricky to organise, you might think, likely to be a bit complicated. Might need a lot of “buy in” from The Right People. Well, friends, I’m here to tell you that it’s actually quite straightforward. Just a couple of key changes and one or two subsidiary ones and all that nastiness will disappear forever (or at least until we get invaded from outer space).

Key change 1: We have to stop selling arms.
Arms sales are a shady business. If you want to find out just how shady – and just how nasty it is – then you might enjoy Mark Thomas‘s book “As Used On the Famous Nelson Mandela: Underground Adventures in the Arms and Torture Trade“. And I do mean enjoy; it’s a very entertaining book, given the subject matter.

There are probably two considerations here. Firstly, the people to whom we sell arms. Frankly, the list of despots, dictators and disgusting regimes that Britain has sold arms to is horrific. Two names that roll off the tongue are Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Despite all the governmental posturing on our behalf, we sold lots of arms to these people. If we need to sell arms at all, surely it should only be to our allies? I wonder, though, would you include America in there? (And, to be clear, I don’t believe the American government is representative of its people.)

The second point is whether we need the income from these arms sales. Can we afford to stop selling this equipment for killing and, yes, torturing people? The simple answer is of course we can. An awful lot of the revenue from the arms trade goes to private individuals and companies. Yes, of course BAe makes money this way but it is massively subsidised by the government, by which I mean you, the taxpayer. Perhaps the only thing we should worry about by abandoning arms sales abroad is the loss of jobs. Although, of course, then we could focus all that creativity – and the subsidies and jobs – on our non-aggressive inventors, like Trevor Bayliss and James Dyson.

So, how about it. We stop splashing our taxes out on developing weapons and instruments of torture and go back to inventing things that benefit people and make a bit of money that way. Yes? Good. Let’s move on.

Key change 2: Let’s help everybody
That sounds a bit woolly, doesn’t it? But let’s look at what we can do. We have an army that is one of the finest in the world. It’s brave and resourceful. Today, at a remembrance day service, I saw men and women wearing their medals with pride and it moved me to tears. I know they didn’t join up because they wanted – as the vintage t-shirt had it – to ‘see the world and kill people’.

Why can’t we deploy our people and technology to help people? Bringing food and water, clothing and shelter, hope and a future to people who need it. For as long as we have these dramatic discrepancies between the ‘first world’ and ‘third world’, there will always be the risk of extremism and, yes, I am talking about terrorism.

Sidebar: terrorism. Most people don’t want it and by most I mean practically everybody in the whole world. Literally. At the height of The Troubles, the best estimate was that 2% of people in Eire supported the IRA. Extremists wither on the vine very quickly without desperate people to follow their lead. So, let’s stop people feeling desperate. We can make a games console that recognises us and asks us if we want to play: surely we can feed and take care of people?

So, those are my key changes to save the world. I have one more slightly complicated one and one parochial change.

Complicated change: drugs.
This shouldn’t be complicated. The real killer is nicotine. And that’s widely available. Caffeine’s not great for you (sadly) and anyone who follows my tweets knows I like a glass of wine. More than a glass. But these are all legal.

There are, of course, lots of other drugs that are freely available but illegal. Not that people frequently get arrested for using them, just for supplying them. But if it’s OK – and relatively safe – to use or take something, why is it illegal to sell or provide it to someone?

Legalising drugs doesn’t mean you, personally, have to use them or, indeed, that anyone else does. What it means is an end to the horrors in South America, Afghanistan and (he wrote, lazily) elsewhere. An end to drug related crime and the police wasting their time fighting against the high, heavy wave of consumer demand. (And I’d like to point out here, my “rock ‘n’ roll years” notwithstanding, I’m just a coffee and alcohol man, myself.)

Legalising drugs would have an immediate and beneficial effect on the world. Daily Mail rhetoric aside, what is our issue with that?

The parochial change: the monarchy
I went to a remembrance day service today. I have overwhelming respect and gratitude to those people who gave their lives in the two great wars. My feelings are more complicated when it comes to those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, only because I don’t believe they should have been sent there in the first place.

How does this relate to the monarchy? I believe it is all to do with deference, to doing what we’re told by our perceived betters. This is the point, if we were in a pub, that I would mention that under Field Marshall Haig’s orders 60,000 – SIXTY THOUSAND – British soldiers lost their lives in one day at the battle of the Somme. In one day. Please stop and think about that.

We, those of us in Britain, live in a society where we tacitly accept that some are born better than others. This is not true. If there is one truth, it’s that we are all born equal. Our duty as citizens – citizens of the world, in fact – is to ensure that the equality is sustained throughout everyone’s lives. We all have an equal right to life, health and education. Oh, and food and shelter.

The monarchy, I believe, is the real reason we have the lowest social mobility in Europe: the class structure is bred into us from an early age. Young Disney fans around the world may buy into the harmless marketing ploy of The Princesses, but here in the UK, it is a fact of life.

This is why I didn’t sing the national anthem today.

So, in summary: let’s stop making clever weapons to sell to people who anyone with any moral judgement can see are entirely inappropriate ‘customers’. Let’s use how absolutely fucking brilliantly clever we are – all of us, as a planet – to benefit each other. And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of the drugs problem and, thereby, most of our crime, and, finally, let’s all be equal. Because, really, we are, you know.

About fennerpearson
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2 Responses to Remembrance Day

  1. Great post Fenner.

    When I was much more involved in politics/political action,as a young person, I think I had more of a grasp on some of the things you raise here.

    I have a vivid memory of demonstrating at Greenham Common, the base which held US Cruise (nuclear) missiles, in the 1980s. And the police violently removed me and my friends from barricading the gate where the lorries took the weapons into the base.

    We tend to get very detached from ‘violence’ and I think the detachment is aided by the current new media/internet (and drugs like wine!)

    I don’t know what the answer is. but I am sure one of them is to keep communicating with people in a thoughtful way. And a way that takes some effort so I think blogging counts.

    • Thanks, QRG.

      I think we do see too much violence and hear about it – and war and torture – to a degree that makes it mundane.

      But I believe that people do want to see an end to it, if only there was some mechanism to achieve it. We need a different political system – and different politicians – for that to happen. That is, perhaps, the complicated truth that is missing from my post.

      But blogging is a method to invigorate people and hopefully put them back in touch with a spirit for change that age sometimes blunts.

      Thanks again for commenting.


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