Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘George Orwell

Animal Farm? Is Mankind about ready for a couple Animal Farm stories

Have you read or recall the Animal Farm of George Orwell?

Do you recognize the pig Squealers (the propagandist), the pig Napoleons (Stalin), the Snowballs (Trotsky), the pigs in our society, the watchdogs, the donkeys (Ben), the raven (Moses), the carthorse (Boxer), the pigeons… and the capabilities, limitations and functions in our midst?

The farm animals revolted against Master Jones.

The pigs are ruling the new community because of their superior knowledge and are assuming the running of the farm according to new system of equality among all.

Squealer is taking the podium:

“Comrades. You do not imagine that we pigs are drinking the milk and eating the apple harvest in a spirit of selfishness and privileged status. Many of us don’t even like milk or apples.

But milk and apples contain substances absolutely necessary to the well being of the pig brain to keep this farm well managed for all.

If we fail in our duty, master Jones would come back. Surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones back…”

Snowball is of the opinion of sending out more pigeons to stir up rebellions among animals on the other farms

Napoleon is adamant that priority is to procure arms and get military training and  (rounding up the counter-revolutionaries)

Snowball is driven into exile. Napoleon is the new dictator.

A goose came forward and confessed to having secreted a few ears of corn from the last harvest.

A sheep confessed to have urinated in the drinking pool…

The slogan inscribed on the barn read “All animals are equal” and a new qualifier was added “But some are more equal than others

The carthorse represents the good natured common people, particularly the peasants.

The raven points to the priesthood class: They disappear in hard times and return as times are better

The donkey is the intellectual who normally rejects fuss and demonstrations, but clearly see what’s going on…

The Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet communist system crumbled, but Animal farm suits all kinds of political systems and is applicable to all of them.

Orwell was well placed to observe and analyse how the communists during the long Stalin reign functioned. He enlisted with the Republicans during the Spanish 1936 civil war and wrote Homage to Catalonia (published in 1938).

During his stay in Spain, Orwell was totally frustrated how the communists (Stalinists) turned their coats to the leftist Spanish parties and did their best to disunite the various factions and participated in the disintegration of the popular front and the victory of the fascist Franco..

Stalin had signed the partition of Poland with Hitler and in return, Franco had to take over in Spain.

So far, I read 6 of Orwell’s publications and extensively reviewed two of them: Down and out in Paris… and 1984.

A few of the publication of this awesome author:

1. Burmese Days, 1934: Orwell enlisted with the British army in Burma before the WWII

2. A Clergyman’s Daughter 1935

3. Keep the Aspidistra Flying 191936

4. Coming up for Air 1939

5. Animal farm 1945

6. The Road to Wigan Pier 1937: He witnessed very closely the life of the miners and their families in Birmingham

7. Homage to Catalonia 1938

8. Inside the Whale 1940

9. The Lion and the Unicorn 1941

10. James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution 1946

11 Critical Essays 1946

12. Shooting an Elephant 1950

13. England your England 1953

14. Down and out in Paris and London 1933

15. 1984

Note: Down and Out  https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/down-and-out-in-paris-and-london-by-george-orwell/

Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators

The psychological origins of waiting (… and waiting, and waiting) to work.
Lots of people procrastinate but for writers it is a peculiarly common occupational hazard.
“Fixed mind-set,” people versus  “growth mind-set” who thrive on challenges because they would learn something they had no talent in.
A good read.
 posted this FEB 12 2014

Like most writers, I am an inveterate procrastinator.

In the course of writing this one article, I have checked my e-mail approximately 3,000 times, made and discarded multiple grocery lists, conducted a lengthy Twitter battle over whether the gold standard is actually the worst economic policy ever proposed, written Facebook messages to schoolmates I haven’t seen in at least a decade, invented a delicious new recipe for chocolate berry protein smoothies, and googled my own name several times to make sure that I have at least once written something that someone would actually want to read.

Wikimedia Commons

One book editor I talked to fondly reminisced about the first book she was assigned to work on, back in the late 1990s. It had gone under contract in 1972.

I once asked a talented and fairly famous colleague how he managed to regularly produce such highly regarded 8,000 word features.

“Well,” he said, “first, I put it off for two or three weeks. Then I sit down to write. That’s when I get up and go clean the garage. After that, I go upstairs, and then I come back downstairs and complain to my wife for a couple of hours. Finally, but only after a couple more days have passed and I’m really freaking out about missing my deadline, I ultimately sit down and write.”

Over the years, I developed a theory about why writers are such procrastinators: We were too good in English class. This sounds crazy, but hear me out.

Most writers were the kids who easily, almost automatically, got A’s in English class. (There are exceptions, but they often also seem to be exceptions to the general writing habit of putting off writing as long as possible.)

At an early age, when grammar school teachers were struggling to inculcate the lesson that effort was the main key to success in school, these future scribblers gave the obvious lie to this assertion.

Where others read haltingly, they were plowing two grades ahead in the reading workbooks. These are the kids who turned in a completed YA novel for their fifth-grade project.

It isn’t that they never failed, but at a very early age, they didn’t have to fail much; their natural talents kept them at the head of the class.

This teaches a very bad, very false lesson: that success in work mostly depends on natural talent.

Unfortunately, when you are a professional writer, you are competing with all the other kids who were at the top of their English classes. Your stuff may not—indeed, probably won’t—be the best anymore.

If you’ve spent most of your life cruising ahead on natural ability, doing what came easily and quickly, every word you write becomes a test of just how much ability you have, every article a referendum on how good a writer you are.

As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good.

Before you take to the keys, you are Proust and Oscar Wilde and George Orwell all rolled up into one delicious package.

By the time you’re finished, you’re more like one of those 1940’s pulp hacks who strung hundred-page paragraphs together with semicolons because it was too much effort to figure out where the sentence should end.

The Fear of Turning In Nothing

Most writers manage to get by because, as the deadline creeps closer, their fears of turning in nothing eventually surpasses their fears of turning in something terrible.

But I’ve watched a surprising number of young journalists wreck, or nearly wreck, their careers by simply failing to hand in articles. These are all college graduates who can write in complete sentences, so it is not that they are lazy incompetents. Rather, they seem to be paralyzed by the prospect of writing something that isn’t very good.

“Exactly!” said Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, when I floated this theory by her. One of the best-known experts in the psychology of motivation, Dweck has spent her career studying failure, and how people react to it.

As you might expect, failure isn’t all that popular an activity. And yet, as she discovered through her research, not everyone reacts to it by breaking out in hives. While many of the people she studied hated tasks that they didn’t do well, some people thrived under the challenge. They positively relished things they weren’t very good at—for precisely the reason that they should have: when they were failing, they were learning.

Dweck puzzled over what it was that made these people so different from their peers. It hit her one day as she was sitting in her office (then at Columbia), chewing over the results of the latest experiment with one of her graduate students: the people who dislike challenges think that talent is a fixed thing that you’re either born with or not. The people who relish them think that it’s something you can nourish by doing stuff you’re not good at.

There was this eureka moment,” says Dweck.

She now identifies the former group as people with a “fixed mind-set,” while the latter group has a “growth mind-set.”

Whether you are more fixed or more of a grower helps determine how you react to anything that tests your intellectual abilities.

For growth people, challenges are an opportunity to deepen their talents, but for “fixed” people, they are just a dipstick that measures how high your ability level is.

Finding out that you’re not as good as you thought is not an opportunity to improve; it’s a signal that you should maybe look into a less demanding career, like mopping floors.

This fear of being unmasked as the incompetent you “really” are is so common that it actually has a clinical name: impostor syndrome. A shocking number of successful people (particularly women), believe that they haven’t really earned their spots, and are at risk of being unmasked as frauds at any moment.

Many people deliberately seek out easy tests where they can shine, rather than tackling harder material that isn’t as comfortable.

If they’re forced into a challenge they don’t feel prepared for, they may even engage in what psychologists call “self-handicapping” behaviors: deliberately doing things that will hamper their performance in order to give themselves an excuse for not doing well.

Self-handicapping can be fairly spectacular: in one study, men deliberately chose performance-inhibiting drugs when facing a task they didn’t expect to do well on.

“Instead of studying,” writes the psychologist Edward Hirt, “a student goes to a movie the night before an exam. If he performs poorly, he can attribute his failure to a lack of studying rather than to a lack of ability or intelligence. On the other hand, if he does well on the exam, he may conclude that he has exceptional ability, because he was able to perform well without studying.”

Writers who don’t produce copy—or leave it so long that they couldn’t possibly produce something good—are giving themselves the perfect excuse for not succeeding.

“Work finally begins,” says Alain de Botton, “when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.” For people with an extremely fixed mind-set, that tipping point quite often never happens. They fear nothing so much as finding out that they never had what it takes.

“The kids who race ahead in the readers without much supervision get praised for being smart,” says Dweck. “What are they learning? They’re learning that being smart is not about overcoming tough challenges. It’s about finding work easyWhen they get to college or graduate school and it starts being hard, they don’t necessarily know how to deal with that.”

Embracing Hard Work

Our educational system is almost designed to foster a fixed mind-set. Think about how a typical English class works: You read a “great work” by a famous author, discussing what the messages are, and how the author uses language, structure, and imagery to convey them.

You memorize particularly pithy quotes to be regurgitated on the exam, and perhaps later on second dates.

Students are rarely encouraged to peek at early drafts of those works. All they see is the final product, lovingly polished by both writer and editor to a very high shine. When the teacher asks “What is the author saying here?” no one ever suggests that the answer might be “He didn’t quite know” or “That sentence was part of a key scene in an earlier draft, and he forgot to take it out in revision.”

Or consider a science survey class. It consists almost entirely of the theories that turned out to be right—not the folks who believed in the mythical “N-rays,” declared that human beings had forty-eight chromosomes, or saw imaginary canals on Mars.

When we do read about falsified scientific theories of the past—Lamarckian evolution, phrenology, reproduction by “spontaneous generation”—the people who believed in them frequently come across as ludicrous yokels, even though many of them were distinguished scientists who made real contributions to their fields.

“You never see the mistakes, or the struggle,” says Dweck. No wonder students get the idea that being a good writer is defined by not writing bad stuff.

Unfortunately, in your own work, you are confronted with every clunky paragraph, every labored metaphor and unending story that refuses to come to a point.

“The reason we struggle with “insecurity,” says Pastor Steven Furtick, “is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

About six years ago, commentators started noticing a strange pattern of behavior among the young millennial who were pouring out of college. Eventually, the writer Ron Alsop would dub them the Trophy Kids. Despite the sound of it, this has nothing to do with “trophy wives.” Rather, it has to do with the way these kids were raised.

This new generation was brought up to believe that there should be no winners and no losers, no scrubs or MVPs. Everyone, no matter how ineptly they perform, gets a trophy.

As these kids have moved into the workforce, managers complain that new graduates expect the workplace to replicate the cosy, well-structured environment of school. They demand concrete, well-described tasks and constant feedback, as if they were still trying to figure out what was going to be on the exam.

“It’s very hard to give them negative feedback without crushing their egos,” one employer told Bruce Tulgan, the author of Not Everyone Gets a Trophy. “They walk in thinking they know more than they know.”

When I started asking around about this phenomenon, I was a bit skeptical. After all, us old geezers have been grousing about those young whippersnappers for centuries.

But whenever I brought the subject up, I got a torrent of complaints, including from people who  have been managing new hires for decades. They were able to compare them with previous classes, not just with some mental image of how great we all were at their age. And they insisted that something really has changed—something that’s not limited to the super-coddled children of the elite.

“I’ll hire someone who’s 27, and he’s fine,” says Todd, who manages a car rental operation in the Midwest. “But if I hire someone who’s twenty-three or twenty-four, they need everything spelled out for them, they want me to hover over their shoulder. It’s like somewhere in those three or four years, someone flipped a switch.”

They are probably harder working and more conscientious than my generation.  But many seem intensely uncomfortable with the comparatively unstructured world of work.  No wonder so many elite students go into finance and consulting—jobs that surround them with other elite grads, with well-structured reviews and advancement.

Today’s new graduates may be better credentialed than previous generations, and are often very hardworking, but only when given very explicit direction. And they seem to demand constant praise.

Is it any wonder, with so many adults hovering so closely over every aspect of their lives? Frantic parents of a certain socioeconomic level now give their kids the kind of intensive early grooming that used to be reserved for princelings or little Dalai Lamas.

All this “help” can be actively harmful. These days, I’m told, private schools in New York are (quietly, tactfully) trying to combat a minor epidemic of expensive tutors who do the kids’ work for them, something that would have been nearly unthinkable when I went through the system 20 years ago.

Our parents were in league with the teachers, not us. But these days, fewer seem willing to risk letting young Silas or Gertrude fail out of the Ivy League.

Thanks to decades of expansion, there are still enough spaces for basically every student who wants to go to college. But there’s a catch: Most of those new spaces were created at less selective schools. Two-thirds of Americans now attend a college that, for all intents and purposes, admits anyone who applies. Spots at the elite schools—the top 10 percent—have barely kept up with population growth.

Meanwhile demand for those slots has grown much faster, because as the economy has gotten more competitive, parents are looking for a guarantee that their children will be successful. A degree from an elite school is the closest thing they can think of.

So we get Whiffle Parenting: constant supervision to ensure that a kid can’t knock themselves off the ladder that is thought to lead, almost automatically, through a selective college and into the good life.

It’s an entirely rational reaction to an educational system in which the stakes are always rising, and any small misstep can knock you out of the race. But is this really good parenting?

A golden credential is no guarantee of success, and in the process of trying to secure one for their kids, parents are depriving them of what they really need: the ability to learn from their mistakes, to be knocked down and to pick themselves up—the ability, in other words, to fail gracefully.

That is probably the most important lesson our kids will learn at school, and instead many are being taught the opposite.


This post is adapted from Megan McArdle’s The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success.

Who is controlling the Present? Controlled the Past? Is set to control the Future?

In 1948, author George Orwell, in an anticipatory vision, published “1984“.  Orwell wrote:

“Who controls the Present has the control of the Past; and who manages to control the Past can control the Future”

In the 10th century, western Europe civilization was far behind in civilization, culture, and knowledge compared to the Arabic, Indian, and Chinese civilizations.  Europe had the foresight of instituting this routine of keeping detailed records of all political, and economic transactions.

Officials, anywhere they were assigned, had to send detailed reports of daily transactions, behavior of the people, and communicating the existing culture of the indigenous communities.

Archives were centralized, kept secured and well maintained, and opened to the public for further investigation and analysis of trends and changes.

This habit is currently applicable:  Secret files and reports are made public after a set period for researchers to dig in and dust off the manuscripts and mine old pieces of intelligence.

Most other civilizations barely kept archives on topics related to the common people and the general interests. Their Past is almost forgotten.  What remains are altered customs and traditions…

For example, if the new Arab Empire didn’t translate Greek works, we would never had any Greek civilization to ponder upon or try valiantly referring to Greek culture as European sources for democracy, liberty, freedom of opinions, and ….

Western Europe controlled their present, and consequently, managed to control their Past by interpreting what suited their present conditions.  Currently, many ethnic minorities, even those with a written language, are being assimilated within the dominant culture.  Why?

It is expensive and not readily profitable to encourage people to write and publish in their own language: Lacking a large pool of dedicated readers to support conserving the memory of the present.

It is also a daunting task to find academics willing to learn and translate original works and manuscripts in minority languages.

To the question “Have you dreams for the future?”, asked by Hans Ulrich Obrist to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, Assange replied:

“What I am dreaming of is starting to happen. my project is that every published digitized documents, articles, intellectual work, musical works, movies, videos, pieces of intelligence in social platforms…carries a particular name, (a sort of alphanumeric code), a system of indexing, so that any editing or revision or modification in any document will necessarily receive another name and keep track of the original version…This is one of my dreams for ensuring the continuation of this Tower of Babel, of pure knowledge…”

Why Assange is having this daydream project?

For example, since the advent of digitized  technology, many documents have been tampered with, if not literally killed, destroyed, and removed from public scrutiny.  As if this piece of knowledge and intelligence has never existed.

For example, a court order or an injunction to retire an article will result in “page not found” on the internet if you search for a specific article including “banned” keywords.

In 2008, an Iraqi billionaire during Saddam Hussein regime, named Nadhim Auchi, hired the British law firm of Carter-Ruck to attack in justice dailies that published articles in 2003 related to his indictment in France to 15 months of prison term in the affair of Elf.

Why Auchi wanted these articles retired from public scrutiny?

It turned out that Auchi had contributed $3.5 million to President Obama Presidential campaign via Tony Rezko.  Rezko was indicted for corruption in 2008.  Consequently, the British court ordered the published article retired from circulation.  Eight articles were deleted, among them 3 in the The Guardian and one in The Daily Telegraph.

For example, if WikiLeaks didn’t publish the 400, 000 leaked documents, the information on the Task Force 373 with order to assassinate 2,000 individuals on a list, would have certainly be erased for ever… Examples of killing documents abound, even during ancient times.

Mind you that neuro sciences have established that the area of memory of the past is the same that is activated when you plan for any project.

No memory, no good potential for planning out the future 

Note 1: You may read on banned manuscripts https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/famous-manuscripts-banned-by-the-vatican-part-2/

Note 2:  European adventurers since the 16th centuries left a wealth of information on countries they traveled too, using any means, adding hand drawn pictures and hand drawn maps…

How America criminalised poverty

From TomDispatch, part of the Guardian Comment Network, Wednesday 10 August 2011

Note: Occasionally, I like to republish interesting articles before I butt in for a few comments. This article explains the reactions to the book Nickel and Dimed 2001

    • Homeless person, Washington DC
A homeless person sits wrapped in a blanket near the White House in Washington DC. Photograph: Robyn Beck/EPA
“There’s just no end to it once the cycle (of poverty) starts. It just keeps accelerating.”says Robert Solomon of Yale Law School

“The viciousness of State officials to the poor and homeless is breathtaking, trapping them in a cycle of poverty.

A Florida woman wrote to tell me that, before reading it, she’d always been annoyed at the poor for what she saw as their self-inflicted obesity. Now she understood that a healthy diet wasn’t always an option. And if I had a quarter for every person who’s told me, he or she now tipped more generously, I would be able to start my own foundation.

How to define poverty?

Three months after the book was published, the Economic Policy Institute in Washington DC issued a report entitled “Hardships in America: The Real Story of Working Families”, which found an astounding 29% of American families living in what could be more reasonably defined as poverty, meaning that they earned less than a barebones budget covering housing, child care, health care, food, transportation, and taxes – though not, it should be noted, any entertainment, meals out, cable TV, Internet service, vacations, or holiday gifts..

I completed the manuscript for Nickel and Dimed in a time of seemingly boundless prosperity. Technology innovators and venture capitalists were acquiring sudden fortunes, buying up McMansions, like the ones I had cleaned in Maine and much larger. Even secretaries in some hi-tech firms were striking it rich with their stock options.

There was loose talk about a permanent conquest of the business cycle, and a sassy new spirit infecting American capitalism. In San Francisco, a billboard for an e-trading firm proclaimed, “Make love not war,” and, down at the bottom, “Screw it, just make money.”

When the book Nickel and Dimed was published in May 2001, cracks were appearing in the dot-com bubble and the stock market had begun to falter, but the book still evidently came as a surprise, even a revelation, to many. In that first year or two after publication, people came up to me and opened with the words, “I never thought …” or “I hadn’t realised …”

To my own amazement, Nickel and Dimed quickly ascended to the bestseller list and began winning awards. Criticisms have accumulated over the years. But for the most part, the book has been far better received than I could have imagined it would be, with an impact extending well into the more comfortable classes.

Even more gratifying to me, the book has been widely read among low-wage workers. In the last few years, hundreds of people have written to tell me their stories: the mother of a newborn infant whose electricity had just been turned off, the woman who had just been given a diagnosis of cancer and has no health insurance, the newly homeless man who writes from a library computer.

At the time I wrote Nickel and Dimed, I wasn’t sure how many people it directly applied to – only that the official definition of poverty was way off the mark, since it defined an individual earning $7 an hour, as I did on average, as well out of poverty.

29% is a minority, but not a reassuringly small one, and other studies in the early 2000s came up with similar figures.

The big question, 10 years later, is whether things have improved or worsened for those in the bottom third of the income distribution.

For example, the people who clean hotel rooms, work in warehouses, wash dishes in restaurants, care for the very young and very old, and keep the shelves stocked in our stores. The short answer is that things have gotten much worse, especially since the economic downturn that began in 2008.

Post-meltdown poverty

While I was researching my book the  hardships encountered– the skipped meals, the lack of medical care, the occasional need to sleep in cars or vans –Mind you that those occurred in the best of times. The economy was growing, and jobs, if poorly paid, were at least plentiful.

In 2000, I had been able to walk into a number of jobs pretty much off the street.

Less than a decade later, many of these jobs had disappeared and there was stiff competition for those that remained. It would have been impossible to repeat my Nickel and Dimed “experiment”, had I had been so inclined, because I would probably never have found a job.

For the last couple of years, I have attempted to find out what was happening to the working poor in a declining economy – this time using conventional reporting techniques like interviewing. I started with my own extended family, which includes plenty of people without jobs or health insurance, and moved on to trying to track down a couple of the people I had met while working on Nickel and Dimed.

This wasn’t easy, because most of the addresses and phone numbers I had taken away with me had proved to be inoperative within a few months, probably due to moves and suspensions of telephone service. I had kept in touch with “Melissa” over the years, who was still working at Wal-Mart, where her wages had risen from $7 to $10 an hour, but in the meantime, her husband had lost his job.

Caroline, now in her 50s and partly disabled by diabetes and heart disease, had left her deadbeat husband and was subsisting on occasional cleaning and catering jobs. Neither seemed unduly afflicted by the recession, but only because they had already been living in what amounts to a permanent economic depression.

Media attention has focused, understandably enough, on the “nouveau poor” – formerly middle and even upper-middle class people who lost their jobs, their homes, and/or their investments in the financial crisis of 2008 and the economic downturn that followed it, but the brunt of the recession has been borne by the blue-collar working class, which had already been sliding downwards since de-industrialisation began in the 1980s.

In 2008 and 2009, for example, blue-collar unemployment was increasing three times as fast as white-collar unemployment, and African American and Latino workers were three times as likely to be unemployed as white workers. Low-wage blue-collar workers, like the people I worked with in this book, were especially hard hit for the simple reason that they had so few assets and savings to fall back on as jobs disappeared.

How have the already-poor attempted to cope with their worsening economic situation?

One obvious way is to cut back on health care.

The New York Times reported in 2009 that one-third of Americans could no longer afford to comply with their prescriptions and that there had been a sizable drop in the use of medical care. Others, including members of my extended family, have given up their health insurance.

Food is another expenditure that has proved vulnerable to hard times, with the rural poor turning increasingly to “food auctions“, which offer items that may be past their sell-by dates.

And for those who like their meat fresh, there’s the option of urban hunting.

In Racine, Wisconsin, a 51-year-old laid-off mechanic told me he was supplementing his diet by “shooting squirrels and rabbits and eating them stewed, baked and grilled”. In Detroit, where the wildlife population has mounted as the human population ebbs, a retired truck driver was doing a brisk business in raccoon carcasses, which he recommends marinating with vinegar and spices.

The most common coping strategy, though, is simply to increase the number of paying people per square foot of dwelling space – by doubling up or renting to couch-surfers.

It’s hard to get firm numbers on overcrowding, because no one likes to acknowledge it to census-takers, journalists, or anyone else who might be remotely connected to the authorities.

In Los Angeles, housing expert Peter Dreier says that “people who’ve lost their jobs, or at least their second jobs, cope by doubling or tripling up in overcrowded apartments, or by paying even 70% of their incomes in rent“.

According to a community organiser in Alexandria, Virginia, the standard apartment in a complex occupied largely by day labourers has two bedrooms, each containing an entire family of up to five people, plus an additional person laying claim to the couch.

No one could call suicide a “coping strategy”, but it is one way some people have responded to job loss and debt.

There are no national statistics linking suicide to economic hard times, but the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline reported more than a four-fold increase in call volume between 2007 and 2009, and regions with particularly high unemployment, such as Elkhart, Indiana, have seen troubling spikes in their suicide rates. Foreclosure is often the trigger for suicide – or, worse, murder-suicides that destroy entire families.

“Torture and Abuse of Needy Families”: TANF, or Temporary Assistance to Needy  Families

We do of course have a collective way of ameliorating the hardships of individuals and families – a government safety net that is meant to save the poor from spiralling down all the way to destitution.

But its response to the economic emergency of the last few years has been spotty at best. The food stamp program has responded to the crisis fairly well, to the point where it now reaches about 37 million people, up about 30% from pre-recession levels.  Welfare – the traditional last resort for the down-and-out until it was “reformed” in 1996 – only expanded by about 6% in the first two years of the recession.

What’s the difference between the two programs, Food stamp program andWelfare ?

There is a right to food stamps. You go to the office and, if you meet the statutory definition of need, they help you. For welfare, the street-level bureaucrats can, pretty much at their own discretion, just say no.

Take the case of Kristen and Joe Parente, Delaware residents who had always imagined that people turned to the government for help only if “they didn’t want to work”. Their troubles began well before the recession, when Joe, a fourth-generation pipe-fitter, sustained a back injury that left him unfit for even light lifting. He fell into a profound depression for several months, then rallied to ace a state-sponsored retraining course in computer repairs – only to find that those skills are no longer in demand. The obvious fallback was disability benefits, but – catch-22 – when Joe applied he was told he could not qualify without presenting a recent MRI scan. This would cost $800 to $900, which the Parentes do not have; nor has Joe, unlike the rest of the family, been able to qualify for Medicaid.

When they married as teenagers, the plan had been for Kristen to stay home with the children. But with Joe out of action and three children to support by the middle of this decade, Kristen went out and got waitressing jobs, ending up, in 2008, in a “pretty fancy place on the water”. Then the recession struck and she was laid off.

Kristen is bright, pretty, and to judge from her command of her own small kitchen, probably capable of holding down a dozen tables with precision and grace. In the past she’d always been able to land a new job within days; now there was nothing.

Like 44% of laid-off people at the time, Kristen failed to meet the fiendishly complex and sometimes arbitrary eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits. Their car started falling apart.

So the Parentes turned to what remains of welfare – TANF, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

TANF does not offer straightforward cash support like Aid to Families with Dependent Children, which it replaced in 1996. It’s an income supplementation program for working parents, and it was based on the sunny assumption that there would always be plenty of jobs for those enterprising enough to get them.

After Kristen applied, nothing happened for six weeks – no money, no phone calls returned. At school, the Parentes’ seven-year-old’s class was asked to write out what wish they would present to a genie, should a genie appear. Brianna’s wish was for her mother to find a job because there was nothing to eat in the house, an aspiration that her teacher deemed too disturbing to be posted on the wall with the other children’s requests.

When the Parentes finally got into “the system” and began receiving food stamps and some cash assistance, they discovered why some recipients have taken to calling TANF “Torture and Abuse of Needy Families.”

From the start, the TANF experience was “humiliating”, Kristen says. The caseworkers “treat you like a bum. They act like every dollar you get is coming out of their own paychecks”.

The Parentes discovered that they were each expected to apply for 40 jobs a week, although their car was on its last legs and no money was offered for gas, tolls, or babysitting. In addition, Kristen had to drive 35 miles a day to attend “job readiness” classes offered by a private company called Arbor, which, she says, were “frankly a joke”.

Nationally, according to Kaaryn Gustafson of the University of Connecticut Law School, “applying for welfare is a lot like being booked by the police“. There may be a mug shot, fingerprinting, and lengthy interrogations as to one’s children’s true paternity. The ostensible goal is to prevent welfare fraud, but the psychological impact is to turn poverty itself into a kind of crime.

How the safety net became a dragnet

The most shocking thing I learned from my research on the fate of the working poor in the recession was the extent to which poverty has indeed been criminalised in America.

Perhaps the constant suspicions of drug use and theft that I encountered in low-wage workplaces should have alerted me to the fact that, when you leave the relative safety of the middle class, you might as well have given up your citizenship and taken residence in a hostile nation.

Most cities, for example, have ordinances designed to drive the destitute off the streets by outlawing such necessary activities of daily life as sitting, loitering, sleeping, or lying down. )It is the same tactics at every generation).

Urban officials boast that there is nothing discriminatory about such laws: “If you’re lying on a sidewalk, whether you’re homeless or a millionaire, you’re in violation of the ordinance,” a St Petersburg, Florida, city attorney stated in June 2009, echoing Anatole France’s immortal observation that “the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges.”

In defiance of all reason and compassion, the criminalisation of poverty has actually intensified as the weakened economy generates ever more poverty. So concludes a recent study from the National Law Centre on Poverty and Homelessness, which finds that the number of ordinances against the publicly poor has been rising since 2006, along with the harassment of the poor for more “neutral” infractions like jaywalking, littering, or carrying an open container.

The report lists America’s 10 “meanest” cities – the largest of which include Los Angeles, Atlanta and Orlando – but new contestants are springing up every day. In Colorado, Grand Junction’s city council is considering a ban on begging; Tempe, Arizona, carried out a four-day crackdown on the indigent at the end of June. And how do you know when someone is indigent? As a Las Vegas statute puts it, “an indigent person is a person whom a reasonable ordinary person would believe to be entitled to apply for or receive” public assistance.

That could be me before the blow-drying and eyeliner, and it’s definitely Al Szekeley at any time of day. A grizzled 62-year-old, he inhabits a wheelchair and is often found on G Street in Washington DC – the city that is ultimately responsible for the bullet he took in the spine in Phu Bai, Vietnam, in 1972.

He had been enjoying the luxury of an indoor bed until December 2008, when the police swept through the shelter in the middle of the night looking for men with outstanding warrants.

It turned out that Szekeley, who is an ordained minister and does not drink, do drugs, or cuss in front of ladies, did indeed have one – for “criminal trespassing“, as sleeping on the streets is sometimes defined by the law. So he was dragged out of the shelter and put in jail.

“Can you imagine?” asked Eric Sheptock, the homeless advocate (himself a shelter resident) who introduced me to Szekeley. “They arrested a homeless man in a shelter for being homeless?”

The viciousness of the official animus toward the indigent can be breathtaking.

A few years ago, a group called Food Not Bombs started handing out free vegan food to hungry people in public parks around the nation. A number of cities, led by Las Vegas, passed ordinances forbidding the sharing of food with the indigent in public places, leading to the arrests of several middle-aged white vegans.

One anti-sharing law was just overturned in Orlando, but the war on illicit generosity continues.

Orlando is appealing the decision, and Middletown, Connecticut, is in the midst of a crackdown. More recently, Gainesville, Florida, began enforcing a rule limiting the number of meals that soup kitchens may serve to 130 people in one day, and Phoenix, Arizona, has been using zoning laws to stop a local church from serving breakfast to homeless people.

For the not-yet-homeless, there are two main paths to criminalisation, and one is debt.

Anyone can fall into debt, and although we pride ourselves on the abolition of debtors’ prison, in at least one state, Texas, people who can’t pay fines for things like expired inspection stickers may be made to “sit out their tickets” in jail.

More commonly, the path to prison begins when one of your creditors has a court summons issued for you, which you fail to honour for one reason or another, such as that your address has changed and you never received it. OK, now you’re in “contempt of the court“.

Or suppose you miss a payment and your car insurance lapses, and then you’re stopped for something like a broken headlight (about $130 for the bulb alone). Now, depending on the state, you may have your car impounded and/or face a steep fine – again, exposing you to a possible court summons. “There’s just no end to it once the cycle starts,” says Robert Solomon of Yale Law School. “It just keeps accelerating.”

The second – and by far the most reliable – way to be criminalised by poverty is to have the wrong colour skin.

Indignation runs high when a celebrity professor succumbs to racial profiling, but whole communities are effectively “profiled” for the suspicious combination of being both dark-skinned and poor. Flick a cigarette and you’re “littering”; wear the wrong colour T-shirt and you’re displaying gang allegiance. Just strolling around in a dodgy neighbourhood can mark you as a potential suspect. And don’t get grumpy about it or you could be “resisting arrest“.

In what has become a familiar pattern, the government defunds services that might help the poor while ramping up law enforcement.

Shut down public housing, then make it a crime to be homeless. Generate no public-sector jobs, then penalise people for falling into debt. The experience of the poor, and especially poor people of colour, comes to resemble that of a rat in a cage scrambling to avoid erratically administered electric shocks.

And if you should try to escape this nightmare reality into a brief, drug-induced high, it’s “gotcha” all over again, because that of course is illegal too.

One result is our staggering level of incarceration, the highest in the world.

Today, exactly the same number of Americans – 2.3 million – reside in prison as in public housing. And what public housing remains has become ever more prison-like, with random police sweeps and, in a growing number of cities, proposed drug tests for residents. The safety net, or what remains of it, has been transformed into a dragnet.

It is not clear whether economic hard times will finally force us to break the mad cycle of poverty and punishment.

With even the official level of poverty increasing – to over 14% in 2010 – some states are beginning to ease up on the criminalisation of poverty, using alternative sentencing methods, shortening probation, and reducing the number of people locked up for technical violations like missing court appointments.

But others, diabolically enough, are tightening the screws: not only increasing the number of “crimes”, but charging prisoners for their room and board, guaranteeing they’ll be released with potentially criminalising levels of debt.

So what is the solution to the poverty of so many of America’s working people?

Ten years ago, when Nickel and Dimed first came out, I often responded with the standard liberal wish list – a higher minimum wage, universal health care, affordable housing, good schools, reliable public transportation, and all the other things we, uniquely among the developed nations, have neglected to do.

Today, the answer seems both more modest and more challenging: if we want to reduce poverty, we have to stop doing the things that make people poor and keep them that way. Stop underpaying people for the jobs they do. Stop treating working people as potential criminals and let them have the right to organise for better wages and working conditions.

Stop the institutional harassment of those who turn to the government for help or find themselves destitute in the streets.

Maybe, as so many Americans seem to believe today, we can’t afford the kinds of public programs that would genuinely alleviate poverty – though I would argue otherwise. At least, we should decide, as a bare minimum principle, to stop kicking people when they’re down.” End of article

This article is hugely important to me.

If I wrote my diary it is mainly to recollect the miseries I experienced living in the USA for 20 years, to face the conditions, and have a closure.

I earned a PhD in Industrial engineering, but graduated in 1991, at the peak of a recession during Bush senior.

Worse, I had no residency to even hope for a decent job, since I had no relative for support or to back me up.

I recall periods of utter helplessness.  I was living in Kensington (Maryland) and people who knew me assumed I had AIDS or a terminal disease, simply because I looked it.  I spent my last $10 visiting a local dispensary to be told that I am suffering from malnutrition.

At least, I had a professional opinion that I have no terminal disease…I was not entitled to food stamp or welfare programs either (I think), otherwise I would have jumped to the occasion since I turned every stone for survival sake.

I returned to Lebanon: I would not die of hunger or in a ditch like a dog, or in the one room basement frequently flooded and humid

Note 1: George Orwell described this situation very accuretly in https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/down-and-out-in-paris-and-london-by-george-orwell/

Note 2:  You may read https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/no-mass-demonstrations-in-the-us-so-far-is-youth-in-the-us-practically-illiterate/

Sahara Lives (May 13, 2009)

The southern part of the Arabic Peninsula such as Yemen, Muscat, and Hadramout had trade routes for the incense they produced since the third millennia BC using donkeys for transport.  These urban civilizations domesticated first the camel for its milk and hair (coat) for tent making and eventually its meat. Camels were then used as beast of burden within the urban regions; an implement in the form of horse shoe (bat) surrounded the boss and when attached in the front served for stabilizing loads on both sides.

As camels were discovered not to need to drink for over two weeks while crossing long distances under extremely hot climates then, various modifications were necessary to holding loads for desert travels. Eventually, in the second millennia techniques for designing saddles for war purposes as a mounting fighting beast were introduced; there were saddles located ahead, on, or behind the boss of the camel for specific fighting advantages; the main specifications related to matters of control of the beast, stability, and range of vision.

The Bedouin caste system was thus created by the urban merchant to domesticate camels.  Camel riders were later used to support caravans as fighting guards against raiders.  Raising camels thus became a lucrative trade that specific tribes of Bedouins had the monopoly. The Romans never introduced camels in their northern African colonies because camels did not exist then in that region.  Otherwise, the Empire of Carthage would have used camels instead of elephants for their greater benefits.

Camels were introduced in the Sahara after the second century BC.  Bedouins riding domesticated camels crossed the Red Sea from Arabia and reached Mauritania on the Atlantic by taking routes in the sub Saharan regions such as Sudan, Chad, Niger, and current Mali. Then various tribes ventured north to Morocco, Algeria, and Libya.

In the seventh century AC the Moslem Arabs conquered North Africa and one of their leader Tarek bin Ziad crossed the Gibraltar strait to invade Spain. By and by, Arabic tribes settled in North Africa; the tribe of Banu Hilal settled in Morocco. More trade routes from the north to the south of the Sahara were created.  Consequently, nomadic tribes from south and north of the Sahara communicated.

There are many nomadic tribes crossing the sub Sahara desert.  One of the most known tribes is what the French called “Touareg”.  The name Touareg is an Arabic name for “tawareq” meaning “outsiders”.  The French colonial power tried hard to weave myths around the Touareg mainly to distinguish them from the “Arabs” who resisted every foreign colonial invasion from Spain, France, and Italy.  Consequently, the Touareg had to be categorized as a “white race” and very different from their Arab counterparts and the inhabitants of Algeria were divided as Arabs (coastal urbane) and Kabila (tribes or people of the interior).

Sahara is the Arabic plural for “sahrat” given to uncultivated lands but that are still inhabited by seasonal nomadic tribes around oasis close to urban centers. The desert regions that are not inhabited at all are called “khali” or “khlat”; caravans occasionally cross these desert area for seasonal trading events.

There are lopsided romanticism in favor of the lifestyle of the nomadic tribes based on myths of freedom, liberty, and level of democracy in organizing their life; I bed to differ strongly.  I recall reading an article published in 1908 in Paris by the Lebanese journalist Jubran Tueni Senior mocking a new method of teaching freedom to Bedouins.  Tueni relates that representatives from a new political party formed in Damascus visited nomadic tribes in Huron with the purpose of explaining the freedoms guaranteed by the new Constitution.  Tueni ends his articles “Wouldn’t it be wiser for the urban representatives to learn the fundamentals of freedom, liberty, and democracy from the Bedouins?” That is the kinds of romanticism that has plagued and is still plaguing our understanding of the “high” moral quality of nomads.

There are many different tribes settling and crossing the Sahara and speaking different slangs.  Almost all the nomadic tribes in the Sahara are Moslems with variations in the strictness of application of the “Sharia” or laws.  There are definite hierarchical structures within the tribes; in general, tribes specialized in raising camels are at the highest level. The Touareg tribes have a matriarchal society, the same that the Arab Peninsula tribes had before Islam; in the sense that women run the economical and daily life of the tribes and the men do the outside commerce and the raiding to bring in the spoil and loots.  The tents of the Touareg are made of leather while the Arab tents are made of camel and goat hair; the design of saddles is also different.

I recall a paragraph of one of the earliest books of George Orwell “The Cleric’s Daughter” describing the Gypsies with their stupid faces and their eyes shining with malice and mean purposes.  Many people might consider these sorts of descriptions as racist.  That authors should be judged as they change and develop and not on their early beginning is out of this subject matter. My contention is that this description could be applicable of any people who have been displaced from their familiar environment; it is true to nomads transplanted to urban environment for making a living or westerners happening to live among the nomads for making a living and not just tourists.  The factor of utter fear in new unfamiliar settings within a different society is the same no matter how advanced we think we are.  The nomads lead a harsh life and the exigencies for survival should eliminate romantic tendencies that they are saints and the ultimate in liberty to live at will.

The European nations, especially France and England, had far-fetched projects to conquer the Sahara. For example, they contemplated a TransSaharien railroad that would link the north to the south; they had projects to flood part of the Sahara by the Atlantic Ocean and form an artificial lake that might allow navigation to the Mediterranean Sea and circumventing the Gibraltar strait; they designed a string of hundreds of wells; and they wanted to divert the Nile River inland. There is a complex aquifer system deep in the Sahara large as 3 millions square kilometers.

Libya managed to construct a long and large water duct through the desert; this project is to be 3 thousands kilometers long and would extract 6 millions cubic meters per day from the underground aquifer by 2017).  Al-Khufrah, in Libya, is a town of dozens of artificial oasis.  Egypt has irrigated, since 1997, 600 thousand hectares from this underground aquifer from the oasis of Bahriya to the oasis of Kharga. Algeria mobilized 20,000 soldiers to plant 3 millions trees and restarted this project in 1998.  In 2007, Algeria has started the construction of solar energy; the Sahara is destined to produce enough solar energy to satisfy 25% of Europe demands in energy.

Currently, the Sahara is providing gas, oil, and uranium to the western countries including clandestine immigrants fleeing to better pastures.

What sort of Democracy the Greater Middle East plan has for the Moslem World? (Dec. 30, 2005)

Under the threatening banner of fighting terrorism in the Greater Middle East (GME) region and installing democracy and freedom of speech instead of extremist Islamic salafist religious’ dogmas the USA and its allies are encouraging civil wars among the people and splintering the region into smaller and smaller self governing state-nations. Every civilian killing attempts perpetrated every where in the World are labeled a terrorist act and the perpetrators heaped on the Al Qaeda group which was supposed to have been wiped out in Afghanistan or in most instances blamed on other Islamic extremist offshoots.

Meanwhile, the Western Nations are enacting laws restricting freedom of speech in Media and publications, extracting war executive orders to detaining of suspects without due legal recourse, spying on their own citizens and listening on communication calls against the rules of law in the name of fighting terrorists’ plans and their organizational and financial resources and capabilities.  The political atmosphere in the USA and many European countries is heading toward applying Martial Laws and these restrictive and restraining climates against Liberty and Freedom could be viewed as training sessions for the coming open war.

What is this GME policy?  The USA was feeling comfortable after the Second World War as to its global strategic military superiority and its naval and land military bases throughout the five oceans.  The oligarchic and dictatorial regimes in the Arab World were facilitating the USA policy of dominion and Israel was its local heavy stick whenever any regime ventured to resist it by simply recovering lands captured by Israel or to exhibit independent tendencies with the support of the Soviet Union. The advent of Worldwide organized “terrorist attacks” and the inability to contain that movement with classical military interventions, mainly after the failure of the USA to maintain peace and stability in Iraq, led to a smoke screen change in the tactical approach for preserving hegemony in the Arabic Islamic World.

The code name is to divert the attention of the Islamic masses by offering minimal political representations within the oligarchic regimes which might satisfy the disposition of the people to a first step democratic level of governance and more leeway for freedom of speech and publication. It is interesting to study the small changes that the USA means to bring to the region through the electoral systems in Egypt and Saudi Arabia; at this pace these two countries might require a century before any meaningful democracy is established, for starter the female gender has still to be permitted to drive officially in Saudi Arabia.  It is also interesting to hear the howl of despair coming from the US administration every time the extremist Moslem political organizations are about to win any election; for example, Hamas in Palestine is to be forbidden to participate in the Parliamentary election if any election is to take place and the Moslem Brotherhoods in Egypt are detained and fraudulent election admitted as legitimate; the election results in Iraq need more than 3 weeks to be officially declared while the wide sweeping victory of the Islamists in Algeria was militarily canceled and savagely contained a decade ago.

Not that the people in this region care to have Islamic salafist doctrinal political systems installed but a reaction to the complete failure of the US to regard us but merely modern slaves in an area flush in oil.  For more than 80 years the people in every Arabic country have been trying to experiment with democratic systems and these attempts have been aborted by the tacit support of the US to monarchic, oligarchic and one party regime.

The war strategy is not concerned with the governments, already subjugated and controlled for decades, but targeting the Moslem people in Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain and the Arab Emirates.  The Moslem countries not socially or culturally closely related to Arabic or Persian influence or having large Moslem minorities will be drastically contained through strict financial and economic constraints such as Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Malaysia in Asia and Nigeria and the Northern non Arabic African people in Chad, Niger, Mali, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Guinea.

What is being offered is basically a psychological “feeling good” attitude toward the prospect of fair representation without any substantial variations in the system of governance that suit grandly the interests of the USA imperialists. The policy of the GME striving for mega Media propaganda of “feeling good” attitude of forthwith democratic change is a sick chimerical gamble hoping that the average masses will be tamed into moderation or the regimes would have an opportunity to win a majority that would permit them to repress the extremist elements. The Arabic people and Moslems in general have digested the smoke screen tactics of the US and Western World and their god fatherly dialogues that make their blood curl and they cannot be fooled for long; in the mean while precious time is burned away mindlessly with no serious alternatives to genuine solutions.

So far, Iran has grasped the extent of that visible danger and has been feverishly acquiring military deterrence power, economic self sufficiency and utilizing the mass Medias to enlightening the Moslem World to the coming calamities.  The Iranian regime is diffusing the message of unity and integrity among the Moslem masses and projecting the image of confident defiance: it is steadfast on its Uranium enrichment program on its proper soil for nuclear deterrence, saving its oil production, negotiating with Russia, China and India for economic cooperation and openly casting Israel as a spearhead colony of the US in the region.  Iran is not about to relinquish its influence in Iraq or in Lebanon through the powerful political party of Hezbollah or in Western Afghanistan where its Foreign minister is currently spending a few days there to keep strong links with its citizens.  Iran is heading to become the catalyst of the next calamity with the tacit economic and military support of China and Russia.

The alternative to prevent this dangerous trend and revert to a rational and peaceful coexistence is a secular, democratic and national Arabic force to take control of its destiny; unfortunately, what is required is inexistent, not even in its embryo, because of the perennial foolish US policy in this region of squashing the spirit of secular and democratic nationalism for short term benefits. The US cannot win the looming war in the long term in the Greater Middle East, unless the purpose is indeed to set this region ablaze and its populations impotent for centuries to come, because the masses consider the US policies as the master evil in the world in planning and execution.

The reaction of the Moslems, in face of the sustained heavy handed and total disrespect of the US policies to support our claims for human rights and fair representations and abusing the United Nations to squeeze our survival capabilities through economic and financial embargoes, is toward fundamentalism and is typified by the successes of Hamas in Palestine and the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt in the Parliamentary and municipality elections and the strong inroads of the Islamic Jihad political parties in Algeria, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Sudan in the societies’ fabrics. It seems that the Moslems are reverting to staunch dogmatic principles reminiscent of a coming war with the infidel Crusaders and with valid rhetorical and logical reasoning.

There are a few baffling signs that this GME policy might not survive or a more viable alternative supercede the current policy of alienating the Arabs and Moslems; for example the pressures on the Bush Jr. administration to rescind the restraining laws on private freedom and telephone and internet communication and acknowledging the flimsy basis for conquering Iraq and a popular waves of demonstrations against the all encompassing powers that the administration has snatched from Congress and concentrated in the executive branch under the prerogatives of war on terrorism.

I am leaning toward the option that by coining the term “terrorists” to connote Islamists and acknowledging that terrorism is stronger and far reaching than contemplated that the momentum for carrying the GME policy is becoming a bipartisan policy throughout the USA and the Western World. The quagmires that the international forces are experiencing in Iraq are driving them out; though it appears a tactical maneuver to regroup and figure out a strategy to crank the vise on the GME people and let them succumb under a wretched life of lack of freedom, democracy and poor economic and social development.  The European Union is about to give up on the application of human rights in the GME and is ready to adopt shortcuts to our difficulties and may temporary let us die slowly and vanish in the night.

Let us not fool ourselves; every time discrimination on the basis of religion or color or gender or nationality or custom is condoned inside or outside the boundaries of a nation, whenever human rights are baffled, people detained on flimsy charges and without due normal legal recourse, prisoners tortured to extract confessions and killed in their detention centers then the spirit of extremism has indeed taken roots and the dictatorship system is deeply entrenched regardless of how developed a nation is or how loud they claim to have democracy and the rule of law and order among its citizens.

If we had to rely solely on the United Nations to temper the drive of the most powerful Nations, nations that have the tendency of bypassing genuine diplomatic procedures into direct military interventions toward the weaker nations, then we should be pessimistic about the coming war.  There are a few realities that might prevent outright declaration of war by the Western World to the Islamic Arabic and Persian World; first, the European Union is a complex assembly of Nations that could not be easily ruled solely by France, Germany and Britain in matters of participating in wars with multiple interactions with other bordering Nations; second, the Latin American countries are leaning toward socialism and are verbally antagonistic to USA imperialism; thirdly, the Far East with a heavy concentration of Moslems is not about to endanger its economic cooperation by internal political struggles that do not enhance their survival as a viable economic and financial block; and fourthly, Russia is too aware of the importance of the stability of its former Islamic Nations bordering Iran, Turkey and Pakistan to gamble on a fruitless policy of discrimination against the Moslem people.

However, if war is declared and any powerful nation sides with the Islamic masses and support it militarily then we might witness the prophetic vision of George Orwell for future social and political organizations based on Communist blueprints as he described in his book entitled “1984”; an era of constant low level wars among three super blocks of nations. One other thing, if another world war is declared against the Moslems our puppet regimes would collapse and, win or lose, Israel will cease to exist before an armistice is reached.

If the attack on the Twin Towers occurred during the invasion of Iraq then the US would have declared war plainly and simply and the Moslem and Arabic people would have not vacillated for so long and remained manipulated, extorted and abused by the reactionary Arabic regimes holding on for dear life.

What’s that Greater Middle East Strategy of the United States? (Dec. 29, 2005)

The success of the Khomeini revolution in Iran precipitated the direct military intervention of the USA in the Middle East. Since the end of WWII, the US enjoyed military supremacy in all the seas and oceans of the five Continents.  With the firm implantation of Israel, all that the US governments cared about the regimes in the Middle East was the maintenance of the flow of cheap oil to its market and securing open market for its exports. The US created and sustained the Iraqi-Iranian war until both parties were literally exhausted, heavily indebted, and completely depleted of any internal energy.  Then the US encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait, intervened militarily, installed its military bases in the Arabian Gulf and mandated Syria in Lebanon to put an end to this virulent corner.

China was the catalyst for an even direct military hegemony of the US in the Middle East; the plans of the US in the Near East were already drawn for capturing Iraq, the biggest oil reserve in the world, and the attack on the Twin Towers in New York delayed that invasion in order to satisfy the internal prerequisites of dealing with the Qaeda in Afghanistan. The fall of Afghanistan forced the plan to be revisited and given a more accurate geopolitical name of the Greater Middle East. 

Before the first war on Iraq in 1991, China was already viewed as the next great threat to the US in Asia; China was growing economically at a pace never experienced in the modern world as the most populous nation; this rate of increase was bewildering in its steadiness and it proved to advance unabated since then.

The US realized that this game of trade embargo on Iraq with the gimmick of oil for food deal through the UN has done its job and reduced Iraq to a skeletal, economically and militarily, and that Iraq was ready to be easily invaded.   This invasion was intended to directly secure US strategic reserve in oil when the Twin Tower tragedy struck with different political consequences in the Moslem and Arabic World. 

China was now the fasted growing economy; its demands for oil and wheat were outpacing production and thus, raising oil prices to levels that the US feared for long time.  The quagmire of the US military intervention in Iraq has so far proven to be more expensive than simply paying the increase in oil prices in the world market as dictated by the free trade agreements; this situation is aggravated by the failure to increasing Iraq’s oil production and the emergence of nearby India as another oil and gas huge consumer. 

Economically, the invasion of Iraq is a total loss for the US and the alternative is to put the squeeze on China through holding up the Iraqi’s oil reserves as bargaining chips to keep the flow of China investment in the USA and buying its bonds for much needed liquidity.  Strategically, the US is in an even bigger trouble among the population in the Middle East who regard it as the Evil Empire and the source of all terrorist activities. Iran is stable and has increased its influence among the Moslem Shiaa in Iraq and Lebanon and the Al Qaeda of Sunny salafists is spreading and becoming more virulent thanks to the negative perception of the Islamists toward the USA.

The high odds of the failure of the US economic viability in Iraq and the follow up unavoidable failure to control the flow of oil to China have the direct consequences in setting the ground of the inevitability of another World War to be fought in the Middle East and the destruction of the hated Islamic populations by both protagonists.

After the fall of Iraq by the military coalition of the United States, without the official stamp of approval of the United Nations, there has been media coverage of an ambiguous Greater Middle East (GME) policy to restoring democracy in that large undefined region.  I have a feeling that after the September 11, 2000 blowing of the Twin World Trading Towers in New York the conservative government in the USA had envisioned a grand plan to isolate the Arabic and Persian’s influenced Moslem countries through an undeclared worldwide war of attrition. 

Both the labor British and the conservative Australian governments are the cornerstone to the success of this strategy; and initially it seems that France, Germany and Russia were not merely against the invasion of Iraq but of the GME war plan of the Anglo-Saxon coalition.  At this junction, World politics exhibit a rallying of France and Germany to that plan with the exception of Russia assuming that China is not going to take side right now until its economic and military dominion in the Far East is well established by capitalizing on all the advantages that a long and protracted negotiation with the USA might generate. 

Under the threatening banner of fighting terrorism in the GME region and installing democracy and freedom of speech instead of extremist Islamic salafist religious’ dogmas the USA and its allies are encouraging civil wars among the people and splintering the region into smaller and smaller self governing nations. Every civilian killing attempts every where in the World are labeled a terrorist act and the perpetrators heaped on the Al Qaeda group which was supposed to have been wiped out in Afghanistan or in most instances blamed on other Islamic extremist offshoots.

Meanwhile, the Western Nations are enacting laws restricting freedom of speech in Media and publications, extracting war executive orders to detaining of suspects without due legal recourse, spying on their own citizens and listening on communication calls against the rules of law in the name of fighting terrorists’ plans and their organizational and financial resources and capabilities.  The political atmosphere in the USA and many European countries is heading toward applying Martial Laws and these restrictive and restraining climates against Liberty and Freedom could be viewed as training sessions for the coming open war.

What is this GME policy?  The USA was feeling comfortable after the Second World War as to its global strategic military superiority and its naval and land military bases throughout the five oceans.  The oligarchic and dictatorial regimes in the Arab World were facilitating the USA policy of dominion and Israel was its local heavy stick whenever any regime ventured to resist it by simply recovering lands captured by Israel or to exhibit independent tendencies with the support of the Soviet Union. The advent of Worldwide organized “terrorist attacks” and the inability to contain that movement with classical military interventions, mainly after the failure of the USA to maintain peace and stability in Iraq, led to a smoke screen change in the tactical approach for preserving hegemony in the Arabic Islamic World.

The code name is to divert the attention of the Islamic masses by offering minimal political representations within the oligarchic regimes which might satisfy the disposition of the people to a first step democratic level of governance and more leeway for freedom of speech and publication. It is interesting to study the small changes that the USA means to bring to the region through the electoral systems in Egypt and Saudi Arabia; at this pace these two countries might require a century before any meaningful democracy is established, for starter the female gender has still to be permitted to drive officially in Saudi Arabia.  It is also interesting to hear the howl of despair coming from the US administration every time the extremist Moslem political organizations are about to win any election; for example, Hamas in Palestine is to be forbidden to participate in the Parliamentary election if any election is to take place and the Moslem Brotherhoods in Egypt are detained and fraudulent election admitted as legitimate; the election results in Iraq need more than 3 weeks to be officially declared while the wide sweeping victory of the Islamists in Algeria was militarily canceled and savagely contained a decade ago.

Not that the people in this region care to have Islamic salafist doctrinal political systems installed, but a reaction to the complete failure of the US to regard us but merely modern slaves in an area flush in oil.  For more than 80 years, the people in every Arabic country have been trying to experiment with democratic systems and these attempts have been aborted by the tacit support of the US to monarchic, oligarchic and one party regime.  

The war strategy is not concerned with the governments, already subjugated and controlled for decades, but targeting the Moslem people in Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain and the Arab Emirates.  The Moslem countries not socially or culturally closely related to Arabic or Persian influence or having large Moslem minorities will be drastically contained through strict financial and economic constraints such as Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Malaysia in Asia and Nigeria and the Northern non Arabic African people in Chad, Niger, Mali, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Guinea.  

What is being offered is basically a psychological “feeling good” attitude toward the prospect of fair representation without any substantial variations in the system of governance that suit grandly the interests of the USA imperialists. The policy of the GME striving for mega Media propaganda of “feeling good” attitude of forthwith democratic change is a sick chimerical gamble hoping that the average masses will be tamed into moderation or the regimes would have an opportunity to win a majority that would permit them to repress the extremist elements.

The Arabic people and Moslems in general have digested the smoke screen tactics of the US and Western World and their god fatherly dialogues that make their blood curl and they cannot be fooled for long; in the mean while precious time is burned away mindlessly with no serious alternatives to genuine solutions.

So far, Iran has grasped the extent of that visible danger and has been feverishly acquiring military deterrence power, economic self sufficiency and utilizing the mass Medias to enlightening the Moslem World to the coming calamities.  The Iranian regime is diffusing the message of unity and integrity among the Moslem masses and projecting the image of confident defiance: it is steadfast on its Uranium enrichment program on its proper soil for nuclear deterrence, saving its oil production, negotiating with Russia, China and India for economic cooperation and openly casting Israel as a spearhead colony of the US in the region.  Iran is not about to relinquish its influence in Iraq or in Lebanon through the powerful political party of Hezbollah or in Western Afghanistan where its Foreign minister is currently spending a few days there to keep strong links with its citizens.  Iran is heading to become the catalyst of the next calamity with the tacit economic and military support of China and Russia.

The alternative to prevent this dangerous trend and revert to a rational and peaceful coexistence is a secular, democratic and national Arabic force to take control of its destiny. Unfortunately, what is required is inexistent, not even in its embryo, because of the perennial foolish US policy in this region of squashing the spirit of secular and democratic nationalism for short term benefits. The US cannot win the looming war in the long term in the Greater Middle East, unless the purpose is indeed to set this region ablaze and its populations impotent for centuries to come, because the masses consider the US policies as the master evil in the world in planning and execution.

The reaction of the Moslems, in face of the sustained heavy handed and total disrespect of the US policies to support our claims for human rights and fair representations and abusing the United Nations to squeeze our survival capabilities through economic and financial embargoes, is toward fundamentalism and is typified by the successes of Hamas in Palestine and the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt in the Parliamentary and municipality elections and the strong inroads of the Islamic Jihad political parties in Algeria, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Sudan in the societies’ fabrics. It seems that the Moslems are reverting to staunch dogmatic principles reminiscent of a coming war with the “infidel Crusaders” and with valid rhetorical and logical reasoning.

There are a few baffling signs that this GME policy might not survive or a more viable alternative supercede the current policy of alienating the Arabs and Moslems; for example the pressures on the Bush administration to rescind the restraining laws on private freedom and telephone and internet communication and acknowledging the flimsy basis for conquering Iraq and a popular waves of demonstrations against the all encompassing powers that the administration has snatched from Congress and concentrated in the executive branch under the prerogatives of war on terrorism.  

I am leaning toward the option that by coining the term “terrorists” to connote Islamists and acknowledging that terrorism is stronger and far reaching than contemplated that the momentum for carrying the GME policy is becoming a bipartisan policy throughout the USA and the Western World. The quagmires that the international forces are experiencing in Iraq are driving them out; though it appears a tactical maneuver to regroup and figure out a strategy to crank the vise on the GME people and let them succumb under a wretched life of lack of freedom, democracy and poor economic and social development.  The European Union is about to give up on the application of human rights in the GME and is ready to adopt shortcuts to our difficulties and may temporary let us die slowly and vanish in the night.

Let us not fool ourselves; every time discrimination on the basis of religion or color or gender or nationality or custom is condoned inside or outside the boundaries of a nation, whenever human rights are baffled, people detained on flimsy charges and without due normal legal recourse, prisoners tortured to extract confessions and killed in their detention centers then the spirit of extremism has indeed taken roots and the dictatorship system is deeply entrenched regardless of how developed a nation is or how loud they claim to have democracy and the rule of law and order among its citizens.

If we had to rely solely on the United Nations to temper the drive of the most powerful Nations, nations that have the tendency of bypassing genuine diplomatic procedures into direct military interventions toward the weaker nations, then we should be pessimistic about the coming war.  There are a few realities that might prevent outright declaration of war by the Western World to the Islamic Arabic and Persian World; first, the European Union is a complex assembly of Nations that could not be easily ruled solely by France, Germany and Britain in matters of participating in wars with multiple interactions with other bordering Nations; second, the Latin American countries are leaning toward socialism and are verbally antagonistic to USA imperialism; thirdly, the Far East with a heavy concentration of Moslems is not about to endanger its economic cooperation by internal political struggles that do not enhance their survival as a viable economic and financial block; and fourthly, Russia is too aware of the importance of the stability of its former Islamic Nations bordering Iran, Turkey and Pakistan to gamble on a fruitless policy of discrimination against the Moslem people.

However, if war is declared and any powerful nation sides with the Islamic masses and support it militarily then we might witness the prophetic vision of George Orwell for future social and political organizations based on Communist blueprints as he described in his book entitled “1984”; an era of constant low level wars among three super blocks of nations. One other thing, if another world war is declared against the Moslems our puppet regimes would collapse and, win or lose, Israel will cease to exist before an armistice is reached.

If the attack on the Twin Towers occurred during the invasion of Iraq then the US would have declared war plainly and simply and the Moslem and Arabic people would have not vacillated for so long and remained manipulated, extorted and abused by the reactionary Arabic regimes holding on for dear life.

“Down and out in Paris and London” by George Orwell (July 14, 2008)

“Down and out in Paris and London” is just 215 pages, but each chapter is so packed with emotions and details of the hard life of tramps in London and Paris in the 1930’s that I needed to sleep over each chapter and resume reading other manuscripts for a few days.

This small book required weeks of slow reading that it seemed to me never to have an end. Italic phrases as mine. Orwell was in Paris in his youth and he was robbed of all his cash money and had no sources of income; thus Orwell described his penniless life in Paris and then as a tramp in London.

George Orwell in his “Down and out in Paris and London” tried to explain why people insist on working long hours, over 17 hours, everyday in mines and as plunger “plongeur” in hotels and restaurants.

Are there any meaningful purposes for people to accept sweatshop jobs other than basic economic necessities?

Most slave jobs are directed toward offering luxury to well off rich people who form a totally different caste than the poor people.  The paupers are politically labeled the mob in order to frighten the rich class into conservative behaviors of not attempting to ease the burdens off the working class shoulders, and keep them (the working class) always busy at work and not stop and think and act for a better future and personal ambitions.

Orwell experienced the job of “plongeur” in Paris swabbing dishes in hot dens underground during all his waking hours and going to bed right away after finishing this modern slave job.  The job of a “plongeur” is not idle work but George felt it was better off than many manual works like rickshaw pullers or gharry pony because many Orientals view walking as a degrading sport.

The author described in details how Hotels in Paris function and the hierarchy of the employees and how each caste in the hierarchy tries to express pride in his job and how the more expensive the dish the more frequent the cooks and waiters dip their greasy and sweaty fingers in the dish so that the dish looks in style and neat if much less hygienic.

George Orwell proved how dirty are the environment and the work in Hotels and restaurants and how the customers are not receiving the expected services commensurate to the high prices charged for the lodging and food offered.

The French “patrons” of the Hotels such as the manager, the chef cook, the maitre-d’ hotel and his assistant and the waiters make sure that the dishes prepared for them are hygienic and not mishandled as those offered to the clients. The French are never hired as waiters, but the cooks and sewing women should be French.

Arabs are never hired in jobs that expose them to clients and customers. This manuscript was not reprinted because the author supposedly stated a few racist quotes such as “Trust a snake before a Jew and a Jew before a Greek, but don’t trust an Armenian“.

My conjecture is that because the book first described precisely how the powerful hotels and restaurant industry function and bilk the clients with dirty and cheap food and over priced services and second because it gave a detailed account of the state of vagrancy of tramps in these developed States.

George Orwell writes “An illiterate working man, with the work habit in his bones, worries about losing his job because he needs work more than money. With no means of filing up time the out of job working man is as miserable as a dog on the chain.  The educated man, (at least from my own experience, those who loves to read and write), can put up with enforced idleness, which is one of the worst evils of poverty.”

I think that there are two main characters of people regardless of level of education; those who can sustain free time and invest it as lonely people can and those who needs to fill time by actions under various excuses.

In another paragraph a slumming-party of three religious people with a portable harmonium came into the kitchen of a lodging-house where over a hundred tramps were having dinner and started singing and preaching, but they were disregarded and never insulted.  Orwell commented “It is curious how people take it for granted that they have a right to preach at you and pray over you as soon as your income falls below a certain level“.

Once, Orwell was among a hundred tramps that had free tea and 6 slices of bread and margarine and they had to sit for mass; the tramps located in the gallery behaved shamelessly, chatting, laughing, smoking, calling out, and frankly bullying the few elder women of the congregation and Orwell commented:

It was our revenge upon them for having humiliated us by feeding us.  A man receiving charity practically hates his benefactor-it is a fixed characteristic of human nature.  The scene was different from the ordinary demeanor of tramps from the abject worm-like gratitude with which they accept charity.  The explanation was that the tramps vastly out-numbered the congregation and were not afraid of them; when a man has fifty others persons backing him, he will show his hatred.”

A young and chubby clergyman was distributing meal tickets worth sixpence to be used at a specific eating-house whose proprietor swindled each ticket holder of two pence worth of food; the clergyman was so embarrassed seeing this miserable lot that he hurried down the line distributing tickets without waiting to be thanked.  The tramps liked this behavior of the clergyman and there was genuine gratitude with this warm compliment “Well, he’ll never be a f—bishop“.

The chapter before the last offers the roots of the tramps ‘problems and a few suggestions to improving their lives.

First, Orwell fields the prejudices levied against the tramps such as being perceived as “blackguards, repulsive and dangerous criminals and who would die rather work or wash and want nothing but to beg, drink and rob hen-houses“, that they voluntarily refuse work and want to be supported by the public budget.

A few criminologists went as far as labeling the tramp an atavist in the nomadic stage of humanity. This prejudice of “Serve them damned well” attitude is no fairer than it would be towards cripples or invalids. If tramps were indeed criminals then the hundreds of them would not be served by only three persons in each lodging-houses.

The first plague of tramps is malnutrition and this lack of energy spent on walking miles to the next lodging-house is basically set by law, very much like driving to the left in England; the law prevents tramps to sleeping more than a night at a lodging-house for the duration of a whole month.

This law was meant to encourage vagrancy away from London and keeping constantly the tramps on the move.  It is interesting that lodging-houses purposely dump the leftover of edible food so that tramps just keep on their hunger and their ration of tea and four slices of bread and margarine.  Tramps barely can get a good night sleep because the beds are not comfortable, the blanket dirty and thin against the cold and the dormitories holding several dozens of tramps have a high rate of sick people coughing and with bladder problems.

The second great evil of a tramp’s life is being cut off from contact with women: their lack of sexual encounter with females and this forced abstinence encourages homosexuality and the feeling of degradation to the rank of a cripple or a lunatic. No humiliation could do more damage to a man’s self-respect than being considered too low in society classes to be a viable husband or boyfriend.

The third great evil is enforced idleness.  The British vagrancy law of the thirties arranges that when the tramp is not walking the road to the next lodging-house he is to sit still in cells; or, in the intervals, lying on the ground waiting for the casual ward to open and set him free to walk again.

The average tramp has no clothes but what he stands up in, wear boots that are ill-fitting, and does not sit in a chair for months (because chairs are not available in lodging-houses or in any public place in London)

Orwell suggested farm houses to be cultivated by the tramps while living in lodging-houses but the ideology of the time would not encourage socialism or Bolshevik economy and the government preferred that its lowest class of tramps suffer physically and spiritually rather than offering comfort and remedies to their plight.

There are rules to the freedom of tramps that differ between Paris and London:

In London tramps are not allowed to sleep in the underground train stations, or even sit on pavement or beg; tramps have to fake that they are selling something.  In Paris tramps have wider latitudes and can sleep and spend their time in public parks and sleep in the metro and beg overtly.

George Orwell ends his manuscript with what he learned from these months living as a true tramp in London and Paris

I shall never again think that all tramps are drunken scoundrels (since they can’t purchase drinks), nor expect a beggar to be grateful when I give him a penny, nor be surprised if men out of work lack energy (living on just tea and two slices of bread and margarine), nor subscribe to the Salvation Army (since they treat the hosted tramps as prisoners), nor pawn my clothes, nor refuse a handbill (so that the distributor of handbill can finish his job early), nor enjoy a meal at a smart restaurant.  That is a beginning.

Note: Even today, the law of the land is mainly targeting the poorer classes and does its best to climinalize the condition of being born within a poor environment


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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