Thursday, 19 December 2013


'Britons back Tory obsession with Growth' according to the i newspaper of 18th December. In a survey by ComRes, 41% thought the highest priority was for the economy to grow. It is depressing that so many still believe in the religion of growth, which is founded on the myth that the way to end poverty is for the whole economy to grow. In reality the way to end poverty is to use every means possible to prevent a minority of the population from taking most of the wealth and income, but that would attack the foundation of capitalism. As a country, Britain, like other rich countries, is already using resources at far beyond the sustainable level, and gains in income since the 1970s have added little to people's satisfaction with life.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A Palestinian Mandela?

Israel and occupied Palestine are in many ways like Apartheid South Africa: two peoples intricately entangled, one completely dominating the other, notions of racial superiority, huge differences of income and wealth, largely segregated housing... And there is a Palestinian - Marwan Barghouti - with immense popular support, languishing in prison on five life sentences. An Israeli leader with the courage to release him might find an interlocutor capable of helping to bring about a political solution. Barghouti speaks fluent Hebrew, has many Israeli supporters and has the intelligence to realize that a solution must accommodate both parties. He was born in 1959, so it will be 2031 before he reaches the age at which Mandela was released - which is not a reason for waiting, but it does mean several Israeli prime ministers and American presidents could have the opportunity to achieve peace in this way. We shall soon see a succession of crucial centenaries: of the Sykes-Picot plan to dismember the Ottoman State, 1916; of the Balfour Declaration that Palestine would become the 'Jewish National Home', 1917; of the Treaty of Versailles, 1919; of the abolition of the Caliphate, 1924. This last event has had incalculable repercussions. The Caliphs were the only authority recognized by all Sunni Muslims - more than 90% of all Muslims. Without a Caliph there has been nobody to rule against the distortions of Islam propagated by fanatics.