Wednesday, November 01, 2006


November 1st 2006 - Over here at UK M.C.H. Towers we now have over 100 organisations and individuals on the site. 1/16 of a completed cybermosaic is a wonderful way to launch into November.

We are also proud to launch the template for a new branch of the Million Campaign Homepage tree. We now have the foundations laid for the US Million Campaign Homepage. Whilst utterly puritan on damage to the planet, hopefully our Mayflower will not be too puritan in spirit - and hopefully generous, open and humble in attitude to the indigenous people we discover across the Atlantic pond.

Instead of one website with a cybermosaic of 1,000,000 pixels given away free to 1600 organisations, we plan a 1,000,000 pixel cybermosaic for every state in the Union. We are currently questing for orchestrators for US M.C.H.s - there are full details of how to run one in the 'FAQ' section of the site.

Over here in the UK a mood of independence is declaring itself more assertively each day. Our unwritten constitution is in tatters. Nobody sums up more clearly what traumas and crisis Britain is going through in 2006 than Sarah Bear, whose supreme song and supreme video "We Reap What We Sow" is available online today. And nobody summed up the need for a profound declaration of independence more clearly than Robin Cook, a possible future Labour leader who suffered an untimely death last year.

On his most recent broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Andy Kershaw played Thunderclap Newman's 1969 hit "Something in the Air". He described the excitement of hearing it in a time where something was in the air of the global village, with the tragedy of Vietnam and the crystallisation of resistance and peace movements around the world giving events an urgency and an electricity encapsulated by the lyrics and mood of the song.

In the case of US and British foreign policy, Karl Marx's stipulation that history occurs first as tragedy and then as farce appears false. Vietnam was a farcical tragedy; so is the illegal occupation of Iraq and whatever chaos is currently occuring in Afghanistan. Tragedy is followed by tragedy - and nobody in power seems to learn any lessons and, worst of all, never seems to be held accountable for anything they do.

The British Empire ended in the dishonourable deceptions of Suez in 1956. It is not 1956 today. It is 2006. There is something in the air. The British Empire, and people from many other places around the world, are right here, in need of provision and representation, and what is happening at the moment is failure - pure and simple.

Chasing imperial shadows with guns and very little butter is insanity. We have already spent £4.3bn. of our taxation on the occupation and privatisation of Iraq instead of social and environmental welfare and, as Patrick Cockburn reports in today's "Independent" newspaper, Baghdad is now under siege. We are reaping the bitter fruits of the violence that we have sowed. Meanwhile Parliament fails to even organise an inquiry into the debacles in Iraq, displaying its utter alienation from public opinion.

The only thing that Defence Secretary Des Browne got right regarding that 'debate' was when he told the BBC that "When the time is right, of course there will be an inquiry". The time is right now - and it will be us who will create the inquiry, not this 'Government'. Mr.Browne's majority in his constituency is, incidentally, 8,073, which was down from 10,334 in 2001. It is likely to plummet further if Mr.Blair is not eliminated from the inquiries of the Metropolitan police under the 1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act. After all, in the British political system the buck, rather than the bucks, must stop at Number Ten - although it must be stressed that in the British justice system we operate on the principle of innocent until proven guilty, unlike the Bush regime's torture camp archipelago. The British justice system must also work on the basis of tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime - and it must be curtains for all those found guilty of infringements of the law. Nobody is above the law in the UK apart from the Queen - and that is merely an abstract formality and a historical anomaly.

I recently went on holiday to the inspirational Eden Project in Cornwall. Amidst the geodesic domes was a display by the organisation Shelterbox, who provide an ingeniously compact solution to the kind of extreme weather effects that global warming makes more likely. We are honoured to include these philanthropists from Kernow on the Million Campaign Homepage. The Eden Project presents a vision of a future that is sustainable because we have made it so: the valley full of geodesic domes and the biomes full of hemp and bamboo (and several other kinds of flora) made me think of the work of R. Buckminster Fuller, one of the great American visionaries who was decades if not centuries ahead of his time.

On holiday I launched forays into John Dos Passos's epic literary masterpiece "USA", a great spiralling and sprawling journey across 25 years of American history. Today, in tidal waves and hurricanes across the Atlantic pond, there is something very much in the air. The temperature is warming. As, of course, is the sea temperature. Global warming is changing everything in the natural and the political climate. As the Siberian permafrost melts, so must the monoliths of repressive global regimes.

One of the portraits Dos Passos paints in "USA" is that of John Reed (not, incidentally, our current Home Secretary, who believes we are set for a 'Long War' - which is the rebranded 'war on terror' for those who still care about what they call military-industrial slaughter these days, and whose constituency majority is 14,084). Reed's work "Ten Days That Shook The World" documented the rapid emergence of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. What is happening in the USA may or may not be of that magnitude - only time will tell. However, dissatisfaction with the foreign and domestic policy of the Bush regime creates the prospect of a fascinating set of midterm election results - should the process be fair and democratic.

The unravelling of the agglomeration of lies and half-truths that has been the 'war on terror' is leading to a renaissance. John Pilger describes in detail in "The New Rulers of the World" how the conditions for the development of al-Qaeda - our supposed 'enemies' - were created in Afghanistan by our own 'Governments' and 'intelligence services' to destabilise our supposed 'enemies' of the 1980s, the Soviet Union. Sow, reap, sow, reap.

If you sow destruction and hatred, you reap destruction and hatred. I studied history at university. You only have to look at one page of a history book to see that war abroad leads to a tendency towards civil wars at home; to a loss of resources; to further wars in the future. You do not need a library of the magnitude of Edward Gibbon's to understand that. Let us hope that the voters of the USA decide, and are allowed to decide, a more humble and harmonious administration in November 2006 and in the Presidential election of 2008. The decline and fall of a 'blowback' born of arrogant and ignorant governance is in the interests of nobody - least of all the American people.

One of the most curious moments of the 1991 Gulf War was Norman Schwarzkopf's assertion that 'Desert Storm' was similar to Hannibal's victory over the Romans at Cannae. One does not have to be an eminent military historian to make the observation that one of the ultimate bitter fruits of Cannae was the destruction of Carthage by the Romans. When the wheel turns full circle, the dominant can all too easily become the dominated. Any fool can destroy, but it takes wisdom to create: waging long-term peace is infinitely more difficult, and infinitely more patriotic, than waging short-term carnage.

Whatever the weaknesses of political augury, and despite Gore Vidal's recent pessimistic assertion of the inconvenient truth that he felt like he was living in the last days of Carthage on BBC's Radio 4, many of the signs are good. I am no Alexis de Tocqueville, and I am attempting to limit my carbon consumption by not flying to the USA. Instead I explore it through cyberspace - and I find the results heartening. The times online they are a-changing. The unravelling of the Orwellian nightmares, the loss of their power, and the awakening of a million Winston and Julia Smiths is creating the nuclei of a profound reformation.

Sow, reap, sow, reap. Either the bombings of al-Qaeda are Reichstag fires and direct 'inside jobs' or, at very least, they are the bitter fruits sown by Machiavellian machinations in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The unravelling of the 'war on terror' and the growing awareness of the scope of the challenges of climate change are changing the voices that are being heard. Figures such as Barack Obama, Kinky Friedman, Kevin Zeese and Tammy Duckworth are illuminating the contest. Suddenly American politics is becoming vibrant again.

From the UK, with a Parliament that cannot even organise a proper public, independent, and thorough inquiry into Iraq, let alone into the deaths of David Kelly and Jean Charles de Menezes or the July 7th London bombings, we watch with interest and anticipation. Regime change does not need to happen across distant seas at the barrel of a gun; it needs to happen here, at the ballot box. In counterpoint to the new voices in the USA, there is the nucleus of a more interesting - and Hung - Parliament in figures such as Dr Richard Taylor MP, Dai Davies MP, and also Clare Short MP, who has resigned the Labour whip and will campaign for a Hung Parliament and electoral reform.

Thanks must be passed to the twelve Labour MPs with the courage to face ostracisation and worse from the New Labour machine for calling for an inquiry into Iraq. These are the true representatives of a long heritage. They are possible future Labour leader John McDonnell MP, Harry Cohen MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Mark Fisher MP, Glenda Jackson MP, Roger Godsiff MP, Alan Simpson MP, Peter Soulsby MP, Robert Marshall-Andrews MP, Gavin Strang MP, Robert Wareing MP and Mike Wood MP. They joined the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists in arguing out of conviction for an inquiry.

A more interesting and representative Parliament would also include talented people like Reg Keys, Rose Gentle and Craig Murray - all three of whom would quite possibly be MPs now if we had a fair electoral system. Although he was momentarily seduced by the worst of unreality television, the hard work of George Galloway MP has also helped pave the way for people like Salma Yaqoob and Yvonne Ridley into the House of Commons - representatives unthinkable when once the British Parliament was a place for a propertied, white, male elite that was forced to profess allegiance to a particular, and narrow, established religious tradition. The great inspirational figure of recent British politics is Martin Bell, who became an MP to help remove sleaze and corruption. He was instrumental in the Reg Keys campaign in Sedgefield. Mr.Keys would have made an excellent constituency MP.

Outside the arena of Parliament, a potent resistance movement has been developing. People such as Milan Rai, Maya Evans and Malcolm Kendall-Smith have campaigned for the liberties that have been stolen. The Stop the War Coalition has protested and demonstrated relentlessly. Bruce Kent has rightly urged in public that the instigators of the occupation be tried in the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The person who stands out, however, is Brian Haw - whose marathan day and night campaign in Parliament Square shames those members of the political elite who took us into the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq. If all our politicians were as selfless, as dedicated, as honourable and as articulate as Brian Haw, our polity would be in good shape indeed. History will honour him and those who have supported him very deeply. He has been an inspiration to so many. Instead of party donations, it should be such total dedication that receives the highest honours in the land.

The publication of the Stern Review is heartening - it is an interesting read and can be accessed online for free. The caveats and critiques of Mark Lynas, a veteran environmental campaigner from the UK, are also required reading. And the caveat must also be borne in mind that a 'Government' which launches such an important review without allowing journalists to ask questions is not the force to deliver the fundamental changes required by the planet, some of which are sketched in Stern. Instead of the relentless game of seeking control and domination of others, it is time to pass control to Gaia - and follow her instructions. If the UK were an open society (our Glastnost is long overdue) or, indeed, if the UK were a sane society, then journalists would be employed precisely in order to ask questions - in the words of Amira Haas, an Israeli journalist often quoted by Robert Fisk, their vocation is to "interrogate the centres of power".

And following the sentiments of Hannah Arendt, let us have a true democracy again - a place where people learn to listen to one another, carefully and in detail, allowing as much free dialogue as possible. For as George Washington said, we must be able to talk about anything in the new Republic (even his own peccadillo of slavery, which, today, requires as much abolition as it ever did).

As Thunderclap Newman sang, "We have got to get it together" for, as Sarah Bear sings, "we reap what we sow". That old explorer of thunder and lightning Benjamin Franklin was right all along. If you surrender liberty to 'security', you deserve neither - and will lose both.

He was also right about chess. It is too important a game to be played for money. We here at M.C.H. Towers have somehow stumbled across a very new kind of chess board - the cybermosaic, pioneered by Alex Tew. Neither of us are as good as a Bobby Fischer or a Garry Kasparov (a likely future Russian President), but we do our best. Although we are emphatically not creating it for money, any donations are always extremely welcome as they allow us to extend the range and scope of what we are doing.

A final thought. The stress that we are putting the planet under must be reduced radically, and rapidly. Instead of petty politics, we need all the different tribes and groups to come together in the great spirit of the Chautauqua, in which Robert Pirsig wrote in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanence".

The machinery of our world economic system is not working. We are all engineers. Repairs and reparations are needed urgently; for as we know from history, when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches avian flu. The US is a proud and noble country with a proud and noble history - and it deserves proud and noble political representation. We have had enough of the Grapes of Wrath caused by the neoliberal hijacking of global institutions - the World Bank, the IMF, the World Trade Organisation - which were originally conceived as operating in the interests of the world as a whole, not for narrow vested interests. May the forthcoming generations generate more humane world institutions - from the United Nations down, and from the grass roots up.

A few November firecrackers for all the midterm Boston tea party-goers:

How do we fix the economy so that it harmonises with ecological systems instead of disrupting them?

How do we create an economics which is eco-logical?

How do we ensure that our future Eden Projects are not Suez-style debacles but sustainable and prosperous natural environments and locally devolved economies?

How do we ensure that global politics is run on the principles of Buckminster Fuller's World Game instead of a global prisoner's dilemma?

How do we educate forthcoming generations to develop their full creative capacities to live in the objective realities that they will actually face, and allow them "the liberty of their own spontaneous manifestations" instead of merely regurgitating outmoded lists of so-called 'facts' that merely embody the 'rear view mirror' of a world which has vanished because of our relentless depletion of resources to gratify short-termist egotistical wants rather than our real needs?

In other words, how do we transform the indoctrination of 'education education education' into real education which unites theory and practice, the academic and the vocational?

What better way of avoiding a possibly nuclear war with Iran is there than not starting a possibly nuclear war with Iran?

Why does anyone persist in these idiotic crusades when the central message of every religious and spiritual tradition is love? Isn't it time for global reformation in whatever terms each person understands?

Enjoy November - this time our plots will use ballot boxes and allotments, not gunpowder! Interpreting Kerouac, may the US midterms burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centrelight pop and everybody goes?


Bonfires of the vanity fairs at the polls!

In solidarity,

Matthew Edwards

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