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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Hitler: Nazi or Alt-Right?

Heather Heyer, murdered in Charlottesville
I recently looked up the term 'Alt-Right' as I wasn't certain what it meant. Obviously I realised it had something to do with Far Right politics, but what did it mean specifically? It turns out it is short for Alternative Right, which, according to Wikipedia, is 'a loosely defined group of people with far-right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in favor [sic] of white nationalism, principally in the United States, but also to a lesser degree in Canada and Europe'. The term is attributed to Richard Spencer, an American white supremacist who is president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank.

The recent events in Charlottesville in Virginia, where Heather Heyer was killed and nineteen others injured by a murderous 20-year old bigot deliberately driving a car into a crowd of people, show us that the street thugs are not so mealy-mouthed about describing themselves. Swastikas, Hitler T-shirts and placards, KKK outfits, Confederate flags, flaming torches, Nazi salutes and chanted Nazi slogans could leave no one in any doubt about their political role models.

In the face of such overt demonstrations of their allegiances, why does the media use the term Alt-Right? This is a euphemism coined by those who seek to intellectualise Far Right hatred with the aim of bestowing upon it some utterly fraudulent respectability. The pseudo-science of racial biology has long been abandoned, not for politically correct reasons, but because there was simply no scientific evidence to support it.

Similarly, Far Right injunctions against homosexuality have no rational basis and are justified with reference to the Old Testament. This is despite the instruction in the New Testament to "Love your enemy", but bigots who base their prejudice upon religion tend to ignore inconvenient Biblical directives. Whatever other qualities the Old Testament may have for believers, it cannot be viewed as a scientific treatise.

It is clear that attempts to justify Far Right politics will fail any genuine rational examination, but that is irrelevant to those who are determined to believe what they want to believe, especially when it reinforces their pre-existing prejudices.

By using the term Alt-Right, the media is inadvertently granting the Far Right precisely the element of respectability that the promoters of the phrase wanted to achieve. It is a euphemism that obscures the reality of a world view based on hatred. Except that their actions and attitudes are so vile, one could almost feel pity for anyone who has become enveloped by such a loathsome mindset, but we must never forget they have a choice: there was no predestination that made being a bigot inevitable. As Charlottesville has shown us, some people, faced with the same environment, have come to different conclusions.

Let's call them what they are: Nazis, fascists, racists, anti-Semites, Islamophobes, homophobes, white supremacists, misogynists and thugs. It's not as though we're short of accurate terms.

Neville Grundy
ARMS Mersey

Monday, 7 August 2017

AI: servant or master?

What technological future awaits us?
Silicon Valley - the road to Armageddon or Utopia? The future is violent revolt or harmonious use of AI [artificial intelligence] depending on who you speak to as revealed by the BBC’s 'Silicon Valley'. AI can be used to diagnose disease from a CT scan in a fraction of a second. Uber can drive impoverished taxi drivers to suicide. Airbnb claim to help people earn money while they travel abroad, with catastrophic effects on working class rents in Barcelona. The Industrial Revolution was nothing compared to what is coming, says one tech genius whose software could replace doctors. 

One idealistic nerd predicts a life of leisure for the masses who will be paid a decent income for not working while new technology will create the necessary wealth to fund it. The key question is the ownership of these wonders. It is certain that Dystopia await us if they remain in private hands. Ultimately on the basis of capitalism the rule of the market will apply to AI: deliver the highest rewards to shareholders, and if that means dispensing with millions of workers’ labour then so be it. This programme provided further evidence that Socialism cannot be postponed much longer.

Tony Mulhearn

Friday, 4 August 2017

News updates - from the web

Our regular round up of relevant news items, selected by ARMS' Steve Ion.

UK downsizing boom - here.

Social care being sidelined - here.

Help to keep your brain active: throw the crosswords away and learn French instead - here.

Age UK free service help with older people claiming missing benefits - here.

Only 10% of councils have elderly housing policy in place - here.

The govt has got it wrong on pensions - here.

Yoga could help stave off dementia - here.

Nurse shortages causing hospital discharge delays for the elderly - here.

Rise in life expectancy has stalled - here.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Women's pensions stolen to fund spivs' tax cuts

PM Theresa May and Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson,
facing the rigours of austerity with brave smiles.
Two significant stories are linked. 

The Tories have filched £4.2bn from state pensions and other benefits. The household incomes for women aged 60 to 62 has fallen by at least £32 per week on average. This thieves' kitchen masquerading as the government use this loot to fund the tax cuts to the hedge fund managers and assorted financial spivs who bankroll the Tory Party. They make the mafia look like a boy scout troop.

Len McCluskey’s call for Labour councils to set legal no cuts budgets and end austerity should be acted on immediately. Let’s hear no more excuses from TU leaders who have argued that councillors have 'no choice' but to slash millions from social provision. Action is called for now.

Tony Mulhearn
ARMS Mersey