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Quo Vadis Zimbabwe: an Issue of Values

by Alan Tonkin As the crisis in Zimbabwe worsens and the country slips further into turmoil, Alan Tonkin has forwarded this piece he wrote for the Global Values Network web site he runs. GVN is one of the most advanced projects in the world at using Spiral Dynamics to monitor shifts in societies and assess impacts at national, international and even global levels. Alan’s piece not only presents an incisive analysis; it draws attention to both the very real human tragedies being experienced in Zimbabwe and the dangers which could engulf the region if the country is allowed to implode. I am honoured to publish Alan’s work as a ‘guest blog’. Different politics – different world views The issue of the release of the final Zimbabwe Election results is being contested by both ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change but for very different reasons.  Before going into these reasons one needs to look behind the claims and counter claims in order to more fully understand why there is this dispute. Zimbabwe: a brief review of recent history Going back over the period following the Second World War, Southern Rhodesia was still a British colony which in 1953 was incorporated into the Federation of Rhodesia &… Read More

Tariq Ali gets Benazir Bhutto wrong!

So that old agent provacateur extraordinare, Tariq Ali, has attacked the naming in Benazir Bhutto’s will of 19-year-old son Bilawal as her successor as leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, describing it as “a digusting medieval charade” (His article was the front page lead story in the New Year’s Eve edition of The Independent – and he appeared on that morning’s editon of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, reiterating his position.) In describing the succession of Bilawal as “medieval”, Tariq was spot on! Moreover, his description of Asif Zardari, Bhutto’s widower (and Bilawal’s father), as a “feudal potentate” – a Lord Chancellor or Grand Vizier? – who will run the party until his son is old enough, is also pretty close to the mark. Where Tariq misses the point is to call it “disgusting” and a “charade”. He goes on to say: “How can Western-backed politicians be taken seriously if they treat their party as a fiefdom and their supporters as serfs, while their courtiers abroad mouth sycophantic niceties concerning the young prince and his future?” The point is: this is very much how the politcians in Pakistan must act if they wish to design an alternative government to the military dictatorship… Read More

De Menezes: was it Policy pulled the Trigger?

It beggars belief. It really does. On 22 July 2005 one policeman holds an innocent man down while two others execute him. A total of 11 shots are fired – 7 into his head. The bullets used are ‘dum-dums’– illegal in warfare under the Geneva Conventions – with flattened noses so they cause maximum damage. The man’s head is effectively blown apart. The execution takes place in full view of the passengers of a tube train. No one is tried for this MURDER – because that’s what it was. In this country: England, the ‘mother of democracy’, with one of the most respected justice systems in the world…? For all the subsequent revelations about his drug use and migrant status, in this context Jean Charles de Menezes was innocent; he was not doing anything to indicate he was about to commit an offence of any description. The police officers had decided he was a suspected suicide bomber and respresented an immediate threat to the public.  So they deliberately killed him without warning. Whatever happened to that centuries-old axiom of English law that a man (or woman) is innocent until proven guilty? Last week’s Old Bailey ruling that the Metropolitan Police were… Read More

Time to turn against Cannabis!

The dangers of cannabis use are back on the front pages thanks to a report just published in The Lancet from a team led by Theresa Moore & Dr Stanley Zammit. From their meta-analysis of 35 studies from around the world, Moore & Zammit inferred that any use of cannabis – which means even taking the drug just once – was associated with a 41% greater risk of experiencing some form of psychosis – and possibly even developing full-blown Schizophrenia. People who smoked the most cannabis were the most likely to suffer a psychotic breakdown; for frequent users, the risk rose to between 50% and 200%. Overall, cannabis could be to blame for one in seven cases of Schizophrenia and other life-shattering mental illness. With up to 40% of teenagers and young adults in the UK believed to have tried cannabis, the researchers estimated that the drug could be behind 14% of cases of Schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses. Perhaps fortuitiously Gordon Brown announced on 18 July that the status of cannabis was to be considered as part of a wide-ranging drugs review commissioned by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. The Brown-Smith move was initiated a week after former Tory Party leader Iain Duncan Smith called for reclassification of cannabis from ‘C’ back to ‘B’ in… Read More

A Message for Tony Blair?

Well, Gordon Brown certainly had an ‘interesting’ introduction to his new life as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 3 British troops killed in Iraq on Thursday 28 June (the day after his assumption of power), 2 car bomb plots somewhat miraculously foiled in London in the early hours of Friday 29th and the dramatic Cherokee Jeep bomb attack on Glasgow Airport Saturday afternoon (30th). British troops are being killed or injured in Iraq now on a fairly regular basis; so there may or may not be any significance in the timing of the Basra roadside bombing. But there is much speculation about the supposedly-linked London and Glasgow attacks and what their meaning might be. A number of commentators are of the view that the car bombs are some kind of message from al-Qaeda to Gordon Brown. Quite what that ‘mesage’ might be is harder to fathom – especially since there has yet to be any kind of statement from a recognised agent of the terrorist network. Nor has there been any indication so far that the police have relevant information on either motive or instigating source from the suspects they are interrogating. Certainly Brown has signalled that ‘change’ is going to be his motif… Read More

For Sian and Gillian Baverstock

Isn’t it strange how the death of someone you have fond memories of can affect you? This morning I learned of the death of Gillian Baverstock this Sunday past  (24 June) at the age of 76. From pursuing the obit columns, I realised that Gillian’s daughter, Sian, had died last year from a heart attack at the age of 44. Who were Gillian and Sian Baverstock? Well, for starters, they were respectively the daughter and granddaughter of Enid Blyton and wife and daughter respectively of Donald Baverstock, one of the early controllers of BBC 1 who was later involved in the setting up of Yorkshire Television. (It was Baverstock who commissioned the first series of ‘Doctor Who’ – and it was from the forum of the Doctor Who fansite Outpost Gallifrey that I learned of Gillian’s death.) In 1988 I enjoyed a 6-7 months romantic relationship with Sian, during which I met Gillian several times. She was every bit the charming, elegant and articulate woman described in the obits though she kept a polite distance emotionally from much of what was going on around her. She was as reserved as she was welcoming. The Baverstocks were a troubled family, though, for… Read More

Is Marriage PURPLE?

Just got back from the marriage of my friend and occasional business partner, David Burnby, and Jean MacEwan, manager of Hull’s Centre 88 (where I have staged a number of  ISP courses,) It was truly heart-warming to see two such dear friends ‘tying the knot’; while the dance/party in the evening was certainly something! David, ever the showman, danced vigorously in a Bogart-style white tux and black bow tie almost continuously. And he got up on stage at one point in the band’s set to replace the drummer for their version of The Undertones’ ‘Teenage Kicks’. Jean positively glowed as she circulated enthusiastically – the near-perfect hostess! A spendid night! Peter Fryer of trojan mice is a mutual friend of David and I and someone I very much respect. (Peter wrote the Thriving Organisation Article for this site.) Just before the ceremony he asked me (as the Gravesian ‘expert’ there): “Is marriage PURPLE?” Considering Peter is fairly knowledgeable about the work of Clare W Graves and Spiral Dynamics himself, I was slightly taken aback by the question. Of course, the binding together of 2 people in a bonding arrangement should aim to fulfill PURPLE’s need for attachment. And since I have a degree of attachment to… Read More

Oh, goodie – Passionate Sex!!!

If you say you’re enjoying sex with the same person after three years, you’re either a liar or you’re on something.” – Sebastian Horsley, The Observer Magazine, 15 January 2006 The Observer (aka The London Observer) has had quite a makeover for the New Year. Down from broadsheet to Berliner size and with reorganised sections. Still good, informative and well-reported coverage of a wide range of topical news issues, both domestic and foreign. As part of this makeover, The Observer’s longstanding and well-respected colour magazine has a new regular feature: The Sex Columnists – in which Sebastian Horsley and Marion McBride offer his ‘n’ hers perspectives on issues raised by readers. The opening quote to this Blog was the beginning of Sebastian’s reponse to a reader writing in: “I’ve been in a relationship with my soul mate for three years, but our sex life has almost ceased. I’m terrified if I raise the issue he’ll say he no longer finds me attractive.” Sebastian goes on to say: “Of all the sexual perversions, monogamy is the most unnatural.” Given that point of view, it’s no surprise that he recommends the reader to end the relationship and move on. As I point out in… Read More

Inside the Mind of a Suicide Bomber…?

“Their cause is not founded on injustice. It is founded on belief, one whose fanaticism is such that it can’t be moderated. It can’t be remedied. It has to be stood up to.” – Tony Blair, London, Saturday 16 July 2005. In every point in that statement, other than the first one, Tony Blair is correct. In saying it is not founded on injustice, he makes a fundamental error. Injustice, in fact, feeds their cause. Back in the Autumn of 2001, I was seriously impressed with the way Blair went around the capitols of the Middle East and Asia, persuading the kings and the sheiks and the generals and the dictators that, if they would not openly support the imminent American onslaught on Afghanistan, then at least not to publicly oppose it. He learned passages from the Qur’an to support his case with Muslim leaders. For a time I actually wondered if Blair could do 2nd Tier thinking. What he did was certainly way beyond the red/BLUE simplistic black & white thinking of George W Bush. However, Blair’s support for Bush’s 2003 war on Iraq showed a distinct dearth of global or strategic thinking. Defeating the military of Saddam Hussein, seriously degraded… Read More

Suicide Bomber – right or wrong?

by Dave Lowe As the country reels from the London bombings, I received this thought-provoking message from Dave Lowe, a graphics artist and trainee counsellor in Hull. Dave wants it put up for public discussion. So here goes… I listened to Bush on the news and yet again he said “We will find the perpetrators of these terrible acts.” Does that guy have any idea that it’s not about 10, 100, 1,000 guys with olive skin trying to blow up some folks on a bus?! Bush sees only goodies & baddies in his singular ORANGE view. There are very different thought and value structures in different parts of the planet. All Bush sees is the free individual acting for his/her rights, being attacked.( ORANGE in the US, orange/GREEN in Europe). He sees the attackers as the same as him, just with darker skin. How wrong he and Blair have been has been recently shown when they have tried to present the people of Iraq with the freedom to choose a multi-party democracy (just like the one at home) – and they didn’t want it. Offering GREEN values to a BLUE society that is in RED turmoil ! Bush does not see that the Arab and Muslim… Read More

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