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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

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‘Radical Islam’ and the Return of Tony Blair

Wow, Tony Blair sure is back in the news in a BIG way! First the Gordon Brown-bashing memoirs, then having eggs and shoes thrown at him in Dublin on Saturday and being a star guest yesterday on the inaugural showing of the new breakfast programme, Daybreak. And, of course, in the Sunday Telegraph both he and Brown were bashed by former Chief of the General Staff General Sir Richard Dannatt for failing to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq adequately. (Dannatt was in uncompromising mood, blaming Blair and Brown explicitly and personally for needless deaths.) Perhaps the most interesting set of comments to emerge from the seemingly endless round of interviews the former prime minister has conducted were those to do with ‘radical Islam’ and the threat that would be posed by a nuclear Iran. Talking about radical Islam in general, he described it to ABC News as “…the religious or cultural equivalent of [Communism] and its roots are deep, its tentacles are long and its narrative about Islam stretches far further than we think into even parts of mainstream opinion who abhor the extremism but sort of buy some of the rhetoric that goes with it.” Blair told the… Read More

‘Liberal Conservatives’: new politics?

The first day of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition we had Nick & Dave: the Love-In in the Rose Garden which more than a few commentators likened to a wedding, such was the bonhomie and adoring gazes between the principals. Yesterday we had Vince Cable, the Lib Dems’ voice of sensible moderation, and William Hague, the conservative of the Conservatives, sharing the walk along Downing Street to David Cameron’s first cabinet meeting. Not to mention the bizarre spectacle of Lib Dem anti-nuclear spokesperson Chris Huhne taking charge of implementing the Tories’ plans to build more nuclear power stations! Today, of course, Cameron’s at war with a number of his own backbenchers over the intention to fix the level at which Parliament can be dissolved prematurely at a vote of 55% of the House of Commons (up from a simple majority of 51% and making it that much more difficult to get rid of them). At least the Lib Dems are only being berated for this ‘stitch up’ by members of another party (Labour)! Undoubtedly the week since the general election results were declared has been one of the most interesting in modern British politics! The 55% no-confidence level stitch-up is, in fact, a key plank… Read More

Why is the West ignoring a Leading Moderate Muslim?

Are Western leaders and the Western media missing a critical opportunity to exacerbate the divisions in our Muslim communities, between the minority who advocate the use of terrorism to achieve the establishment of an Islamic hegemony and the majority who do not support such tactics and may even abhor them…? For about 5 hours on 2 March it was hot news: Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a leading Islamic scholar, had issued a detailed 605-page fatwa against suicide bombings and terrorism. He said that terrorism cannot be justified under any pretext through allusion to any real or alleged instances of injustice and there is no space for terrorism in Islam. He regretted the fact that the Islamic teachings, which are based on love, peace and welfare, are being manipulated and quoted out of context to serve the designs of vested interests (such as al-Qaeda). He said that Islam spelled out a clear code of conduct during the course of war and gave complete protection to non-combatants including women, the old, children, etc – with trading centres, schools, hospitals and places of worship deemed to be ‘safe places’. Ul-Qadri’s fatwa is far from being the first to condemn terrorism. As a reaction to 9/11, just days… Read More

2010 – Grim but not hopeless

by Jon Twigge & Keith E Rice Over the past 6 months or so, I’ve found quite a meeting of minds with Jon Twigge, an ardent Spiral Dynamics Integral enthusiast and supporter of the Centre of Human Emergence – UK.  He’s graciously allowed me to cross-publish a couple of pieces he wrote for his own blog. Now, we’ve co-written this post which will appear on both blogs. It began life as Jon’s rough draft which we ‘kicked around a little’ until we both felt it said what needed to be said. All great civilisations of the past have faltered. At some point very soon we are going to be facing the real consequences of the banking crisis.  Government has already announced cuts and more will follow as the full implications of the costs involved come home to roost. Does this crisis mark a downward turn in the modern Western Capitalist system?  One that may we not completely recover from? One probable, and short term, consequence is that local authorities will have their funding from central government severely cut back – one reliable source has told me (Keith) a large amount of the 60% of the funding local authorities get from central government is going to go.  We… Read More

Believing in Britain – Crisis of ‘British’ Identity

by Rachel Castagne I am honoured to publish this  ‘guest post’ by Rachel Castagne,  director and co-founder of the Centre for Human Emergence – UK – the foundation of which I wrote about in Britishness’ at the Regent’s College Summit. I am reading Ian Bradley’s book on ‘Believing in Britain’. I used to think it was ‘just me’ or that I was in a minority when I didn’t consider myself British (being born in Trinidad gave me the perfect excuse!) or want to, was in fact ‘ashamed’ of being British. When my daughter came home from school a few months ago and said she was ashamed of being British, I wondered if I had ‘passed on’ the sentiment, like a hereditary gene – although I knew she hadn’t always felt that way, she’s become aware of ‘Britishness’ as a national identity in her adolescence. Turns out, its not ‘cool’ to be Brit – turns out she’s not the only teen that feels that way…. In fact Bradley reports some interesting stats:- 2005 Social Attitudes Survey found 44% of the population said ‘British’ was the ‘best’ or only way of describing their national identity, as against 52% ten years earlier. Amongst those… Read More

Afghanistan: Sex or starve! What’s the Issue?

If the stories are true – and there does seem to be some confusion in the accounts – then Hamid Karzai’s government sneaked into law on 27 July an amended version of the Personal Status Law for Afghanistan’s minority Shi’ite population. (Around 15% of the country’s 30 million citizens – the vast majority of whom are Sunnis, to whom the new law does not apply.) The coming into law of this measure certainly does seem ‘sneaked’. With the likes of Barrack Obama, Gordon Brown, France’s Human Rights Minister Rama Yade and NATO boss Jaap de Hoop Scheffer joining the international chorus of protest against the original version of the bill in the Spring, Karzai promised to review the measure before implementing it. Now, just days before the increasingly tightly-contested elections, he appears to have sneaked it into law with some different words but the same meanings. Human Rights Watch says it has seen a copy of the final law that requires Shia women to satisfy their husbands’ sexual appetites at least every 4 days, an article which critics have said could be used to justify marital rape. It enshrines a husband’s right to withdraw basic maintenance from his wife, including food, if… Read More

The Thatcherite Project is ended. Whither Britain?

As Gordon Brown sits in 10 Downing Street and contemplates the terrible drubbing the small turn-out of disillusioned voters inflicted on Labour in Thursday’s local elections – 273 Labour seats lost – while hoping desperately that yesterday’s emergency reshuffle of his Cabinet will at least temporarily stall the intra-Labour campaign to oust him and that Sunday’s European election results will not be as bad as predicted, there is one crumb of comfort for him in all this…. The Thatcherite project, which, with his roots in traditional Socialism, he must have hated, is at an end. Margaret Thatcher’s philosophy of the pursuit of individual wealth in an unregulated market, with few or no social responsibilities, was an ethos driven by the ORANGE vMEME. And, for quite a time, that philosophy seemed vindicated. After being the ‘sick man of Europe’ in the 1970s, Britain once again become an economic powerhouse and a country of standing on the world stage, with Thatcher seen clearly to exert influence on those ‘leaders of the free world’, Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush. Thatcherism reached its Capitalist zenith in 1989 with the collapse of European Communism and even China starting to crawl towards a sort of… Read More

The Sons of Iraq – a Step towards Stratified Democracy?

The level of violence in Iraq has decreased to the point where troop withdrawals by both the British and the Americans are once again being discussed seriously. Iraq and the United States have reportedly set a preliminary timetable to start withdrawing American forces from Iraqi cities from next June, according to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari last week after his meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The Zebari-Rice agreement would link troop reductions to the achievement of certain security milestones. But, given how cautious President George W Bush has been to committing to a timetable for American withdrawal, for his Secretary of State to agree to one at all is an indicator of how much better things have become. And, of course, a few weeks before, Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a statement to Parliament announcing the intention to further reduce British troops in 2009. Who would have thought it a year ago? So, what’s changed the battleground so much in the past 14 months? Partly the much vaunted ‘surge’ of American troops in Baghdad, while merely displacing many insurgents to other parts of the country, did create short-term some of the essentials for peace at least in parts… Read More

NEETs – are the Tories on the Right Path?

What a pleasure when, from a sociopsychological point of view, some of the politicians appear to be getting it right for once. Or at least partly right! Taking some tentative steps on the right path, maybe…. David Cameron and David Willets have declared they want to solve the ‘NEET problem’ as part of the Conservatives’ plans to sort out ‘Broken Britain’. In case you’re not familiar with ‘NEET’, it’s the acronym for ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ – and the London School of Economics says that 18% of 16-17-year-olds are NEETs. (Department of Children, Familes & Schools (DCFS) data about a year ago had the figure at around 11%. (Although we didn’t call them NEETs back then, the focus of the HemsMESH project 1999-2001 was how to make unemployed teenagers more employable. The national average then was said to be 14%.) According to research by think tank Reform, NEETs are more likely than their peers to use drugs, be involved in crime, have poor health and have children young – nearly two-thirds of NEET females were mothers by the age of 21, 6 times the rate in the rest of the population. Willets, Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities & Skills, has… 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