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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

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Could the Political Centre be making a Comeback?

    Could it just be that, with Bernie Sanders’ 13 April endorsement of Joe Biden as Democratic candidate in November’s presidential election – see the ABC News clip above – and the 4 April ascension of Keir Starmer to leadership of the Labour Party, the ‘centre’ is making a comeback in American and British politics? A new poll reported by The London Economic’s Jack Peat puts the centrist Starmer’s net favourability 50 points ahead of Jeremy Corbyn, the ‘hardcore leftie’ he succeeded. (Of course, Corbyn was not really the Marxist the right-wing media slandered him as, though his views  were well to the left of Labour under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and even Ed Miliband) Meanwhile Sanders’ concession to Biden effectively signals the end of what might be termed the Democrats’ ‘hard left’ campaign to win the nomination for presidential candidate. (By ‘hard left’ here, we mean the leftie side of social democracy; again Sanders is nothing like the Marxist some on the hard right claim he is!) Biden is decidedly centrist in his politics – some might even argue right of centre – but that enables him potentially to pick up leftie Republican votes, especially those who are totally… Read More

We might never have a Labour Government again…

…if Keir Starmer isn’t elected Leader In and amongst the genuinely scary headlines over coronavirus and the lurid headlines about Priti Patel’s bullying of her staff, it’s easy to lose sight of the Labour Party leadership election – and just how important this will be for our kingdom. Voting in the membership ballot opened on 24 February and closes at midday on 2 April. The result of the leadership election will be announced on 4 April. To the dismay of a number of my Corbynista friends, I’m going to contend that, if the Labour Party fails to choose Keir Starmer as their leader, they will almost certainly lose the next election. If, following that, they fail to elect Starmer or someone like him, they will lose the election after that. In fact, it’s not inconceivable that we might never have a Labour government again. The problem with choosing Rebecca Long-Bailey is that, like Jeremy Corbyn before her, she will be pilloried by the right-wing press as a near-Communist flogging neo-Marxist policies exhumed from the 1970s. Anything she has said remotely expressing sympathy for a cause (such as Palestine) that could, how ever tenuously, be linked to a terrorist act (or even… Read More

Johnson’s Victory does not create Certainty

So sad to say…but this disaster for our kingdom was pretty predictable.  In Remainers need Simple Messages and Charismatic Leaders, I bemoaned Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson, both as ‘personalities’ and for the messages they delivered. Neither looked or behaved much like a statesman or a stateswoman. To give him credit, Corbyn, when given the chance, can come across as having gravitas; but it’s difficult to envision him going head to head with Vladimir Putin or Emmanuel Macron. Swinson’s message was so easily caricatured as ‘undemocratic’ and ‘disrespectful’ of the 2016 referendum. Corbyn’s message was actually, in its detail, quite reasonable…but not translatable into a simplistic soundbite like ‘Get Brexit done!’ It’s debatable as to whether the electorate actually wanted Boris Johnson or they simply didn’t want Corbyn (or Swinson). With a simple message and a charismatic leader, Labour should have walked this election. At the very worst, today we should be looking at a minority Labour government, supported by the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party. The Tories were so vulnerable on so many issues and Johnson is clearly non-empathetic and insensitive and has either gaffed, broken his word or outrightly lied so many times, it’s incredible that anyone… Read More

Money, Islamophobia and the Surge in Right-Wing Extremism

The mosque shootings in New Zealand on 15 March may represent a significant step up in anti- Muslim right-wing terrorism. At the time of writing, while there has been no further incident of major large-scale violence against Muslims, there has been a significant increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric and minor assaults, both verbal and physical, In the UK alone, in the week following the massacre in Christchurch, The Guardian’s Vikram Dodd reports: “…95 incidents were reported… between 15 March, the day of the New Zealand atrocity, and midnight on 21 March. Of those, 85 incidents – 89% of the total – contained direct references to the New Zealand attacks and featured gestures such as mimicking firearms being fired at Muslims…. Verbal abuse directed at Muslims in London in separate incidents is alleged to have included shouts of ‘you need to be shot’, ‘you deserve it’ and ‘Muslims must die’. Incidents were reported in Scotland, where a mosque was attacked; in Stanwell, Surrey, where police declared the stabbing of a teenager to be a suspected far-right terror attack; and in Lancashire. Meanwhile in Birmingham, police continue to hunt for those behind sledgehammer attacks on five mosques.” After the Charlie Hedo shootings in 2015, Juan… Read More

The Case for a Second EU Referendum is now compelling

Even if, following the departures of David Davis and Boris Johnson (and a minor slew of lesser Tories), Theresa May can impose a workable degree of collective responsibility on her new-look Cabinet….even if, as reported by BBC News (2018b), the 1922 Committee has yet to receive the full 48 letters from MPs required to trigger a ‘no confidence’ vote in her as leader of the Conservatives…even if there are no more big name resignations…the chances of May’s compromise fudge, supposedly accepted by all Cabinet members at Chequers last Friday (6 August), forming a viable starting point for negotiating the UK’s future relationship with the European Union are minimal. As Kirsty Hughes of the Scottish Centre for European Relations explained to The National’s Emer O’Toole: “This is the cherry picking that the EU has made clear will not be allowed to proceed…[the EU] will not go for such cherry-picking of the single market and the four freedoms.” The UK leaving the EU with no trade deal will indeed hurt companies in a number of member states. However, as been widely and consistently reported – eg: Paul Withers (2018a) in the Daily Express – for Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, the integrity of the single market and… Read More

How the Plutocrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats… #2

PART 2 Tax obligations and ‘offshoring’ Besides intensely disliking bodies like the European Union due to the laws and regulations they impose on issues like consumer rights, health & safety and worker’s rights, the Plutocracy and the Elite have another very real reason to want to see such bodies severely emasculated if not actually broken up: tax. ‘Offshoring’, in the words of John Urry (2013), “involves moving resources, practices, peoples and monies from one national territory to another but hiding them within  secrecy jurisdictions as they move  through routes wholly or partly hidden from view. Offshoring involves evading rules, laws, taxes, regulations or norms. It is all about rule-breaking, getting around rules in ways that are illegal, or go against the spirit of the law, or which use laws in one jurisdiction to undermine laws in another. Offshore worlds are full of secrets and lies.” Secrecy jurisdictions – or ‘treasure islands’ as Nicholas Shaxson (2011) terms them – are tax havens which provide varying degrees of secrecy – ie: freedom from disclosure. This is to attract foreign individuals who wish to hide assets or income to avoid or reduce taxes in the home tax jurisdiction. Relevant laws and approaches to the… Read More

How the Plutocrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats…

11 July 2017 In seeking to explain the 2016 EU referendum result, the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency and the rise of white working class right-wing nationalistic populism in general across much of Europe, many commentators, such as Rob Ford (2016) in The Observer, have portrayed these things as consequences of the relentless growth of globalisation. As the transnational corporations have created a New International Division of Labour pitching their operational bases where labour is cheapest – eg; North Africa, South-East Asia – so the traditional white working classes in the West have become the ‘left-behind’. As explored in Underclass: the Excreta of Capitalism and So the Turkeys did vote for Christmas?!?, the resultant competition for the jobs there are left make them particularly susceptible to racism, xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiment. For the PURPLE vMEME, with its safety-in-belonging need threatened by those not-of-our-tribe, this is a not-unnatural reaction. See: Is Racism Natural..? There is a complexity in this scenario, though, that is not always acknowledged – particularly in the way the mainstream media often tell the story. At the time of writing, as widely reported – eg: Mehreen Khan in the Financial Times – the UK has its lowest unemployment rate… Read More

Breaking-Up Britain needs a National MeshWORK

It’s to be seriously hoped that Theresa May doesn’t get the landslide victory on 8 June that was initially predicted – and which she clearly aimed for in calling a snap general election on 18 April. As discussed in 8 June: Time for a Change!, she clearly thought she would be able to crush a weak and ineffectual opposition. To her chagrin though, Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran speaker at  public rallies, has proved a robust and highly effective on-the-stump campaigner. Although greatly under-reported in the largely right-wing dominated mainstream media, he has consistently pulled crowds in their thousands to his campaign events. In spite of the under-reporting, there has been enough grassroots and social media activity to get at least some wider attention to them. In comparison Mays’ carefully stage-managed appearances before mere handfuls of Tory activists would have seemed pitiful if not for ‘doctoring’ of the photos to make the audience seem that much larger. (See the examples below.) Slowly but surely Labour have closed the gap on the Tories in the opinion polls. Whether they can close it enough by 8 June – assuming, of course, that the polls are reasonably accurate –  is a different matter. The third factor in all of this is… Read More

Modernisation Theory vs Stratified Democracy #2

PART 2 Slavery and colonialism – the origins of Dependency As a Marxist, Frank has no hesitation in rooting dependency in the twin ‘evils’ of colonialism and Capitalism. Between 1650 and 1900 European powers, with Britain in the lead, used their superior naval and military technology to conquer and colonise many parts of the world. Paul Harrison (1990) argues that the principal result of the European empires was the creation of a global economy on European terms and the beginnings of the world capitalist system…. Colonies were primarily exploited for their cheap food, raw materials and labour – eg; Britain’s virtual monopoly over cotton benefited expansion of the Lancashire and Yorkshire textile industries. It’s worth noting that cheap labour also included slavery. From 1650 to 1850 some 9 million Africans (between the ages of 15 and 35) were shipped across the Atlantic to work as slaves on cotton, sugar and tobacco plantations in America and the West Indies, owned mainly by British settlers. The British slave-traders and the plantation owners made huge profits. The most fertile land was appropriated for growing ‘cash crops’ for export to the West. New markets in the colonies were created for manufactured goods from the industrial… Read More

Putin, Trump and the Endgame for Syria

A  couple of years back I stopped writing about Syria. It wasn’t a deliberate decision. It just seemed to happen. The routine nature of the horrific atrocities committed with relative abandon by both sides, with advantage seeming to swing first one way and then the other and then the other and then the other yet again seemed endless and wearisome. Everything that could be said seemed to have been said…and yet still it went on. Meanwhile, the Crimea, the Ukraine, the Scottish independence referendum, the Peshawar Massacre, Charlie Hebdo and other UnIsamic State atrocities, Jeremy Corbyn, the Brexit referendum, Jeremy Corbyn (again!), Donald Trump…. So many other things have happened in those 2-3 years and so many of them ‘closer to home’…and, as the apocryphal ‘McClurg’s Law’ postulates: the more something is closer to you (racially, nationalistically, culturally), the more newsworthy it is (Stephen Moore, Steve Chapman & Dave Aiken, 2009). Thus, it is understandable (in some senses, at least) that Syria went ‘off the radar’ at times not only for myself but for many other ‘thinkers’ and much of the Western media. Now, though, as what seems to be the final, heartbreaking agonies of Aleppo are so grim and apparently so decisive, they actually break through the news barrier and Syria becomes… Read More