Friday, April 08, 2005

JP2 pt4 (and out)

JP2 #5
Originally uploaded by StefZ.

So, there is a long established Polish community in London. They have been here for 60 years now. This country is their home. Their kids grew up, work and have raised their own kids here.

But their relationship with Britain, particularly the roots of their relationship with Britain, is complex and, in places, dark.

This kind of complexity undoubtedly applies to most immigrants, recent and not so recent, in this country.

And what is the standard of debate taking place about migration into the UK? Well, you can choose from:

We need immigrants to do sh*t jobs


I dont like foreigners

The British can be a very ignorant people sometimes.

And that kind of ignorance does not happen overnight. It takes years of terrible education, puerile journalism and the tireless promotion of the trivial to produce a nation quite so ill informed and incapable of objective thought.

And that is why you can open the Guardian today and read that just everything to do with migration, for example, is peachy. Or turn to the Daily Mail and read the exact opposite.

After misunderstanding something I had said, my Hungarian friend with the Wales fixation once told me that I had little to fear from East Europeans coming into the UK. He assured me that they were surprisingly similar to people from the UK and no threat at all.

I know that, silly.

Though I have to admit that I am quite scared of scummy East Europeans. Sixty years of totalitarian rule tends to produces some really serious scummers. Moving over here and plying their various unpleasant trades in the relatively liberal UK, after years of dealing with some really serious law enforcement, must be like a holiday for those guys.

But, scumbags aside, nobody should have any real problem with anyone else, from anywhere else.

Except for one small issue.

What do we, in the UK, have to offer them? From China to India to Poland there are millions of people looking to match our standard of living. They are willing to work harder for less and their education systems are nowhere near as rubbish as ours is.

What do we have to offer them? What are our kids going to be doing to make a living?

I have my own ideas about what Britain could offer the World. For all their numerous faults, we were blessed with a series of institutions and traditions that maintained a framework of justice and freedom that allowed all sorts of other endeavours to flourish. But few people seem to rate these institutions very highly and they have been corrupted or discarded without so much as a tear.

Like the Americans, we in the UK have lost it big time. With each passing year we make less and do less. We buy Asian goods and employ migrants to do our dirty work. We, on the other hand, sit at desks doing biff. And really pointless biff at that.

We are soft and we are losing it. Again, like the Americans, just about the only thing we are still good at is projecting military force around the world. Between our two nations, we account for half of the World's military spending. Everyone else is making consumer durables and we are manufacturing death.

So, what's the game plan looking like then boys and girls? Maybe those guys I photographed last night were marching in Rome after all.


Anonymous said...

Stef --

The UK and the US are living on borrowed money and borrowed time.

As you point out, we're fat, dumb and happy here, but the great wheel of fortune is clicking to a stop on a new number, far to the east.

When it clicks to a final stop, soon, the new winners will no longer loan us money to project our corporate power and our western economies will collapse.

If that's all that happens, we might survive, living ten to a room, working fourteen hours a day ... in Bangalore if we're lucky enough to get there, like those migrants who get to London, escaping their little bit of hell.

Corporate HQs don't care where they -- or we -- live.

Unfortunately, that's probably not all that will happen. With our economies collapsing, politicians will need a distraction, the signs of which you saw in the march you witnessed last night.

The west is gearing up, dualist boys & girls are being well trained, a census is being taken, the 'others' are being identified.

Military momentum has carried us through wars of state and wars of economics, so I'm sure it'll (try to) carry us through wars of religion too.

Welcome to the 21st Century. How will you survive?

It sure brings the words to John Lennon's song "Imagine" into focus: "Imagine there's no heaven, It's easy if you try ..."

Thanks for being here for us. Your social criticism is still our sharpest sword.

Stef said...

Not surprisingly, I agree with every word you've written.

So, what are we all to do about it?

Anonymous said...

In a recent study, women said they thought imigrants made up 26-40% of the UK population, the real figure was something like 4.7%.


Stef said...


Depends who you ask, where you ask and what your definition of a migrant is doesn't it?

Take me, I'm a second generation migrant on one side and a fourth on the other, sport a foreign name and grate parmesan on my tinned spaghetti. On paper, some people would definitely class me as a migrant. I doubt if they would on meeting me in person.

Round my way even the census figures back up a 50%+ migrant figure but, there again, all those Little Englanders in the home Counties getting steamed up because someone moved into the next village make me laugh.

My gut, informed, feel is that the true figure for migrants, who stand out as migrants, is something in the 5-10% region, concentrated very heavily in London.

My problem with the entire migration issue is that it is has been mishandled badly by the government telling pork pies about it doesn't help. Now that people are getting wise to the fact that they have been misled about the true numbers they have begun the suspect the underlying motives for those lies.

I am not anti-migration. Far, far from it but there are issues that need to be discussed e.g.

Are we happy with the increasing population density in the South East? Our infrstructure is dying on its rear end.

Are we happy that companies employ desperate migrant casuals rather than paying a decent wage? What kind of economy are we creating here? What are the implications for our kids?

Is it right for us the actively lure qualified professionals from developing countries, particularly into the NHS? They are undoubtedly propping it up but what about 3rd World countries being deprived of those desperately needed healthcare professionals?

I could go on and on, and frequently do. No hidden agendas on my part just a genuine concern for people who were born here AND people who move here.

Anonymous said...

Stef --

‘Comment’ seems to be working again. I had trouble with it Sunday.

I don't normally write comments, I try to live unrecognized, quiet and unpretentious (personal responses to inconstant world events that also include: paying off debt, staying off lists, and looking for those who ‘understand’ the words to JL’s song “Imagine”), but the 'anonymous' button here is just so tempting, and your social criticisms so on-target, I can’t resist. That said ...

It’s my view there has always been two prime movers in the west: the cross and the crown.

Sometimes allied, sometimes not, they've written and re-written western history since Livy.

The crown has now morphed into the corporation -- weren't they always that anyway? -- but their contemporary impact is the same.

More noticeable in the US than the UK -- recalling your photo of "Golgotha Fun Park" in Cave City, Kentucky (and now a new Creation Museum across the state) -- their two agenda-gears (cross and corporation) have meshed in a way unknown since Charlemagne and his conviction that he was "at one with the divine will"; a religious worm ate into that early 9th century crown.

Today, that religious worm eats into our and Francis Fukuyama's liberal democracy; projecting an outcome not entirely anticipated by Fukuyama: a rewind of history, not its end.

By conveniently ignoring each other's 'final agenda', the cross and the corporation have set out together to 'conquer the world', each drawing power from the other.

Just as a little religion in the corporation is okay, a little corporate governance in religion is okay too.

Unfortunately for us today, the religious-half of their ‘righteous’ team seeks not Fukuyama's 'end of History' and its satisfied ‘last man’, but rather their self-proclaimed 'end of Time': the inglorious end of us simultaneous with the glorious end of the worm, long live the worm (they say).

What do I DO about it? I quote William Blake. He has a poem about it ...

The Sick Rose

"O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy."

From "Songs of Experience", 1794.

Have a good day.

-- The Daemon of Whether

Stef said...

Blogger comment system not good, but Blogger cheap, which is important to me for the time being.

Agree wholeheartedly with the avoidance of debt and lists, both subjects dear to my heart. Actually, I am on many lists, or rather ‘Sven Forkbeard of No.11 Letsby Avenue, Walford, London’ is on many lists.

Re. The Church / State prime mover thing, of course this is so. Doesn’t this simply reflect human nature? The blend of the spiritual and the material?

I would advocate that the way we live our lives is always a compromise between the two ‘pulls’. If we were all like St Francis or the Buddha we’d all starve to death for want of the food that nobody is growing or we could all become rampant capitalists and starve death in a less physical way.

There is, of course, the issue of the imperfection of these institutions. They are operated by people and suffer from the imperfections of those people. I’ve always thought blaming God for the failings of organised religion, and their books, to be one of those intellectually dishonest exercises I dislike so much. In the same way that, say, denouncing the concept of a police force because some policemen do bad things would be a daft thing to do.

Anyway, imperfections aside, the division between Church and State, the material and the spiritual, starts to go awry when Church or State achieve complete dominance over the other. Or, more insiduously, when one assumes the mantle of the other. That is what is going on around us now, big time. There’s a potentially a very long essay on this subject which has undoubtedly already been written, probably some time ago. Truly, there is very little new under the Sun.

Re. Blake, even though he did have issues with organised religion, my understanding of where he was coming from was that he most certainly did see the reality of the spiritual and not as some superstituous, delusional construct. Those angels in those trees where real to him. Weren’t they?

Not much the day left where I am – but enjoy it ;-)