Scumbags!

I’ve been called a few things in my time – time spent as a soldier and then as one of Her Majesty’s prison officers tends to have that result! Yesterday J, who was a teacher so she’s used to being called names as well, and I decided it was well past time to acquire another one. So we headed off for Dalyan’s İztuzu Beach with Fethiye friend Chrissy who, I’m sure, has never been called a bad name in her life! We were going to support the group Save Iztuzu Dalyan fighting to save the beach on their ‘open day’.

protesters arrive at Iztuzu beach dalyan

getting there any way they can

Iztuzu Beach dalyan

Iztuzu beach protest Dalyan

J signs attendance register for the day number 3081 and a long queue behind waiting (and Chrissy from Fethiye)

The world famous beach has been under threat from various ‘projects’ of late, the latest of which would have done more than plonk a rather inappropriate turtle-shaped extension to the much valued sea turtle research and rehabilitation centre on a site overlooking the beach.  In a very questionable ‘tendering’ process the running of the beach and its facilities were to be privatised and handed to an entity called DALÇEV that wasn’t even in existence until two days after it won the ‘tender’. How amazing is that!

Anyway, once the word got out the s^*t hit the fan! Locals, many of whom have cut their environmental protection teeth on other hugely successful campaigns such as the defence of Yuvarlakçay, swung into action. So much has been learnt in the last few years by the small local team that guides this local movement of local activists protecting their local environment and local interests that it is hard not to believe that they can ‘do it again’. That would be a mistake, especially now that so much is micro-managed in Ankara. As someone once said, in a very different context, ‘The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!’ or words to that effect. Turning your back on the ‘money-grubbers’ and their facilitators in offices far away, even for a moment, can be catastrophic in any battle by the people, against those who seek to take what is, or should be, ours by right.

iztuzu Beach Dalyantwo of my great mates from the media reporting for DHA (c and r)

Speaking of ‘money-grubbers’ reminds me that a few days ago one of the partners of the company that didn’t exist when it won the non-competitive, sorted over a glass of tea, tender Tweeted his opinion of the protesters who had camped out through the freezing weather to try and prevent any further breeches of court orders by the company that didn’t exist when it won the . . (suck in a deep breath!) He described them as, and I quote, ‘Yavşaklar’ - that’s Scumbags in plain English! This from people who turned up at the beach barrier at midnight, threatened the municipal guardian, cut the padlock and drove three vehicles, rally-style, onto a protected beach, before action by locals forced the intervention of the jandarma and the courts to reinstate the status quo.

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oruc1

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scenes from the ‘rally’ on Iztuzu by the ‘responsible’ developers

So, what does ‘status quo’ mean for the campaign? It means that the company that didn’t exist when it won the dubious tender has to wait the outcome of the court ruling about the legality of the tendering process. Meanwhile the protesters agreed to withdraw their 24 hour ‘guard’, the jandarma were able to go back to barracks and the beach has been reopened to the public. Make no mistake, the locals are not blinking. There will be an alarm system in place, just like Yuvarlakçay, to thwart any further midnight raids. For now the legal process holds sway, but should it go against the will of the locals then watch out for fireworks because civil court actions by the locals’ beach protection platform against individuals and various bureaucrats will swing into top gear.

Anyway, back to this ‘Scumbags’ thing; J and I have been absent from the local protest scene for a while – there are various personal and other reasons for that. However, when some arse calls people I know and respect ‘Yavşaklar’ because they happen to believe that the beach is not for private profit and exploitation, then it was time to stand with them.

ju suis Scumbag!Je Suis Scumbag!

I hope it doesn’t come to it, because I hope they win this fight by a knock-out in this round, if not, I guess you’ll see this Scumbag huddled round the braziers at midnight listening to another Scumbag playing the saz and mourning his lost love – and that’s a promise!

manning the barricades Iztuzu Beach dalyanScumbags mourning their lost love(life) – it’s cold!

To keep up with what’s going on with the beach and to give support to those who are fighting to protect this globally renowned asset and Turkey’s first Specially Protected Area ‘friend’ them on Facebook and sign and share their petitions – here and here you may not be able to be here in person but you can be here in spirit. There are more of us than they think!

The photos are from many sources, I hope they will not be too angry that I’ve not credited them individually. Thanks to each of you.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Scumbags!

1984 Revisited

It’s hard to know where to begin with this post as it is so removed from the guff I usually ramble on about. So, bear with me as I struggle to put some order to it . .

Awaiting the Report Stage in the House of Commons is Home Secretary (Minister of the Interior) Theresa May’s ‘Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill 2014-15‘. (the link will take you to a PDF of the full bill) ‘So what!’ I hear you say, ‘Countering terrorism and providing security at home has got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?’ I would argue that countering the UK’s foreign intervention policies would do more to counter terrorism and improve security at home than any other factor in any equation you care to consider. But that is not the way these things work!

That said, the point of this post is to draw the attention of any of you who haven’t ‘yawned-off’ by now to the above mentioned Theresa May bill. It is probably the most insidious and subversive piece of legislation ever to passage through the so-called Mother of Parliaments. If any single thing marks the beginning of the fulfilment of George Orwell’s prescient predictions in ‘1984’ it is this bill.

Whilst we in Turkey are distracted by the antics of the current president more and more draconian laws are being passed. As those in the US were (and probably still are) agog at Kim Kardashian’s arse, Obomba signed into law the National Defence Authorisation Act which effectively stripped the Constitution and Bill of Rights. In the UK it’s immigration and UKIP that provide the main distraction. Behind the smokescreen the government is quietly putting in place the legislation required of a founding member of Oceania.

1984_map

Oceania-blue, Eurasia-red, Eastasia-green, disputed-white

Oceania, you may recall from ‘1984’ was the entity made up of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Does that ring any bells re: the present make-up of the English speaking, Anglo-Saxon ‘Security Five’? It was the land of ‘Newspeak’, the ‘Inner Party’, ‘Outer Party’, the ‘Proles’ and ‘Big Brother’. The UK (Airstrip One in the novel) was on the front line of the War Against Whatever. Ding-dong-ding-dong!!

So, let’s get back to the legislation; at first glance it appears to deal with such matters as surveillance, withholding passports, travel documents, other travel restrictions, etc of suspected terrorists. Fair enough, you might think. But then, on page 13 of the bill we get this:

PART 5

RISK OF BEING DRAWN INTO TERRORISM

CHAPTER 1

PREVENTING PEOPLE BEING DRAWN INTO TERRORISM

21 General duty on specified authorities

(1) A specified authority must, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

(2) A specified authority is a person or body that is listed in Schedule 3.

Which puts a duty on those who run said specified institutions (which I’ll come to) to report those they consider at risk of being radicalised or drawn into terrorism ie Thought Crimes. Specifically, “due regard” to prevent people under whatever care the institution provides for them, from developing or holding what the British government considers to be “extremist” viewpoints as defined by them. Is that thought crime or not? These are not people who have done anything wrong. They are just being fingered by some largely untrained person as being potentially problematic at some point in the future. What marks some potential future terrorists? It’s the way they think, the way they react to authority, the way they question the system.

So, what are these ‘institutions’? There are all the usual ones that you’d expect, local authorities, prisons, etc but there are also the following, and this is the really scary, Big Brother bit.

Listed under Education, child care etc on Page 47 of the bill:

The governing body of an institution within the higher education sector within the meaning of section 91(5) of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.

A person with whom arrangements have been made for the provision of education under section 19 of the Education Act 1996 or section 100 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (cases of illness, exclusion etc).

The proprietor of—

(a) a school that has been approved under section 342 of the Education Act 1996,

(b) a maintained school within the meaning given by section 20(7) of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998,

(c) a maintained nursery school within the meaning given by section 22(9) of that Act,

(d) an independent school registered under section 158 of the Education Act 2002,

(e) an independent educational institution registered under section 95(1) of the Education and Skills Act 2008, or

(f) an alternative provision Academy within the meaning given by section 1C of the Academies Act 2010.

A person who is specified or nominated in a direction made in relation to the exercise of a local authority’s functions given by the Secretary of State under section 497A of the Education Act 1996 (including that section as applied by section 50 of the Children Act 2004 or section 15 of the Childcare Act 2006).

Think about that – heads of schools and even those who run Nursery Schools are going to be required to finger those children they suspect of having subversive thoughts and to hand them over to so-called panels that will be set up for what? Re-education? And those at the head of these institutions will feel compelled to act on their ‘suspicions’ because if they don’t there will be those below keen to appease the powers-that-be and further their own career in the ‘Party’. No doubt, as is normal with these things there will be performance related benefits or penalties to encourage the wavering to fill their quotas. The country will be over run by informants and amateur Thought Police. Is that ‘Orwellian’ or what!

1984 youth

remind you of the Hitler Youth, Young Communists, Pol Pot’s young murderers?

Mind you, not all ‘institutions’ will be compelled to comply with the law when it is enacted, and it will be! Here is a list of the exemptions from page 14 of the bill – you’ll find it revealing:

(2) The power under subsection (1) may not be exercised so as to extend the application of section 21(1) to—

(a) the exercise of a function referred to in section 21(4);

(b) the House of Commons;

(c) the House of Lords;

(d) the Scottish Parliament;

(e) the National Assembly for Wales or the Assembly Commission within the meaning of the Government of Wales Act 2006;

(f) the General Synod of the Church of England;

(g) the Security Service;

(h) the Secret Intelligence Service;

(i) the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ);

(j) any part of Her Majesty’s forces, or of the Ministry of Defence, which engages in intelligence activities (ie SAS, SBS my emphasis).

Did you get that? The Government, Parliament, MI5, SIS, GCHQ and even the bloody Church of England cannot be held responsible if they fail to prevent someone becoming radicalised or turning to terrorism (as defined by the above list of exemptions) but the head of a nursery school can! When you consider that British Special Forces training salafist, jihadi terrorists in Jordan and Qatar are exempt but you are not, that’s pretty rich.

So, when the principle at your local nursery fingers your child, grandchild (or great grandchild in my case) what happens to them? Pages 16-17 give you the answer:

CHAPTER 2

SUPPORT ETC FOR PEOPLE VULNERABLE TO BEING DRAWN INTO TERRORISM

28 Assessment and support: local panels

(1) Each local authority must ensure that a panel of persons is in place for its area—

(a) with the function of assessing the extent to which identified individuals are vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism, and

(b) with the other functions mentioned in subsection (4).

(2) “Identified individual”, in relation to a panel, means an individual who is referred to the panel by a chief officer of police for an assessment of the kind mentioned in subsection (1)(a).

(3) A chief officer of police may refer an individual to a panel only if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the individual is vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.

(4) The functions of a panel referred to in subsection (1)(b) are—

(a) to prepare a plan in respect of identified individuals whom the panel considers should be offered support for the purpose of reducing their vulnerability to being drawn into terrorism;

b) if the necessary consent is given, to make arrangements for support to be provided to those individuals in accordance with their support plan;

(c) to keep under review the giving of support to an identified individual under a support plan;

(d) to revise a support plan, or withdraw support under a plan, if at any time the panel considers it appropriate;

(e) to carry out further assessments, after such periods as the panel considers appropriate, of an individual’s vulnerability to being drawn into terrorism in cases where—

(i) the necessary consent is refused or withdrawn to the giving of support under a support plan, or

(ii) the panel has determined that support under a plan should be withdrawn;

(f) to prepare a further support plan in such cases if the panel considers it appropriate.

(5) A support plan must include the following information—

(a) how, when and by whom a request for the necessary consent is to be made;

(b) the nature of the support to be provided to the identified individual;

(c) the persons who are to be responsible for providing it;

(d) how and when such support is to be provided.

(6) Where in the carrying out of its functions under this section a panel determines that support should not be given to an individual under a support plan, the panel—

(a) must consider whether the individual ought to be referred to a provider of any health or social care services, and

(b) if so, must make such arrangements as the panel considers appropriate for the purpose of referring the individual.

(7) In exercising its functions under this section a panel must have regard to any guidance given by the Secretary of State about the exercise of those functions.

(8) Before issuing guidance under subsection (7) the Secretary of State must (whether before or after this Act is passed) consult—

(a) the Welsh Ministers so far as the guidance relates to panels in Wales;

(b) the Scottish Ministers so far as the guidance relates to panels in Scotland;

(c) any person whom the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

. . prepare a plan for the identified individual . . they are talking about Re-education Centres people! Thought Control! ‘Give me the boy and I’ll give you the man.’ as the Brothers of the Society of Jesus were wont to say!

Rat Mask 1984if you think this is far-fetched consider that extraordinary rendition, waterboarding, rectal feeding, attack dogs, rape, etc are all ‘acceptable’ forms of enhanced interrogation. Who dies from extra-judicial killings by drones is discussed at the normal Tuesday meetings in the Oval Office!

1984_by_Schritt

1984 is a little behind schedule but has hit the jet stream and is making up for lost time!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

1984 Revisited

Fun Guys

It’s been a bit wild and woolly down here in Okçular these past few days – howling gales and torrential rain – fairly normal for the time of year! I can often be found, book cast aside, standing with my nose stuck to the window feeling glum.

stormy Okcular

the aftermath

Being shut in with J for a few days can lead to some interesting, usually suppressed, behaviour surfacing. Scrabble is a good example and is a sure indicator that life is not normal!

Okcular after the storm

the aftermath of the aftermath

Anyway, even stormy weather passes eventually, the sun comes out and we are able to venture out into the verdant, green, dripping forest that is our backyard. So, bank the fire, put your wellies on and join us, as it turns out we met some really fun guys . .

Fruity Brittlegillhere’s the first of the fun guys by the name of Fruity Brittlegill

Common Puff Ball

and his sidekick Common Puff Ball

Gilded Brittlegill

Gilded Brittlegill

the Gilded Brittlegill twins

fungi

any idea who this fun guy is?

Meanwhile the sun continued to shine . .

Okcular in the sun

fungi

some of the fun guys wear beautiful, frilly petticoats

slime fungiwhilst others are really slimy types

cup fungi

don’t know who this guy is

Crested Coralone of the nicest of the fun guys, Crested Coral

Hope you enjoyed meeting the guys. Whilst none of them are magic, they can have some really interesting effects on you if you join them in a meal – I wouldn’t take a chance on any of them.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Fun Guys

‘Twas The Night Before Crimbo

All right, I’ll be right up front, for the sake of strict accuracy. It wasn’t the day before Crimbo, let alone the night time. It was actually the day before the day before Crimbo – sort of – yesterday! I was just trying to be a bit festive is all.

So, what about yesterday? Well, we went for a wander about through the Turkey we love over rural, woodland paths and lakeside goat tracks. Join us for a bit of peace and quiet and goodwill to all men (and women) (and grandchildren who’ve just let the bloody dog in when it’s covered in mud!) near the village of Eski (Old) Köyceğiz. Enjoy . .

Eski Koycegiz1

start line

Eski Koycegiz2first view of the lake, Köyceğiz and Toparlar mosque

Eski Koycegiz3

Eski Koycegiz4

snow on the Toros Mountains

Eski Koycegiz5

Eski Koycegiz6

Eski Koycegiz7

still waters . .

Eski Koycegiz8

mosses lichens and liverwortsmosses, lichens and liverworts

Eski Koycegiz10

Eski Koycegiz13

Eski Koycegiz12

Finally, our first, and probably last, ever selfie – although I s’pose it’s really a weie!

1st ever selfieEnjoy whatever you’re doing, unless you are a banker, politician or in the military.

 Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü when not wandering about

 

‘Twas The Night Before Crimbo

Seventh Heaven

I feel like the Buddha looks – smugly  happy, eyes half closed and with a nicely rounded belly that has followed a day of great expectation! That doesn’t read correctly, but you’ll get my drift.

It started with our very nice fishmonger at Ortaca veg market. After he’d safely pocketed the price of our çupra (sea bream), he went all conspiratorial on us. ‘Look, lady – taze karides (fresh shrimps/prawns), çok güzel!’ So we broke the first rule of survival in the commercial jungle and looked. Then we broke the second rule by agreeing with his pitch. And that was all he needed to start picking out the biggest and juiciest and arranging them under our noses on one of those styrofoam trays. ‘Not a kilo, a kilo is too expensive’, he said with his finest, unshaven smile. We ended up with 700 grams and considered we’d got away with a real bargain!

I don’t know how you like your prawns, but J and I enjoy them with shells on, cooked in olive oil with loads of garlic and sprinkled with chilli flakes, a splash of lemon juice (and salt and pepper to taste, of course). We serve them from the pan with chunks of bread to soak up the juices . . Heaven! Or, as our one Buddhist friend would say, ‘Seventh Heaven!’

garlic prawns 1

in goes the garlic

garlic prawns 2

lightly pepper-flaked

garlic prawns 3

Yorkshire Prawn Cocktail

garlic prawn 4sorry about the blur, I was all of a tremble!

So, there you have it – Archers’ first ever ‘foodie’ blog post. Now for a glass of rakı and a couple of episodes of ‘Dad’s Army’ my just rewards for J’s hard work!

Alan Fenn, very contented in front of the fire.

Seventh Heaven

Our Family Trees

There is an area just behind our house that once was a source of pocket money for a less than creditable muhtar. He would oversee the removal of trailer-loads of rock that was ideal as a base material for tracks and small construction jobs. Over time the removal created a mini ‘Red Cliffs of Dover’ with the wall to the village graveyard perched on top. When he started to dig out behind my garage/workshop I threatened him with a complaint and put a stop to his activities in this area at least.

We knew from experience and plain, common sense that the ‘cliff’ was unstable and told him so – ‘Problem yök, (no problem) profesyonal, profesyonal!’ (professional) pointing at the digger driver. Two days after we got rid of him and his bloody digger the first collapse occurred, not too serious, but an indicator of what could follow. That was when J and I began a programme of planting young trees and collecting seeds from trees all over Turkey.

Acer cappadocicum ssp divergens

seedling of Acer cappadocicum ssp divergens (seeds from L. Van)

Common sense and a man from the Forestry Authority told us that most of the seedlings that ‘hatched’ wouldn’t make it but we nurtured them anyway. Our idea was to try and stabilise the ground and discourage anyone else from digging stuff out.

A few years later a second small collapse left parts of the wall undercut and we thought that the big one couldn’t be far away. More years passed by, we continued planting and nurturing and the trees continued to grow. The ugly red cliff was almost forgotten as the trees screened it away from view. In the rainless summer months I would drag out the hose and keep the young trees alive. Gradually a mini climate developed and other species settled in and made themselves at home. The dozens of Red Pine seedlings that we planted began to seed and produce young. The Toros Cedar thrived despite being a couple thousand metres too near sea level. The Eucalyptus must be fifty feet high now and the Carobs are doing great. Of the seeds of the Cappadocian Acer from Lake Van that we planted, two survived to be potted on and eventually set in place. They are slender and fragile but one day they will grow into beautiful, graceful adulthood. Here are some photos of adult trees of species we have planted near the house wherever there was space. We even have an English Horse Chestnut that we grew from a conker!

Acer cappadocicum ssp divergens

adult Acer cappadocicus ssp divergens

Pinus brutiaRed Pine Pinus brutia

I should say ‘were’ for some of these because a few days back the inevitable happened after some heavy rain and a biggish section of the cliff has come down bringing the cemetery wall with it. Our mini Special Forest has taken a real knock. We have lost at least half of our beautiful trees and shrubs, buried under a small landslide that feels bigger than it really is. The Toros Cedar has survived – part buried and so a few feet ‘shorter’ than it was. The Acers have survived, one unscathed and the other was dug out from under and set upright. Only two of the carobs and two of the pomegranates made it and a lot of Red Pine, wild avocado and Maltese Plum, et al have gone together with a lot of shrubs like Cistus.

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a young one we dug out from under and propped up

toros sedir

Toros Cedar – one day ours will look like this

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most of the fallen blocks cleared

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but so much is buried and lost

old Eucalyptus

really old Eucalyptus – one day!

Melia azedarach

Indian Bead Tree – Melia azederach

Indian Bead

and its flowers

There is no point in being too despondent, we’ll carry on planting and try and stabilise things again – who knows, with a bit of luck, the next landslide will be someone else’s mess! For anyone interested there is a comprehensive list of ‘our’ trees and shrubs below. Some in the garden, many, in fact most, outside – a lot of them collected as seedlings or grown from seeds.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Yucca flamentosa; Pinus brutia; Vitis sylvestris; Aesculus hippocastranum; Acacia retinoides; Acacia cyanphylla; Cercis siliquastrum; Albizia julibrissim; Ceratonia siliqua; Paliurus spina-christii; Planus orientalis; Persea americana; Rosa canina; Eriobotrya japonica; Liquidamber orientalis; Capparis spinosa; Cistus salvifolius; Eucalyptus camaldulensis; Punica granatum; Clematis sp; Schiaus molle; Pistacia lentiscus; Melia azederach; Lanicera caprifolium; Catalpa bignonioides; Jacaranda mimosifolia; Plumbago aumiculata; Olea europaea; Morus alba; Morus nigra; Acer cappadocicum ssp divergens.

Our Family Trees

Kaçkar Captures

Back during the heat of summer J and I travelled up north and met up with friends on the Black Sea coastal side of the Kaçkar (Kachcar) Mountains. We were hunting out Carpathian Blue Slugs and you can read about it in this post.

The Black Sea region has a lot of rain and I seem to remember that it tipped it down every day mixed in with some drizzle – it was refreshing after the temperatures back home in Okçular! Anyway, I’ve just discovered some ‘little camera’ shots whilst idly swanning through some folders (just like the last posting). They capture the feeling and mood of the Kaçkars beautifully for me – hope you like them too. If you don’t like pics of flowers in the rain you should get back to doing useful things . .

In no particular order:

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IMG_6789

IMG_6790

IMG_6791

IMG_6795

IMG_6806

IMG_6815

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this was the dog’s dinner – I insisted on having a slice; delicious!

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J choosing socks

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friends feasting

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Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Kaçkar Captures

An Open Letter to Russell Brand

Clifford Slapper, musician, composer, author and a member of the SPGB since 1981 has penned a superb open letter to Russell Brand who has taken a very principled position regarding the global, capitalist system in which most of the world’s population struggle to survive, he has taken a lot of flak in the process. Much of what Brand articulates has been the position of the SPGB since its foundation in 1904.

On his book, “Revolution”, Century, 2014

First, how do I come to be reading your book, Revolution? I have spent the past thirty years arguing the point whenever and however I could, that world capitalism has to be ended. Not just in its most excessive manifestations, not just when it is run for private corporations and shareholders as opposed to state bureaucracies, but in every conceivable form it might take. How can you tell if the system in operation is capitalism? With a simple check-list. Employment – the exploitation of employees (French for the ‘used’) by employers (users) via the legalised robbery of the wages system. The market; in other words, the buying and selling of things which could instead now be created in such abundance that they could be taken freely by anyone in the global population, without the need for any system of money, vouchers, tokens, barter or trade of any kind whatsoever. Also, state power: governments, armies, police, who enforce the class rule by a tiny fraction of the population who own and control all productive resources.

Your book is disarmingly honest about your past, your faults, your flaws, thought processes, previous ambitions and resulting disillusion, the sources of your unhappiness, your latest hopes and desires, your continuing self-doubt, your determination to continue speaking and writing uncompromisingly and unashamedly what you believe to be true, and your refusal to give in to the pressure from snobs and hypocrites. These are people who have often attempted to silence your expression by mocking almost everything about you from your accent to your origins, your supposed lack of education, your poverty, your wealth, your hair, your profession – and, when all else fails, by misquoting, misrepresenting and distorting the ideas you express.

I hope it will make a refreshing change to have it suggested that, far from advocating the impossible or going beyond the thinkable, rather that you need to go one step further by demanding the so-called ‘impossible’. Your book is a brave step in promoting discussion of revolution to end the capitalist system we have throughout the world today. You make several cogent and absolutely essential points which are not only true, they cry out to be endorsed and adopted by the thousands who have already read your book – and the millions of others who would relate to so much of it. Points such as:

1. Do not vote – IF there is nothing worth voting for. Do not feel obliged to give moral and practical consent to the status quo by endorsing it, through voting into power one of several parties, each of which are openly pledged to defending, running and upholding that status quo in one form or another. Most of your opponents in the wake of that Paxman interview conveniently ignored the second half of this proposition, pretending that you had some kind of bizarre antipathy to the concept of voting, under any circumstances. More heinous still was their subtle exclusion of even the possibility of allowing a different way of running society: ‘you have Labour, Tory, Liberals. Lots of ways of running Capitalism. What more do you want? Now get out there and vote for one of those! And be damn grateful for having this wonderful choice once every five years!’ runs their mantra.

2.  Global society is currently organised in a way which is designed purely to benefit a tiny (even less than one percent) minority, who have unfathomable wealth and power, who own and control the Earth and its resources – and who in doing so are depriving the 99 percent of access to the riches and comforts those resources have to offer us all. This is an insane, anti-social, irrational, illogical, unacceptable premise and starting point on which to found our global society. It is therefore urgently in our interests as that majority to end that regime completely and utterly, now. Another word for such a huge and urgent change in the way society is run is revolution, so clearly the fact that this is needed is beyond dispute.

3. There are many ways in which the present organisation of society like a vast prison camp (disguised as a holiday camp) causes unhappiness, suffering and distress – way beyond the crudely economic aspects of poverty, crucial and painful though those are too. Terms like alienation, epidemics like addiction are easy to dismiss as in the first case abstract waffle and in the second a poor choice made by (millions of) individuals. However, these are in fact very real, almost universal side-effects of the global social system we have. Indeed, for many people in the huge cities of the more ’developed’ parts of the world – like London or New York – these are some of the most powerful prompts which drive many of us to question the way society is currently structured. The one percent are devoted to maximising the surplus they extract from the work of the rest of us, and this in turn depends on them maintaining a certain social landscape, the consumer culture, the stifling of true dissent, the separation of people from one another and from themselves.

As your book progresses, you draw on input from a variety of activists and social thinkers. Some are more credible than others. One of the more compelling is Naomi Klein, with her brilliant expose of the stark choice now forced on us, between saving capitalism and saving the planet as a viable ecosystem or human habitat, and she shows incontrovertibly how incompatible the two are.

In eventually sketching a plurality of ‘alternatives’ , however, you may be unwittingly over-complicating the situation. There are not ‘loads’ of alternatives; the one key issue causing all significant social problems is the way we organise society – the system of minority ownership and production for profit. The solution, the one solution, to this is therefore common ownership and production for use. That means no money, banks, finance  – and no ‘co-operatives’ selling goods in the market. Free access to all, for all! From each according to ability, to each according to need  – one worldwide co-operative society, no buying and selling.

Some notes you quote about the virtues of co-ops mention ‘raising capital’, ‘job opportunities’ and making agreements with governments. But the revolution to get rid of capitalism has to mean getting rid of capital, government, finance, money, ‘jobs’ – all parts of the capitalist way of running world society. Of course, on paper, the idea of having thousands of autonomous co-operatives, each run democratically within itself, and engaging fairly with all the other units sounds a lot more just and pleasant than the current control of the world, its resources and its population by a tiny, powerful minority of less than one percent of the population. But if we are talking about ending that, then let’s end it. All these models and reforms are variations on the market system which, if ever pursued, would inevitably lead us eventually back to where we started. The solution is for us to withdraw our consent from capitalism, as you say – but to create instead a society without ownership, in which the whole world and all its resources becomes the common heritage of all humanity.

Of course, this necessitates all of the democratic aspects of administration which you touch on, local, regional and continental, but the key point is that these are ways for the world’s population to run a planet no longer divided into owners and non-owners. In the model of separate co-ops which you settle on at the end of the journey in your book, you do not go far enough – after all, if each co-op autonomously owns its resources then those outside that co-op are still alienated from the resources in it. You still then have money, trade, competition, separation  – and the certainty of corruption, accumulation and minority power again flourishing.

You emphasise your belief in God. Connecting with our true selves and connecting with one another are positive parts of the revolutionary ending of property-based society. Belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent force outside of ourselves is significantly less helpful in creating the freedom from oppression to which we aspire. On this I would be more inclined toward the healthy cynicism of the late, great American comedian George Carlin:

‘I’ve begun worshipping the Sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the Sun. It’s there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There’s no mystery, no one asks for money, I don’t have to dress up, and there’s no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate.’

You rightly describe as mere ‘pipsqueak reformism’ the Swedish workers’ shares schemes (which in fact are a means of co-opting the impoverished majority into supervising our own exploitation). In one of your final chapters, you then make a list of demands which includes, for example, ‘State power to dissolve wherever possible to empower autonomous, democratic communities.’ Wherever possible? Although I have no doubt of your sincerity in sketching possibilities for what we construct in place of the wretched system we currently have, I would strongly urge you to reconsider the wisdom of listing multiple ‘realistic’ steps as the culmination of a book so rich in its often poetic damning of current social relations. The biggest tragedy in history, already played out myriad times, is this lowering of expectations as the first slippery slope back to cynicism and misery.

I recognise the courage and honesty with which you have put yourself on the line, derided your own celebrity status, taken on Paxman and others and often left them in gibbering defensiveness. Your regular podcasts, “The Trews” are a welcome window into reality without the twisting and obfuscation, the bullshit mediation of the media. In many ways it has been a breath of fresh air to see those hilarious and perceptive insights into the madness of capitalism viewed regularly by hundreds of thousands of people.

Let’s now take the next logical step and build a majority movement committed to the complete ending of capitalism, in all of its forms, with all of its trappings, and nothing less. On page 297 of your book you slightly misquote Marx in a way which could be significant. You say ‘From each according to his means, to each according to his needs’. On Twitter last year, however, you correctly quoted it as ‘from each according to ability, to each according to needs’. It was never about redistributing money, but abolishing it – and Marx’s slogan is even more relevant today than it was 150 years ago.

CLIFFORD SLAPPER    click the link to learn more about musician, composer, author, socialist and member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain or here to learn more about SPGB

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü (a member of the SPGB)

An Open Letter to Russell Brand

Amasya Revisited

Earlier in the year J and I were on our way from our home in Muğla, in the SW, to meet up with friends on the Black Sea side of Turkey for a few days. Our plan was to hunt for Carpathian Blue Slugs in the Kaçkar Mountains.

TurkeyTouristicMap

We decided to break the journey and overnight in Amasya, a town that had made a real impression on us when we had stayed there quite a few years ago. Read about that trip here.

Why am I telling you this? Because I’ve just done a bit of rare tidying of some of masses of photos in folders that clutter-up my desktop and I’ve rediscovered these shots taken about the old town. I’m sharing them ‘as is’ not because they are good photos, they are not, but because they gave me a really good feel about Amasya again. If you told me I had to live in a town, this place would be my choice. It has history, charm, culture, charm, is cared for, charm, gives of warm fuzzies, charm, but above all it has charm! You can do your own research or click here, otherwise enjoy these sometimes blurry and over-exposed images of a lovely town taken by night and very early in the morning – hence the camera shake!

Pontic tombs Amasya Turkey

Pontic Tombs behind our hotel

Amasya back street

back lane

blurred vision Amasya

blurred vision

Amasya old town

mosque Amasya old town

old tap Amasya old town

Amasya river side

Amasya

Korprubasi Mosque Amasya

Köprubaşı – Head of the Bridge Mosque Amasya

Amasya

Amasya

Mosque and Tombs and Hamam and Ottoman house restorations

Amasya Turkey

town club amasyathe Town Club Restaurant where we first dined all those years ago

If you have the opportunity to visit this delightful town then do it – it will not disappoint you.

Alan Fenn, missing Amasya!

Amasya Revisited

Judgement Day 2.0

rup winners

By way of an update on the previous post, here are the photos and names of the three winners of the ‘Okçular Village Guide’ book. These three entries were considered to be ‘most promising’ and I hope that the books will encourage the recipients to explore the beautiful countryside around my village where they will find lots of wonderful subjects to fill up the hard-drives or storage cards on their electronic devices!

For any of you reading this post who are curious about the book and the ‘Okçular Book Project’, you can click on the tab at the top of the page, or the ‘Okçular Book Bazaar’ tab where you will find information about our secure, worldwide order/delivery service.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

 

Judgement Day 2.0