TRUMP

Trump – derivations and deviations.
Twenty useful dictionary definitions.
1. Trumpish A language of North American (USA) and Germanic (Friesland) origin. c. 2012-2017 (possibly from much earlier). Racist origins. The earlier versions of the name were ‘trump’ (fart) and ‘ish’ (unknown but thought to be a ref to a leering lisp produced from pouting lips and synchronous with a puckered rectum) hence 1. ‘Trumpish’ an indelicate emanation from the anus, and sometimes, unfortunately, the aforesaid pouting mouth. 2. ‘Trumpclaninism’, the expression of extreme racist, sexist and homophobic prejudice whilst wearing a conical white hat. 3. ‘Trumpologism’. An inability to construct a consistently logical sentence. 4. ‘Trumpologisms’. (plural) A clinical multiple inability to construct two consequent logically related sentences on the future of the world or the shape of an index finger. 5. ‘Trumphobic’. A challenging and contradictory homophobic attraction to another of the same sex of a similar psychological disturbance i.e. V. Putin (the initial infatuation caused by a photograph of Putin half naked riding a horse). 6. ‘Trumporlia’, the artefacts associated with conspicuous consumption (i.e. women from foreign parts, and their ‘parts’, ‘delighted’ to enjoy their owner’s whims whilst getting new clothes, jewels and divorces). 7. ‘Trumporliaeae’, ancient origin, women acquired as playthings for use by their owner and subsequently displayed to the adoring public as trophies. 8. ‘Trumptoweringness’. A sad and forlorn fantasy that back-combing one’s hair into a comb-over produces a stupefying erection. 9. ‘Trumpobamaship’. A condition where erudition, and the occasional sticking to principles, is denigrated as antithetical to the welfare of humanity, and threatening, to the Trump state. 10.‘Trumperphants’. The collection of arse lickers and cock-suckers making an inner circle (!) of (synonym) ‘Puckerphants’. 11. ‘Trumphilia’. Promoting unqualified and self-serving children, and their partners, as leaders of the free (sic) and untrammelled (sic) world in pursuit dynastic longevity. 12. ‘Trumpdaciousness’. A spectacular proclivity for mendaciousness in the public interest and personal profit. 13. ‘Trumping’. The act of Trumping (tautological). The ability to simultaneously celebrate and denigrate one’s political opponents whilst letting off unwanted Trumps. 14.’Trumpdowning’. A little like Watership Down – rabbits in the headlights, a lot of road kill, but, hey, everything has a purpose – what better way to feed the poor? 15. ‘Trumponarcissism’. Mirror mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all? 16. ‘Trumpdysneyfication’. The media’s oligarchs’ management of threats to its own hegemony and management of the underclass(es). 17. ‘Trumpdigitification’. Finger pointing. 18. ‘Trumpabasement’. The denigration of others not to be confused with ‘Trumpabusement’ or ‘Trumpamusement’, (synonyms with the same outcome – red neck laughter). 19. ‘Trumpmodrification’. Unification with god in the service of ‘Trumpdom’. 20. ‘Trumpdom’ the empire of Trump.
2. RIP

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Leonard Cohen

I have spent the day listening to the recorded work of Leonard Cohen and I have laughed, wept and shouted with anger, joy and delight. His last album ‘You want it darker’ produced, and made possible, by his son Adam Cohen, is beautiful and made me weep – do read the sleeve notes and listen to Cohen’s words.

There wasn’t another like Mr Cohen and why? Not just the voice. Not just the orchestration. The words. The poetry. The tales never told. The tales teased. Not the just business of being human, not that alone. Not just the words. But the passion. Those innocent calculated simple words that in their conjunction take me to another place, no other place of loss and growth, not a happy place but where we, or should say, where I, have been in his company and grown from it. And that is the point. He was with me and I with him – don’t be stupid, this is not some facile homily, but a statement of regard, a statement celebrating inestimable worth and value – Leonard Cohen was, and will be forever, present.

Mr Cohen is dead
Like hell
Alexandra’s leaving
Nah
Always alive
In his music
In my head
And in my heart

Thank you
Mr Cohen
You will be missed
But yet
Your music
Goes on

Trump & Brexit

I have no witty aphorism to offer in the face of Brexit and Trump’s victory in the US presidential election. No pithy pun to make me look good. No alliteration to amuse you. And why not? Because Brexit, and now this latest populist insanity in the USA, are not funny. If Brexit was bad Trump’s victory is terrifying. I may have no jokes but I do have something to say – and it’s an apology.

But before that – I am heartbroken that the majority of the people of the countries that make up the United Kingdom (sic) have decided to leave the European Union. I am distraught that the millions who inhabit what was once allegedly the land of the free and the brave have fallen under the spell of a contemptible demonic misogynistic racist demagogue and chosen a path that threatens us all. I am not surprised that Marine Le Pen, Farage and their ilk are pleased at the outcome of the US election – they see it as a first step in recreating the strong state so beloved of all fascists. I am not surprised that Putin welcomes Trump’s expressed desire to wind up NATO, why wouldn’t he? Maybe he and Trump can kiss and make up riding bare back and all aquiver on the back of a horse all reported in Okay! magazine? I am not surprised that Prime Minister May offers Trump her congratulations and speaks of the ‘special relationship’ while she demeans us on tour in India with her latent racism and spouts her mantra of a hard exit from Europe – the woman has a shameful selective memory and shoes to match. And now we have the purring gentle statesmanlike reeking puss from Trump, as, Thatcher like, he celebrates himself and his new independence day, moving forward into the fantasy that only popular fascism can supply.

My apology.

I take personal responsibility for Brexit and Trump’s victory. You’ll say ‘that’s nuts’. It’s not. I am one but I am part of many.

I have got what I deserve by:

• Being passive in the face of years of neoliberalism rhetoric and policies that have destroyed millions of lives and common purpose and doing bugger all about it
• Being offended but passively accepting the process whereby people are turned into commodities
• Not exposing the lie that unrestrained markets can deliver good for all – whereas it is the rich who always profit
• Succumbing without protest to the power of international monopoly capitalism
• Ignoring the untrammelled power of media moguls and oligarchs and not doing something about it
• Acquiescing in the belief that parliamentary democracy will bring about equality of opportunity and justice for all
• Passively relinquishing my responsibilities as a citizen to be politically active and not just once in a while at the ballot box because that’s a delusion created by those who control us
• Acquiescing without protest in the passing of power and authority to sycophants, lickspittles and the servants of corporate power in the form of Labour and Conservative administrations
• Being too content to shout at my radio in my kitchen rather than on the streets
• Hoping that all will be well in this best of all possible worlds
• Shutting my front door and hoping that it will all go away as they come for me not today but tomorrow and there is no one left to say enough
• Forgetting that, though I am privileged, I am at one with the disenfranchised, the disregarded, the outsiders, the poor, those described as disabled, the immigrants and those who see no hope at the end of their tunnels and that I am but one step away from their place of pain
• Not saying “No Pasaran” over and over and over again and doing something about it
• Not learning from history and remembering that the ruling class takes many forms and mutates just like a virulent virus adapts in order to survive and destroy all in its path.

So what is to be done?
Alone we are alone – together we are more than the sum of our separate parts.

As a dear friend said to me today, ‘I refuse to enter the last quarter of my life without the optimism that fuelled the first three, we must think, believe & do the humanistic, moral correct things, the dark cannot prevail.’

There’s only one thing to do with pathogens – take the time and effort to wipe them out.

Aleppo

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Aleppo

© Phil Cosker 2016

 In my comfortable room

I fume

Aleppo

 

Putin

Obama

May

Games to play

In

Aleppo

 

What do I know of this?

Shit all

Of the reality

In

Aleppo

 

Concrete splits

In

Aleppo

 

Lungs implode

In

Aleppo

 

Skin

Gently

Searing

Burning

Flaking

Falling

Shrivelled

Blown away

Wasted

Dust

Dead

In

Aleppo

 

What is this to do with me?

In my comfortable room

Far from me

In

Aleppo

 

Bones shatter

In

Aleppo

 

Blood flows

In

Aleppo

 

Worse than pictures

In my head

Sound

The sound

The sound

The sound

Bang

Boom

Bang

Roar

Rip

Tear

Flesh rips

That’s a sound

In

Aleppo

 

Children scream

Burning

Dying

In

Aleppo

 

Limbs lost

In

Aleppo

 

This not abstract

This is war

In

Aleppo

 

On the ground

Guts

Spill out

In

Aleppo

 

Eunuched

I wail

For

Aleppo

 

Assad’s

Holocaust

Cleansing

In

Aleppo

 

For what

In

Aleppo?

 

Bashar al-Assad

Is not

In

Aleppo

 

Assad sips

Full lipped

At

Putin’s goblet

Silky power

Corrupt corruption

In

But not

In

Aleppo

 

Hair

Bone

Fingernail

Bone

Blood

Femur

Breast

Bone

Follicle

Hair

Follicle

Nipple

Heart

Bone

Lung

Bone

Bone

Ventricle

Bone

Hair

Tooth

Larynx

Tongue

Bone

Gone

Dead

Hair

Skin

Eyelid

Iris

Gone

In

Aleppo

 

A child

In pieces

In

Aleppo

 

Assad

Not in pieces

Not in

Aleppo

 

A mother

Bereft

In

Aleppo

 

What’s that smell?

A child burning

In

Aleppo

 

A father

Weeps

In

Aleppo

 

Assad

Kleenex wipes a crocodile tear

But not

In

Aleppo

 

So what?

So fucking what?

What do I do about

Aleppo?

 

I don’t know

 

And the clock

Ticks

As the barrel bombs

Tock

Crock

Block

Blast

Blind

Kill

Not just

In

Aleppo

Is that not enough?

 

Tick …

Tock …

Tick …

Tock …

As the bones break

Crick

Crack

Crock

Broken

Crick

Crack

Shatter

In

Aleppo

 

We excuse ourselves

For the bravery of those

in

Aleppo

Who are

Not us

In

Aleppo

 

Enough!

It’s our world

Stop the murder

of

Aleppo

 

I don’t know how to end this

In

Aleppo

 

I apologise.

Blue Blair lost the 2015 General Election not Miliband

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It’s May 1997. Tony Blair has led the Labour Party to a landslide victory in the General Election and I’m euphoric. Thatcherism is dead and buried. Socialism will triumph. What a naïve bloody fool I was. I should have known better. But like many others I had forgotten the history of class struggle. I had failed to understand what New Labour and Blue Blair was all about – Power.

It’s May 2015. Cameron and his rich cronies will continue in government. The so-called ‘One Nation’ Tories will continue to mangle and massacre the rights of citizens to a life that is fair equal and just for the next five years. I’m angry and depressed.

Why did Labour lose? Because of Blue Blair. Not only because of his crimes against humanity and the war in Iraq but because his desperation for power corrupted him and corrupted the principles upon which the Labour Party had been founded. The deluded fantasy that New Blue Labour could wash capitalism clean prevailed; look where it has taken us. I say Blair caused this defeat notwithstanding the anti-Miliband campaign run by the Tory press because when you mimic your enemy, wear his clothes, tilt at the same chimeras, you accept the media’s agenda and are doomed to defeat because you are always in the shadow of he who should be your mortal enemy.

We are now at the point where Labour and Tories alike mouth the same inane mantra of being for ‘working people’. We are at this point because Blair and New Labour were Tories in fancy dress, masked in red, closet neo-cons, enamoured of a toxic free market that should have been anathema to them. Capitalism’s acolytes. Devotees of fame and fortune. Thatcher’s beastly bastard offspring.

‘Working people’, ‘Hard working people’, they all mouth. Where are the children? Where the ill beset by sickness in body, soul and mind? Where the disabled? Where the old? Where the poor? Where the excluded? The abused? The oppressed? Where justice and equality before the law? Where the tolerance of difference? They are as nothing. Work is all. Where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Where from each according to ability, to each according to need? Not here. Not now.

At the moment New Blue Labour decided on Blair’s agenda the Labour Party ceased to be a socialist party and became a party of the centre right vying for the approbation of the high priests of the ruling class, the blessing of Murdoch, the friendship of bankers, and the right to sip from the chalice of gold. Since Blair the vacuous and cynical attempt to rebrand New Labour as the Old Labour Party, a party for working people, has failed. It’s failed because it has no heart. No pulse that gives it life. Moribund, mired, manacled inside the Tory’s agenda of the destruction of the state. It is finished. It needs to start anew.

Ed Balls has gone and good riddance! The blustering buffoon’s insistence on being more austere than the Tories was madness. ‘I can be a bigger bully than Osborne,’ he gibbered twirling his conker on a string in the Westminster playground. That’s socialism at its best? I think not. Austerity is a device fabricated to demolish the welfare state. A mechanism to ensure the rich get richer and the poor enjoy the liberty and freedom of choice provided by food banks. Austerity is the glove that clothes the iron fist of capital. But Balls embraced it and has paid the price because it was balls. Problem was, it wasn’t only him but the entire Labour leadership; disgraceful!

Ed Miliband has been accused of lacking the charisma to be prime minister. One would have hoped that the Labour Party might have learnt, from history, that the idea of the ‘Great Leader’ is not a concept guaranteed to produce a good result. We don’t need charismatic Great Leaders – like Blair or Putin! – what we need are great policies that will deliver equality and justice for all citizens no matter how they are ‘classified’. Charismatic policies? Yes. A charismatic party that poses a real alternative to capitalism’s lickspittle sycophants? Yes. Away with the celebrity of ‘leadership’ and back to democratic centralism? Yes.

To do this will fly in the face of the media who are obsessed with appearance. They will ask who will now lead the Labour Party and expect a name, will it be x or y or even z? Will they be pretty? Will they be tall? Will they speak nicely? Will they be media friendly? Can they eat a bacon sandwich? The answer should be that the Labour Party will be led by socialist principles articulated through policies developed by the membership and proselytised by a collective leadership elected by the membership. I could join such a party.

This afternoon I will discover if I’ve been elected as a member of Waddington Parish Council in Lincolnshire. I haven’t stood on a party platform. I’ve stood because there isn’t normally an election for the parish council; those that want to stand are co-opted because no one wants to be a councillor. That’s not democratic. This year, along with an artist friend in the village – Gerard Williams – we have caused an election. My agenda is simple: representation must include consultation. The decisions taken on matters that impact on the lives of the citizens who live in this village need to be based on consultation and not imposed, as they seem to be, by those who believe, wrongly, that they know better.

This latter parish election is trivial in the face of the result of the 2015 General Election but in a way it’s not – no matter how bad the General Election result is, and it is terrible, this is not the time to give up and acquiesce. In fact there’s never a time when it’s right to give in and acquiesce. Before you ask, no, I don’t expect that Waddington is about to become a village soviet – pity.
May 8th 2015

Turner & Mr Turner the movie

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In the last couple of weeks I’ve seen ‘The Late Turner’ exhibition at Tate Britain and Mike Leigh’s biopic feature film ‘Mr. Turner’. I’m intrigued by my reaction to the relationship between these two experiences. Where to begin? It probably comes down to a few basic questions in respect of the film: do I know more or less about Turner’s work; do I understand more about Turner the man; if I say ‘no’ does that make any difference to my response to Turner’s paintings and drawings when I stand in front of them?

Before getting to this I want to be clear that I enjoyed the film immensely for many reasons: the method Mike Leigh uses to create film, the research, the cinematography, the soundscape, the set and costume design and of course the extraordinary acting, of, for example, Dorothy Atkinson as Turner’s devoted housekeeper of forty years – Hannah Danby, but in particular Timothy Spall’s portrayal of Mr. Turner. In the latter case what a difference between this and Kirk Douglas as Van Gogh or Charlton Heston as Michelangelo! I have no problem at all with regarding Mr. Turner as great cinematic art.

As I’ve said elsewhere the more one looks, the more time one takes to encounter Turner’s canvases, watercolours and drawings the more one sees – especially when looking at the late sea and landscapes. Encounter is an interesting word in this context signifying that one is not engaged in passive reflection but embroiled in the ferment of the work. We don’t tend to look at film in the same way – not even when we see the same film a number of times. In this case one moves and one doesn’t; perplexingly the static images move. Looking at still film frames is unedifying. Looking at a drawing is the opposite – perhaps because 24 frames per second, so to speak, have been coalesced into one.

Back to my questions. I’ll take the second first: do I understand more about Turner the man? Certain things I already knew, others suspected and some were new to me. There are some things about the representation and characterisation of ‘artists’, and arguably the greatest of all English painters – Turner, that almost inevitably drift into cliché. The artist is obsessed by the making of art to the exclusion of all else including the ability to put oneself in the place of the other and feel human emotion, or more accurately, express it except through the work. I think the line Turner speaks in the film is something like ‘Madam, don’t allow your own sorrow to be a burden to another’ in other words keep it to yourself no matter how bad that sorrow may be. On the other hand we find a drunken Turner advising Mrs Ruskin that one day there will be love in her marriage – surely a charitable act in the face of such an obvious impossibility. Turner’s culinary put down of the precocious Ruskin is a joy to behold; undoubtedly Leigh’s commentary and judgement of all critics.

Watching Spall as Turner I was reminded of a much used pressure cooker shuddering on a stove, his snarling grunts of disregarding irritation akin to the bursting of steam through the cooker’s safety valve but with the imminent prospect of the cooker exploding such was the boiling concoction of rage it contained. The other was his likeness to his beloved steam trains that thunder on no matter what. But then again he loves Mrs. Booth; he feels, but it must be kept under control lest it gets in the way of Mr. Turner the artist. He is grumpy, funny, demanding, aggressive, insightful and entranced standing against the skyline in silhouette holding a brush for perspective – bit doubtful about that cliché.

First question: do I know more or less about Turner’s work? No, I don’t. One of the problems with biopics is attempting to get inside the mind of the character when all you can do is show behaviour. Another problem is that no one can know what Turner thought, how he would or wouldn’t speak. Leigh suggests that Spall has learnt to paint. I’ve no idea but the act of painting in this case is a series of explosive bashing, spitting and scrubbing canvases in a manic manner i.e. acting painting. But it doesn’t somehow matter because the sensibility and empathy shown is compulsive viewing.

And to the third question: does any of this make any difference to my love of Turner’s work? No. What Leigh’s film achieves is to convey the deep passion and obsession that makes Turner the extraordinary artist that he is. ‘That he is’ says it all. The exhibition is called ‘The Late Turner’, his last works but also possibly implying death. The film depicts with some emotion Turner’s passing. But Turner’s work is alive. So alive that standing still and carefully looking I am alive in the place, the contrived moment caught in time. I can feel the place, see the light, smell the sea, hear it. Joy. Sensual joy. Shout with delight. See the world anew.

Mike Leigh has wanted to make this film for fifteen years (and more) and despite lack of money went for it; I’m so glad he did. There are nits to pick – why when Turner first arrives in Margate do we have an am dram performance as a man meaninglessly sorts fish as if he was shuffling playing cards? The small budget makes not a jot of difference – in fact the ‘enclosure’ of the scenes and locations is a benefit, it intensifies the man and his obsession. There are specific joys: when Turner will not sell his entire work to a millionaire because he will leave it to the nation – I knew this but it gave me a warm glow. A wonderful moment when Constable and Turner acknowledge each other at the Royal Academy by grunting the other’s name – enemies?

To conclude. Turner is unsurpassed. Mr Turner is a great film. Turner and Leigh are both great artists; how good it is that one inspired the other to make this film. Art. Mr Turner is a homage. Thank you Mr Leigh. But most of all thank you Turner.

Art in hotel bedrooms

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Once upon a time ‘art’ on hotel bedroom walls was idiosyncratic. Sometimes a valuable heirloom. Sometimes worthless tat. Sometimes: the photograph of a long-dead beloved animal or a faded out of focus landscape; a drawing made by a child, treasured and proudly presented in double matted frame by doting parents (who had sold the hotel when they retired leaving the relic behind); a sampler suggesting wise ways in a bad world; a foxed watercolour by an unknown hand; an antique regional map; even religious iconography to comfort and assuage guilty souls as they fell asleep; and of course – hay wains, gambolling peasants, cattle (bereft of flies and dung) standing in picturesque slow moving rivers, wagons and dray horses trundling endlessly on, autumn leaves and enigmatic Asian ladies dressed in green cheongsams. Every room was unique – not any more.

Now we have corporate hotel chain art and it has as much resemblance to art as bananas do to fork lift trucks. And why is it there? I’d be happier with some aerosols and marker pens so I could do my own thing and the next occupier could do theirs and so on – there is even wallpaper that you’re supposed to colour in! Why not have that? But no, far too anarchic.

There are two types of ‘hotel bedroom chain art’: ‘reproduction’ and ‘original’. Let us leave aside questions such as: what is a reproduction, and what original, or even – what is art? Trotsky wrote, ‘Art is a hammer and not a mirror’ (the original quote is often incorrectly ascribed to Brecht – an example of revolutionary plagiarism perhaps?) but either would have seen hotel bedroom chain art as a mirror of societies fixated on style over substance, appearance over purpose and conventions devoid of conscious thought.

Walter Benjamin, in his seminal essay, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Introduction’ (1936) says: “In principle a work of art has always been reproducible … artifacts (sic) could always be imitated … by pupils … by masters for diffusing their work … by third parties in the pursuit of gain. Mechanical reproduction of a work of art … represents something new.’

The bedrooms in hotel chains – from the cheap to the expensive – represent an entirely new universe where chain art exists in a state that not even Benjamin could imagine.

How is it possible for an ‘original’ painting of a sunflower in a field of poppies or golden barley against an azure sky be said to be an original when it will be found in exactly the same condition of originality in one hundred and fifty identical bedrooms? Its/they are obviously original because each canvas (yes they are on canvas) has been signed by the artist as the final part of laboriously painting all one hundred and fifty not quite identical, therefore original, canvases manufactured on a Fordian production line. This is at the top end of the market where such original art is commissioned by an interior decorator.

Lower down the market the hotel chain’s accountant has used catalogues to buy print runs of pastel shaded romances where Bavarian castles, lakes, ladies in crinolines and denizens of Barbara Cartland-like imaginations preen and pout in representations of Panglosian worlds where all is well in this best of all possible worlds and we all know our place. A hotel in Heraklion, Crete, boasted such fantasies – I couldn’t understand why. But then again there is Knossos.

I suppose what bothers me is the confusion between original and reproduction; that chain art is decoration just like wallpaper or those hundreds of bloody useless cushions that now cover hotel bedroom beds (where does one put them when you go to bed?); that it suggests that what is on these walls is art.

The meaning of such objects is not inherent in the work; there is no unity of head, heart and hand (no matter how romantic a notion that might now seem). Chain art signifies someone imagining that we need to be elevated to connoisseurs by being in the presence of art on our bedroom wall thus enhancing our visitor experience.

Bring on bare walls!

Rembrandt: The Late Works at the National Gallery, London

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Rembrandt: The Late Works
The National Gallery, London
Sainsbury Wing

I visited this show on 20.11.2104.

Let’s get the ‘negatives’ out of the way.

There’s no other way to put it – it’s in the cellar – and was like an oversold transatlantic flight except that no one was bumped because we all were! Bumping into one another that is. There were too many people crammed into rooms that were too small and claustrophobic. Why put work of such magnificence into galleries that are the wrong scale for the work? The lighting I can understand but in the space as it is the lighting is oppressive and increases the sense of being in a dungeon. If the attempt was to replicate some sort of ersatz ‘domestic’ environment then it doesn’t work. At a full price ticket of £18.00 it’s expensive enough. If I wanted to go to a gig where I expected to be jostled and couldn’t see the stage then fair enough but not here – this exhibition design just isn’t good enough.

And yet …
In between the heads, over shoulders in the gaps in the jostling throng you glimpse the work. It’s beautiful. In his self-portraits – at any moment his lips might move a smile flickering briefly across his face. In the portraits one expects a head to turn and a question be asked.

But it’s more than that …
The work is not ‘realist’, not some ancient form of photo-realism; rather it’s about the sense of a person more than their simple representation, it provides the texture of their being. In some ways he does with the face what Turner does to the sea and land because there is both so much and so little – things left out. You can fill it in just like in a conversation where we leave out so much but still understand the ‘other’. There is space in the work for me, the ‘other’, in the visual ‘conversation’. This dialogue engenders understanding – more than understanding – it creates empathy – more than that – the connection is emotional – Rembrandt paints emotion. He is as alive in that damn cellar at The National Gallery as he was on the day his brush lifted paint from his pallet and there is joy in that. It’s breathtaking.

Ebola: arrogance & indifference

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It has been said that if the Ebola virus had originated on the mainland of Europe or in the USA then it would have already been defeated. An antidote to the virus would have been created. Science would have been applied. Which of the ‘Pharmas’, the ‘health’ conglomerates, are interested in creating life saving drugs that make them no profit?
There is a view that the initial lack of ‘concern’ for those suffering from Ebola was because African people were, for the G8 countries and China, in far away places one knew little about, or cared about even less about, and were not ‘important’. It has been suggested that this lack of concern was racist. It’s hard not to think this to be true.
But there’s more to it than that.
Ebola is a zoonotic viral disease (a virus that jumps from an animal to a human animal host). It’s been been around for some time, probably before 1976 when it was given its name. It has, in large part, been restricted to outbreaks in Africa with contamination spreading to other countries through bodily fluids passing between people. I’m not a scientist so I’m not trying to explain how this terrible virus works. I’m aiming to make another set of points that locate such disease within an arrogant western culture where the ‘natural world’ is held either in contempt or is romanticized.
There is a clear disjunction between science/medicine and those who hold political power. How else can one explain the lack of awareness shown by political leaders when told of the danger that Ebola presents? Political leadership, government, in the G8 is, to a large extent, focused on the management of money and the markets that make money from money for those that have money. A consequence of this is an inability to take the insights provided by science seriously – this ranges from a disbelief in climate change to a dismissal of Ebola as not worthy of curative investment – until of course there are cases in Europe and the USA.
There is another dimension to this arrogance and it’s this.
There are those that believe that we human beings are the natural and legitimate rulers of the natural world of Planet Earth. Humans are superior beings. We have the right to exploit the world’s resources as we see fit and often without a care as to the long-term consequences of our exploitation. We can defile and destroy entire habitats for profit. We can sacrifice the future for short-term gain. Sometimes we get it right and real benefits accrue to us humans – but there are always consequences. These are familiar arguments and I need not repeat them here.
The belief that humans are superior to all other creatures ignores, and thus diminishes, the existence of other indigenous life forms. One of these is the virus. Viruses, such as Ebola, are a fundamental and necessary part of the eco system that is planet earth. But that doesn’t make them benign, doesn’t make them safe and doesn’t mean they can arrogantly be ignored.
How can G8 governments and China be so ignorant, arrogant and dismissive of the realities and dangers of the natural world?
There are four reasons that may explain why the West acted so slowly in ploughing resources into fighting Ebola in West Africa:
1. Racism
2. Ignorance
3. Arrogance
4. The pursuit of financial profit above all else.