Imperialism Poem – New Rules

New Rules is an imperialism poem, a reflection on outside interference in the political landscape of resource-rich nations.

New Rules

God help you  
if your land is fertile
your tribe spills liquid gold
your leaders are wild or bend in the wind.

Kings, queens, and merchants will grease palms
hatch Machiavellian plans to grab the riches
roots allotted to you and
cut the green grass on your side of the fence.

The donkey's kick to counter imported blueprints
is hoofed by its chiselling clone
a qualmless ass
with a book of new rules.

All is fair in love and war /
kill, jail, injure, lie, oppress, steal, maim,
bomb, manipulate, grab, eradicate, eliminate
silence, gag, dispossess, burn out / you and yours.

They'll fish your pond in silk suits from glass towers
spinning spurious yarns, casting smooth lines
crowing to save you in case you're ass-backwards
black is white and white is black.

God help you
if your land is ransacked
your tribe spills blood
your leaders are dead or bend in the wind.

Refugee Facts – The Worst Places to Live

A considerable amount of human suffering remains underreported. Neither the body politics nor the mainstream media deem some crises worth highlighting. The Norwegian Refugee Council has put together a short video or refugee facts to stand up for the voiceless.

Although the suffering is unspeakable, people like you and me find themselves in some of the worst places to live with few to care about them.

Refugee Facts – The Norwegian Refugee Council Sponsors a Post to Speak Up for the Voiceless

Neglected displacement crises

Millions of people are fleeing from crises whose voices are not being heard. They rarely hear from us, either. Why is this? Take a step to change this by watching and sharing the world’s most neglected displacement crises: http://ow.ly/oNKG30knLdU

Geplaatst door NRC – Norwegian Refugee Council op Donderdag 7 juni 2018
Underreported Suffering

Clearly, it is our responsibility as human beings to reach out to people in dire need including refugees, migrants or anyone else unable to live a life underpinned by safety and dignity.

Charitable organisations are always looking for volunteers on a local or international level. Check with local charities where you are to find out how to contribute or volunteer.

Lobby Politicians and Media Outlets, Share Issues on Social Media

You can make a difference in many different ways. Lobby your local politicians to take action on behalf of people in need. Contact media outlets and submit a story or share videos like this one across your social media platforms.

Without the words and actions of others, the voiceless have little hope of ever finding comfort, dignity, and safety.

Poverty Poem – Landfill Lives

Approximately 15 million people across the globe live off trash. Landfill Lives is a poverty poem, an attempt to highlight this horror.

Landfill Lives

 scavenging for scraps 
no spellings or subtractions again today

when you're poor but don't want to sell your body or beg
landfill treasure hunting calls

to feed mother, father, sisters, brothers
shacked up in a metal hut perched on a pile of trash

you've got no rubber gloves to shield against
broken glass, syringes, rotting flesh, and faeces

no face mask to armour against
the stench of garbage and shit

no blindfold so you can pretend
to be at school / even for a minute

dowsed in deadly diseases, you work all day
2.50 the compensation

that'll buy you some bread, carrots, and rice
won't stretch to a sausage or chop

one kid / thrilled to have spotted an outfit
scrubbed up and went to school

only to be told he was too smelly, too disease-ridden
no landfill kids here please
Landfill Lives – a Poverty Poem

Capitalism Poetry – The Big Race

The Big Race is my contribution to capitalism poetry, a reflection on the value and ethics of free market rules.

The Big Race

Race day brings swarms of 7.7 billion runners, limpers, jumpers, 
hoppers, one-leggeds, joggers, sprinters, crawlers,
wheel-chair-bounds, and dead-weights.

Mixed weather at the starting line, with sweltering heat, biting
frost, piercing hail, leaden showers, mild breezes, balmy
sunshine, and tepid temperatures painting the 7.7 billion
springboards.

Onlookers discover a hit-and-miss medley of footwear among
footed competitors, air-cushioned breathables alongside
dirty protruding toes, itchy sweaters besides sunburnt or
frostbitten torsos.

To call some athletes would be in bad taste, those at the back
of the field, behind the 7.6999999 billion, scrambling for a
foothold. As for the legless, some are blessed with crutches,
others are not.

Blood, tear, and sweat-costing brawls about hunger pangs and
homes or the lack thereof break out hither and thither.
Meanwhile, the starting line is smooth and fair - free passage
for 7.7 billion pros and rookies.

At the bang of the gun, they're off, the field cut at once,
billions dropping like flies before the first hurdle from
pre-race exertions, blisters, deadweight equipment,
leglessness, balls and chains or sloth.

An unruly mob of spectators hurls power snacks and energy
drinks at the foot-cushioned frontrunners wearing non-sweat
running gear, soon coasting toward the finish line. When they
tire a little, they hitch a rest on a bunch of no-hopers.

Sponsors bestow them with enviable endorsements like foot rubs
and shoulder massages or cool sponges to the forehead.
Buoyancy-boasted and basking in tough-training-rewards, the last
few rivals dig deep, not shy of a dirty trick or two.

One or two teeth-grinding, heel-digging once-amateurs
latch onto the glory but never quite catch up. The red ribbon in
sight ignites the final sprint to draw out the winner.

Gloating to a prominent reporter before getting his trophy, the
champion applauds splendid organisation, fair-play, and credits
gruelling preparatory work. The first handful of losers seethe
a little over a glass of prosecco.

As for the bulk of the 7.7 billion, some vow to try harder, some
cry foul-play, some despair and die.

Empathy Poem – Juxtaposed

Juxtaposed is an empathy poem, reflecting on human fragility, vulnerability, and the lottery of where and when you’re born.

Juxtaposed

into an ocean of terrorising sirens and deafening alarm bells, unproclaimed fireworks, not-warned-about bombs, not just scares. In lieu of architectural bonanza, rubble, dust, and a distinct stench of sewage, a shitty stink of unpotable drinking water.

The cityscape cedes to a bloodied bodyscape, limbs scattered, bawls shed, seeping into torn corpses. Too much screentime, not a problem here, falling stocks dinky, juxtaposed with prospectless crowd investments, dried-up shares.

Sewn back together, limbs wrapped in fresh soft skin, gather around the once-child, now juxtaposed into snug serenity, ignite the once-fire to heat bones and kindle the ambers. NO ALARMS here, only surprises.

Empathy Poem – Juxtaposed

Solidarity Poem – Pooling Resources

Pooling resources is a solidarity poem, a reflection on eight billion individuals inhabiting or co-inhabiting the same planet – together.

Pooling Resources

con'verse
co'habit
co'llaborate
co'suffer
co'produce
co'work
co'grieve
con'join
co'mmunicate
co'here
con'figure
co'incide
co'inhabit
co'invogorate
com'bine
com'prehend
con'valesce
co'harvest
con'celebrate
co'nnect
co'share
co'care

inter'act
inter'twine
empathize

Society Poems – The Circus

The Circus is one of my society poems, a celebration of showmanship, courage and hard graft in and outside the ring. There’s room for everyone!

The Circus

 The firmament fans the stench of rubber
pegged down into earth covered in sweat-stained sand
lit up by elegant elephants, teary tigers and 
ruled by a man bigger than Walter Mitty

This is no splendid stage, no Broadway, no Shakespear
madmen gather, trollops trot
over blocks, through fiery rings
some hanging by a rope, a thread

Ill-faced clowns tumble
to harvest howls of one hew or another
to swallow idolatry
in greedy gulps

Fat and suited, the ringmaster proclaims
the death-defying darings of the trapezists
a woman, a man condemned to
near-certain demise 

to steal a bunch of unruly onlookers
cheering, sniggering, mouths agape
the candy-munching French fry brigade
from daily doldrum

Up to the top of the firmament /
they venture into a swinging tide
from star to firm grip
a hair's breadth from doom

beneath, clowns, acrobats, horses, jugglers,
fire-eaters, hippos and Harry Houdini
white-knuckled and whipped into shape
by the worst showman

span the redundant net above the soft sand
feathered birds don't cascade to curtain calls
clowns fumble fervor-filled
the tiger roars 

As the firmament spews its last shower of stars
the glory of the sweaty sand and armpits
grits the icy road
outside

Why Is Socialism Bad?

As the World Economic Forum in Davos draws to a close, and illustrious political and business power brokers leave the snowy town, one wonders where this leaves the rest of us. Although some NGOs also made representations, only a handful of small anti-globalisation protests took place. Have people suddenly got the answer to the question why is socialism bad and decided to stay away?

In recent times, socialism has become a dirty word, one associated with an unruly far left. Is this tarnish justified? Let’s look at the dictionary definitions of socialism and pitch it against the capitalism-definition.

Socialism Definition

This is the definition you will find in the Cambridge Dictionary:

socialism 

noun [ U ] 
UK  /ˈsəʊ.ʃəl.ɪ.zəm/ US  /ˈsoʊ.ʃəl.ɪ.zəm/
C2 the set of beliefs that states that all people are equal and should share equally in a country’s money, or the political systems based on these beliefs

Cambridge Dictionary

Reading this definition, one wonders, what’s wrong with socialism? What’s wrong with equality? What’s wrong with sharing equally in a country’s money? Staunch capitalists will cite examples of countless failed socialist regimes and emphasize that socialism simply doesn’t work.

The current upheaval in Venezuela is a prime example of what divides the right and the left. While the US supports and recognizes the opposition leader and calls Maduro out as a undemocratic socialist leader, Maduro supports blame economic sanctions for the dire state of the Venezuelan economy.

How Did Socialism Get Such a Bad Name?

Capitalists don’t like the restrictions socialism places on economies. Instead, they propagate free market rules designed for growth and economic freedom. Needless to say, they also like low tax rates.

Perhaps one ought to take a brief look back at the history of socialism to understand how this political philosophy came about in the first instance. What’s more, it’s important to understand that socialism has many different applications.

What is socialism?

The examples in the video illustrate the vast differences in the application of the socialist model. It appears that the nations combining capitalism and socialism like Denmark and Sweden have been the most successful in promoting economic growth while also ensuring a decent degree of equality.

A Brief Look at Capitalism

Let’s take a look at the Cambridge Dictionary definition of capitalism first:

capitalism

noun [ U ] 
UK  /ˈkæp.ɪ.təl.ɪ.zəm/ US  /ˈkæp.ə.t̬əl.ɪ.zəm/
C2 an economicpolitical, and social system in which property,business, and industry are privately owneddirected towards making the greatest possible profits for successful organizations and people

Cambridge Dictionary

The USA and Europe illustrate the workings of capitalism, although some countries incorporate elements of socialism into their political system. Countries like Sweden have excellent public services to cater to those who may not be able to afford private healthcare or education.

The 2008 Financial Crisis – Capitalism Goes Socialist

After the 2008 global recession, countless financial institutions required state financial support in what appears to be a contradiction in terms.

If you wear your socialist hat for a moment, you’d have to ask yourself how financial institutions arrived at asking for and taking government bailouts. While sticking to strictly capitalist principles when profitable, the banks suddenly put on a socialist hat and gladly took the cash.

Many governments feared the mayhem that may have been associated with the collapse of the banking sector and jumped in to help without delay. Who footed the bill? The taxpayer, stupid!

The Basic Principles of Socialism v Capitalism in Brief

So, how do the two systems impact on the everyday workings of a society?

SocialismCapitalism
Ownershipgovernment or
Co-ops
individuals or
Businesses
Wealth
Distribution
government
controlled
determined by
people or companies
Taxeshigher taxes for
public services
lower taxes to
stimulate
economic growth
Equalitygovernment ensures
greater equality
wealth gap
Pricesless competition,
higher prices
more competition,
lower prices
Public
Services
substantial
government
investment
limited government
spending
Disadvantagesslower economic
growth
inequality
Advantagesequality and better
public services
stronger economic
growth

This is a simplistic view of capitalism and socialism. The real impact also depends on world economic factors, political stability, and international relations. Moreover, most economies combine the two political philosophies, each creating and implementing its own socialism&capitalism cocktail.

Socialism – Good or Bad?

In theory, socialist principles are worthwhile. Unfortunately, its pure application is nigh unachievable.

Capitalism – Good or Bad?

One only needs to bring to mind the ever-widening wealth gap to grasp the very serious and catastrophic downsides of pure capitalism. Only one year ago, the Guardian reported that 42 individuals held the same amount of wealth as 3.7 billion of the world’s poorest people.

Socialism v Capitalism

Socialism and capitalism are wide open to abuse. In its principles, socialism promotes equality and fairness – something that no one can argue with.

Smartly combining capitalism and socialism appears to be the best way to provide citizens with a decent standard of living while promoting economic growth.

Women Yellow Vests – #femmes #giletsjaunes

In the wake of sometimes violent protests and clashes with police during the yellow vest demonstrations in Paris and beyond, French women have created a separate movement. The women yellow vests or #femmes #giletsjaunes are pursuing the same issues but distancing themselves from the use of violence that has cast shadows over the #giletsjaunes movement.

Women Yellow Vests

Apart from taking to the Streets of Paris, Toulouse, Caen, Lyon, and beyond, French women have come together on social media to campaign for a variety of issues. What is different about the #femmes #giletsjaunes is that the movement is strictly non-violent. The power of the women’s conviction is impressive.

In the run-up to the first march, the women didn’t fear getting caught up in riots and clashes with the police. To date, the #femmes #giletsjaunes demonstrations took place without any major incidents.

The issues at the heart of this movement are the same: lower taxes and the resignation of the government. In a show of strength and determination, the protestors wanted to emphasize the weight of their conviction and object to the French government’s denunciation of the #giletsjaunes protestors as troublemakers.
Holding up placards stating “Je suis ta mère”, “Je suis ta collègue”, “Je suis ta sœur” the #femmes #giletsjaunes sought to steer clear off any violent confrontations while also re-emphasizing the original #giletsjaunes demands.  

On Twitter, LaPlumeLibre explained:

LaPlumeLibre on Twitter

How Did the Women Yellow Vest Protest Come About?

According to a Le Média report, the Paris gathering had been organised through the #femmes #giletsjaunes Facebook page with the venue and time only publicised one hour prior to assembly. The objective was simple: to freely express their demands while avoiding violent clashes at all cost.

At the Place de la Bastille, women of all ages, some with their children, sang the Marseillaise before marching toward la Place de la Republique. A group of men formed a security line in support. One woman explained her attendance to a reporter:

“We are no longer free, there’s no freedom left.”

Another woman described how police and security forces appeared to want to hit the #giletsjaunes. However, she emphasized that the #femmes #giletsjaunes were not afraid but hoped no violence would taint their peaceful protest.

At lunchtime, police officers arrived to prevent the women from making their way through Paris. Having chosen to form the frontline of the demonstration to dissuade police from the use of violence, a handful of women suffered the ill-effects of teargas. One woman picked up a batton lost in battle by a security service officer but decided to return it to him. She even asked if she had accidentally hurt him when handing it back.

Despite some tensions caused by a heavy police presence, the atmosphere throughout the march was one of strength and calm. The women sang songs, among them children and women with disabilities. Drivers trying to make their way through the protests, blew their horns in support.

Speaking to a reporter from Le Média, one woman wearing a yellow hard hat and holding a yellow balloon out of the window of her car explained her reason for supporting the #femmes #giletsjaunes.

(We would like) ”Macron to do whatever is necessary to give less money to those who don’t need it and give it back to the people with middle incomes who want to spend it themselves.”

The women’s claim for lower taxes is entirely justified as they make up more than half of the French workforce. Thus, they bear the brunt of the injustice.

Attending the women yellow vests march, one woman walking alongside her grandparents explained how the movement spans across age, religion, and social background.

The middle income earners have been struggling to make ends meet for quite some time now. Exempt from receiving any state aid, they carry a heavy tax burden while also having to spend on basics like rent, utilities, healthcare, food, and education. Even couples and families with two incomes are struggling to put a roof over their head.

In that sense, the fuel tax that sparked the creation of the #giletsjaunes movement was the straw that broke the camels back.

Not Just Yellow Vests – Liberty Caps Too

Apart from yellow vests, some women also wore a bonnet Phrygian, a liberty cap, associated with the French revolution and a well-known symbol of the French resistance. The cap originates in Roman times when it became associated with the liberation of slaves.

Back in 1798, it was French women who marched, holding up the Cahiers de doléances (notebook of grievances). For the first time, French people felt they had a voice. Historians today believe that the Cahiers played a significant role in the lead up to the French revolution.

This revolutionary spirit of French women has now re-manifested in the #femmes #giletsjaunes movement.

Monsieur le Président take note, the women yellow vests – #femmes #giletsjaunes – are here to stay and may spark another groundbreaking revolution.

The Yellow Vest Movement Is Spreading

Not just French people have worn #giletsjaunes. Anti-austerity and anti-inequality protestors have adopted the yellow vests as a symbol, demanding lower taxes for the working poor and a narrowing of the stark wealth gap.

Yellow vest protests have taken place across Europe and in Canada.

The women yellow vest have inspired a clearer and non-violent approach, thus adding conviction and strength. No doubt, the anti-austerity movement will take courage and find fresh resolve in the fight for equality.

anti-austerity cartoon