The end of the world is nigh!

I’m beginning, somewhat belatedly, to see a pattern to world events and it isn’t a pleasant one.  The countries of the west are broke.  Do you want to know why country after country is angering its citizens by dismantling the social structure?  Do you want to know why not just the US with its NSA, not just the UK with its GCHQ, nor the so-called five-eyes countries, but, as is being announced by every new revelation from the Snowden papers, every major country and quite a few minor ones are engaged in surveillance against their own citizens?  Read on.

Let’s go back to the year 2000, when the first anti-terrorist laws started being passed, before even 9-11.  I think one or two governments were already beginning to see that their welfare programs were Ponzi schemes, and that the day of reckoning, unthinkable when the schemes were started, was discernible on the horizon.  Governments were made to realize what would be the result of a melt-down in their economies – riots, mob-rule, and, worst of all, a threat to the personal safety of those who had overseen the collapse.

I can imagine there were many governments who heaved a small sigh of relief when 9-11 finally arrived.  It allowed them to justify the abrogation of human rights which has taken place since then on a scale which defies belief.  Could you have imagined that it would be against the law to photograph the Tower of London or Saint Paul’s Cathedral?  It was from this time, we are now told, that the preliminary steps towards surveillance of domestic populations were taken.

But still, governments believed, the evil day lay far enough in the future that it might just be possible to avert it or at least ameliorate its effects until the terms of those in office were past and someone else would take the blame and its consequences.  It was around this time that some countries began suggesting the limited use of their military for control of the civilian population, an idea which would have been unthinkable a decade earlier.  It was also at this time that police forces began to be brutalised, so that we saw on our news programs scenes with which we had become familiar in films, the use of SWAT teams as standard practice for even minor arrests.  It’s a small step from justifying a SWAT team to arrest a small-time crook to justifying a brigade of elite troops to quell a riot.

In 2008 a new warning bell sounded.  The economic downturn as a result of one over-stretched bank going belly-up.  It was at this time that the concept of ‘too big to fail’ began to appear daily in our newspapers, referring to rogue banks which, for any sensible person were too big (and over-stretched) to save.  Around this time one Henry Paulson convened a meeting of congress behind closed doors and held the country to ransome to bail out the banks in order to avoid his armageddon vision of rioting in the streets.  He actually threatened congress with national rioting.

His ploy worked.  By the injection of massive sums of money, not just to American banks but to banks all over the world, the collapse of Lehman Brothers was temporarily stopped from turning into the collapse of the international economy.  The injection of money is still going on under another name, Quantitative Easing or QE.  For years now 80 billion dollars a month has been pumped into the banks.  That’s $80,000,000,000 a month or $960,000,000,000 a year.  It’s still going on except that Henry Paulson’s successor has now promised to reduce it to $70,000,000,000 a month.

None of that money reaches you or me in any positive sense, although we feel its negative effects.  That phenomenal sum dilutes the money in circulation, which means that goods cost more.  The inflation of recent years has been increasing, although the changes made to the basis on which it is calculated have camouflaged our awareness.  But they cannot camouflage the fact that our wages buy less and less each year.

Around this time reports began circulating in the US of massive purchase of weapons and ammunition by the Department of Homeland Security.  What did they need this for?  They had been sold to the Americans as a means of protecting American citizens from attack, yet they were ordering enough bullets to kill every American six or seven times over.  And many of these were not ordinary bullets, but so called dum-dum bullets, designed to expand on impact so that a bullet sized entry hole would become a fist sized exit wound.  These bullets are forbidden in wartime, but the DHS was stocking up with them for use inside the US.

I have seen no similar reports from other countries, but that may merely be because the US is a special case.  The US answer to every problem is a gun, and if that doesn’t work, a bigger gun.

All this time, so the Snowden papers tell us, the surveillance of the people of this planet was increasing, in the name of protecting us from terrorism.  But it seems to me that the terrorism which is most dangerous to us is the terrorism of our governments.

Note that, since the hiccough of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the dismantling of welfare has begun in earnest.  In some cases, notably those of Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and some others, it is disguised as an austerity program to bring the nation’s accounts back into balance.  Or to improve the country’s competitiveness on the international market.  But whatever the excuse, the result is that health, education and welfare are being slaughtered.

Another potent sign of the times was the recent closure of the US government apparatus.  The US national debt is now around 15 trillion dollars, enough to give even their senators and congressmen cause to think twice before raising it even higher.  And remember, this sum is increasing at the rate of very nearly one trillion dollars a year through the input of the money being paid to the banks to try and keep them solvent.

I have long been used to seeing dire reports of the impending crash on alternative news sites, which I do frequent, looking to the national dailies and the tv news programs more for entertainment than for information.  The problem now is that these dystropic pictures are beginning to be seen in the Main-Stream Media, not in any great quantity, but their very presence there is worrying.  Perhaps the crash is nearer than we think.

At any rate, I will be taking all the precautions I can to try and make my family’s situation as resilient as possible.

A sense of belonging

I’m not a religious person – in fact quite the reverse – but I do like music, and so I often visit the little church in our village when there is a concert.  It helps me that Monica sings in the choir, and it helps even more that I am one of four or five spouses who assist with the kind of things a choir needs help with from time to time.  We put up tables, we arrange chairs, we fetch, we carry, we take.  We help to tidy up afterwards, sweep and even mop floors and the like.  We know all the members of the choir as well as if we sang with them.

And tonight they were having a Christmas concert:  no less than six Yuletide hymns which the congregation would sing, and about ten other songs, including six with soloists from the choir.  Yes, this is a good choir.  They could have had a separate soloist for each Christmas song they sang.

As far as the ‘Christmas message’ is concerned, this is nothing for me.  When I had my own company in another country a long time ago, we closed for Christmas the weekend before the winter solstice and opened again after twelfth night, so that my employees had a good long holiday with their families.  I see this season as a pagan one, although my reaction to it is naturally coloured by my childhood memories, and I do like a good sing-song.

But the thing which overwhelmed me this evening was a sense of belonging, and not just to the choir, although I have emphasised that above.  As soon as I entered the building, I was welcomed by just about everybody there, choir members, villagers come, like myself, to hear the music.  My hand was shaken till it nearly fell off.  I was clapped on the back, hugged by numberless women, wished the compliments of the season, asked about my health by people who really wanted to know.  I felt that I was a member of my village, that I would be missed if I were not there, all to a degree which I have never in my life felt before.  It was very moving and confirms what I felt on that day in 2005 when we drove up for the first time to view what was to become our house.  It felt as though I had at long last come home.

At that time I was still tied by the umbilical cord of the railway to my job in the big city, on the outskirts of which we had lived for so many years.  Retirement was several years away.  But I knew that, even if we did not buy this house, I would want us to buy another property near by.  And now, when we are thinking half-heartedly that it would be good not to have so many garden beds to manage, nor so many metres of path to shovel clear of snow in the winter, there is no question of our moving even to one of the neighbouring villages.  This little village of Malmköping is our home, and here are our friends, and we want to have them in walking distance.

Ah, home, sweet home!

© James Wilde 2015