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Radio Show 5

RADIO SHOW SCRIPT  No. 5    13/04/2019

Welcome listeners, – to the fifth airing of – The Republic of Reason –  I am Fergus Quinlan.

This programme – continues, looking at any subject or event from my hopefully different point of view. If any listeners have comments positive or negative, I would be delighted to hear them…. Email the programme at kinvarafm@gmail.com  or text to; 083 4681472

This evening  I will look at;

The interaction between critical thinking, morality and religion. Much of the ideas expressed here emerged from my early reading of a book by British philosopher Bertrand Russell. ‘Education and the social order’ and recently  ‘Society without God’ by Phil Zukerman and extracts from my book ‘The Republic of Reason’

  • A sea adventure of yesteryear.
  • The possibilities for Ireland being an advocate of peace being compromised by events in Shannon Airport.
  • A word On Julian Assange
  • And of course some excellent music.

 

Religion;

In my first programme, I described how; early in my life, I always felt compelled to step outside my comfort zone exploring and questioning every belief and every social structure; I told my story of beliefs and ideas lost and found.

The Republic of Reason – both book and this programme: springs from a perception of poverty. A Poverty Of Philosophy: an epidemic of poor, ill thought out, or contradictory viewpoints. A lack of critical thinking.  The first intellectual confrontation I spoke of was baptism. The concept that a newly born baby could be guilty of some sin which needed to be washed away left me bewildered…And this bewilderment has intensified as I realised that the sin that needs to be washed away was knowledge and that the main pursuit of religion appears to be the suppression of knowledge….  The very pursuit that I was engaged in, It is not surprising that most humans appear to spend their lives in a perpetual state of confusion and attempting to escape by shutting down any or most of their investigative thought processes.

The human brain structure is composed of some distinctive parts which evolved during our human development. The oldest part, the instinctive reptilian brain developed about 500 million years ago, this is mirrored in each new human at conception.  Its function is breathing, movement, balance and replication.

The next levels are the Hippocampus which compares new and stored information and the Amygdala the emotional part, care, pleasure, rewards emotion sex and security instinct. These sections of the brain originally evolved about 150 million years ago are also instinctive and are common to all mammals.

They form the vital loving attachments between animals and their young and in human terms between children and their parent’s smell, the sound of voices, security. This time lays down a foundation of emotional security essential to the construction of a well-ordered human.   As the child approaches the development of the most advanced section of his or her human brain the thinking prefrontal cortex –  which originally evolved about two million years ago they are at their most vulnerable state they have total trust in their parents and teachers, They are absorbing information and learning patterns at an astonishing speed.

Children are pliable and can be shaped very quickly at that time, but once shaped the mix of ideas that did so will last far longer than the interactions that shaped them. They will generally be a copy of that which has gone before, I ideas ranging from a language to religion to a concept of a social order….

On the positive side, religion provided comforting answers when science could not, it still provides comfort to many at death an as an explanation of life. It contributed to social cohesion when society had one unified religion. But now, belief systems have split on doctrinal and governance issues; international migration has brought new religions.  So the argument for cohesion by faith no longer exists.  Now religion contributes to division and conflict, it may not be the main reason,  but it certainly does not help.  Christianity split into Catholic, Orthodox, and many protestant factions. Islam is split into Sunni and Shia, Judaism in many factions.  All of this certainly does not help the cohesion humanity seeks and desperately needs. Our own Northern Ireland is a case in point

In parallel with that problem, science has been providing a stream of answers which the dogmas of thousands of years ago can no longer resist, a round earth, planetary circulation, evolution.  Into this mix now arrives the new global religion of global consumerism. Its temples of worship are the vast shopping malls; its icons and saints are multifarious must-have brands. This brainwashing streams out every second of the day from screen, radio and print media…. It begins to overwhelm and replace religions. We will get back to that later in the program.

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Speaking of religion – Music a great deal of wonderful religious music emerged during the height of the Classical period this is a three minute section from the Mass written by JS Bach in 1733. One might ask why an atheist like myself would play a Mass, written and performed by us humans it is a beautiful reflection of what we can achieve…. Thus, Bach’s Mass in B-minor…

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This is Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara FM community radio with the Republic of Reason. If any listeners have comments positive or negative, I would be delighted to hear them…. Email the programme at kinvarafm@gmail.com  or text;  083 46 81 472.

The battle between faith and reason is dealt with in more comprehensive detail in  –  My book – The Republic of Reason– it is still jumping off the shelf at John Burkes Kinvara supermarket….. must be well on the way to be on the bestseller list – well….maybe  Kinvara’s best seller list.

So back to the discussion in hand—- the connection between religion and a child developing the most advanced section of his or her human brain, as I said, children are at their most vulnerable at that age, they have total trust in their carers and are absorbing information and learning patterns at an astonishing speed?

At this vital juncture, the parents and guardians have a challenging choice to make. They can, and mostly do,  go with – the easy option, they pass on the unexamined inheritance and allow the child to go with the flow.  In a Catholic primary school- and that is over 90% of all schools – the child spends this critical year preparing for their first holy communion.  At this interface between their developed instinct and emerging intellect, their first prolonged encounter with focused learning is instruction in supplication and a suppression of curiosity.

Teachers get vulnerable children to accept a stream of anti-scientific, illogical beliefs. When the children accept these ideas without question they are rewarded with – a pleasure rush of – gifts, new clothes, money, parties and given huge family and social acclaim. Thus security in belief and pleasure are burned into the instinct, their ability to think critically in the future is often fatally damaged.  In later life, it is very difficult for reason and science to dislodge these beliefs. In religious parlance, the Jesuits said – give me the child, and I will show you the man. There were not joking they knew precisely the time to capture a man for life. In their ethos – by the way – Females hardly figured in this misogynist ethos.

The alternative and there is and Alternative – is for parents to take a different route.  Ensure that this vital time of about the seventh year is spent encouraging children’s questioning and curiosity. If natural curiosity and critical thinking can become part of their physic at this stage, it will see them through lif; they will seek out self-education. This is more important in a changing society, for they may have to make their own work, that will require innovative thinking a mind that can range outside the box – outside the social norms.  A critical thinking mind will save them from charlatans and help them distinguish fake and real news and be vital in the creation of a more progressive and egalitarian social order.

When I became the father of three children over forty years ago – my wife and I, despite being raised as Catholics, decided that the children would not undergo any of the rituals of faith, we would encourage the children to access information on every religion and non-religion. We also agreed that when they matured as adults if they decided to take the sacraments or any religious path or even become a priest or a nun – we would stand by them… Thankfully that did not arise.

Most people say that schooling is the key to our individual and collective futures, but, more often it is just training to pass a test and get a job.  The policy is; Bright enough to do the work – but not to question it.  Whatever an education is, it should make a unique individual, not an inheritor of unexamined ideas. It should furnish one with a spirit to tackle the big challenges, allow the development of moral values. It should encourage children to deal with what is important, how to live and how to die. That is Humanism – The person should be the centre of philosophy and be responsible for their morality – not Gods.

 

After this break for music we will ask – can we have morality without religion?

 

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As humanity moved away from the dark ages of church power in Europe in the renaissance hints of light and confidence in humanity began to form this was expressed powerfully in Beethoven’s ninth symphony  this is a section of the finale….

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Every day we witness the collapse of the moral order; Gastly stories of sexual abuse, the treatment of unmarried mothers and their children,  the corruption amongst politicians, the civic Guards, banks, finance, insurance fraud, has undermined our confidence in morality. This to me proves that the wxisting religious based moral order has failed. The existing belief system is so flawed that people are embarrassed by the beliefs them selves. If were to explain to a child in front of its parents precisely what the sacrament of communion was and how it came about… methinks! I would be quickly asked to exit. Thus the mainstream philosophy is never openly discussed – this in turn blocks access to any alternative moral thinking

 

As an Architect (ret) the important thing one must have – is good foundations  – no matter how beautiful the building one constructs, if the foundations are crumbling, all will be lost.  In that context any attempt to form children or society with a secure morality are flawed. The foundational documents are not ethical – Bible and the Koran, they are products of their time and reflect the values of the period.. fair enough I say ….well then OK,  let them be rewritten to reflect the values and ethos of our time. Cut out the bloodletting, the gross misogyny, the arrogance of gods demanding constant sublimation by the living people and their continuous demand for revenge and punishment. How would one begin to structure these as guides for a moral life?

 

Go to the street and question any passing stranger about their empathy and their innate desire to forgive and ask would they plunge anyone into everlasting hellfire? …. Extremely unlikely … No the vast majority of people would have far higher levels of natural morality than the gods, Christian or otherwise.

 

This takes us to the book  “Society Without God” by Phil Zukerman.  What the Least Religious Nations can tell us about contentment.

 

The book shows what non-belief looks like when it’s mainstream in a country. It argues that Religious faith is not necessary for a healthy peaceful, prosperous and moral society. Most residents of  Denmark and Sweden do not worship any gods or give any credence to religious dogma. They also happen to score at the very top of housing, health care at all social levels and the happiness index.

 

The determining factor in morality is how one relates to fellow humans, animals and all aspects of nature. The key word is respect, honesty openness and in a word – love. The deciding factor in a moral society is how it orders itself and the welfare and needs of its people. In almost every example the most religious countries score the worst – the non-religious countries score the best. These also are the conclusions of Phil Zuckerman’s book…. A worthwhile read for those pressing for the secularisation of Ireland or indeed who might be fearful of it It might Perhaps – lead to a higher morality.

 

But there is another phenomenon taking place that has the potential to threaten society with another false dawn;  A philosophy that is replacing the pleasure and security of religion and working against the possibilities of an advanced social democracy…..it peddles the comfort and the security of ownership – of things – consumerism.  It could be a society jumping out of the fire and into the frying pan…we will get back to that after a bit of a sea story – a blast from the past.

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A story of a voyage by river and sea.  58 years ago…In 1961 at 15 years.  I built a PBK 22 canoe of marine plywood cross frames and laths of light timber all glued and brass screwed together. The Hull skeleton was covered in rubberised canvas.  I got so excited building it, I designed and built a longer slimmer single seat version as well. After the inter-cert exam early summer myself and a friend with canoes and camping gear, were dropped into the river Blackwater near Mallow.  For days we paddled downstream. My memories of the river are of its great beauty, overhanging trees with the ruins of ghostly castles shadowing the water and gentle sparkling rapids. We rough camped every evening cooked on a primus stove surviving on spuds, bread, tea and sausages. After four or five days we passed from the beautiful Blackwater out to the sea at Youghal, and paddled west along the coast.

The going got a bit rough and with, no chart, forecasts, we were forced ashore in some tiny deserted cove. Before a rising tide, we had tp bury our kayaks in stone and fled up the cliffs with our camping gear.  We waited out the weather system for a day or so, on a soggy headland in flapping tents and watched the wild sea running east. The weather cleared, we emptied our craft of stone and water and proceeded west. Off Power Head we paddled hard but made little progress for many hours, we had given no credence to the tide.  But time passes and tides turn, and we finally reached the haven of Poul Gorm. We rang our parents who may have been relieved to hear from us after been effectively missing for over a week ….a world before mobile phones.

I retrospect, I’m not sure if they ever figured how we got from Mallow to the mouth of Cork Harbour. My companion departed, and I stayed in a tent above Poulgorm for another month or more making a living from bumming and hawking. I would ring the Cunard office in Cobh and find out when liners such as the SS France, The SS America, the Queen Mary and I think even the green Mauritania. The massive ships would anchor outside the harbour, circling these leviathans in my kayak, I would persuade generous-minded passengers to throw down boxes of cigarettes and Californian oranges. These I would sell in the local pubs. My parents couldn’t figure out how I lived so well on a living allowance of 10 shillings a week.

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This lullaby brings back that lovely sense of drifting down the Blackwater River. Memories of its great beauty, overhanging trees, the ruins of ghostly castles casting shadows over dark pools and –  gentle – sparkling rapids.  The song contains the resonating plea of protection from –  “ dread spirits of the Blackwater and Clan Owens wild banshee…..O’ sweet water and the melancholy of youth. – The Castle of Dromore.

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This is Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara FM community radio with the Republic of Reason. If any listeners have comments positive or negative, I would be delighted to hear them…. Email the programme at kinvarafm@gmail.com  or text;  083 4681472.

Before the break, I had been hinting at a society perhaps jumping out of the fire and into the frying pan…  Perhaps I am too pessimistic, I must force myself to see the glass half full rather than half empty.

One hundred years ago in Irelands revolutionary times, the future looked exciting, for the New Republic, as it broke away from the shackles of English domination. The people were Free, Free, Free …well not for long – the Irish Bourgeoise quickly realised that if a free Ireland meant free critical thinking for the mass of people is would become a disaster for them. So as quick as a light – they proved the prods right, home rule became Rome rule. The new sate enmeshed itself with the conservative church of Rome and ensured the full force of intellectual suppression was unleashed on schools, hospitals, colleges and indeed every institution of the state. We had jumped out of the fire and into the frying pan. As soon as we stopped kneeling to King of England, we started kneeling to a king of Rome.

Thus, the struggle for intellectual and spiritual progress against this new anti-intellectual octopus became the norm.  For a hundred years every progressive move was resisted, from mother and child care, divorce, contraception, abortion, gay rights, battles against censorship – and on and while the fight for reason is progressing, many skirmishes are left, mainly for the mind of the child.

Now, a new monster appears.  The neoliberal agenda, consumerism, a sort of poisonous lotto mentality that money triumphs over everything, this permeates all sectors of society — an anti-intellectualism in its own right. Its bells ring out a religion of thinks, to consume every second of the day from screen, radio and print media. Buy, shop, buy, replace… every thing is a commodity, while we once kneeled at the foot of the Kings then the church many worship at the temple of mammon.

Maybe one could argue that this new global religion of secular consumerism has the potential to unite the world, perhaps, but it may do other things as well…

It has been growing for some time. College graduates, emerge believing the same dogmas and holding the same attitudes they held at lower levels. Professors no longer make any attempt to teach students how to evaluate ideas or even the importance of doing so. Education has become vocational training to get a job.  Only conventionally believed Ideas are taught.  The concepts of private profit and wealth are pushed over public wealth and gain. While a million thoughts for new entrepreneurs,  goodies and services flow,  no new SOCIAL ideas emerge from such a culture, and human social progress is stymied. We are bombarded with trivia–entertainment, sports, cars, the lotto and technological toys. Some have called this an addiction to materialism; it is more addiction to ignorance, especially ignorance expressed as a belief in a moribund social order.

All the while  –  challenging spectres are knocking at the door. Irreconcilable contradictions,  Capital concentrates, relative poverty expands, and revolutionary explosions are inevitable. Secondly, infinitely accelerating population and production growth become pitted against a finite world and the shadow of climate change grows darker.

Solutions Solutions will spring only from a liberated youth, Young people with open and critical minds that can and will challenge the social order. While most organs of the chuch, state and media will combine with a million diversions of entertainment and do all in their power to strangle social inovative thinking. My plea is  – do not to be afraid, I believe that the instinctive desire for a worthwhile life for humanity and its fragile planet will win the day.

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Music time – Written by Gustav Holst about 1915 from the suite  ‘The Planets’ Mars the bringer of War…..

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This is Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara FM community radio with the Republic of Reason. If any listeners have comments positive or negative, I would be delighted to hear them…. Email the programme at kinvarafm@gmail.com  or text to; 083 4681472.

My book The Republic of Reason is jumping off the shelf at John Burkes supermarket….. must be on the way to be on the bestseller list well….maybe  Kinvara’s best seller list.

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Throughout the ages a state through a combination of luck and resources, expand outside their original borders and construct an empire. The Romans, The Ottoman empire, the British empire, the Third Reich, They come and go leaving trails like snails behind them. The world latest empire builder is the Washing Wall Street consensus its protector and enforcer is the military of the United States of America and its claim made by Obama of its Exceptionalism!!

Ireland cannot in any military sense confront the forces of the USA. But we can in an intellectual sense, we can be an international advocate for peace, after the resolution of Northern Ireland wars we may have a legitimate claim as a venue for world peace conferences. To do that effectively we must preserve our neutrality.

However, our neutrality is compromised by the use of Shannon Airport to refuel and transit the US Military Machine.  I have been involved over the years in protests at Shannon Airport  – the second Sunday of every month from 14.00 to 15.00. A few weeks ago we were joined by veterans for peace from the USA two of whom were arrested and jailed. My following letter was published in the Clare Champion on the 29th March;

Dear Sir/ Madam,  Shannon Airport is a perfectly placed flight hub to serve the people of the Mid-West of Ireland. However, a growing consensus feels that to achieve full potential it should divest itself of any connection with the transit of military personnel and munitions.

As the death and destruction in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraqi and Syria begins to be understood, people sense a growing disquiet at the relationship between the Airport and the military forces of the United States. I feel the discomfort myself when I use the airport, to those who work there permanently this unease must be constant.

The majority of the men and women of the US military who transit Shannon are polite likeable people, unfortunate young actors who find themselves tragically at the interface between US imperialism and the resistance that emerges when people are occupied, bombed and shot.  The destinations of the military aircraft transiting Shannon have seen millions killed, horrific destruction and a brutalised people fleeing as migrants to Europe. The only beneficiaries appear to be the manufacturers of military weapons.

Any argument that Shannon Airport gains financially from the situation would be untenable and would only add to the general disquiet. The reestablishment of Shannon Airport as a solely civilian air hub would invigorate the airport. It would allow the management, staff and passengers to go about their lives free of internal conflict. As a neutral civilian airport with a new sense of purpose, it should be upgraded to serve all corners of the globe. Restored and marketed as a place of peace and neutrality – travellers would transit with a clear conscious.

This conflict of purpose was recently highlighted when two retired members of the American military who have seen at first hand the death and destruction of war, were arrested at the airport. It is challenging to equate how these honourable men of conscious who protested against the use of Shannon Airport for war purposes should be detained while thousands of soldiers equipped with arms for killing are allowed to pass through the airport unmolested. It is beyond argument that Tarak Kauf and Ken Mayers both US veteran’s for peace should be immediately released from prison and Shannon Airport be restored as a civilian airport.

Yours,

I have met both Tarak Kauf and Ken Mayers, wonderful men who have experienced and seen up close the horror of US imperialism. I got a beautiful postcard the other day from Ken in response to a letter I sent while they were in prison. These men are presently out on bail but are obliged to remain in Ireland as their passports are held by the forces of our state. Their trail may not come up for years, so they are effectively being punished before they are found guilty.

 

If anyone wishes to support these peace makers, please google up ‘Veterans for Peace Ireland.’ A fund has been opened in a Limerick bank.

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Music to smooth out these conflicts and dilemmas.  Written in 1892 by the wonderful Russian – Rachmaninov Prelude for piano in C minor.

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Now a related storey. Julian Assange and the Fate of Journalism or how the Media are being Destroyed.

There is nothing new about fake news every war battle, strife, or strike, the vanquished and the victors all have their own version of events for information enhances support or opposition to any cause or action, it is a tool of war. President Bill Clinton destroyed the independent US media when he permitted 90 per cent to be concentrated in six mega-corporations that were in the entertainment and not in the news business. This destroyed the reliance placed on a free press to keep government accountable to the people. This trend has become the charging horse of the worldwide neo-liberal agenda; no country is free from its effects, including our own cowering media.

Julian Assange is the Australian founder of Wikileaks—a website dedicated to the public’s right to know what governments are doing. It posts revelatory documents, often acquired unofficially, that bring to light the criminal behaviour that results in wars and other man-made disasters. Because its very existence encourages “leaks,” government officials fear the website and particularly dislike Julian Assange.

Having identified alleged official misconduct, Wikileaks seeks to acquire and make public – overwhelming amounts of evidence—sometimes hundreds of thousands of documents at a time—which journalists and other interested parties can draw upon. This is a major public service.

That is not how most government officials see the situation. They assert that government cannot be successful unless aspects of its behaviour are conducted in secret. The fact that those aspects lose any accountable connection to the public is discounted. The assumption is that most citizens trust their governments to act in their interests, including when they act clandestinely. Historically, such trust is dangerously naive. Often government officials, even the democratic ones, feel no obligation to their citizens in general, but rather only to special interests.

To cripple Wikileaks and have their revenge on Assange, the United States and the United Kingdom (UK), with the cooperation of Sweden, first sought to demonise Assange on a sexual assault charge. This failed, Assange was still left liable for jumping bail in the UK in order to avoid seizure and deportation to the U.S., where he would certainly be put on trial for truth telling. He escaped to the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Two days ago he was evicted from the embassy.

Assange has ardently supported the notions of free speech, free press and the public’s right to know. Nonetheless, as the documentary filmmaker John Pilger,  has noted, “There has been no pressure [in support of Assange] from media in the United States, Britain, Australia, Ireland or pretty much anywhere except social media … outside the mainstream. … The persecution of this man should horrify all free-thinking people.” Unfortunately, there never have been so few brave free-thinkers about.

Many news outlets are willing to use the documented evidence made available by Wikileaks they will not publicly defend the “whistle-blower” who makes the information public.  Assange will have defenders, but they will be outside the mainstream—because truth itself is also outside the mainstream. That is their predicament, and ours as well.

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My next programme; the last of the series in the Republic of Reason will concentrate on Russia. A story that could be as long and with all the twists and turns of War & Peace.

Thank you for listening, I will sail away with Spartacus by Khachaturian.

 

 

 

April 25th, 2019|0 Comments

Radio Show 4 Script

Radio Show 4

Welcome listeners, – we sail into the fourth airing of – The Republic of Reason –  I am Fergus Quinlan.

This programme – continues with an unending quest for Critical and innovative thinking, looking at any subject or event from a different point of view. If any listeners have comments positive or negative, I would be delighted to hear them…. Email the program at kinvarafm@gmail.com

In this Program We will look at;

  • Drugs and some misunderstanding on addiction and referring to a book by Johann Hari “ Chasing the Scream.”
  • A sea story about radios
  • Review and comments on a Book by Naomi Klein “The Shock Doctrine”.
  • And of course some excellent music.

 

Drugs. Today we question some aspects of this problem. Viewpoints which never appear to be dealt with in the MSM, but there are signs of improvement.

We will keep to drugs in within the common parlance and not – at least at this stage, stray into all the solace and pleasure-seeking activities that we humans can and do become addicted; smoking, Alcohol drinking, Eating chocolate and sugar, gambling, religion, critical thinking, sailing…I think all the things that give us pleasure and excape…. I’m stuck in there in a few of them… but for the most part we will be discussing illegal drugs as commonly understood….

Every day the media reports a seizure of drugs by the Gardai, huge caches worth millions and millions in cars, flats. This war against drugs carried out by in Ireland and indeed almost worldwide has been going on as long as we all can remember.  All the time the value of the drugs increases and the seizures get more significant, regardless ….. the quantity of drugs available and coming into the country appears to be constantly increasing.  The enforcing authorities, such as the police, customs, and here and abroad are failing over and over again in this so-called war against drugs. They must eventually admit the war cannot be won and change direction?

Q1. Who is buying these millions of euros worth of drugs, this vast quantity of drugs constantly? Is it the middle class, the rich, the poor, it would appear that drug consumption is fairly widespread throughout all strata of society? So there is no doubt that a huge demand exists.  And with that demand – a market and big money can be made. Then it’s a business opportunity to make a stack and this will be met by the street businessmen, the importers, the dealers, the bankers and the enforcers. A mirror image of the legit ones only OK they don’t get IDA, grants and but then again they do not have to pay tax.

2; That leads directly to the next aspect, competition – the turf wars, the shootings, the massive amount of police time spent on surveillance, arrests, charging, courts, and then a whole prison system. For example, in the USA of the 2.3 million people in jail (the biggest incarceration in the history of humanity) in the USA 21% are drug-related.

  1. Yet another aspect is the amount of harmful, dangerous drugs on the markets, unregulated the dealers can and do throw any spiky muck together to beef out ‘pure’ heroine, coke or weed – or bright and en.tre.pre.neur.i.al college chemistry students churn out designer drugs. One major reason that young students take a risk by swallowing these unknown, mind-blowing and sometimes mind destroying drugs is cost, … it appears to be cheaper to get stoned on drugs than drink. Speaking of mind-destroying, I once was the unfortunate witness of a young man I knew going to the US for the summer and returning a totally changed zombie after a BAD trip…a tragedy which makes me sad.

Now, all these three major problems might be solved in one fell swoop by legalising, taxing and regulating all drugs. Is this crazy one might ask, or  may I just be looking for a hit.. NO Personally, except for a bit of weed back in seventies I haven’t indulged myself.. yet,… I’m waiting for my 90th birthday.  We will return to this subject after a break for …

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Music time – for a piece of drug-related music it would be hard to beat the Beatles “Lucy in the Sky – with diamonds” Far out man this is from the first take..Hence the loose introductory chatter…

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But joking aside, and there are no jokes for a perfectly lovely young boy or girl who loses their mind on a BAD trip…from a BAD drug. However, All in ALL … We must recognise that the existing approach has not worked and is causing more problems than it solves.

I refer now to a book called Chasing the scream by Johann Hari. It is certainly the best and most humane explanation I’ve ever read on drugs, I encourage anybody who is interested in this topic (Parents, Guards Included) must make it their business to read this book. (SPELL – JOHANN HARI) Go look him up and do read the book. PS I’m not related or connected.

The book is subtitled  “the first and the last day of the war on drugs” The book, describes how this war against drugs started in America over 100 years ago. At that time, as in most countries, drugs were freely available to buy. He describes how many drug importers wanted to make drugs illegal as they would run forced monopolies to make a fortune. In 1914 drugs were made illegal in the US and that spread worldwide and since then the so-called war on drugs has intensified, the figures relating to deaths from drug-related death are enormous as well as the costs to contain it

Promises are made continuously by politicians about a drug-free future for our children….about the same chance as what I spoke in my last programme about a porn free future for children…forget it.

Consider what happened when prohibition came to the United States, speakeasy ’s sprung up overnight. Gangs formed to run them and with the brewing of illegal liquor, there was a huge increase in bad drink so manufactured that it could kill and it did. When alcohol was again legalised, the production was regulated and safer. The state collected taxes. Alcohol was not sold to minors… the gangs disappeared, or….. switched to drugs.

The arguments…. as one can see… whizz around in many directions   One of the main and continuing arguments against drugs is that they’re perniciously addictive and highly destructive. I have even heard it said on many occasions that the reason people are on the street –  destitute and homeless are that they are addicted to drugs.

But is that true? OR are they addicted to drugs because they are homeless and on the streets?  To help resolve this question let us refer some experiments carried out on rats…

In the late 1970’s It was found that when a rat is put in an empty cage alone with food and 2 water bottles one normal and one laced with drugs, The rat got addicted to the drug water and eventually died of malnutrition.

This experiment was touted as proof that drugs are uncontrollable and it laid the foundation for 40 years of drug policy with rehab centres using strict laws focused on withdrawal and a massive state war on drugs. The whole emphasis was making it clear that drugs are bad, bad bad.

Johann Hari in his book refers to a fascinating further development of this research experiment.   He says and I quote;  “ what most people don’t know is that in the same decade of the lonely rat experiment….another scientist professor Bruce Alexander thought it was obvious that lonely rats in boring cages would choose drugs over water. He then built and put the rats in a rat park – a lush cage with food and lots of other friendly male and female rats where they could have sex and little rats, they could play and scurry about and have fun to their heart’s content. They still had access to the choice of drug-laced OR plain water. Surprisingly his rats chose not to use the drugs. The researcher even took the study one step further and kept rats using drugs for 57 days in the lonely cage until they became heavily addicted. He then placed them in the rat park and astonishingly the rats gradually reduced their drug use until they stopped altogether and lived the rest of their lives drug-free.

Putting the rats aside for the moment what about us humans? Experiments like these happen to humans all the time.  One example is in hospitals were badly injured patients are given a medical form of heroin, heroin that is much stronger than the heroin used by street attics. Despite months of use these medical users stop when they go home to a life where they are surrounded by a loving family. A similar drug used for the same length of time would turn the isolated and lonely into street users who would continue to remain alone, disconnected and unhappy into desperate addicts.

The rat park experiments did not show the chemical addictions don’t exist but it showed that they are not the only thing that matters in drug abuse. What appears to be far more important is a person’s access to functioning social life respect, a degree of status a house and family, to be connected to other individuals and to society as a whole.  This is where the resources of the state should be spent and not continuing a useless and failing war on drugs. Many countries throughout the world Ireland included,  are beginning to listen and are moving away from the war on drugs to care, connection and love …far more effective in human terms and in cost terms.

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Speaking of DRUGS real legal Drugs… this is one of mine ….Lets take some minutes of the first movement of Rachmaninov Piano Concerto no. 2    this musical masterpiece. This particular performance is played on the Piano by Yuja Wang and I will spell her name Y-U-J-A—W-A-N-G as I must urge you to view this performance on Youtube… one seldom sees such raw human energy as when this Beautiful Chinese pianist engages in a passionate mén.age. à. trois with, the  Verbier Festival Orchestra, a piano to the stunning music of Rachmaninov…

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Now for sea stories, or maybe a radio stories.

On the first offshore venture of the old Pylades – Dublin to the Isle of Man via Carlingford in July 1982, the boat had no radio communications except for a trusty transistor to get the BBC shipping forecast. This resulted in an interesting meeting in Carlingford lough….A British naval boarding party started waving what looked like a radio mic at us and finally verbally shouting at us to stop in that they might board –not stopping we yelled back… as the Vire two-stroke inboard was very sensitive to being taken out of gear and changing its revs  .. We helped them aboard anyway as we steamed along at a cracking 4 knots. However, the staring faces of three children looking at them unnerved the force and they withdrew…

After a further incident off the Chicken Rock, the SW point of the Isle of Mann, we began to realise that perhaps a VHF radio, for safety… might be a good idea.  27 years later when Katherine and I planned to circumnavigate we thought that the installation of a single sideband radio might be a good idea for similar reasons.

Katherine volunteered to sit the mandatory Department of Transport test for a Radio Operator’s Long-Range Certificate of Competency.  To turn our little ship into a ‘radio station’.

To get on a training Course was difficult, but Katherine, being Katherine found a place and headed off alone to Carlingford in County Louth on a dark Sunday in October 2008. She checked in as the only – lonely guest – in a silent hotel.  The course was five full days 09.00 until 20.00 on the last two, with the exam on the fifth day.  She was the only female amongst the 7 students. The other six were all skippers of fishing boats from Portavogie in Northern Ireland.

Katherine found the going harder than expected but the friendliness of the skippers helped as the week slid by. However, stress levels also began to rise —  the skippers of fishing vessels, found the ‘classroom’ to be an alien place. The night Katherine rang me to describe how the instructor had clattered one of the skippers on the head – I knew then that things were rougher than expected.

On the morning of the exam the hotel dining room Katherine found it occupied by a single other people, a lonely man—-the examiner.  Eating breakfast in silence, they met again shortly after in the examination room.

Much later that day the the flags were out in Dooneen as Katherine arrived home with Radio Operators’ Long-Range Certificate of Competency’

The SSB proved very valuable in our safe routing around South Africa & the Cape. We were assisted by a group of amauter radio operators who ensured we dodged the ferocious little depressions that jumped off the African continent and blew contrary to the Agulas currrant …”22ft square waves you won’t survive it mate” (I cant do a south African accent),,,we took their word and did what we were told.This is a short clip of Katherine action in the Indian Ocean calling up a sailors net with the other minute a routeing exchange with the famous  ocean weather router Herb Hilgenberg

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SSB Radio clip>

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Herb now retired, provided sailors with invaluable information and guidance as a hobby throughout the Atlantic routing small craft away from dangerous weather systems. Our most extended communication on the SSB was between Herb based in Ontario, Canada to Pylades about twenty miles short of Dingle about 2600 nautical miles.

We were so appreciative of his services we sent him the following poem  drafted on route from the Azores 12/06/12, which we understand is hanging in his radio  shack;

His call sign was Victor X-ray 49 eight  his boat – southbound 2

Sailors plying on Oceans deep

With weather worries, poorly sleep

The pressure fall is steep and fast

And lows pursue, the dice is cast.

 

Crawling from a restless bed

They stare, the dawn is crimson red.

The sunset has been black and gold

The wind is belching hot and cold

 

A storm spins down, a sailors fate!

Last hope is, Victor – X-ray, four nine eight.

On radio waves a Hertz invention

The crackling static seeks attention

Bad propagation, but a voice breaks through

“OK, this is, Victor – X-ray, southbound Two.”

 

Now push south, then east, then west,

It will be tough but that’s the best.

Another ship escapes its fate.

Due to Victor X-ray four nine eight.

 

In all safe harbours near and far

Where sailor’s tales enrich a bar

There grows the legend of a router great.

It’s Victor X-Ray four nine eight.

 

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Speaking of Weather forecasts one of the most evocative pieces of music was the intro to the BBC shipping forecast as we jammed our ears to the headphone of a RDF a radio direction finder or a damp TRANNY… now generally gone from the knowledge of the modern sailor.   Sailing by.

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From the heady freshness of the ocean to Economic Havoc and Ruin. Let us look at The Shock Doctrine a book by the Canadian writer Naomi Klein.

Many writers have pointed to the havoc and ruin that have accompanied the imposition of free markets across the world. Whether in Africa, Asia, Latin America or post-USSR Europe, policies of wholesale privatisation and structural adjustment have led to unbalanced economic activity and social dislocation on a massive scale. Anyone who has watched a country lurch from one crisis to another as the bureaucrats of the IMF imposed austerity and cut after cut pursuit of the holy grail of privatisation will recognise the process the Canadian writer Naomi Klein describes in The Shock Doctrine.

There are very few books that help us understand what is gong on in the world. The Shock Doctrine is one of those books. Ranging across the world, Klein exposes the strikingly similar policies that enabled the imposition of free markets in countries as different as Pinochet’s Chile, Yeltsin’s Russia, and post-Saddam Iraq. Part of the power of this book comes from the parallels she observes in seemingly unrelated developments.

But has the free market experiment failed? As Klein sees it, no, free-market shock therapy may have succeeded in achieving its true objectives. Post-invasion Iraq may be “a ghoulish dystopia where going to a simple business meeting could get you lynched, burned alive or beheaded”. Even so, Klein points out, Halliburton is making handsome profits – it has taken on many of the traditional functions of the armed forces in Iraq. An entire society has been destroyed, but the corporations that operate in the ruins are doing rather well. Klein’s message, then, in its own, profit-centred terms – disaster capitalism can work.

But the neo-liberal order is facing intractable problems. The Iraq war may have allowed another experiment in shock therapy, but a failed state has been created as a result of which Gulf oil – “the jugular vein of global capitalism” – is less secure than before. Faced with defeat in Iraq, the US administration seems to be gearing up for an assault on Iran – a move that would magnify the catastrophe many times over. At the same time financial crisis has reached into the American heartland with their amazing ability to get away with vast “quantitive easing” (printing money). It is impossible to predict how these crises will develop, but it is hard to resist the suspicion that larger disasters are in the making.

I had been involved in dozens of protests In London and Dublin supporting the Anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Actions in the worldwide struggle against the Apartheid system. For 27 years Mandela had been in jail the ANC kept fighting.  When Mandela was freed and the white government agreed to end Apartheid there were great celebrations elections were held. a new democratic government of the people came to power. All was well …not quite! Naomi Klein describes in frightening detail the how people were allowed political power…. but were hoodwinked out of economic power the revolutionaries were good at war but hopeless in economics.

Want to redistribute land? Impossible— the negotiators agreed to add a clause to the new constitution that protects all private property, making land reform virtually impossible.

Want to create jobs for millions of unemployed workers? Can’t—hundreds of factories were actually about to close because the ANC had signed on to the GATT, the precursor to the World Trade Organization, which made it illegal to subsidize the auto plants and textile factories.

Want to get free AIDS drugs to the townships, No That violates intellectual property rights commitment under the World Trade Organisation WTO which the ANC joined with no public debate as a continuation of the GATT – General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs.

Need money to build more and larger houses for the poor and to bring free electricity to the townships? Sorry—the budget is being eaten up servicing the massive debt, passed on quietly by the apartheid government.

Raise the minimum wage to close the apartheid income gap? Nope. The IMF deal promises “wage restraint.” And don’t even think about ignoring these commitments— any change will be regarded as evidence of dangerous national untrustworthiness, a lack of commitment to “reform,” an absence of a “rules-based system
An anti-apartheid activist described the trap in stark terms. “They never freed us. They only took the chain from around our neck and put it on our ankles.” business was saying, ‘We’ll keep everything and you [the ANC] can have political power, you can have the façade of governing, but the real governance will take place somewhere else.’” A process that is common in so-called transitional countries—new governments are, in effect, given the keys to the house but not the combination to the safe. But a section of ANC ledership were poisoned by money and helped fool and repress the people … All very familiar stuff to us in post revolutionary Ireland.

Though the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 may have been regarded as a positive event by Western historians and ideologues, a victory for and validation of liberal democracy, its impact on the lives of Russian people was devastating.

Before we go into –The Neo-liberal attempt to eat Russia in 1991 we shall play.

 

 

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The grand Finale of the 1812 overture by Tchaikovsky with the Danish Philharmonic — Written to celebrate the Victory of the Tsarist forces over Napoleon and his ridiculous attempt to take Russia, While the music is abit Nationalistic and Militaristic  It kind of a warning..… As an American General said the First rule in the Military hand book is  Do Not Invade Russia.

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Naomi Klein sets out in forensic detail how the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s was used as a laboratory by American free-market think-tanks, gurus, and economists.

They came from the economics department of Chicago University, The major influence was the late Milton Friedman, the man credited with devising neoliberal economics.  An economic model which places a focus on controlling the money supply as a way to anchor inflation, which he and his co-thinkers viewed, and still view, as the enemy of economic growth.

In her book, Klein places the economic and social shock therapy administered in Russia in historical context.  The primary aim of these economic “hit men” was the destruction of any last vestige of state involvement in the nation’s economic life. Rather than the arbiter of social justice and guarantor of economic stability, the government would be reduced to the role of facilitating and protecting the interests of international investors, shareholders, speculators, and corporations. This involved the deregulation of the economy and banking system, the removal of social programs and safety nets, the lifting of price controls and the privatization of all state-owned sectors of the economy, which were sold off at a fraction of their true value to speculators.

President Boris Yeltsin who had been supported by vast quantities of American dollars and glorified as man of the year on the cover of Time Magazine had applied to join the IMF and was an eager convert to free-market orthodoxy. He and his friends saw what loot they and the freebooters of the world could get and they went for it. The economy was near bankrupt, and the creditor nations of the G7, exploiting Russia’s vulnerable state, made a condition of their cooperation in rescheduling the debt that the IMF should play a central role as a policy advisor, lender, and coordinator of assistance. As the Harvard academic Daniel Pipes, wrote at the time: “It is desirable for Russia to keep on disintegrating until nothing remains of its institutional structures.”

The impact of this economic medicine on Russian society was devastating. Most Russians consumed 40 per cent less in 1992, after a year of shock therapy, than they did in 1991, while a third of the population had fallen below the poverty line. By 1994 the suicide rate had doubled, drug use had risen to record levels, and violent crime had increased by four times its previous rate during the Soviet era. Russia was on the precipice of disaster with the State Duma and President Boris Yeltsin, in full-blown civil war – a consequence of the chaos that had beset the country.

When we sailed from Kinvara to Russia in 2017 we certainly found that things had greatly improved. The Russians held Putin in some respect, despite him being a participant in a grab of the people’s wealth and being a shrewd capital accumulating businessman, he nevertheless appears to have been instrumental helping Russia recover from those dark years of economic rape. He has led a re-establishment of national sovereignty, moved the country away from the internal economic vandalism and blocked off external international speculators and reestablished state control over the banks.  More distressing for Washington he has overseen the rebuilding of the Russian Military forces and alliances with China.

It is a recovery the Washington Wall Street consensus has never forgotten or forgiven. The Republic of Reason must return to the whole fascinating history of Russian and its story again.

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The next programme  The Republic of Reason will deal amongst other things with the Vexed question of Belief, faith-based and non-faith based. We will look at books such as Phil Zuckerman Society without God and perhaps … Some Bertrand Russel  and his early Book ‘Why I’m not a Christian.’  Well have a great Paddy day and weekend I’m off the Shannon Airport at 2 pm on Paddies day to protest the Use of Shannon by Trumps Military We are to be joined by some US Veterans for Peace who have served in Iraque and Afghanistan…should be interesting. Thank you for listerning …Keep well

 

 

 

March 21st, 2019|0 Comments

ON ANGELUS BELLS AND OTHER SYMBOLS

The angelus bells as tolled on RTE are to some people the ‘chimes’ are a treasured piece of Ireland’s national culture, to others like myself they are a manifestation of catholic triumphalism. As my female children grew and matured, the full meaning of the angelus became apparent. The iconic symbolism of a virgin conception laid down an impossible role for females and motherhood for real sexual conceptions were implied to be impure and therefore reduced. Symbolism such as the angelus and the vast amounts of virgin images and plaster models which infest schools debase female reality, providing a philosophical foothold for misogyny.
There exists a thin argument that the angelus is only a bell and not a prayer. However for over sixty years of my life, it was this bell that tolled from every Catholic Church steeple. It came to symbolise the ethos of that religion as during those dark years, it drowned out the cries of so many abused children. I cannot see the Angelus as a ‘treasured’ piece of Ireland’s national culture. We have to only look at Northern Ireland to see the power of symbols such as flags, bells and the lambeg drum.
It is easy to understand why other religions do not object to the angelus, they see it as a time for prayer and worship drenched in the symbolism of misogyny and division, practices which they too hold in common. The main division arises between the cultural practices of faith based beliefs and the growing number of people searching for a more robust human based morality and a society bereft of division and superstition. For such people periods of contemplation based on the human intellect would be delightful. Thus if we look, we can find shared ground for the one uniting feature of all parties and listeners, our common humanity, Christian, atheist, Muslim, agnostic and Jew. The emphasis on inclusiveness can be found in the last three verses of ‘my great poetic work’! I accept our society does need more time to “Go placidly amidst the noise”. Such contemplative space must be drenched in harmony and not carry within its heart the obvious division which the angelus does, it must not divide or aggravate the heart of those who listen. It must be the essence of inclusiveness.

The bell, the bell, the Angelus bell.
Ring out; Ring out, the Angelus bell
Drive down, the Protestant boys to hell
Ring out, Ring out, triumphant scream
Down the orange and up the green.

Three times three, that raucous bellQuasimodo001
On stony ground, a young girl fell
How glad a virgin – men may boast
Submit to the sperm, of a holy ghost.

Her husband cried, its hideous fun
To see thy holy will being done.
By force of deep religious faith
Celestial royals, must replicate.

Ring out; ring out, the Angelus Bell
Drive all dissenters down to hell

BUT-BY the flame of reasons light,
The bell did change and set it right
An exultant peel of celebration
Ringing clear, throughout the nation.

Unite with joy all human kind
Divisive bells leave far behind,
Ring louder bell, now with a plan
To celebrate, collective man

Ring out; Ring out, Beethoven’s bell
Renaissance man arise from hell
Now and on, the joyful sound
As mankind’s knee lifts from the ground.

December 17th, 2015|2 Comments

Refugee Crisis in Europe

Refugee threat 2Europe is experiencing a huge refugee crisis which it helped make.  It supported totally unjustified wars in the Middle East and North Africa that have murdered and displaced millions of people. The Republic of Ireland supported these wars by allowing a flood of young men and women from the United States who bribed and brainwashed by the Washington establishment passed through Shannon Airport on their way to carry out this murder and mayhem against innocent people.

Instead of accepting their responsibility for peoples whose lives Europe has helped to ruin, the governments are employing fences and violence to keep out the hordes of peoples displaced by the violence that Washington has unleashed. Those who escaped the American war machine are now being murdered by ISIS…….. Is our answer to be razor-wire fences, troops and dogs? If we are to accept refugees from division and strife, it is important that we do not sow further division and contribute to future strife.

Refugees must be welcomed into a society where division is mitigated. Where there are no Muslim, Protestant, Catholic or Jewish schools. They must be welcomed into a society where all schools are secular, where all children are educated together, where we respect all children’s rights to an education free from sectarian division. Thereby we may strive to secure a peaceful, integrated future society.

 

November 14th, 2015|0 Comments