Ubuntu…

Let’s rip up modern conventions and start again.

In a world that is riddled with disparity, zealots and false philanthropy, it is difficult for some to see that there are alternatives out there. Such alternatives go completely against how our controlled society operates, but they do exist.

This week I open my door to Ubuntu. No I’m not wiping my hard drives of all Apple and Windows operating systems in favour of Linux (although the penguin is mega cute). I am, for the uninitiated (and I included myself in that up until last week), referring to the concept of Ubuntu philosophy – which is a collection of values which allows for human authenticity, with honest, ego-free individuals coming together into tribes, communities and micro-societies, with the emphasis on caring for others in the belief that a universal bond of sharing and supporting each other connects all humanity, free from power, greed and control.

“I am because we are”.

If we are to believe that we are one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, and everything in the Universe is interlinked, then having a set of core principles which brings us closer together (not fragmented further, more isolated) gives us a chance to become more in tune with the cosmos, and with each other.

My recent foray into a more sustainable and agrarian way of life at a local communal / cooperative allotment collapsed spectacularly recently, much to my disappoint (for many reasons I won’t go into). Here we had an opportunity to do something different, to put the middle finger up to the way standard society operated, but alas it wasn’t to be.

Bill the Wise…

Maybe it’s because we have had two super moons in quick succession (the last one happening tonight with a lunar eclipse). Everything is energy, including matter (which is energy condensed down to a slow vibration – another Bill Hicks quote in case you missed the first one above), and I really seem to suffer when such cosmic events take place. I have been all over the place the last couple of months, not being able to focus much on anything, a world away from the clarity and serenity I usually have. This will change from tomorrow as our closest celestial body buggers off back to where it belongs.

So why ubuntu? Well, the Universe moves in mysterious ways and quickly it seems when it sees an opening. A comrade and I took a herbal tea last Friday in our local cafe and chewed the fat over the sad demise of the allotment, at which point he pulled out two pieces of paper. Now time is a funny thing, as is energy. What happened next as he reached into his pocket was quite profound, and much resembled a video recording set to slo-mo. It took a long time to fetch the paper, almost double that time to unfold the two pieces wide so that I could read them. As he did (in what seemed like time out of space), the flow of energy into my being was something I’d not felt for quite sometime, what ever was about to be revealed was going to have some sort of positive and uplifting effect.

No shit! As I took hold of the parchments, the electricity surged around my body to awaken any cells that were still in “morning sleepy mode”, and with that a required focus. The pages are below:

The Time Bank…
The Activities…

Here we had a special moment, a vision of what I had been trying to find for some time now, like-minded people who want to push aside the norms of the day and operate in a way which levels everything.

Imagine, if you will, the middle-class IT consultant who banks two hours of time fixing a computer for someone who cannot afford the service fees, and exchanges that for a one hour basket weaving course by a bloke who lives in his van, and a one hour ukulele lesson from a local artist, both for his daughter without the exchange of a single penny.

The above is a real example of how it works, and for me is ubuntu. We all have skills, different skills, but have become accustomed to demand the exchange of money for such. That model clearly isn’t working, as it is breeding so much greed, power and control for the few (not the many), and so if we are to evolve, truly evolve I mean, then that system needs to be deconstructed, starting off in local tribes / communities.

The age of Aquarius is upon is, heralding significant change. I do hope that our local tribe tests out the Ubuntu model here and succeeds, my community is strong here so it stands a good chance if enough time and focus is given by the participants, and conflict or the current broken paradigm doesn’t play a part.

Mandela’s take on Ubuntu is below, if I can’t convince you, perhaps he can…

Divide and Conquer…

Polarise (verb) – to divide into sharply opposing factions.

Humanity, it seems, is becoming more polarised with each passing day, with little or no hope for respite. Taking a world view and with a few exceptions (where polarity is not tolerated, like North Korea), each “democratic” country on Planet Earth seems to separate into different factions on an all too regular basis.

Take my homeland, the United Kingdom. For the first 4 decades of my life, polarity centered around several themes, politics (Labour or Conservative), football (Everton or Liverpool), music (Rock or Pop), animals (Cats or Dogs), sexual orientation (Hetero or Homo) and wealth (Haves and Have-Nots), and ones choice or preference didn’t really have a major impact on society as a whole (with the exception of wealth where choice doesn’t always play its part).

The United Kingdom and the population that resides here, was until recently a relatively united kingdom comprising of four component states, each with its own nuances and idiosyncrasies and by and large we got on quite well all things considered.

We joined a bigger family when we entered the European Union (then the European Economic Community) in 1973 and again, by and large over the last four decades, we got on well, with the added bonus of freedom of movement across the member states, which I have had the privilege of using many, many times.

Something has changed of late, and not in a good way. Our political system and the society I now reside in is completely broken. We have been used to seeing Red fight with Blue to gain supreme power since it took over the reigns from the Liberal Party in the 1920’s, placing our X’s next to our party of choice ever since.

The childhood I can remember was governed by the Conservative Party when Margaret Thatcher was at the helm, growing up in Liverpool in the early 1980’s when the shipping and manufacturing industries were decimated by Tory policy, making it difficult to put food on the table in the vast majority of households.

We cracked on as any community would do under the same circumstances, and we did it as a pseudo-syndicalist collective, coming together as one to support each other during what were difficult and challenging times, putting two fingers up to Thatcher and her “managed decline” edict, with the help and support of Tory MP Michael Heseltine, an unlikely hero still in these parts.

The wealth and the glory of bygone years (due to the profiteering of shipping merchants during the truly abhorrent Slave Trade of the 1700’s) and the excitement of the Merseysound had all but gone, but the city got itself up off the floor, dusted itself down, and had a renaissance in 2008 when it was awarded the European Capital of Culture, and with it, truly significant investments from our EU comrades. Run down areas and tired city centre establishments were all defibrillated back into life and until very recently, the city had enjoyed an upturn in fortune.

The real turning point (for me at least) was Brexit (as I have mentioned in my State Of The Universe Part 1). In Liverpool, we had just short of 60% voting for remain, a real mandate to keep things the way they are, but alas no, the wider collective decided against it, pushing the entire nation into the abyss, to go it alone.

We then had three and a half years of stagnation and another election, putting the Conservatives back in action for another term.

Now we have Covid, and with it, something even more divisive, even more worrysome. Never in my life have I seen and witnessed such polarised views.

Once again, we are faced with choice and what we believe in; truth (Fact or Fiction), masks (Wear or Don’t Wear), science (Real or Not Real) and political integrity (Honesty or Conspiracy). I dare say more choices are to follow, namely cure (Vaccinations or No Vaccinations), legislation (Support or Reject) and possibly totalitarianism (Acceptance or Anarchy).

Whilst previous views were by and large for or against the establishment or a personal preference which had no material impact on society as a whole, what has happened over the last few years (spiking with Covid) has turned (wo)man against (wo)man and with it the birth of divided factions, and with that some quite appealing behavior.

The venom with which targeted abuse is delivered is something to be utterly ashamed of too and it really brings into question the fundamentals of ones personal relationships.

Social media makes it far too easy for some to become keyboard warriors, sitting comfortably in their socially distanced locales, cowardly brandishing all manner of vitriol and verbal abuse on platforms that were meant to connect people together in a positive way, not to pour petrol on incendiary situations like we find ourselves in today. This week has already seen non-virtual altercations occurring in shops and supermarkets as the factions clash face to face, now that masks are compulsory.

It was a very easy decision for me to disconnect from all social media applications (with the exception of WordPress which is for me an anonymous and cathartic vehicle) and from what I have heard and seen most recently, the decision in January this year was the right one.

I now have to make a different type of choice, a preference as to whether the opinions and subsequent behavior of others is something I chose to acknowledge and accept or choose to walk away from.

State of the Universe address (Part 2)…

“Even a casual glance at the media whether in print or streaming form reveals a distinct shift in energy and sadly not a positive one. Recent events from all over our little blue dot have shown that humanity appears to be on a disturbing downward spiral, towards a destiny I don’t think any of us can predict. Even the glass half full brigade is starting to see the drink drift towards the bottom of the tumbler.

The have been several events of late which have upset the balance in the Universe which even videos of kittens playing and falling off stuff are failing to have the desired uplifting effect”…

Those exact words were scribed here on the twenty sixth of July, twenty sixteen during the aftermath of the Brexit vote here in the U.K, my abject disbelief in the majority (not overwhelming by any means, but majority nonetheless) of citizens voting to go it alone, to disconnect from a union which gave more freedom of movement, more freedom of choice, more freedom opportunity for cultural exchange, just more.

The pursuing three and a half years in stasis were frankly embarrassing, like two school children endlessly bickering in the playground over which colour was best, blue or red, only to be resolved by asking the question all over again.

I was, as were many of my close friends and family, truly disappointed by the outcome of the general last year but it was apparent to us that a different type of politics had emerged. The time of robust, transparent and progressive manifestos had gone, replaced by rhetoric and hyperbole, and the more succinct the better. A manifesto of three words won the election. “Get. Brexit. Done”. That was all it took. No five-hundred page visions of the future required, no clear or quantifiable plans to take the U.K to the next level. Simply, these three words resonated with original voters and with new found sympathisers in socialist strongholds (depleted of energy in a stagnating country) who were targeted by social media campaigns and the less-than independent and biased views of the BBC.

As much as I admired Jeremy Corbyn in the past, it was clear that all hope was gone leading up to the election result, when so many people uttered the words “I cannot bring myself to vote for that man”, choosing instead to hand Boris Johnson a fresh set of keys to Ten Downing Street.

After the dust settled and a period of reflection, it was clear to me that the election was lost by a total destruction of the “Red Wall” due to the beleaguered populace wanting an immediate end to the vacuous stalemate in Westminster on Brexit which only the Conservatives were truly offering. It was a vote for capitalism and the self rather than for socialism and the many.

One thing that did concern me during the whole period (and even more so today) was the role media and social media organisations play in such events, and how much of our personal data is used against us to influence what we think, how we think and how we subsequently act.

1984

The rules of the game have changed. Take a step back in time and look at the amount of information or personal data that was available to organisations in the past (government, civil service and private organisations). To say it was sparse compared to today is an understatement.

I grew up in the early nineteen seventies:

  • We got the bus to school and work every day, no personal data at all
  • We had newspapers delivered each day which contained information on current affairs, no personal data held other than our local corner shop knowing which publications we preferred
  • We had our post delivered each day with letters and postcards from loved ones, no personal data captured other than offline credit card and bank statements
  • We went to the shops to buy food, clothes and toys, no personal data held other than store receipts
  • We had three television channels with one daily one-hour news bulletin on two of them, no personal data held other than we had a television licence
  • We listened to music on the radio, vinyl, cassette tapes and watched films on video tape (eighties) and at the cinema, no personal data held other than store or picturehouse receipts
  • We had a landline telephone, which allowed us to communicate with others, no personal data captured other than the more left-wing voters with affiliations to certain political groups having their lines tapped (and I know a couple)
  • We borrowed books from the library to enhanced our knowledge on certain topics that interested us, no personal data captured other than which books we had to pay fines on as invariably they were overdue
  • We went on holiday in the U.K due to limited funds to travel abroad, no personal data captured
  • We had a voting card (well my parents did) and placed our X next to our preferred candidate, no personal data captured other than the binary choice (red or blue) we made on the day which made the peg count in election of the day

Life was much more private then, simpler, with only rudimentary individual/consumer profiling available to those who sort it, which in itself was minimal, marketing types really. Not so now. The migration from analogue to digital has heralded an unprecedented technological evolution the likes of which we could only dream of back in the seventies.

Clearly our lives are enriched by the positive aspects of technology advancement:

  • The multitudinous, multifaceted and multifunctional devices we have at our disposal
  • The wealth and depth of information that is available to us via online search engines and thousands of media channels
  • The convenience of online shopping and having any goods delivered the very next day
  • The immersive audio/visual experiences we take part in through online games, streaming films and music from all genres tailored to our particular tastes
  • The majestic and global reach of contacting others via phone/video/email many thousands of miles away making the world a smaller place
  • The ability to pay for goods, services and travel through credit and not cash, via a watch on a wrist, an app on a phone or a contactless payment/travel card
  • The ease of voting online, never having to traipse in the English summer rain to the polling station

IsaacNewton

But as the late and great Isaac Newton famously once said, “To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction” later paraphrased by Albert Einstein (“For every action there is reaction”).

Big data is big business and, in my opinion, a big risk that could lead to a Big Brother.

In the current capitalist/consumerist paradigm we find ourselves in, social and economic profiling by identifying the what we think, the way in which we think it and how we subsequently act and react is something a lot of people are very keen on understanding. Big business and big governments appear to be launching a crusade to uncover everything there is to know about us and how access to that data that can or will influence our actions and reactions.

The vast majority of us buy into that paradigm, myself included (although I am taking active measures to “anonymousise” my digital footprint). Take a step back if you will and see how proactively we are feeding the machine.

Every single digital transaction we make (from Google search, to Amazon purchase, to Facebook like, to Twitter retweet, to Instagram photo check-in and beyond) leaves behind a digital footprint, breadcrumbs of data which can be used to build up a profile of us.

Marry that up with every text or social media message we send, every phone call we make, every Alexa command we utter and we very quickly come to the conclusion that Edward Snowden was right, our social interactions, our online presence is being monitored constantly. We have all experienced an advert popping up on Facebook for something obscure we have just been talking about the day before.

The learned and the well-educated will know that already, but the less well-educated or socially unaware will remain in ignorant bliss. They will be blind to the more subliminal methods organisations are using to profile them, turning them and us into perfect consumers.

Events over the past few months relating to Covid-19 have, in my opinion, taken profiling beyond consumer and economic and are now venturing into a dark realm of social, physical and even DNA profiling. Only yesterday did we hear about the U.K government allowing a private AI company (Faculty) to access sensitive patient data against the rules of GDPR to execute algorithms and produce predictions on how things may materialise and how measures can be taken to combat the pandemic. We also heard that the government are launching a tracking app which will use the GPS signal on the smart phone to monitor the movements of the population.

Whilst I don’t believe that there is a covert operation currently underway towards the creation of an Orwellian-esque New World Order (I can’t see Johnson, Putin, Trump, Xi, Jong Un, Merkel and Macron collectively agreeing about anything just now), we do seem to be setting the foundations of Big Brother via big business and this pandemic, and that is something to keep a very close eye on over the coming days, weeks, months, years.

In closing, take a good long look at the Rehoboam in Westworld Season Three. How do you think something like that would start off, what foundational building blocks would need to put in place?