I’ve read two books recently, that I really liked, and fall together in a quite unexpected way. The first, about how the developed world treats the developing, Tyranny of Experts by Bill Easterly I was always going to like, being a big fan of his for many, many years. A follow-up of sorts to ‘White Man’s Burden’, and another book that reminded me that most people ask the wrong questions. The other was Cruel Britannia, a history of how the British have involved themselves in torture over the years.
You’re tempting me
to all of life and all its pleasure
take me to the dream
to the highs and the depths of my soul
I also want to tie my thoughts on these two books in with me (as it is all about me, remember), history, Irish Republicanism, moral outrage and justice. While I type this, mostly it will be about justice. Whether it turns out like that, I don’t know, but remember it was supposed to be. As, for those who know me, I hold justice in very, very high regard. This is different from fairness, as that is relative. You can’t have a universal fair application, as inherently someone will lose out, and that isn’t fair to them. It isn’t fair that I pay taxes, as that means I have to deny my family certain things. is that fair to me? No, not at all. But we live in a society that (supposedly) helps protect the weak and vunerable, so I pay my dues. An awful lot of them, but that is for another time.
Here we free thoughts inside
giving up for giving time
but a world without end
where no soul can descend
there will be no sumertime
Let’s begin with my roots, the history of my land, and justice. Growing up, there were lots of things I didn’t, couldn’t, understand. Given the thread of this post, we’ll stick with justice, not everything else. It offended me that everyone on that (very) small patch of a (very) small island were treated differently.
One of my earliest memories is being kicked off my bike by bigger lads, and being asked if I was kaff-lick or praddy-sent. I hadn’t a clue what they were on about, it must have been obvious from my response, so they left me, as I don’t remember getting a beating. But why would it make a difference what I was? What had that to do with it? Given I was a child of The Troubles, it wouldn’t be long before I would know what that was all about. Even after we moved further out into the countryside, it was never far away.
How lost lifes been
afraid of waking up
so afraid to take the dream
And as soon as I understood why themmuns had grievances against usuns, I was angry. Leaving aside the bombings, shootings and beatings, why the majority ruling class (Protestants) didn’t treat the minority (Catholics) with justice was odd to me. Discrimination was rife, and that was wrong. Collusion and coverups by the State? Sort that out, clamp down on it, arrest and try those doing that. (I’ll ignore the fact that maybe, perhaps, you know, the judical system might have been corrupt too. I’d sort that one out as well.) If the justice system was seen to work, and give recourse to everyone (as it should) then we could treat those still involved in the physical force tradition in the same way. Arrest and try them. To the same standards we hold the State forces. No exemptions. To my mind, it was easy.
Strip out discrimination in housing. Strip it out in (State) discrimination (as I believe in discriminating. I don’t want everyone to be my friend, I reserve the right to call out people as dicks. I’ll discriminate. But justice should be blind, but not be turning a blind eye). Strip out those grievances. Those shouldn’t be grievances, that I could never get. We have laws. Apply them. To one and all. It would also negate the MOPEry, the whataboutery. Oh, wait, MOPE. Most Oppressed People Ever. Sorry, I forget, dear reader, you might not be as familiar with the nuances, acronymns and twisted alleys of Norn Iron politics.
Shapes of angels the night casts
lie dead but dreaming in my past
and their here they want to meet you
they want to play with you so take the dream
But what did I know? I was just some kid who even then advocated getting Sinn Fein on television for debating with. How can you argue against someone if you don’t let them speak? Oh, they are saying we should bomb, maim and kill? Then let them say that, in the open, and have been see them for what they are. Oh, they are saying their community is being harrassed and subjucated by The State? Then investigate that, and weed it out. Justice.
Take the dream
take the dream
can’t break free
I can’t break free
Given the history of the British in Ireland, there was obviously going to be mention of this in ‘Cruel Britannia’. Torture goes on all across the world, since the dawn of time, but I am not going to fall in to whataboutery, and mention America, Syria, China, or anywhere else. This is about the British. How could right-thinking, supposedly fair-play chaps engage in such things? It is the hyposcrisy of it all. What would I do if I were in charge of intelligence-gathering? Not torture. Never that. I believe in open government, and justice. See the theme here yet? And free speech. You are offended by what I say? boohoo. It gets murky with hate speech and encitement, as I wouldn’t really clamp down on that, as I believe in individual responsibility (and answering for your own actions), but abuse of power coupled with encitement can be dangerous.
Then again, we can deal with that. Justice.
And I hear them call they want to plauge you
their here once more they want to lay with you
they want to take you to the shame of your past
take the dream
And we don’t deal with the Third World in a just way, it is all protectionism. And paternalism. To misquote several people, mostly Professor Easterly, what is good for Gambia isn’t necessarily good for a Gambian. People need to have rights, and access to justice. (Not as tenuous a connection to tie these threads together as you might think, but it hasn’t progressed quite the way I was intending, given I went on longer about the old country that I intended.)
Whenever I hear of cases where The West uses its dominant position to push through their own agendas, I get annoyed. But wait, wouldn’t some of this…protectionism protect me and mine, my job and those around me, their jobs too? If we open up our markets, we will just get dragged down, no? No. We apply the same rules to us as them. There are no usuns and themuns. Justice. For one, and the same for the other.
We’re but fools of our fate
on this earth I shall wait
by the roots of my soul
I am loosing control
take the dream
I am not big on revenge, though. Sometimes that is what people want, an eye for an eye. I believe in forgiveness, once there is repentance. Forget? Oh no, regardless of anything else, my race remembers, which is part of their problem. Though it wouldn’t be, if there was equal access to justice.
We treated the Third World poorly. We treated our minorities poorly. We can, and should, admit that. But do we set up lots of Truth and Reconciliation commissions? Do we prosecute old (white) men for misdeeds decades past? Tricky. I’d say yes. Or, rather, I’d say we apply the same procedures of justice to them all. No whataboutery. Shine the same standard everywhere.
The sleepers in you shapes of angels
so deep within you
feel your soul drowning
unloosen your soul drowning
drowning - drowning in waters of reality
The problem is, and I have had this problem over the years, is it is hard to debate with those who have been oppressed for so long, whether real, imagined or otherwise. (‘Otherwise’ being real, then the problem goes away, but the, to use an appropriate North Irish interpretation of it, bitterness doesn’t.)
There are no easy solutions to all this. But the first step is to make sure there is justice. To make sure no one is treated differently before a court of law. To make sure the State doesn’t discriminate (as it will only really discriminate against the lower classes, the underclasses, the ones it should be helping the most, not the like of me, educated middle-class affluent. Though I wasn’t always those things, let me tell you). To make sure everyone realises these are truths.
Tell me what is reality
tell me tell me thoughts of god
do dreams fall from god
tell me what dreams may come
But it is alright for me, I am educated, middle-class and affluent (after a fashion, in the grand scheme of things, but I am by no means rich. I still have to work, couldn’t afford to not be working, even for a month). But it shouldn’t be alright for me and me alone. What would happen if I was lifted by Special Branch, accused of something I wasn’t told about, and kept in the dark? I am under no illusions it could happen. It happens to others.
Guantanamo Bay? I’d have them appearing before a court. Not hidden away. Justice, even for our enemies. Daylight needs to be shone on the dark corners. Give them their day before a judge. If you have nothing on them to hold them, let them go. If you have something on them, charge them and try them. Is it really that hard? Why deny justice to some? Apply it, and apply it everywhere. …and Justice for all.
Break free thoughts all gone
we’re all come down
thoughts of god
fall from god
tell me what dreams may come
But what do I know? What dreams may come?