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Bleats From The Black Sheep Blog






Due to the closure of the Server on which our Blogs were based they are temporarily unavailable. A new Server will be sourced soon, at which point the archived blogs will be reinstated and new entries added. In the meantime, the following archived sample Blog entries have been placed to help explain the inspiration behind, and give a flavour of, the Blogs.


Roots
Posted by: Globalfightback at 01:00, May 25 2012.

When I was a kid I formed a gang. We had hand-drawn cardboard badges, affixed with a safety pin, depicting a muscular arm effortlessly holding a dumbell, and I called it The Strongo Club. The reasons why this name was chosen are lost in the mists of time, but it was possibly something to do with an attempt to intimidate the rival (and far more popular) gang in class with a show of prepubescent machismo. It was never a popular gang, being eclipsed by the charisma of my rival gang leader, with membership numbers at the peak of its success failing to top a lofty half dozen, and languishing for the most part at 3 or 4. This had its advantages, for it made the production of the handwritten club magazines a much less arduous affair!

The Strongo Club wasn't one of those gangs that sought to wreak havoc amongst the unsuspecting citizens of the wider world: in fact, it was quite the opposite. For some inexplicable reason, even way back then, as I was encapsulated in the childhood idyll of Sixties Britain, I had some notion of doing something to somehow make the world a better place (although it was not without its subterfuge, as we deviously raided the rival gang leader's desk during lunchtimes to find the key to crack their secret code!). As it was, our greatest, and possibly only, success was rescuing a ball from a stream in the local valley (which we patrolled, armed with penknives and catapults, like some unsuspecting vigilantes) because the guy's dog had refused to fetch it. We went home with effusive joy that evening, feeling that the world had somehow been enhanced - and it probably had, in our hearts. Other highlights of the gang's short-lived history included a Club outing to Chester, where we walked around the city museum and the Roman walls, feeling ever so adult because we had been let off the leash to explore the wider world for ourselves, trying to learn a little bit about how it all fitted together.

This website, globalfightback.org, was born from that ancient motivation: to somehow help make the world a better place; and so it seemed fitting that, after all these decades, The Strongo Club should rise from the ashes. If over the coming years this website, through its membership, can help in some little way to further the cause of greater justice and equality in the world (if only by shifting the mindset of all of us who participate towards a greater empathy for our world, and all that inhabits it), it will not be a lost cause.




A Savage In A Suit
Posted by: Globalfightback at 01:00, May 31 2012.

I've watched with a combination of growing horror and sadness the ongoing trial of Anders Behring Breivik, the self-confessed mass-murderer of 77 people, mainly children, on 22nd July 2011. It is an atrocity that probably ranks amongst the worst in recorded history, but unfortunately one that has plenty of precedents.

On his first day in court this young man presented himself as the very essence of respectability and refinement, with his smartly groomed hair, his sharp suit, and calm, unintimidating expression. But that was just an outer veil: visual references I have been conditioned into associating with 'goodness', and I should have learned long ago that a man in a sharp suit is not necessarily the most likeable of persons.

After initial horror over his brazen nazi salutes to the Court there was a moment when, I thought, I caught a glimpse of some redeeming light within him. He was watching his own propaganda video, a manifesto of his beliefs, and he was crying! There was, it seemed, some spark of humanity locked deep down inside, some sense of remorse. When I discovered the following day that he had actually, by his own admission, been crying with pride, I realised that I had looked upon the face of cold self-centredness, indeed, by any way in which I tried to juggle it, of madness. Madness is a partly subjective term, for all values have always been open to debate, but in the sense that I would use it, in the context of humanity having some sort of ethical awareness that raises us above other animals, madness, insanity even, is the only conclusion I could reach. Breivik is himself in denial over this, and even medical opinion is divided: it is left to a court of law, of philosophers perhaps, to decide.

The trouble is, we can argue anything with words. Words are just vehicles for thought that we can dress up in a sharp suit to make any thought, any argument or belief-system, appear refined, respectable, beneficent. For words without soul are barely human at all. Millions have been wooed by the clever words of people like Breivik, and followed them zealously along the road to outrage, death, and, perhaps, perdition. Many more, walking along a similar route, have distorted the well-meaning words of religious and philosophical tracts and breathed new stone-hearted life into them.

Breivik, it seems to me, is living testimony to why we all need to look deep within ourselves for core values; why we should always view with caution the beguiling words that are uttered by the voice of another, or consigned to the written page (yes, even those you read now); and why we need to cherish, strengthen, and uphold a concept of democracy that will act as a filter, a counterweight, to those that choose not to. For as long as people like Breivik's vision of goodness is most peoples' vision of hell on earth, democracy will be a rampart; a major part of our defences to insulate us from the worst excesses of sophisticated savagery.





This Is Not A Cinema Show
Posted by: Globalfightback at 01:00, June 2 2012.

I turn the News on, and each day the pictures come in: dumbfounded i watch, as the situation in Syria goes from bad to worse. It's a story that's been told before, in a multitude of nations: a malevolent dictatorship tries to oppress the masses, and in increasing desperation both sides use increasing degrees of barbarity. More savages in suits. It's a battle that ultimately, history tells us, the regime will surely lose, but not before the cost in human lives has left another deep and immutable scar on the human race. That, one could argue, has already happened, the day the very first lives were annihilated: for who can evaluate the lost potential of one single life?

Yet, once again, the world watches on ineptly, hopelessly. The sanctity of national boundaries and political and economic alliances overrides the impulse of human decency. The United Nations send in 'observers' to watch and record the horror for the statistical records, and to report back to the Assembly like some righteous prefects overseeing a playground brawl. Do they really think that this will put an end to the violence? No, because the world knows - they have seen the record book - that ultimately the United Nations is a shackled force, like a boxer with one hand tied behind his back and a rope around his waist tethering him to the guiderope: he can shout and wave his fist at you, but as long as you keep him at arms length he is ultimately ineffectual. Only occasionally will his sponsors, the corporation of nation states that form a carefully cultivated alliance of vested interests, let him off the leash for a little sortie, watching with anxious eyes lest the collateral damage threatens their own wellbeing: for the boxer is merely an icon of the goodly (godly even) image they wish to present to the world, while beneath the surface their real envoys wrestle it out in a mud-pit: a bonding exercise of money and power.

We watch it all on the screen: to many of us it's about some faraway place. But this is not a cinema show. Real lives are being lost, whilst the leaders of the world, our so-called representatives, vacillate and equivocate. And until we have a real united nations, a global alliance of conscience rather than pragmatism and corporate vested interest, the death toll of innocents will just be ever inflating security on the balance sheet of multinational business pacts.





Human Greed: You Can Bank On It
Posted by: Globalfightback at 01:00, June 28 2012.

In the UK, the big Banks are in trouble again, with Barclays accused of fixing interest rates, and others under investigation.

It comes as no surprise to me. When it comes to the corporate giants, and many smaller players too, the pursuit of profit is the pursuit of greed. It's probably inherent in us all; some of us are weaker, and/or more morally corrupt, and so pursue it further.

Let’s face it, the whole concept of capitalism is flawed: it panders to the qualities within the human race that have perpetuated the endless cycle of fear, distrust, betrayal and war. Its advocates claim that it produces healthy competition, which increases choice and keeps prices down. No. That's just a by-product. The ultimate aim of most companies is to out-muscle the competition and rise to the top. But this isn't the rugby fields of Eton, it's the real world, with peoples' livelihoods at stake. Prices are only kept low to beat the competition. The ultimate end of this, without controls, is that the most successful companies prosper and the others go to the wall. All very good so far, perhaps: if a company isn't efficient at doing what it's doing, maybe it should fail. But, apart from the human cost to employees, once one company has kicked its competitors into touch and has a monopoly, there is no longer any incentive to keep prices down: they have the market at their mercy; natural greed rises to the surface, and the tendency is to charge as much as they can get away with. Another aspect of this is the way successful brand names add a premium to the price of their product that is far in excess of the real added value as a successful product, and a total distortion of the true differential between it and less successful brands, including supermarket own-brand products. If the public are willing to pay the price then companies will charge it, and they will cultivate your willingness to pay that premium by devious advertising: beware the market researchers trying to pick your brains in the streets, because the information they garner may well be used to further manipulate the market in favour of the producer at the expense of the consumer.

As a result of all this, governments have to initiate artificial controls - monopoly commissions and such; and even the advertising mentioned above has to be controlled to ensure its honesty. As i say, capitalism is inherently flawed - it doesn't really work without these controls - and, it could be argued, morally bankrupt, because it's driven by greed rather than a genuine desire to provide service and value for money. The false smiles are there to see in so many of those that are trying to sell you something primarily for their own gain.

When companies take this a stage further and (unable to eliminate each other due to either state controls or just an equal ability at playing the game) form cartels, this unhealthy pursuit of monetary wealth becomes both sinister and obscene. It isn't just the Banks either, of course: the fiasco surrounding the shoddy dealings between News Corp and the UK Government, and suspicions of price-fixing amongst the privatised UK utility companies, are just two of many more examples of how the pursuit of profit raises a fog in which it's difficult to see whether fair play has been abandoned in favour of hacking down both opposing players and innocent bystanders (the public) behind the referee's back. We've even had, at the recent Rio Environmental Summit, corporate drinks giants such as Coca Cola and Nestlé mounting pressure for governments to start pricing water, no doubt seeing this free-flowing resource as akin to unfair competition. But water isn't a product to be traded on commodity markets: it's a pre-requisite for life. It just beggars belief. Where will it end - some kind of Soylent Green scenario?

Neither is it just the big corporate players. Avaaz are currently running a campaign against the slaughter of African lions to make bogus sex potions, and we've all heard similar stories from across the globe before. Where's there's money there's blood it seems.

People all over the world are beginning to question whether capitalism has had its day, although it's so finely interwoven into the economic systems of the Western World (and much of the emerging countries of Asia too) that the majority can see no alternative, and look upon the towering monoliths of corporate headquarters as if they are cathedrals worthy of homage. Maybe it's time to leave the old ways behind and look for a better way: one which isn't rotten at the core with the corruption of greed; one which, furthermore, doesn't see the world's resources as commodities to be sold to the highest bidders.





Starstruck
Posted by: Globalfightback at 01:00, September 18 2012.

We didn't want to say goodbye, my best friend and I, so we stood on the little sward of grass between the garden gate and the sodium lamp, looking upwards at the universe and chatting excitedly about the future. We were only about eleven, and we had no past to talk about really, or at least not one that at that golden moment of childhood either called back to us or haunted us. It was a time of looking forward, and we lived in an age where the sky seemed to be the limit - and that sky itself seemed limitless.

Of course, our view of that sky was in itself limited, by both the sodium lamp and our own naivety. But we could see countless stars, and in the cold crisp nights of the approaching winter even the milky way was visible in our little corner of an industrial town in the north west of England. We talked about life on other worlds, about UFO's and all sorts of similar wonders, and we co-wrote a play about an alien visitation and recorded it on an old battery-powered reel to reel tape recorder; and we believed, with the open eyes and the open minds of children: even though Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had not yet walked on the moon, we believed that anything was possible; maybe even lasting peace on Earth. We wondered what had been before the beginning of the universe, and how long it had existed in that timeless void, and pondered that, if the universe had an end, what lay beyond it, and how far did it go?

Eventually, as we headed into that black-hole maelstrom of puberty, we grew apart and went our separate ways. Everyone, it seems, grows apart in the end: in our ever-changing inner universes our stars seem to be ever hurtling away from whatever point in time we may have started from where once we had common ground. To those lucky few of you who have managed to stay the power of that force, and find some constructive stasis where you can revolve around each other: cherish what you have, and hold on to it, for it is precious and rare.

It's a long time since I last saw my old friend, but I hope that he retains, like me, some sense of wonder for the beautiful and magical universe in which we live. Our friendship predated the internet, but I guess that such advances were no surprise to either of us. I hope that before either of our lives come to an end, even though we'll never reach any of those stars we dreamed then that we might travel to, we will be able to look back at a world that has made a progress beyond the technological, and that all the scientific wonders that we marvelled at have in some small way at least been used constructively to bring greater peace and harmony to our world.

Neil Armstrong, who died recently, was an icon of our time, and an ambassador for the potential good of the human race. Maybe one day future generations will populate the wider universe; but unless we have got our own house in order beforehand there is a danger that the seeds we take with us will be malignant.

I don’t want to witter but I can’t help bleating!