Jeanette Winterson: When Bankers Rob the World

“Meanwhile we had riots [in the UK]. David Cameron our beloved PM said that they weren’t politically motivated, as though you can have a bunch of bankers rob the world, get bailed out by our taxes, force a global recession, meet with neither punishment nor sanctions, and expect no social consequences.

The message is that a particular class or a particular kind can behave as they like and the rest of us will pay for it. When an underclass riots and behaves as it likes, the police use water canons and kids get 18 months for stealing dustbins and bottles of water.

I hate what happened in the riots but they were nothing compared to the robbery we have all had to put up with from the banks. Pensions are gone, jobs are gone, savings have disappeared. People have lost their homes and their hope. Kids have lost their future, their chance at affordable education, and any sense of justice. They went out and smashed and grabbed. They copied the masters of the universe.

Political unrest means more than organised direct action; it can be a trigger response to an intolerable situation.

Sometimes I walk round the really poor parts of town. Frankly, I don’t know why there aren’t more riots. The toxic message is that life is all about spending power and buying power. You can’t pump that out 24/7 through TV, Web, and Social media and not expect a major mess on your hands when suddenly there is no money. If your only status is your trainers and you can’t buy the trainers what are you going to do? If there are no jobs what are you going to do?

Yes the riots were mindless, malicious, destructive, anti-social. And so was parcelling up junk bonds as A rate security and pushing loans on people who could never repay them. Malicious, destructive, anti-social – but no, it wasn’t mindless – it was done deliberately to turn a profit at the expense of the social order.

And those guys didn’t go to Court, they talked they way around a few Select Committees. They didn’t get fined – they collected their bonuses. They didn’t go to jail – they threatened to leave the country if they were regulated. But none of that was criminal was it?”–Jeanette Winterson, author of Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Bruce Kent to Generals: ‘Don’t wait until you retire to say that wars are illegal or unwinnable.’

Tens of thousands of Brits marched in London’s Trafalgar Square last week demanding that Britain withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The “Time to Go” public demonstration was organized by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the British Muslim Initiative, and Stop the War Coalition. The keynote speaker was Catholic peace campaigner Bruce Kent, vice-chair of Pax Christi/UK.

Like the Obama administration, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said that UK combat troops will be withdrawn, but not until 2015.  Bruce Kent’s speech is below:

“It is of course an honour to be with you today to join my voice to the tens of thousands who are calling for the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan and a negotiated end to that war which seems to be without end.

The war in Afghanistan is expensive, nonsensical and stupid. Our governments past and present do seem to be incredibly stupid when it come to matters of defence. Amazingly, we are in due course to have, at vast expense, two new aircraft carriers. One we will at once sell. Are we now the world’s aircraft carrier suppliers? The other will join the Royal Navy, but for between 5 and 10 years it will have no planes. ‘Yes Minister’ could not think up a more absurd scenario for comic TV.

I am old enough to remember the British empire. Those days are gone. We are not the world’s policeman. If we want a real war to sort out then how about the Congo where millions have died in the last ten years and a UN Peace keeping force seems to be overwhelmed by the problem.

We are meant to be defeating terrorists, but we are manufacturing them by the thousands. We began this enterprise without the authority of the UN on the coat tails of the United States. It is time to end it. If the Afghan Government – as corrupt as any today – wants outside help then it should come from a Muslim state. We in the so called ‘Christian’ West have so wrecked the Middle East for well over 100 years that there is no credit left on our card. It is time to go.

I say this in front of the families and friends of many who have been wounded or killed in this conflict. Those young lives should never have been wasted. Of course they need every help from voluntary and public donations. But the best help we can give to their comrades is to say NO.

A word to generals, admirals and the like. Don’t wait until you retire to say that wars are illegal or unwinnable. Don’t keep silent when politicians act unlawfully. Say NO at the start and do not leave it to those much, much further down the military pecking order to have the courage to refuse. Some of those are with us today. I salute them.

Congratulations on all your efforts. One day we will learn that real peace is only built on justice and the operation of law.”