Friday, 11 April 2014

What some people have said about the book 
Changing Generations - Part 2

‘Where I live people are all northern white working class. They discriminate against me because I’m a southerner and am educated.’

The world is full of conflicts between people who to others might look the same as each other. Between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. Between Serbs, Croats, Slovaks and Bosnians in the former Balkans. People are conscious of oppression by people who they see as having more privileges and power in the human part of the Great Chain of Being. They will use non-violent means, such as lobbying and strikes, to get justice. If they are still ignored some will move to violent action, such as the attacks on the World Trade Centre, in order to get their grievances paid attention to. Victims may be portrayed by the status quo as ‘innocent’, but to oppressed people they are complicit with the work of globally oppressive institutions and benefiting from an oppressive system.

Sadly, people who have been greatly oppressed can themselves in turn become oppressors of others. Adolf Hitler suffered at the hands of an abusive father amidst strong rumours that Hitler’s grandfather was a Jew who had conceived his father with a mistress. The result was to develop from a child’s fury into acting like his father and taking vengeance on a worldwide scale.

People of both genders and of all ethnic backgrounds can be both oppressed people and oppressors. But some oppression has bigger consequences than others and most effort and focus should be given to stopping the oppression with the biggest consequences. Imposing the form of capitalist system that we have worldwide caused the wealth differential per person in the developed world compared with people in the underdeveloped world to grow from 3 times in 1820 to 72 times in 1992. The action to maintain this differential is reaping a boomerang effect among people in the West who formerly benefitted from the system. Not only are white working class people struggling to get jobs but so are white middle class people, whether young or older. The earlier a country industrialised the less able it is to compete as a mature economy, particularly when its manufacturing base has been ripped away. It is time we listened to people movements across the world demanding a more just and sustainable economic system.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

What some people have said about the book Changing Generations.

It’s not relevant to me!’

It’s all about Black people’. I don’t think I did a good job of explaining what I meant to say. What I meant to say was, ‘We need practical ways to get rid of poverty and injustice in UK and the world. A major change in Western culture in my lifetime has been the move from modern to postmodern in thinking and culture. How valid are my ways of thinking as a white, modern, middle class man in a multicultural world? How can I find ways to critique my thinking and so find better ideas about how best to change the world? ‘

Andy Hickford says you need someone from outside your culture to critique your culture. He suggests postmoderns should critique modern thinking. From the context of his writing, he seems to only refer to men and white people, since women and people of other ethnic backgrounds are not specifically mentioned. I find that white postmodern men are not able to critique white or male thinking and behaviour. A recent campaign has been ‘Every Action Has Consequences (EACH)’ where one man’s drinking habits and consequent inability to control his actions led to another man’s death. I feel we need women to critique male thinking because 
they have experience of and have to live with the consequences of male behaviour. I believe we need Black and Asian people to critique white thinking because they daily have to engage with the results of white men’s thinking and behaviour. This reflects my finding that people’s experience of oppression is a better guide to finding solutions to oppression than using traditional Western scientific objectivity to find solutions.

So I believe Black and Asian and women’s thinking needs to be listened to and learnt from if we are to find solutions to world poverty and injustice. And it’s also crucial if we are to find solutions that benefit everyone rather than just a few people. A criticism of the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s was that it only uplifted white women of middle and upper class background. It did nothing for white working class women or for women of other ethnicities. It is only by uplifting people at the bottom of the UK and world’s social strata that all the other levels above will be raised up. If we are white and working class we need Black and Asian working class people to be raised up or they will always be trying to get things we have because they, rightly, feel they are entitled to the same privileges in life that we have.

So this book is really about white people. It gives the other side of the story, how Black and Asian people and women feel about what white men do to them on a daily basis and how they want them to put wrong things right, in UK and the world. And it looks at the barriers that white people put up, whether they realise it or not, to keep power over Black and Asian people.