The parliamentary Labour party and its mouthpiece, the Guardian, are running a campaign against Corbyn under the guise of his competence as leader. First it was Heidi Alexander yesterday, and today it is Sadiq Khan. It has been a constant theme of Owen Smith. And of course it started with the vote of no confidence, and Tom Watson set the seed leading the no confidence vote and suggesting Corbyn should resign.

Let us be clear, whether Corbyn is a competent leader or not the issue concerns their parliamentary seats. The majority of these opportunists came to power as Blair’s lackeys. Blair’s crackdown on democracy within the party started from the manipulation of ward opportunists all the way up through the party. Somewhere I read that Corbyn will work on a reselection process so these opportunists are all scared for their seats. So they blame Corbyn as leader.

They are trying to affect the grassroots support for Corbyn by saying that under Corbyn Labour cannot win an election. This might well be true but all the attacks that undermine Corbyn are much more damaging than anything Corbyn can do. Electorally where the Labour party will stand after his leadership victory will be hard to judge.

All the indicators are that he will win the leadership, and when the reselection process goes ahead the worst sort of Blairite will be weeded out. Tactically it would be sound for the Tories to call an election when Labour is low although they are probably seeing how much damage the Labour leadership will do first. At the same time they will judge whether Corbyn has got wider mass democratic support. If, as I surmise, that election increases Tory power there would be even further pressure on Corbyn but it looks as if he is prepared to hold strong. It is important that he does because he is standing for genuine democracy against the Veil.

This is a battle for democracy – not for a leader Corbyn, let us hope democracy wins against the Veil. I sorely hope it does. Forces have come together around Corbyn, and I feel how these forces play out is very important for the UK. If people don’t rally around Corbyn and Labour returns to opportunism 1%-power through the Veil will have been cemented. Where will such a figurehead arise again? The bigger issue is whether in the long term people can overthrow the 1% without violence. Sanders at the moment has lost in America so an electoral overthrow of the Veil did not occur there, can there be an electoral overthrow of the Veil in the UK? (Written 21st August)

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

In the last blog I discussed Brad’s blog on cultural appropriation.
I do not like misuse and misapplication of such terminology “cultural
appropriation” because it muddies already difficult waters – encouraging anger
from the wrongfully-accused. It is my view (here I disagree with Brad) that
cultural appropriation is a serious problem. Many years ago I was helped by
various black people to overcome the racism I grew up with in a white
middle-class community. Part of that racism included making erroneous
judgements about black culture that I had received from my family and community – this would be fitted into what is called cultural appropriation. With what I later learnt from black people such appropriation was a serious problem to them. [I should note here that my learning initially occurred in the late 70s, and my conclusions might not be appropriate now as race relations have changed. Having said that there is a new report by the EHRC (new CRE) which reads to me that little has changed.]

I am now prepared to make statements concerning black people or culture
although I avoid doing so. And the reason I am prepared to make such statements is that I would make sure that I know that black people would be prepared to make the same statements – some if not all. I would therefore not be making judgements in “white” isolation but repeating views of black people. I would use the term cultural description rather than cultural appropriation as terminology for my approach as I would be describing my approach and not asking black people to behave the way I tell them.

Here is an old chestnut that I am still prepared to comment on. I hate the use
of the words “nigga, nigger, niggaz” by black people. I understand that the
development of the use of such words by the black people concerned was an
appropriation of the form “we own the use of the word and it is only to be used
by black people”. I know there are many black people who oppose the use of such words by black people – perhaps the most outspoken being Oprah, and because some black people are critical I feel I have the right to voice such criticism. BUT this is not appropriation, it is a description of my feelings, I am not telling any black person what words they should use to describe themselves. I would be critical of any white person who used those words, and would hope I would never use such words inappropriately.

This use of the word “nigga” by black people falls into a wider category of inappropriate usage that is worth considering. The global 1% system encourages self-deprecation within groups as a means of divide-and-rule repression. Perhaps the most obvious example is the “Beyonce” approach – and I do not choose Beyonce because she is black but because she is a woman. In this argument I use Bell Hooks for support as she discussed it here – examined in my blog here. Beyonce is a beautiful black woman who takes advantage of her beauty in her career and to increase her own wealth – she is a talented singer as well! Her image, and the consequential implication that chauvinist society could make of what a successful woman could look like, adds to the pressures BigFashion exploits. When I examined the issue of woman and her body, I became aware of how much a woman’s body is exploited by BigFashion, and how there are serious consequences of such exploitation such as the death of Karen Carpenter (anorexia), and the image problems that Jane Fonda discusses including bolemia. Such image issues are a consequence of a chauvinist society and in the view of Bell Hooks and others Beyonce contributes to this. [For balance I should note that in the (black women’s) panel where this wasdiscussed Bell Hooks was in the minority.] It helps the 1% system for black people to use language such as “nigga”, language that appears deprecating to some white people and despite the black ownership described above enables some white people to misuse the term, and for these reasons I am against such usage. But if black people choose to do so I accept it however much I dislike it.

Bearing in mind this background on cultural appropriations (please note I do not consider Brad’s description of Buddhism as cultural appropriation as discussed in the last blog), I have to point out that I missed this on the first time of reading “It’s a clever way of justifying racism in the guise of being anti-racist”; this omission was an important error. When it comes to racism in white cultures such as the US or Europe, in my view the response by black people to the racism of these cultures of itself ought not to be called racism. There is the maxim “Prejudice + Power = Racism” that needs to be understood in this context. In response to the historical racist treatment that prevails in white societies there has developed responses such as the use of the term “honkie” [again I have to note that my understanding of these issues dates from the 70s and 80s as I have not lived in white society since 1992]. Whilst on an individual level the experience of such personal prejudice is both uncomfortable and sometimes violent, it has to be understood that, within the context of the power of the racism of white society, negative personal responses by black people are those of prejudice (a prejudiced reaction) however distasteful they might be. In the context of the facebook quote (in this Brad blog) “No please white American dude ….”, if this is written by a black person please examine what I have written in the last blog on cultural appropriation. But even if that is disagreed with, I suggest to Brad that the facebook quote only contains prejudice and not racism.

The effect of 1%-power that underlies our society is something I have repeatedly discussed – see Occupy view – when examining Brad’s work. In terms of race issues that power becomes the racism of white people, to give parity (implied in this quote “It’s a clever way ….”) on a systemic level shows a limitation of understanding – a Guardian view. As for this:- “(Cultural appropriation) says that cultures and races should never mix — that “white people” should only like “white people” stuff, that “black people” should only like “black people” stuff, etc. “Some time in the 80s I watched a TV special made by the Ku Klux Klan. Their claim was that they didn’t think “white people” were necessarily superior, just that the races should not mix. The idea of “cultural appropriation” says pretty much the same thing”. In my younger days, Brad, I would have described this as racist. It makes me angry enough to question whether monks should stay in cloisters, at least there they then have an excuse for what can only be described as “ignorance”. It is time, Brad, to make the effort to learn from black people why cultural appropriation (in its proper context) is an issue, and study why anti-racists use (used to use?) “Prejudice + Power = Racism”.

This racist comment creates a division for me – I always knew there was something there but had tried to avoid it; if the facebook quote was from a black person, I would suggest that s/he also recognised racism in Brad but in my view applied that awareness in the wrong place. Previously I have tried not to be contentious with Brad because I think his approach is so important for monks in general. But monks need to listen to lay people over issues that their own cloistered lifestyle and beneficent awareness makes it difficult to understand. Marx talks of the alienation that comes from wage-slavery, and the awareness that follows from that alienation. You have to feel the powerlessness of wage-slavery to deeply understand what sort of system we live in. I have avoided being definitive about accepting the Occupy view because such definitiveness is divisive but racist comments are far more divisive and racist comments cannot be tolerated. If Brad’s liberal or Guardian view is unable to transcend to an understanding of the power of the 1% and the pervasive influence of that power in all areas of society, if Brad is unable to listen to those who have made this political transcendence, I have to question whether he truly has the right to be a monk out of cloisters. I don’t know where I stand on him – his books – at the moment. A great disappointment.

Brad, there is an obvious indicator. How can it possibly be acceptable to use the KKK in support of an argument when discussing race? Isn’t thinking the same as the KKK a wake-up call? What mistake in your thinking enables you to agree with them? An emotional block?

Maybe I can learn from his Buddhism and ignore his ignorance. Previously I thought Brad would be the last person I would say that of. Maybe monks can never make that political transcendence because of their lifestyle and awareness, maybe they belong in cloisters leaving lay people forced to earn a living to apply the theoretical understanding of Buddhism to daily life. In cloisters it appears to me that monks do not experience the reality of daily life (I would include here monks such as Brad who live in the wider community). Through meditation their minds become sharp, and with that sharpness they apply this to analysis of their meditation. They apply this same sharpness to daily life but their experience of daily life is not the same as that of most people. Most people work within a hierarchy of business or institution in which compromise is the byword. Policies based on profit established at the top (influenced by the 1%) become everyday realities that people are forced to adhere to. Consider people who meet monks. They are not there to demand compliance with policy, they go to learn about Buddhism and hopefully apply zazen. These people live with the realities of wage-slavery and can readily understand the power of the 1%, but in meeting monks they are seeking understanding in a completely different reality.

How does a monk then judge the Occupy view? I used the term political transcendence above (discussed in a later blog). I am specifically describing the jump in understanding between those with the Guardian or liberal view, in which there is hope that good action can bring about meaningful social change, and the Occupy view in which much more radical means are described in order to bring about change. The difference is a question of intention, the Guardian view thinks that things are going wrong but good action can make it go right, the Occupy view recognises that the system is there by intention and has to be radically altered. Why would a monk want to be associated with those who seek a violent overthrow? And yet those people would have an Occupy view. When a monk meets the good side of people it is so hard to see the reality of what they are forced to do in their daily lives because of compromise. From the times we are born we are taught to live with compromise within ourselves. We become at ease with compromising, and when we meet people such as monks who seek right action from us we genuinely see ourselves as trying to be good and naturally convey this to a monk. How can monks see the truth about us when we don’t see the truth in ourselves? I seek people who have made a dual transcendence, the spiritual transcendence of those who have moved from the sankara-khanda, analytical intellectual minds, to insight, and the political transcendence in which liberal reactions to injustice transform to the Occupy acceptance of neo-liberal oppression. Perhaps that is too much to ask as people usually go one way or the other, spiritual or political.

Brad has just written another blog purely on zazen. Previously I would have read this without any doubt but if after years of zazen he can still have such a wrong view on race I have no confidence. The end of Brad for me????????????? And I’ve just bought his books, and planned to study “jerk” and Shobogenzo in parallel!!

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.


Brad wrote this blog in response to an accusation of cultural appropriation. The Buddhist theme of the blog is one that I support, but I would also ask if what Brad did fits in within the category of cultural appropriation.

Firstly Brad described Buddhism as a “religion” that examined the approach that enables us all to be “Buddhas”. It is my understanding that at the root all Buddhisms accept this, so how can it be considered religious appropriation?

Secondly I do not consider that a religion is a culture. Religious practices might make up part of cultural practice but on its own I would not consider religion a culture. Therefore in my view description of a religion as “cultural” is a misdirection, how culture applies to Buddhism is discussed below.

I want here to discuss “western” Buddhism, and I have previously felt that there is appropriation going on there. Let me expand, but first I need context. There is what the Buddha taught. Theravada believes they go back to the source, and that others, such as Zen (including the Soto Zen of Brad), are all revisions. But there are even doubts about the Theravada claims because no-one wrote down when he was saying (no tape-recorders!). Theravada justifications that they follow what the Buddha taught are based on the integrity of oral transmission, and that is maybe 50 years after his death. If you read what Brad describes in Bendowa from “Don’t be a Jerk”, what travelled to China and then Japan cannot be rigorously supported. And if you read his opening to Chapter 3 on the Heart sutra, there is even less rigour for such an important work. If you describe Buddhism as what the Buddha taught, it is very hard to be definitive.

But the problems don’t stop there. If you examine the way Buddhism is practised in the East you have great differences, I personally describe these Buddhisms as cultural. There is a kind of underlying Buddhist ideology connected with what the Buddha taught, and different cultures apply that underlying ideology within their own cultural framework. Hence we have very different Buddhisms practised in Tibet, Japan, Thailand and Sri Lanka. I have seen Tibet and Thailand at first hand – I live in Thailand, and to be honest I find it hard to recognise it as Buddhism. Yet Thailand is proud to call itself a Buddhist country, and I would not dispute that – nor even judge the statement.

To suggest that there is cultural appropriation of Buddhism anywhere is not appropriate.

I noted in the Bendowa blog that Brad is guilty of describing his own Buddhism as Buddhism. At the time I noted that it might just be habit, he speaks to audiences interested in Soto Zen, it would be tedious to continually refer to it in the correct manner of “the Buddhism he follows”. If it is not out of tedium then it is arrogant and inappropriate. We all make a decision as to which aspects of Buddhism we consider the truth for us, it is natural to then call that Buddhism. But if we cannot see that there are multifarious Buddhisms and cannot show tolerance to them, then the question of tolerance and arrogance has to arise.

When I think of western Buddhism I do feel there is arrogance. There appears to be an intellectual abstraction process that goes on in what I perceive of western Buddhism. Intellectuals examine the cultural practices of Buddhism, abstract the culture from the process and then decide this is what Buddhism is. This is the intellectual arrogance I refer to. I believe this intellectual arrogance is at the root of what is loosely known as western Buddhism. And this type of intellectual arrogance is common within academia, and I am not surprised that someone might refer to it as white Buddhism with some truth.

Because of what I will be saying I do not feel Brad is doing this. I surmise that Brad has studied Soto Zen in Japan, has been a part of bringing it back to the West, and has been so immersed in his own version of Soto Zen Buddhism that he has developed an approach that says his version of Buddhism is Buddhism. I further surmise that his single-mindedness that his sect’s version of Zen is Buddhism is a sin of omission rather than arrogance.

I therefore disagree with the assessment that Brad’s “white Buddhism” is cultural appropriation as asserted in the facebook quote “No please white American dude ….”, but ….

And it is a big BUT I feel there is so much more to the facebook quote and response, and this is significantly worrying and discussed in the next blog.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

Corbyn and Trots

Posted: 10/08/2016 in Corbyn, Democracy, Struggle

Tom Watson is attacking Corbyn for Trots.

Trot manipulation is a judgement call in the same way as Blairites might call his manipulation of the party democratic – it depends on numbers on whether Corbyn support is genuine mass movement. Corbyn has a history of Trot support typified by the best being Socialist Conference discussed here. It is very hard to assess whether Corbyn support is Trot as Trots blow hard and loud. If the support is Trot it is a deal breaker but of course Tom Watson would know this – and it would not be unexpected to ses this “Trot spectre” to be a manipulation on his part.

Is Corbyn’s supprt mass movement? I think “yes” – my judgement call. Why? Because the support is based on mass movement alienation from the neo-liberal mainstream that Blair embraced.

But even if I am wrong I think the rules have changed. Party stalwarts such as Watson are of a mindset that existed when I was active, this was at the time when Trots were splitting the party, when neo-liberal engendered apathy allowed the Trots to have too great an influence. Since then Blair has lurched the party so far to the right that genuine mass movement support is splitting from the mainstream right where Blair put the party. But the mass movement is scared to follow where its notional leaders go – it is almost a group of Bolshevik intellectuals who are backing Corbyn – and comrades have always seen Bolsheviks as being at the core of the mass movement.

The “Trot Entry” tactic is again a scare of the right-wing parliamentarian opportunists, a group who are afraid for their jobs. The party has been divided by Blair’s manipulation of apathy, a standrad neo-liberal tactic. Now there is a continuing campaign to separate the mass movement from Corbyn as Corbyn offers a genuine alternative to the neo-liberal Veil. What else will these Wainwrights do?

This is a bit arcane – political jargon, but I am not about voters.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

Bendowa Brad

Posted: 09/08/2016 in Insight, Meditation, Zen
Tags: ,

Shobogenzo apparently usually begins with Bendowa, and is about meditation. In Zen meditation is called Zazen, and the method of Zazen is described in Fukanzazengi or here, and discussed in Ch2 in Brad’s “Jerk”.

I must first note that Brad describes what he follows as Buddhism, this is somewhat of a surprise to me. There are a myriad of Buddhisms, and within those Buddhisms there are disagreements, so for Brad to describe his Soto Zen as Buddhism is divisive – whether I agree with Shobogenzo or not. But for someone who lives his life as a Buddhist speaker, reference to this type of correctness is conceivably tedious as those who are listening to him are probably his branch of Zen.

Whilst always being attracted to the real-speak of Brad it was when I read that Buddhadasa promoted Zen that I got into it more. Having done so, once I had got into practising Zazen I looked into Shobogenzo. And when reading Bendowa I was attracted to the letting go of mind and body so reminiscent of Buddhadasa’s “removal of I and mine from the 5 khandas”.

I was already hooked on Bendowa – had not really read past it, and then Brad applied the “jerk” filter to that chapter. What grabbed me was that part of Bendowa which apparently is known as Jijuyo Zanmai and is “bradded” on page 4. This has helped me clarify meditation for the time being.

Because of the method of Zazen we have right concentration. Zazen makes us stare at the wall, and keep bringing the attention back to staring at the wall. This is just concentration – plain and simple. It reminds me of Dharma Dan whose meditation was using the breath as object and then focussing on extending the stage after breathing (stage 1 in, 2 hold focus, 3 breathe out, 4 hold focus) where there is just concentration.

I cannot recall there having been insight during my zazen. This is interesting in two ways. It shows things are not right yet. And it shows that maybe it was not right insight under the old method. I did not use breathing as an object of meditation – the usual vipassana object. Once the daily grind fell away, sometimes insights came – give link. Today in Zazen I kept thinking about the problem with my teeth as well as this blog the insight for which I had days ago.

Reading Jujiyo Zanmai [p4] brought some clarity but care needs to be taken. Jujiyo Zanmai is translated as “the Samadhi of Receiving and Using the Self” [p2], and here the Self refers to the whole universe of the quote above. There is an anatta issue here – no self. The Self is not personal, it is not I or mine. This “Self and self” issue is raised much with Hinduism, theosophy and that part of Buddhism influenced by it. For many Self becomes confused with the personal, perhaps that bit of Gaia or Unity that is apportioned to the person whereas anatta of Buddhism clearly talks of no self. Because of the capitalisation there is a clear intended difference (from self), but it is still open to misconception. Knowing anatta first helps understand this. There is an interesting meditation I occasionally used – breathing in sunnata – emptiness. I sometimes feel that the focus is a block – I am doing it wrong, but today I moved to natural focus moving away from focus that could conceivably be mind; receiving and using sunnata could be an alternative to this.

“Real Buddhists all say that zazen is the best thing ever” [p4]. This paraphrase is typical of Brad’s approach as a good number of Buddhists would not know what zazen is, possibly even some real Buddhists. However the intent is very straightforward – you must meditate. I met online a number of Theravada intellectuals who could not meditate, I surmise that attachment to the intellectual sankhara (khanda) got in the way. The only exception to the need for meditation is the one Buddhadasa put forward, that maybe there would be someone totally naturally in harmony and automatically receive the truth – conceivable?

Perhaps the most important is an understanding that comes from “If one person sits zazen, being right in body, speech and mind for just one moment, the whole universe enters this state”. I think of the whole universe entering this state as being a form of insight, or vice versa.

Brad talks about enlightenment – not a word I like. He has a specific meaning and it refers to this “whole universe entering this state”. This can happen for a moment, and any description falls short. I don’t mind this although I would prefer not to use the word “enlightenment”. This tends to obviate claims of enlightenment such as Adyashanti or U G, or maybe knocks on the head claims of enlightened being with implications of permanent enlightenment. “So-called enlightenment experiences are not the finishing line” [p8] leads me to think that this Brad enlightenment fits in better with enlightenment as jhanas rather than enlightenment as nirvana. Whilst I don’t understand all that is spoken of jhanas, the jhanas that I know are of deep insight, bliss, the muse presence etc – discussed here link to blog. Maybe the different levels of jhanas could reach up to the level of the whole universe entering. “And what, bhikkhus, is right concentration? Here, bhikkhus, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the first jhana, which is accompanied by thought and examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. With the subsiding of thought and examination, he enters and dwells in the second jhana, which has internal confidence and unification of mind, is without thought and examination, and has rapture and happiness born of concentration. With the fading away as well of rapture, he dwells equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, he experiences happiness with the body; he enters and dwells in the third jhana of which the noble ones declare: ‘He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.’ With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and displeasure, he enters and dwells in the fourth jhana, which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by equanimity. This is called right concentration” [Samyutta Nikaya 45, as part of a description of the 8-fold path]. As in the quote bliss or rapture happens with jhanas, however the bliss is not to be attached to. This “enlightenment” that comes with right concentration of zazen is also not to be attached to.

The “whole universe entering” is not explicitly said in Theravada, but is very interesting. It adds to understanding of synchronicity and coincidence, and helps explain Unity “…. and receives the imperceptible mutual assistance of all things in the entire universe” [p4]. I am less likely to have a car accident or break my wrist if I am meditating!!

Attaining experience (jhanas) through concentration is meditation. What if you don’t get an experience? Keep going, zazen does you good. Just keep doing it.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

Guardian Irritation

Posted: 09/08/2016 in Corbyn, Media
Tags:

Yet another Guardian headline has annoyed me. Owen Smith warns Corbyn that Labour “could bust and disappear”. Why should the Guardian focus on this when Corbyn is introducing policies of a National Investment Bank? Quite simple, the Guardian supports the Veil, the delusion of the two party electoral system.

There is so much at fault with this particular headline. First of all the Labour party can never disappear as it could always be the political wing of the mass movement. At present it is not. At present Blair more than anyone has created a party of opportunists who represent themselves and not the mass movement. The damage Blair caused would have taken a long time to heal but the opportunists have forced that healing now by engineering this leadership contest over Brexit. What we have in this leadership context is a leftward-leaning opportunist in Smith representing the parliamentary incumbents and Corbyn representing the mass movement. This is a genuine battle for democracy. Smith represents the Blair cronies who manipulated the membership apathy to put in opportunist clones from the ward on up through the party. Corbyn through Momentum seeks a genuine mass movement vote – more like genuine democracy.

I mentioned before the NEC meeting in which subterfuge led to a reduction in the number of new members being eligible to vote. This is being challenged in a court of law. Firstly the opportunists got a business stooge to bring a legal case to block Corbyn’s candidacy, and Corbyn’s people have now been forced to go to the courts to attempt to make the new membership eligible. Democracy is forced to use an undemocratic structure to fight its battles.

Smith is fighting the democratic vote for Corbyn. The mass movement want Corbyn, Smith has to win these voters. He cannot win on policy because Corbyn’s policies are genuinely democratic, they are peoples’ policies – this is why he got in. He has to appeal another way – through fear, the fear that the party will divide.

I remember another divide back in the 80s. This was not such a principled divide as the one that is happening now, I believe, although I didn’t follow it too much at the time. This was the formation of the SDP. A group of senior right-wing Labour politicians, known as the Gang of Four, were unhappy with the Labour party at the time and formed the SDP. To begin with they had some democratic support, but soon this dissolved into a Liberal-SDP alliance, disappeared into the Liberals and now the Liberals are disappearing. Such parties of Social Democrats, opportunists, cannot survive as they have no power base. The power base of the Labour party is the mass movement, opportunists are not candidates of that mass movement.

In other words, if these opportunists engineer a split in the long term they will disappear. In the short term they might affect an election or two, but in the long term the links between the parliamentary Labour party and the mass movement that were severed under Blair will be solidified under Corbyn. Of course by the time that happens Corbyn might be past it, and an opportunist could come in and replace him severing the links again.

The VBC continues as Smith representing the Wainwrights, the Blair clones, tries to undermine Perkins’ (Corbyn’s) links with the voters.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

In the last blog I described 2 right views of the socio-political arena:- the Guardian view and the Occupy view. I described it as “The first view I will call the Guardian view. This view is leftward leaning but does not require a major change in outlook. We live in a trading society in which a few extreme individuals are exploiting others and if we continue to promote good works society can change for the better. This view looks at our neo-liberal system with its Veiled electoral democracy, and works within that system.” I did not explain the use of the word Veiled. It arises from the film “Beyond the Veil” in which the delusion of electoral democracy is exposed. Our two-party system is a manipulated system in which there is a delusion that these parties are two poles of a political spectrum, and that we are voting for alternatives. In practise they are different shades of the same colour, specifically Labour does not offer a socialist alternative. Reflect on the policy towards Ireland when there was the war in the North. Policies were the same, some would argue that to call it a war and ask for its end was electoral suicide but that was a fait accompli of the system whose Veil did not offer an alternative.

That is until Corbyn (and Sanders, Syriza and the Occupy movement). I want to discuss the alternative that Corbyn offers. But first I want to look at the Guardian view. Any reading of most Guardian articles about Labour and Corbyn shows a clear bias towards the parliamentary Labour MP’s, first Angela Eagle and now Owen Smith. They accuse Corbyn of dividing the party. Previously I have discussed this but it is worth repeating:-

Corbyn is trying to unite the party with the mass movement, it was Blair playing opportunist politics who divided the parliamentary from the mass membership. Let me explain how that worked. The mass movement was alienated from its supposed political wing by right wing policies such as the war in Iraq. With low attendance at ward meetings it was easy for Blair supporters to be elected as candidates. At the same time Blair made a point of giving clones posts in his cabinet, so by the end of his tenure those that wanted political office were Blairite and the mass movement had been divided from the party. The Guardian clearly shows its support of the parliamentary process, and therefore being part of the media that supports the Veil.

This Blair manipulation was evidenced in the leadership election that Corbyn won. He was a late addition on the ballot primarily as offering an alternative to the clones (including Angela Eagle), and he offered the only alternative to the party’s mass movement and was at the time surprisingly voted in. This ignited hope amongst the left, and opposition (from Hilary Benn and others) right from the start. When the feeble Brexit excuse came along the Blair clones were quick to unite behind the no-confidence vote leading to the current vote on his leadership.

This article from the Guardian is more objective. Owen Jones says “But who can have predicted Labour’s re-emergence as a mass party? In 2014, Labour had only 190,000 members; it now boasts over half a million.” His view is that the leadership election is a foregone conclusion in Corbyn’s favour.

It would be very interesting to know what the discussions of my erstwhile comrades in the NCP have been having. As previously discussed Corbyn was around when I was politically active. He ran a community centre in Islington and was responsive to his ward – his electorate. At the same time he was one of the leading lights in socialist politics along with Tony Benn, Red Ken etc. I have never been a supporter of Red Ken, and even though he developed a personal popularity amongst the wider electorate he was always one of the leaders amongst those who “shot themselves in the foot” – his recent statements on Israel being typical. I associate my work on anti-racism with Red Ken’s time as leader of the GLC but I have no details but that time was Thatcher-time and such good work soon ended. In the late 80s the activity of these socialists focussed on Socialist Conference, and when you consider Labour’s new half million membership I have to ask “how many of this half million would be typical of such a socialist conference?” And also whether the old guard of the NCP supports Corbyn and Momentum?

This is an important question, and requires consideration. What is the working-class now? We have the Marxist terms – bourgeoisie and proletariat. Since my activism times I have always considered myself as a member of the proletariat, and consider the terms proletariat and working-class synonymous. And middle-class an academic red herring. Why? We are the 1% or not, it is as simple as that. The 1% needs us to be divided, and so the academic obfuscations of class suits the 1%. The NCP had a cloth cap approach to the working-class. It is from the cloth cap working-class that the revolution will come, and despite the academics who led revolutions in Russia and Latin America such academics as myself (a teacher) were almost second-class proletarians. I suspect the majority of Labour’s half million are second-class proletarians. In one respect it is important to be derogatory of academics, they hold to theory and idea sets and because of this divide the mass movement – the Trots. And Trots made up the Socialist Conference.

25 years on from this we have Corbyn, we have Momentum, and we have half a million Labour membership. But how many cloth caps are there? Maybe the cloth caps of the occasional Militant?

But a more important question is how many of the proletariat are now cloth cap members? Since Thatcher there has been an intended reduction of the manufacturing base, there has been a concerted attack on trade unionism and movement to service industry, and more recently an increase of cheap migrant labour (non-unionised). The proletariat has changed. Academics such as me are an increasing proportion of the proletariat, so allusions to Corbyn’s half million members as intellectuals as opposed to working-class is perhaps misleading (“One challenge is that the Labour party membership is simply unrepresentative of the population. That has always been the case: it’s the trade union link that grants Labour any right to self-describe as a workers’ party. According to ESRC-funded research by the academics Tim Bale, Monica Poletti and Paul Webb, around half of Labour party members belong to the social group AB: that is, middle-class professionals. Yet only 22% of Britain’s population belong to this group. Those deemed to be working-class represent 47% of the population, but they make up just 21% of the Labour party membership. Nearly half of members live in London or southern England, and a large majority have university degrees.” same Guardian artcile.)

I do not use the term “cloth cap” as derogatory, they are fellow comrades. However these cloth caps would see their proletarian credentials as more “Marxist” than mine. In terms of the nature of their labour this is probably true as few could say that they chose their career in the way that I chose teaching. Who would choose to bottle beetruit – a Summer job of mine? This battle for Corbyn leadership is also a battle for the claims of uniting the proletariat again, but uniting amidst a diversity in which intellectuals are also considered wage-slaves as well as the more obvious “cloth caps”.

What Corbyn is doing is battling against the Veil http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/lifting-the-veil-obama-and-the-failure-of-capitalist-democracy-2011/ , he is battling the neo-colonial system from within. I see it as forlorn in the same way as Harry Perkins never stood a chance but let us hope there is some substance to the Momentum. How can we have our representatives taking us into Wars for Profits?

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

Starting Zen & Theravada

Posted: 02/08/2016 in Zen
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As mentioned in the last blog I have just moved house and am ready for the next blogging phase, and that is trying to relate what I know as Buddhism with Zen – specifically Shobogenzo, the basis of Soto Zen. My efforts at Shobogenzo leave me feeling his Buddhism as unrecognisable yet every so often Brad throws in the 5 khandas or some other Theravada staple. To get at Shobogenzo I am going to read Brad’s “Don’t be a jerk”.

I am in total agreement with Brad’s approach, let’s use everyday speak to discuss, let’s relate to the everyday world and daily life. For me Theravada is like theory. Typically Thai people diligently pop off to the temple on Uposatha days. Equally diligently the monk delivers an appropriate theoretical (Therevada) sermon, and the people go home satiated. But no change has occurred, and one cause of that lack of change is that the sermon was couched in language that is not everyday, did not relate to the daily experience of the attending Thai people. A bigger cause is of course that these same Thai people, however devoted they are, do not meditate; thus they are unlikely to have a mind ready for change.

Everyday speak requires a right view, the first of the 8-Fold Path. What is Right View? One answer, typical of Theravada, might well be Buddhism with meditation – within its context a sound answer. But this does not bring with it a requirement of social understanding and practise, in fact for many Buddhism is detached from a socio-political view – to such an extent that there are people who have established Engaged Buddhism requiring of Buddhism that it attempts to effect change. My observation of these Engaged Buddhists is that they are leftward leaning.

It is however the detached Buddhism that I want to begin by examining. This approach allows all people of all political views to be accepted as Buddhists. Does this approach have right view? In Thailand the rich contribute much to the temples, and this of course is welcomed by the Buddhist hierarchy, but is that money tainted by ill deeds? All religions have this problem because they are forced out of politics by their own hierarchy or by laws on charity (charitable money not being allowed to be given to political organisations). This approach supports the status quo, and that status quo includes war and poverty.

It is necessary to move beyond the status quo, accepting the status quo is not a moral option. This is right view. But then we have a difficulty with right view, what is the right view of society whereby a Buddhist might attempt to effect change. I would suggest there are two caring views that might well be considered acceptable views.

The first view I will call the Guardian view. This view is leftward leaning but does not require a major change in outlook. We live in a trading society in which a few extreme individuals are exploiting others and if we continue to promote good works society can change for the better. This view looks at our neo-liberal system with its Veiled electoral democracy, and works within that system.

The second view I will call the Occupy view. Occupy has a radical agenda that requires the system to be fixed. There is a major change in outlook needed, basically seeing society controlled by the 1% and finding non-violent ways of wrestling control away from the 1%. It is the 1% influence which prevents society from developing in a more humane way – preventing society from changing for the better. The 1% promote the neo-liberal system of Veiled democracy whereas Occupy demanded a proper democratic system – not an electoral obfuscation – where policies are genuinely accountable to the people. Occupy seeks system change.

Both these views see that the problem lies with individuals who are exploiting, and one could argue that the differences between the Guardian view and the Occupy view are minimal. I would contend that this is not the case, and the keyword is influence. It is this pervasive influence of the 1% which affects everyday actions that is not recognised by the Guardian view. That view feels that change can occur by good works whereas the Occupy view would say that the power of the influence is stronger than the good works of so many.

I am tempted to call the Occupy view the Right View but it is divisive to do so. Buddhism does not seek division, it seeks deep consideration and analysis. I would suggest such analysis would include a careful understanding of the differences between the Guardian view and the Occupy view whilst recognising that the current approach of accepting the status quo is not moral – the current approach is effectively supporting the war and poverty that exists in the status quo.

Firstly Brad does not accept the status quo – the detachment that promotes theory (typically Theravada), however I would contend that Brad leans towards the Guardian view. In the introduction to “Don’t be a jerk”, Brad discussed science. In this he had a pop at those who dismissed science because science offers us so many benefits. Everyday science however is particularly susceptible to 1% influence. Science cannot proceed without research funding, and this funding is only given where profits can be seen – at the moment primarily technological research. Contrast this with the independent research carried out by Seralini into GMO products. This research can be individually assessed here , but here is sound research independently funded that counters the GM products of Monsanto. It was originally published in established scientific journals but because of its conclusions was withdrawn under the influence of Monsanto. For me science does not move forward based on insight, scientific creativity, and Nature’s search for knowledge but it moves forward based on 1% influence using funding as a means of control. To see what is happening in science it is necessary to take a detached dialectical review of Guardian and Occupy forces in play. The individuals that suppressed the Seralini study used a system that enhances their influence.

Whenever I read Brad this issue of Right View comes up. Unashamedly I see the Occupy view as more the right view whereas I feel Brad is much more Guardian. First and foremost Brad makes Buddhism real – everyday. However in his social analysis Brad leans to the safer Guardian view, and far too often I find it necessary to put the Occupy view to what he says. Buddhadasa says Buddhism is about the removal of the 5 khandas from I and mine. This is timeless, but our view of society cannot be so absolute. Applying sila to the socio-political arena and coming up with a right view is difficult and must be attempted and taught, but it is fraught with difficulty for monks vis-à-vis the Theravada monk I knew who in attempting to be everyday ended up supporting Tony Blair. At the time I thought it was wrong of him to be involved with politics because monks (certainly Theravada) live in cloisters. Now I feel he was right to try to be everyday but his analysis and view fell a long way short. By being everyday he was breaking the mould of Theravada monks, and this is to be lauded – I have changed on this. When it comes to the right view of society monks need to seek advice, cloisters are not a good place to judge society from.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

Across the Pond

Posted: 26/07/2016 in Corbyn, Democracy, Struggle

It seems a lot longer since I have been writing but the last stuff on the fight for genuine democracy (NEC decision) was only 11 days ago. I have been through stuff since them so maybe it feels longer. I have moved house again. I have again found a house that is more than what I need and is situated where I need – in the country yet less than 10 km from Trat. So now I have to hope the landlord/landlady thing works out. The guy is the problem this time, he is an empire builder and this house is part of his empire. There are signs that he would want to interfere with my space because he sees it as his space, let’s hope he is not a pain like Serge. Of course I am completely paranoid about everything to do with renting here – having moved 3 times in a year. I am still settling in – no internet yet, I’ll have to wait and see.

Back to the blog. As an aside to the VBC against Corbyn, across the Atlantic there is a similar mass movement developing. On Sunday the chairperson of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) had to resign over the partisan nature of the DNC support for Clinton. None of this should be a surprise.

To be clear it is necessary to understand the reality of the current political systems called by some neo-liberalism. It is well explained in the movie “Lifting the Veil” , and the Veil that is being lifted is that of the apparent democracy of the 2-party system. Throughout the world after 4 or 5 years democratic countries (so-called) have an election between two apparently opposing parties. Somewhere in the past these parties will have similar histories, one party having allegiance to the landowners business and finance, and one party having allegiance to the mass movement. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that these parties are connected to their historical roots. In practice both parties perform the same function, they offer the voting people a delusion that they will be represented whereas the policies are those which support the 1%.

For some Obama was a disappointment. He was the first black US president, and black people especially hoped he would enact policies that would benefit them. But instead he had mock battles with Wall Street but did what they and the military wanted. For him to have risen in the ranks of the Democrats he had to learn the game of the Neo-Liberals.

Having said that Neo-Liberalism requires the pretence of democracy to maintain control of the people, in some way people have to believe they are electing their government. With this pretence there is the potential for a genuine democratic candidate – a genuine representative of the people. In recent years the distance between the representatives and the mass movement has grown greater and greater. As a result of this widening gap there have arisen genuine candidates on both sides of the Atlantic fighting for genuine representation, in the US Bernie Sanders and in the UK Jeremy Corbyn. I have been discussing Corbyn, just a short mention of Bernie Sanders. Bernie has run a campaign against Hillary, and did remarkably well given the forces railed against him. It is no surprise that Democratic Party staffers had been using influence to try to get Hillary elected as the Democratic Party is part of the Veil that is the election system. This influence was so severe that the party chair has resigned. One person resigning would be a small price to be paid by the 1% to ensure Bernie does not stand and risk the damage to Wall Street his presidency might cause.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

NEC Decision

Posted: 15/07/2016 in Corbyn, Struggle

The VBC continues as the Wainwrights try to oust Corbyn, and the leading Wainwright is Angela Eagle – someone who has tried to remove Corbyn from the word go. She is MP for Wallasey, my birth place, and somewhere I didn’t know had a Labour MP; maybe not Labour but a Wainwright. I just read she voted for the Iraq war.

The division between the parliamentary representation and the mass movement came to a head in the vote of no confidence that was 80% anti. Last night the talk was of whether Corbyn would actually be allowed to stand; I wonder how much that was feasible or desired. Quite simply so many Labour voters would have been alienated by such a machination that it would have severed the grassroots.

I am concerned this was a red herring. This Guardian article describes how the NEC accepted Corbyn with some very peculiar happenings. But I noticed this in the article “However, in a separate decision taken after Corbyn had left the room, the NEC ruled that only those who have been members for more than six months will be allowed to vote – while new supporters will be given two days to sign up as registered supporters to vote in the race, but only if they are willing to pay £25 – far higher than the £3 fee many Corbyn backers paid in the contest last year.”

I am not close enough to the ground to know the full meaning of this. It looks like a mechanism for excluding the poorer members, and I suspect those poor would be Corbyn supporters. I have a feeling that the Milliband measures that opened up the membership voting contributed to Corbyn’s success last year. I wonder whether the quoted change the NEC made last night (with Corbyn not in the room) was significant – I expect so.

I hope Momentum are strong enough to mobilise grass roots support. The Wainwrights say that Labour is unelectable under Corbyn. In part I agree, they are unelectable now with all the Wainwrights but within four years if representation can return to the mass movement and not Blair puppets that that swell of mass movement democracy could herald an electable opposition under Corbyn.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.