Jondo (which means deep song in Spanish) is not a stone, it is a seam that you mine.
When there is something to say, you cannot be silent.
To be silent is to die emotionally or intellectually.
To have Duende (to have soul) you must express yourself.
Art brings one face to face with ones own destiny.
Art helps one explain life to ones self.
NEOLIBERALISM - BED MATE TO FASCISM
(notes from his forthcoming book WHY?)
Why am I talking about neoliberalism?
Because it is this almost unknown
but most dominating cultural, social, political and economic idea in our time
which has redesigned our lives for the worse.
It was germinated by a group of American right wing economists
between the early 1950’s through the 1970’s,
thereafter financed by wealthy American corporations and rich individuals
and then almost invisibly became policy imposed upon us by stealth since 1980,
first by Reagan and Thatcher and by their pet fascist, Pinochet in Chile.
Since then it has contaminated many other economies and cultures
and completely pervaded our own.
Before I continue
I want to offer you a quick historical perspective.
Governments including those who call themselves democratic,
as well as dictatorships and other regimes
have always known
there are three tools to maintain their rule:
the cheapest way
is to get the population believing in the dominant classes’ values –
–that’s about convincing us:
•to believe that their system is beneficial for us;
• to convince us that their rule is legitimate;
•and for us to accept the inevitability of their system.
when beliefs fail,
the dominant class employs a second more expensive tool-
the great buy-off
making certain that the army, the police
and a large number of the population are sufficiently paid and fed
so the pain or worse-
the terror for the rest who might attempt change-
seems too awful in comparison to day by day frustrations and suffering.
when all else fails,
they resort to the most expensive form of control –
legal repression, arrests, torture, and finally the barrel of a gun.
The question is
how does the dominant class
get a population to believe
and to be invested in a system which
is clearly not beneficial to truth, well being and to real freedom?
I wish to start with a story:
Years ago a friend of mine was asked to institute a redesign
of the Financial Times.
He was to take the overall plan
and break it down to 1000 changes.
Every day for three years he instituted one of those changes.
By the end of the third year
the paper looked entirely different.
As the editors suspected,
no one knew when the changes began.
It was as if somehow the changes had occurred before the reader’s eyes,
but without them recognizing how or when they happened.
This is how we missed seeing the neoliberal cage
constructed around us.
At no one moment did we recognise
this new policy or that new sell-off of the rail or the post office,
was a part of the long-term systematic construction to entrap us.
Under their 35 year rule they have forged a world of impoverishment,
a world of low wages for most and extreme wealth for a few,
a world in which we think of our houses
as investments rather than a place of cherished memories,
a world of homelessness
a world of diminishing dreams for our children
a world of constant warfare,
a world of increasing hunger and food-banks
a world exploiting over 168 million child labourers,
a world of increasing exploitation and prostitution of women,
a world in which the dominant economic system
must rely on constant and in fact impossible growth,
the first victim of which is our eco system.
A part of the neoliberal plan
to convince the middle classes to accept this new cage,
was to slowly change our habits and consciousness
from thinking of ourselves as a collective of producers
with a community conscience,
into thinking of ourselves as competitive individual consumers.
This atomization was planned as a way to break the communal idea of the unions,
and to separate individuals from each other...
Not only has this changed the sense of who we are
but has also led to endless consumption as a main component of identity
and as a driver of a junk economy
which must continually grow or die.
It was clear to the neoliberals that neither force alone
nor providing only basic material survival (subsistence)
would work to secure their on-going political dominance.
They decided to boost material wants via advertising
as a diversion from the real problems of life
and as a way to further create indebtedness for the middle class
and greater wealth for themselves .
This brought together many economic threads
proffered by Reagan and Thatcher
under Neoliberal influence,
(which i will mention later).
But in particular,
it encouraged the formation of larger but fewer media corporations
to create a new set of values within the popular culture
which these new media giants would construct.
It was these corporation’s job
to form a superficial, wealth and celebrity oriented popular culture;
to emphasis a ‘Me’ centred individualism;
to replace our common history with private psychology;
to dumb down the general level of thought
pushing the so-called ‘freedom of personal consumption’
to further attack the notion of trade unionism
as being against this newly celebrated individualism.
All of this was accompanied by encouraging suspicion of
certain politicians and rebellious artists and intellectuals -
sneering at them as time wasters, troublemaking-deviant-elitists
with no ‘practical’ grip on what mattered –money, fame and power.
That is to say,
that those best fitted to offer an alternative point of view
were and are marginalised.
Via the insistence of advertising and the new giant media corporation’s culture
‘Stuff’ took over from ‘meaning’
or you could say,
materialism took over from the needs of the soul.
Under democracy, just as under Stalinism,
many academics, intellectuals, journalists and artists
believe the status quo is good or at least a viable alternative
or, as the servants they become,
they gladly accept wealth and fame in exchange for their talents
to serve the status quo.
It is their role to filter what can and can’t be said in the media;
to day-by-day choose and frame the news;
to decide who is to be celebrated and who is to be marginalised.
It is their job to define the educational syllabus
destined to turn out alienated state-school-automatons:
who become industry’s button pushers,
bureaucracy’s yes/no clones
and compliant soldiers,
while public schools turn out
trusted servants to inherit control of the neoliberal state.
the culture we’re now surrounded by
no longer springs from the farms
and coal mines,
nor even from the universities and independent minds,
but from the bowels of trans-national media corporations
and state owned broadcasters like the BBC,
both of whom have a vested interest in things staying the same.
These manifestations of culture---
their stories with their point of view
with their underlying values
add up to the creation of their cultural canon –
which is their set of cultural rules.
All of their radio and TV broadcasts,
their films and published novels
carry their messages to our hearts and minds,
messages they surround us with from childhood,
seducing us into accepting a set of values
we think we have personally evolved,
but in reality are what have been called
‘the creation of false consciousness’.
False consciousness is the imposition of ideas, beliefs and values
presented as being good for our lives
but in fact are just the opposite.
The harsh reality is this:
they wish us to believe-in and be-committed-to their system,
thus willingly allowing them to shift maximum wealth
from our labour and savings
which we accept as normal and legitimate.
To be even more harsh:
they surround us from birth with their education,
their creation of a popular culture,
their heroes and champions,
their nationalism, racism, sexism, values and trinkets,
their 24/7 news and views
and leave us to survive without truth and without freedom of real choices
as wage slaves
permanently entrapped by them.
And there is one other concept I want to mention
called repressive tolerance –
in which the authorities of the state
allow for some contradictions,
some apparent truths to slip out.
Within the media
one can support gay rights
or, for instance the Russian group
but the moment that they step across the line
which may expose how the establishment’s power works
they are frozen out.
These are the reasons why we believe what we believe
but it is also why we often don’t understand what is happening
because what they offer culturally and in the 24/7 news cycle
can never make sense to us
-as the gap is too great
between their wanting most of what we produce
and our needing at least some of what we produce
to have a better life,
and the gap is also too great
between them repeatedly telling us that zero is one
and us succumbing to the lies
but in our aching hearts knowing that zero is zero.
Thus their culture and news
continually turn reality into smoke and mirrors.
To rule in the least expensive way,
they must dumb us down,
keep us ill informed,
buy us off with factory made foods and with trinkets...
a feat they have accomplished with amazing skill-
a feat which has successfully manufactured consent
but also deep social schisms, neurosis,
poor health and unhappiness,
all the while ignoring their desecration of our communal system of values
and their destruction of our precious planet.
The anti-communist Czech author, Slabecek
wrote of what he called the ‘principal of exclusion’
“which is at the centre of ‘present day moral and political misery’.
The dominant ideology (or Cultural Canon)
forges mistruths, confusion and diversion
creating for us a life lived within a lie.
This is what constantly confronts living within the truth.
For many, who remember what the truth is,
they are forced to live within the lie.”
The principal of exclusion
forces us to conform or be excluded,
the consequence of which is frustration, aloneness
and becoming a social pariah.
This is how Neoliberalism has been imposed upon us.
The most important financial/economic/cultural and political changes
of the last 35 years
have never been named or publicly discussed
by the people who impose these beliefs.
They have not allowed the basic ideas
to become a part of our common knowledge.
They have never come to the people and said
we have a new and better way to organise society.
Some of you may remember the democratizing movements of the ‘60s.
They spread from the US and the UK to France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Japan
as well as to many developing countries.
These included the international peace movement,
the anti-Vietnam war movement,
women’s liberation struggles,
gay and lesbian struggles,
the civil rights movement in the states,
various anti-imperialist liberation struggles around the world,
the resurgence of trade union consciousness
and other local struggles.
Although the movements were different in origin and demands,
they were united by the urge towards social liberation,
fairness, equality and justice.
These movements frightened the wealthy elites,
concerned about a loss of control over land, capital and governing powers.
This led to a powerful backlash in the early seventies
encouraged by both the far right and the liberal ‘left’.
Previous to being nominated by President Reagan,
the US Supreme Court Justice to be, Lewis Powell
wrote the Powell Memorandum
confidentially to the US Chamber of Commerce,
arguing that it was the responsibility and duty
of the American business community
to unite and finance a defence against those who sought change,
to beat back the wave of self-empowerment and democratic movements
attempting, he speculated, to destroy American capitalism.
Powell, as many business leaders,
was threatened by the amount of legislation
passed under the Johnson and then Nixon administrations,
created to defend workers rights and well-being,
to guard against the destruction of the environment,
and to protect consumers.
The people’s struggles were referred to by the right,
as an “excess of democracy”.
The consequence of Powell’s Memorandum
was the creation of a network of right wing think tanks
to consider ways to roll back the movements.
Corporations not only financed the new think tanks
but as well a more intense use of lobbyists in Washington,
to influence politicians more directly,
with particular attention given to educational policy.
Powell saw the university campuses (often financed by business),
(whose programmes were financed by corporate advertising),
and Democratic Party politicians
(financed by both Unions and business)
as being riddled by anti-business interests.
What emerged from this assault was the idea to redesign the economy -
to redesign the economy away from fair wages,
away from the continuance of a prosperous
but to them
a troublesome middle-class composed not only of radical teachers,
but of well paid assembly line workers and rebellious university students !
In Powel’s Memorandum
he argued that business wealth should adopt a long view
to ultimately purchase political power.
On a local note:
a chief architect of the Neoliberal economic ideology
was an American economist named Milton Freidman.
He advised Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher
on restructuring their economies along neoliberal lines.
When Friedman visited Thatcher
he stayed with his dear friends,
a Mr and Mrs Letwin
and instructed their son Oliver
on the rudiments of neoliberalism
including ways to extract as much wealth as possible
from retirees and single parent families,
how to reduce the social security safety net,
and in Oliver’s first book
he spoke of how the Tories could usurp ownership of the NHS
from the people without them noticing,
an idea which came to him
around the time of his failed poll tax adventures.
Returning to the main history,
the three central neoliberal goals were and are
1/to move the US and UK economies away from the production of things
towards the increased power and wealth of the financial markets,
2/ to move the financial and political wealth of the middle and working classes into the hands of the 1% and to crush the unions.
3/to reduce the size of government,
turning its rump into a conduit for business.
To make all of the above work
the neoliberals needed to find a way to influence the state –
its laws, oversight, banking and financial rules,
the tax structure and of course its law courts,
and the role of the secret services, the military and the police.
To do all of that they needed to ENGINEER ELECTIONS
This has become easier and easier with the rise of the powerful media
owned and controlled by a very few individuals,
and the ever increasing costs of running 24/7 campaigns,
with all the TV ads, press conferences, battle buses, mailers etc.
These rising costs fed into the plans of the rich
to be able to assert greater control over politicians and political parties
by offering them large sums of money to finance their campaigns.
As a recent example of how this works,
the Remain Campaign received 46% of (£20.4m) finance for the referendum
and won 48% of the vote;
the Leave Campaign received 54%
and won 52% of the vote.
Those who spent more, got more.
And, 36 people, either as individuals or CEOs of hedge funds,
provided the largest amount of money for the Tories
to finance the last 2 election cycles.
That’s more than the millions of people who also contributed.
Perhaps these hedge fund donations
had little to do with the special exemption from stamp duty
on stock market transactions
Osborne granted to hedge funds,
depriving the public sector of about £145m a year.
The shocking consequence we must awaken to
is that under the new rules of the Anglo/American Neoliberals,
Democracy has been purposely transformed
into an oligarchic state controlled by a few.
It is really difficult to accept this
but once you do,
many of the decisions, policies and actions of the political class
begin to make sense within their paradigm of rationality.
I want to make a short aside about the political class.
This is a generalization but one worth considering.
Why do they do what they do to us?
Some are outright morally or financially corrupt.
Some are godless
and therefore in a godless world
they must create a personal morality,
but many are too lazy or in other ways incapable of this---
they therefore ignore moral questions as being inessential to their role.
Some are what the German Jewish philosopher,
Hanna Arendt referred to,
when reporting on the trial of the Nazi, Adolf Eichmann,
as being neither an ideologue, evil nor stupid, but simply thoughtless.
Some are Nihilists.
Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless
and that nothing can be known or communicated.
It is often associated with extreme pessimism
and a radical skepticism that condemns existence itself as having no meaning.
A true nihilist would believe in nothing,
have no loyalties,
and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy.
There is a disturbing kinderdness
between xenophobic rightwing war mongers in our society
with religious fundamentalists in Islam.
The American commentator, Benjamin Barber
explored this in detail in his 1995 book MCDONALDS VERSUS JIHAD
about how neoliberal state corporatist globalization
versus traditional Islamic values.
But some politicians knowingly accept the rewards
for conforming to their neoliberal paymasters
while implementing their terrible plans
(wars, austerity, hunger and starvation, social and infrastructural disintegration)
and because being incapable of feeling empathy for others
they can not link their actions to the consequences ---
they are in clinical terms, sociopaths.
After as objective a set of considerations that I could gather,
I have come to believe that we are too often led by this combination
of the corrupt, the thoughtless, the emotionally ignorant, and sociopaths.
And there is one other thing...
within a corporate structure as a government,
people establish goals, values, programmes and bottom lines
that fit their ideological or political beliefs...
they may see all measures to fulfil these beliefs as rational
as for instance,
to balance the nations books,
to defend the national pride,
to condemn the working poor as lazy,
from inside the tent,
their plans may seem rational...
but from outside
the increase of suicides,
poor health care,
seems anything but rational
- this has been described as the ‘irrationality of rationality
Once the neoliberals helped the 1% to gain political power
what did they actually do to redesign the economy?
Their primary tactic was to OFF-SHORE industry.
This decreased first world industrial output
while the economic slack was picked up by newly developed financial markets.
As a consequence,
blue and white collar job losses forced down wages of the unskilled and semiskilled,
and the power of the unions was all but destroyed -
a central aim of the overall plan.
This eradicated many of the centres of the Democratic Party in the US
and the Labour Party in the UK,
leading, the Right hoped,
to an all-but-in-name, one party state.
Remember this later when I speak about fascism.
Off shoring to countries with a lower standard of living
naturally keeps wages lower to begin with,
and repressive regimes forbid unions to form,
which continued to keep labour costs low.
This globalization of labour means that a British worker
living in a more costly economy
is placed in direct competition for wages
with a non-unionised Chinese assembly line worker.
This is why wages are now so low in Britain and the US ,
why business can pay the minimum wage,
and why there are these destabilizing zero hour contracts
for those we now refer to as the working poor.
US and British corporations also prospered
by selling arms and munitions to those repressive regimes,
and gained increased political power over those countries through investments.
As US and UK workers would eventually max out their credit cards,
their ability to consume would fall.
needing ever expanding markets,
evolved the following:
•to create new areas of consumer interests by creating needs –
as for instance the sale of computers and software,
• to expand markets in the developing world,
• and to use cash sloshing around in the financial system
to purchase security and armaments helped by creating a climate of fear,
the latter encouraging and making possible
increasing numbers of wars.
This ever-expanding military power would assure the US and
(to a lesser degree) the UK
a lock over developing markets and raw materials,
as well as control over votes in the UN
and other world or region-wide
Off-shoring was part of the plan to FINALIZE EVERYTHING.
The corporation’s increased profits,
combined with the sell-off of US/UK land, equipment and plant
were invested into the financial markets.
Previous investments into the nuts and bolts economy
based on making things
were shifted into the abstract and non-productive realm
of international money and credit exchanges,
and the creation of almost incomprehensible products
constructed out of useless mortgages and other derivatives.
It was there that credit (that is to say money) would be geometrically increased
but kept isolated from investment into the real world economy
of productive capital
for education, new inventions, factories, research and so on.
While the UK has been proven to be the only G7 member to have increased inequality since 2000.
Off-shoring means that while capital can move,
people cannot easily do so.
This weakening of the people is exactly opposite what happens to the wealthy
who gain even greater freedom to not pay taxes,
to reside where they wish
and to de-identify with any one country.
Whereas the financial market had been seen
until the 1970’s
as a source of loans to the real economy,
it took on a life of its own and swelled into a bloated giant
while draining the rest of the real economy of finance to grow itself.
During the 1970’s it became clear that companies (like GE)
could make more money playing the financial markets than making things.
Along with this came the development of credit cards,
a device to seduce people with insufficient wages
to consume using the plastic never-never.
Financialisation forced everything in common life
to be given a monetary designation.
Our values were changed,
our humanity was slivered
and this diminution of the individual in favour of things
spread like cancer throughout society,
helping to destroy the belief in unionisation,
the embrace of community values
and the need for a real people’s culture
beyond the mindless media pap,
while empowering and enriching the already wealthy.
All the above helped to spread poverty into the 90%
and increased wealth for the 1%.
the long time head of the American Federal Reserve,
another of the major architects of this restructuring of the economy,
said in a congressional hearing
that he believed the success of his changes
was to a large degree based on increasing worker insecurity.
Noam Chomsky, an American public intellectual,
said the rich have created a Plutonomy:
“an economy owned by very few people,
people who don’t care about others.
They wish to create out of the ever poorer 90%,
–a pre-carious proletariat.”
This precariat is defined as
a social class formed by people suffering from ‘precarity’,
“a condition of existence without predictability or security,
a consequence of material or psychological welfare.”
Please be clear –
this is not a consequence of fate
but rather of the neoliberals careful long-term planning,
and in this country
the consequence of ideologues like Blair, Letwin, Gove and Osborne.
Their economically inchoate policy
to attempt to be a nation without debt
was the imperfect and cruel justification to foster austerity...
called the largest transfer of wealth
from one section of a community to another
in human history.
The NHS, Social Security, our Youth Centres
are all expressions of public sympathy,
which is why the rich attempt to defund them.
If you load a service with many managerial levels
dominated by accounts rather than practitioners,
hive off the profit making parts and then starve the rest of funds
you make the thing inefficient
and eventually people will demand a change -
a change which is always to sell to private enterprise.
Adam Smith (a Scottish moral philosopher, pioneer of political economy)
said sympathy was basic to an ordered society
but the new Reagan/Thatcher 80’s culture
was determined to replace sympathy with greed, self-gratification
Effectively what all this means is that the new working poor
are constantly in debt,
often living off of minimum wages
with no guarantee of work on any day of the year
(zero hour contracts)
but who must always be available ... the contract.
They survive on high interest payday loans,
on maxed out credit cards
and often on expensive, unarranged overdrafts.
This means that a large amount of the new working poor’s wages
are constantly hived off into paying interest as well as the debts,
all of which continue to be transferred to the 1%.
we are always surrounded by clever advertising and a popular culture
creating false values and wants
that seduces us into buying things we do not need,
all of which encourage us to believe that the consumer society
is not only natural, but is a ‘right’.
There are other things to address:
•The neoliberals have successfully
created permanent debt for the 90%
through housing policies and mortgages,
through education costs and consumption,
through increasing overall taxes on the 90%
while reducing them for the wealthy,
and through rising prices and static wages.
Some economists are calling this the creation of wage slavery.
•The 1% have effectively captured the state
and are continually reducing the power and size of the state
relative to corporations,
partly by encouraging the politicians to sell-off of the people’s commons
•For the 1%,
reducing the size of the state
has successfully meant the reduction of regulation by the state
regarding consumer protection,
and workers rights,
and at the same time
the creation of self-regulation by industry
leading as this has
to eco disasters
and for instance, the meat scandal of the late 90’s.
The 1% continue to argue against big government helping the people,
a position which proves they are not in favour of democracy.
What they do want though
is a nanny government to bail them out
as they did in 2008
and as Mark Carney said they would do again
if Brexit turns into a downward economic spiral.
Meanwhile the neoliberal rational for their wars
was and is ‘an unproven threat’,
This lust for war is not only about selling arms and ammunitions
but as well
an expression of an alliance with right wing neoconservatives
after the defeat of the very existence of the Soviet Union
named and encouraged the idea of a “clash of civilizations”
especially between the white Christian Anglo Saxons and
the brown Arab Moslems.
And what a convincing way to rationalise huge war spending?
All of the above create a point of tension
between the rich wanting to strengthen their oligarchic control
and the people wanting to make democracy work
in spite of capitalism.
This point of tension
combined with little understanding of what is actually going on
leads some to disillusionment,
some to cynicism
and others to blame any target they can find,
fuelled by the media
who wish to fan the fires of the smoke and mirrors...
This is what leads to xenophobic, nationalistic and racist thinking
as people struggle to understand the world around them.
The big cultural idea
was to turn the whole nation into a dyad
between the individual and their TV (now their computer)
leading the individual to measure human life
by consuming that which they do not need.
This diversion from meaning,
from truthful news and analysis
diverts people from thinking
into often feeling less complicated emotional responses.
This helps to train people to be an uniformed voter
making uninformed emotional choices
thus marginalising the public from due processes.
All of this has become corrosive to us,
creating tensions that can not be resolved
because the problem is not other people-
not woman, gays, people with different skin pigments,
people who eat garlic or wear funny hats or beards...
the problem is the imposition of the neoliberal ideology
fostered without our advice or consent
as a new social contract
imposed by stealth across the last 35 years.
4 ASPECTS OF FASCISM:
What is the similarity between Neoliberalism and Fascism?
Neoliberalism is neither pure industrial capitalism nor pure Fascism.
While they are good bed-mates, they are not twins.
I was first alerted to this similarity
by the well-known Canadian economist,
John Kenneth Galbraith.
He wrote that the modern corporation
is similar to a fascist state
in regard to its employees.
The corporation commands their worker’s economic existence
while also controlling,
through the provision of jobs
and the restrictive nature of the corporate culture,
the manners, attitudes, actions and even values of the employee.
It is not democratic, but dictatorial;
it rules not by persuasion but by fear.
Mussolini, who knew something of state fascism.
outlined its three fundamentals:
"Everything in the state".
by which he meant
the Government is supreme and the country is all-encompassing,
and all within it must conform to the ruling body,
often a dictator.
One of the goals of neoliberals is to subsume the state
in the control of the corporate/wealthy elite
via their purchased politicians,
in a single party state
and for them,
to be the sole decision makers of the nation,
to have their purchased politicians implement their laws
and pursue their needs
with little regard for the desires of the people,
and they expect the politicians to use the armed forces,
the police, the security services and the law for their ends.
Their post 1960’s goal was to deter the “excess of democracy”
expressed by those whom they characterised as anti-capitalists.
Mussolini’s second fundamental was "Nothing outside the state".
by which he meant
the country must grow
and the implied goal of any fascist nation
is to rule the world,
and have every human submit to its government.
Neoliberalism has created a new imperial grip
over the developing and developed world
through a myriad of controls.
These include the financialisation of everything,
the globalisation of trade,
the World Trade Organization’s supposed free trade agenda,
and the World Bank’s control (read Wall St) of international debt.
Neoliberal bankers and politicians
have gained effective control of most rising economies
and have even been able to tie the Chinese Communist Party
into their web.
This has made the poorer nations loan-dependent
under the strict provisions of neoliberal economic reforms,
which hinder development and investment,
but as well,
place local leaders in the fists of the World Bank
(aka the US State Department and the private American bankers).
This is not so far from Mussolini’s “Nothing outside the state”,
rephrased as “Nothing outside neoliberal corporate control”
3. Mussolini’s third fundamental is: "Nothing against the state".
Questioning the government is not to be tolerated.
If you do not see things our way, you are wrong.
If you do not agree with the government,
you cannot be allowed to live and taint the minds of the rest of the good citizens.
has a particular interest in monopolistically controlling educational ideas,
in reinterpreting and reframing history,
in controlling who writes and publishes text books,
and in controlling the news and the popular media.
The key difference between England and say contemporary Russia or Fascist Italy
is that people can, for the moment, write or say what they want
without being ‘disappeared’
but instead they are sent into a broadcasting digital wilderness.
to sum up neoliberalism in the words of Walter Lipman
-a highly regarded right wing American writer,
“people must be turned into a bewildered herd
so that responsible men could make decisions for them and the nation”.
but to sum up some hope –
Robert Kennedy said:
“When I am awake I ask why,
when I am dreaming,
I ask why not?
 (Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Ayn Rand, George Stigler, Ronald Coase and Gary Becker)
 (disregarding US anti-trust laws and OFCOM’S regulatory responsibilities)
 (Native North Americans, Spanish Basque, Irish Catholics)
 (The Heritage Foundation, The Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academia and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.)
 as observed by the founder of sociology, Max Weber, when studying the antics of the Austro Hungarian bureaucracy.
 The Bilderburg Group secretly represent the 1%. About two thirds of the participants come from Europe and the rest from North America; one third from politics and government and the rest from other fields. Historically, attendee lists have been weighted toward bankers, politicians, directors of large businesses and board members from large publicly traded corporations, including IBM, Xerox, Royal Dutch Shell, Nokia and Daimler. Heads of state, including former King Juan Carlos I of Spain and former queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, have attended meetings. A source connected to the group told The Daily Telegraph in 2013 that other individuals, whose names are not publicly issued, sometimes turn up "just for the day" at the group's meetings.
 (95% of all wealth created since 2008 has gone to the richest 1% of the UK/US population)
 (the treaty of Westphalia, 1648 stood until Bush and Blair decided to disregard it in 2002 to invade Iraq )
STORYTELLING AND STORY SHARING by Robert Golden
An intensive 5 day photographic course* across three weekends several weeks apart.
MY STORYTELLING HISTORY
I have made many photo-essays in the past for magazines as The New York Review of Books, Nova Magazine, the Radio Times, and the Weekend Telegraph Magazine;
I’ve illustrated over 30 books including the Smithsonian Air and Space and History Museums; conceived and made photo-essays for 15 books of my own including the award winning PEOPLE WORKING SERIES and HOME.
My essays have been shown in the Photographer’s Gallery, the Barbican, the Side Gallery, at the V&A, and many other galleries around England and elsewhere. Recently I made numerous photo-essays financed by Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and for various European funded programmes. I have been asked to write for Focal Press and other on-line and conventional publishers.
As for storytelling in films (which has similar structures to photographic essays), I’ve written 40 film scripts, 35 of which have been made. Both my feature films have won awards, the first taking the prestigious audience award at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Recently one of my films was shown to the Parliamentary all-party committee on Bosnia and Herzegovina and another at the Davos World Economic Forum as an example of how culture changes people.
A FEW COMMENTS ABOUT MY WORK
Robert Golden builds his images with restraint: tactile sensuous shapes are riveted to a classical structure so tightly that no one thinks about formal qualities...Mr Golden is not talking about himself but about others.
BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Robert Golden is one of the most passionate photographers I know. He not only wants to take great photographs and make great films but he wants us to see what is really happening in the world, as he would say "under the rocks". I have know him for over thirty years and he hasn't given up yet.
EAMMON MCCABE (then picture editor-OBSERVER)
I‘ve been taking pictures for nearly forty years and always enjoyed the process. I’ve been to ten friendly and supportive seminars organised by Robert and feel that I’ve done better, more interesting work in the past three months than I’ve ever done. He is keen to improve technical understanding of photography, but far more importantly, encourages you to think why you do what you are doing - so it’s hard not to grow as a photographer.
recent workshop member: M Norris, Devon
BEG! feature film, directed an co-written and by Robert Golden
…it remains one of the most astonishing , bold and original movies of the 90's
The List, Scotland
Humanity restored. Behind a good photo there is a good idea. I am thankful for the people like Robert Golden who are endless inspiration for people wondering if there is a meaning in people or in what they do. Masterpiece at its finest. I pay respect for the people who think before they do, who are not fame hungry but simply unselfishly share their talent and experience with others. It’s a gift within oneself. Thank you.
FROM A STRANGER IN RESPONSE TO MY BLOG ON FOCAL PRESS
We will discuss what storytelling is and help people to decide on an idea to develop.
We will discuss the differences between an individual image and a collection of images.
The difference between a collection, a series, a portfolio and a photo-essay (story)
What is a story? Why do we need stories? What structures are normally found in stories? Why do you need or want to tell a story? What relevance does your story have and to whom? Who is your natural audience?
Explanation and practice of •mind-mapping •high concept •the holon •decide on a possible story •theme, content and subject matter •appropriate style •story boarding
Suggestions about how to present stories:
•the use of captions and texts •presentation •ideas
Several weeks later, will have provided sufficient time for participants to decide on a story, create a high concept and a holon, work on a storyboard, and begin to create a photographic project. On that second weekend we will explore the work so far, providing an in-depth analysis and suggestions for continuation and/or improvements.
Workshop members will, if they wish, show their storyboards, discuss their high concept and show their pictures so far as prints, or as PDFs. Each will be discussed in detail. This is where the best learning takes place. All previous discussions will begin to take shape, encourage participant’s imaginations and boost their knowledge.
As a film-maker, I learned more about story-telling while in the edit suite than anywhere else. We will make this as painless and as friendly and supportive as possible.
Participants will go away with ideas to perfect and develop their stories.
Several weeks later (to be decided amongst us) we will look at corrections, alterations and improvement to the work.
A maximum of 6 people per the two groups will take part in this set of workshops because of the need to have sufficient time for individual attention. I am offering two sets of dates if we have more than 6 people. It will be on a first come basis.
The fee is £350.00 for the 5 days to be booked and paid by 15 February 2016.**
Once you have signed up and paid, I will send some PDF’s that may interest you.
GROUP A FILLED
Weekend 1 - Saturday and Sunday 12 and 13 March
Weekend 2 - Saturday and Sunday 2 and 3 April
GROUP B 4 PLACES LEFT
Weekend 1 Saturday and Sunday 27 and 28 Febuary
Weekend 2 Saturday and Sunday 16 and 17 April
The final review day to be decided by the group
Please note, if no more than 6 people sign up, the workshops will have to be on one weekend only. If there are not more than 8 people, we may work in one group.
All the workshops will take place in Bridport. There is free parking available (as I write). Workshops will be from 10 am until 5 pm with a break for lunch.
For payment details: please go HERE.
*This course will assume you are to a degree competent with using your DSLR and can find your way around Photoshop. This series of workshops is neither about basic technique nor snap-shooting. It is for advanced amateurs who want to take there work to another level of communication.
** For people wishing to stay in Bridport for these weekends there are excellent B&B’S and a good hotel at different tariffs.
A photographer, as he develops, gravitates naturally towards a set of unconscious visual preferences: finding wide-angle distortions more interesting than long-lens stacked distortions; liking high midday light more than lateral early or late light; sensing the world seems more acceptable in low key rather than in the mid-tones; admiring balanced, solid, centrally weighted compositions over flat, linear compositions, and so on. These preferences are often a consequences of unconscious but influential assumptions that help the photographer to subjectively influence the look of her images. Over years, as these visual preferences are used, examined and experimented with, a language of telling is honed into what is often referred to as ‘style’. The originality of the style, or more precisely, the humanity of the style will be a result of how deeply thought about, how painfully examined the photographer has been committed to expressing truths beyond what has been handed her from education, the media and popular culture.
Usually the style will fit into one of the period’s dominant visual modes. It could be a variant of realism, romanticism, classism, expressionism or naturalism, modes which are deeply embedded in western culture and rise and fall in favour, depending on different economic, political, intellectual and aesthetic pressures. Each mode is an expression of a worldview, and at any one moment, one of the modes will be supported and promoted by those who hold power…therefore, those who control the schools and the culture.
Photographers who succumb to using the dominant mode will often be doing so unconsciously, or because to do so leads to wealth and fame, or in the least, to a steady steam of commissions. The insidious consequence of this is that ‘style’ becomes disassociated from ‘content’. Style is celebrated above meaning. Form, colour, printing methods, even the size of a print becomes the focus of the dialogue surrounding the work. Content, and in particular, social content is at first obscured and then forgotten by viewers and critics.
You see how handy this is for those who control society? It is a deviation. Galleries and books, photo-essays and exhibitions are filled with smoke and mirrors.
For a photograph to have the beauty of fully human content and meaning, there needs to be a unity of form and content. Form without meaningful content is decadent, a game of illusions at best and propaganda at worst. Content without expressive form is dull, without authority.
When I surf the Internet, looking at websites, blogs, pages celebrating this style or that photographer, I am so often struck at the technical cleverness of the images, but rarely do they touch my humanity. Often collections have taken a prosaic one-line idea and developed it into a beautifully crafted series without social or personal resonances. These pictures scavenge software and camera technology, providing what are in truth, humdrum ideas tuned into spectacle. This is the cotton candy at the county fair, which can be consumed without consequence other than finally cultivating a form of decay from too dependent a diet on too little nutrition.
We are witnessing the creation of a Zombie photographic culture, in which the political/corporate body with all its attendant critics, curators, and wealthy buyers, all without souls, feed on the rest of us.
The antithesis to this is dedication and authority, which together create a clearly committed signature. These I will discuss in a following blog.
On Tuesday the 15th of September a series of 16 portraits will be on view at the Bridport Art Centre, Dorset, England accompanied by quotes from interviews i have recorded while filming local people for a proposed film about Democracy. Of course i probed while trying to be as objective as possible. The extraordinary thing is how disillusioned, angry and disappointed people are across all classes. They are fed up but still searching for a way forward and slowly even some economists, journalists and politicians are beginning to recognise it is coming time to create a sustained argument against the Neo-Liberal transfer of our wealth in the nuts bolts economy into the ownership of the financial markets. Once the exhibition is up I will put all of the images on this website.
The man above, Colin, was so trusting, good hearted and open. To me, his bravery and self-awareness represent what true manhood is about.
*People hopelessly trapped in a world not of their own making-
*People who are largely invisible to the rest of us-
*People harassed by poverty and oppression who fall into morally compromised acts-
situations where tragedy is a consequence of others conscious political and financial decisions, regardless of the protagonists faults-
*People flawed, or perhaps just being normal while possessing both compassion and selfishness…this tragic/comic arc of character-
*As opposed to bad and good, consider the impossibility of circumstances - the imposition of, for instance, austerity on innocent people’s lives.
Consider the petty things of life and its losses set against the monstrous imposition of immoral economic exploitation -
Three Polish bakers in England doing honest skilled work. These men are all but invisible. Albert Camus, the French writer/philosopher wrote: Even if I had the opportunity of climbing to the very top of the ladder of evolution, I should still ask you to account for all the victims of life and history. I do not want happiness, even gratuitous happiness, if my mind is not at rest concerning all my blood brothers. from THE REBEL
I have finally up-loaded my new film about the painter Ricky Romain to this website.
It is a 28 minute film which is more a lyrical treatment as an inquiry into why person would devote his work to a dark, important and therefore relatively unpopular content. Of course, part of the answer is because he is a true artist, not one paying lip service to the status quo.
“Kindness implies affection for place, customs and traditions, for our fellow humans and for all living things. The word “affection” and the terms of value that cluster around it—love, care, sympathy, mercy, forbearance, respect, reverence—have histories and meanings that raise the issue of worth. We should, as our culture has warned us over and over again, give our affection to things that are true, just, and beautiful.”
W Berry from speech at Duke University
Kindness also implies curiosity which implies creativity and imagination. Knowledge implies sense of place and self. The wealthy crave rather than have affection for what they do not yet own; the rest of us have affection for what we do have.
The photograph (Father and daughter, Srebrenica,May 2015, Robert Golden) is of an ill man, father to an ill daughter who is wheelchair bound, living on the 4th floor in an apartment block, in Srebrenica. There is no lift. She is trapped inside the flat. The social services are virtually non-extent.
There is no democracy without kindness.
We are born into a family, which lives at a particular time with particular knowledge in a particular culture.
The process of growing up is one of continual accommodation to the threats and pressures around the child.
Our innocent nature, born undivided, comes under assault.
The reveries of childhood, the joys and wonder of the world and the splendour of being alive disappear.
We are left with vague memories, a mere taste of what life could have been, as we labour under the burden of hollow work with short changed pay checks and empty lives of quite desperation.
We should all celebrate the rebel artists who survive this attempt to destroy creativity.
Child dressed in garden netting, running through an allotment. Bridport Dorset, June 13, 2015, Photograph: Robert Golden
Embedded in some European villages, in some factories and factory towns and cities is the memory of a past communal truth, a golden age of fraternity, mutual recognition of other’s needs and of their neighbour’s humanity. It is that dream, often missing from the memory, myth or experience of modern, post Second World War young people that needs to be kindled or offered as a renewing myth to replace the one of “I”, “me” and the central concentration of the self.
While authentic hunger for community is real, it has been supressed by the overwhelming distortions so deeply embedded in contemporary culture, a culture strictly owned and operated by the state and its schools and by the pervasive control of the Media publishers and broadcasters.
Photograph of a worried man, Srebrenica Bosnia, May 2015 by Robert Golden