Monthly Archives: October 2012

Doing Business

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Without doubt, the UK is a very troubled country at the moment. We have a government that is openly corrupt and sees no problem with its own behaviour. We have systematic looting of our public services by people who are blatantly breaching the Standards, Codes and Laws governing their conduct. It is blindingly obvious to anyone with a clear understanding of criminality or political wrong-doing – across all political parties – and yet we seem unable to do anything about it.

 

We are caught in a polarisation of politics where we are either committed to public service or dedicated to privatisation. Our problem is that we seem to be forced to choose one or the other. I’m not satisfied with either. The apparent total absence of morals within the private sector is totally abhorrent to me yet the politicisation and apparent corruption running through the public sector is equally repugnant. If I were choosing a way through this mess – which I am, in fact – I would want more choices.

 

One choice I have my eye on are the creation of social enterprises – which could be run by the best of our public servants  – and which start to address our most immediate needs. This police officer, for example, has identified a potentially very valuable social enterprise. If neither public nor private sectors have the stomach for such work, then maybe those of us who can see the problem need to start fixing it ourselves. We are not stupid people – there’s always a lawful way through a thicket like this. It’s just a case of finding it. We know exactly the kind of legal safeguards necessary to ensure a highly professional outcome. Successful cases will attract costs, so I’m sure that any business plan would look good. We know who to talk to and we know which people we’d like running the ship. We have plenty of good people who need jobs who might be willing to volunteer until the finances are sorted. For that we need a few rich and agreeable friends to throw us a few honest coppers to cover start-up costs. Who else do we know we could ask for help? It’s not difficult if you talk to the right people – we know that!

 

This police officer’s social enterprise would be my first priority because it recovers public money. Some of that can be used for grant-giving purposes to other social enterprises – like hospitals, transport and all those other services we used to have but don’t anymore. We become our own job creation scheme. And woe betide any PCC who fails to award contracts to policing social enterprises – they won’t be corrupt because we’ll be making sure they’re not.

 

There may be other ideas out there but whilst we are distracted into playing this rigged game of public/private, its heads they win – tails we lose, every time. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m tired of losing to these corrupt bastards and bitches. I think it’s time we took our power back. Social enterprise does this by taking the power out of private and political hands and returning it to our competent public. All we are doing is making sure public services are our business.

 

I like that idea. I think it could catch on.

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part Six: “The Gift of the Exile”

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To @npowerhq

 

 

Dear ‘Executive’ Sirs,  (for I doubt you have many women in your higher echelons)

 

Re: Breach of Contract

 

This afternoon, I went to top up the existing credit on my pre-payment gas meter.  When I attempted to do so, I received the message “battery fail”. It meant that my gas central heating stopped working, even though I have already paid for gas I need to use. It snowed here overnight, so the weather is cold. I do understand that there are those at the top who really couldn’t give a toss whether poor people are cold but whilst I can still afford it, my gas account remains a contractual agreement with you. Replacing batteries in gas meters forms part of your contractual responsibilities to me because, without a battery, you cannot supply the gas I have already paid for.

 

When it came to contact you about this, I discovered that if I were wealthy-enough to operate a land-line, you would provide free calls to sort out your breach of contract. I am not wealthy-enough – the poor depend on mobile phones or call boxes. For those of you who have never been poor, you may not have noticed that, since BT privatisation, there are far fewer public phone boxes than there used to be. The closest one to me is on open hillside. Did I mention that it snowed last night?

 

Those of us without landlines have to use mobile phones. Did you know that (how very convenient for the mobile phone companies)? Some of us down here at the poor end on the social scale afford to pay monthly tariffs in order to get the free calls you mention. Others, like me, can only afford to use pay-as-you-go. When I rang your mobile number to inform you of your breach of contract, I was told the waiting time was 30 minutes plus. My neighbour, who had exactly the same problem only a few days ago, confirmed that all their free-call allocation had been used up trying to get either you or one like you to sort out your breach of contract. Batteries have a known ‘shelf-life’ so replacing them ought to form part of your regular maintenance. I might wonder what kind of business you are if you don’t have that kind of schedule because, without it, it begins to look as if you don’t give a shit about your poor customers at all. I tried to phone your ‘help-line’ later and my mobile used up all my carefully saved credit before I was able to talk to someone. I can’t afford to top-up again for a week. Supposing I have another emergency? But then you don’t appear to care about my kind of custom at all, do you?

 

At present, judging by your business practices, I have to conclude that your answer is No. Did you know that the government of this country treats poor people the same way by not providing free-call numbers for mobile phone users? Yet everything must be done by phone. Given how little people are living on now – especially after your most recent price rise – this all seems rather cruel. I’ve been subject to a lot of cruelty over the past few years and it causes PTSD flashbacks. It’s one of the reasons I am poor and on benefits. I am hoping to return to work but your business practices do not help. Despite the fact that you already have my money and it is you who are in breach of contract, I am the one who is cold, further impoverished and inconvenienced. Please understand that I ‘might’ be inclined to be more forgiving if you paid your full taxes but, if you are anything like the mobile phone companies, you probably don’t. Had you chosen to invest those tax savings in providing regular maintenance to your prepayment meters, that might have gone in your favour too – but I suspect you don’t do that either. I am also right in thinking that those of us with prepayment meters – which enable us to budget the pittance we receive – are charged more than those who pay by other methods? Don’t we pay for this maintenance then? Are we really such inconvenient customers that it’s Ok for you to charge me more, take my money in advance and only turn up to honour your contract after you’ve messed us around?

 

By the way – this is being written whilst I’m waiting for your engineer to turn up. The night sky is clear – it’s going to be another cold one. Unless it snows again, of course. There are people with no homes out there tonight and some who can’t afford food or warmth, so I count myself fortunate in comparison. When I look at those less fortunate than me and then I look at you, you’ll have to forgive me if I am a little frosty. There is this matter of your breach of contract. The more I consider what appears to be going on here, the more I’m starting to believe your behaviour is intentional, especially if I’m right about the regular maintenance issue. Given your general behaviour so far, I’ll be lucky if your engineer turns up at all even thought I was told I might have to wait up to four hours. That was three and a half hours ago. My pessimism is beginning to have some grounding in fact.

 

 

In order to require you to comply with your contract, I had to go out to the public phone and call from there. The phone-box itself is subject to open-fell weather. I had to wait over fifteen minutes before I actually got to speak to another human being. You are extremely fortunate that the woman at your call centre was both professional and as humane as your service allows. She took time to listen to how upset I was and how angry I felt at being treated this way. She did a good job but also had to require me to phone your company again – from the cold public phone box (no credit left, remember? Can’t afford more for a week?)– because I hadn’t complied with your rules! The account was in my landlady’s agent’s name and it should have been in mine. You require me to do business with you by phone yet you discriminate against me because I am poor and can only use mobile or the far fewer public phones. At the same time, you fail to maintain your supply to me.

 

Let’s give you one more reason to write off me off – just so we are all being honest around here. I’m a desister – a woman found guilty of wounding with intent and threatening to kill a police officer (1st offence age 48). I know exactly what it is like to be treated as if I have no worth and the only responsible thing I could do for society was die. I’ll tell you one thing. The system isn’t permitted to kill prisoners and when they try, however directly or indirectly, they can be shown to have broken the rules. The reason you won’t write me off, however, is that I got very good at spotting exactly where the ghost in the machine was lurking, especially in prison.

 

The reason I believe you intentionally discriminate against the poor is the ring-back service you don’t provide on mobile lines. You provide that service elsewhere – your call centre told me so. You breach your contract with me at every level. I will be looking to change to an ethical supplier who can meet my needs as far as prepayment is concerned. There was a doorstepper here this week offering that kind of service, except the more I think about that, the more I suspect it might have been a con. There seem to be a lot of such types in your business, don’t there?

 

You’d think, given that there are so many of us poor these days, what with our numbers increasing and all, that there’d be some successful kind of business made out of treating the poor fairly. Perhaps some of us might fund a few start-ups on the compensation we receive from you for the way you have been treating us. I’ve a mind to get those taxes out of you one way or another.

 

And I apologise for the disjointedness of this – I’m normally fairly eloquent (or so I’ve been told) – but I’m cold and experiencing the kind of ‘shock’ that comes with realising just how badly I’m being abused. When I was in prison, this was the time the formal complaints began flying. A lot got sorted when I reached officers and governors who knew, without being told, that you don’t treat prisoners like this. If you do, women die and men riot. My complaints were always aimed at seeking to head off the latter when I could see it happening. I wasn’t always successful and I have seen both outcomes manifest during my imprisonment – although it was YOs who ‘rioted’ in my case.  As a desister, I am no longer permitted to bystand, comply or consent to unlawful conditions once they can be proven unlawful. I have a social responsibility to oppose anything corrupt because it kills people and hurts others. You are actively discriminating against the poor in general and me in particular by subjecting me to hurt and suffering through neglect of whatever contractual duty applies between us – and if you decide you weren’t doing it to me, then you were doing it to my landlady’s agent and my landlady. It’s called a crime at my end of the social spectrum and I think it might well be a crime at your end too.

 

There’s no point in going through your complaints procedures because you’ve fixed them so they fail. There’ll be someone out there with evidence to prove it; if not, more. There are more like me – experiencing unmaintained service problems, experiencing total loss of paid-for service, denied equal communication access and being charged more for the privilege – which has to break some law and well as leaving you in breach of your contract to me.

 

I’m going to circulate this on the social media because I don’t think I’m alone in this – I just happen to be the one who can see stuff, make connections other people might miss and put it down in my own words. There’ll be things in this other people will recognise – whoever they are – but mainly, we’ll  all be poor or getting poorer. I want to know if I can sue you, npower, for this and whether there’s anyone amongst my legal follows who’d be willing to help, pro-bono for now but going for enough costs to create start-up legal aid social enterprises. God knows, we need them if we are to straighten this behaviour out.  I have smaller plans for a desistance-for-women social enterprise project needs funding plus I want to float the idea of a Police Social Enterprise that goes after tax evaders. Could my claim for compensation be for social gain – I’m not allowed to do personal gain as a desister. Can I do that to you, npower, because God knows I want to!.

 

I’m going to have to trust that society will see me alright – let them decide. I’d certainly like to be able to pay my landlady her full rent instead of her having to take the hit of my housing benefit cap. She prefers having me as a tenant and is willing to take the loss. I don’t think she should have to. I’m willing to work but I can’t if I keep getting hits like this one – as I sit here in the cold, waiting for your engineer to turn up. I feel punished for your failures.

 

There is one good thing about this kind of shock – it means I wobble all over the place. The one thing that keeps me steady is my focus on you. It doesn’t seem to matter what perspective my wobble gives me, I seem to be seeing the same thing. Even if everyone can’t follow everything, there are going to be some that will. The people who are seeing the same thing I am and just needed someone else’s story to confirm what they were suspecting themselves. I’m hoping that those who are ready to do something about this might pass it around. Is there a likely lawyer out there who thinks I might have a case because there’s definitely something wrong with me at the moment? I’m not usually like this. Am I?

 

As for you, npower executives. Is there really anything left to say?

 

Yours

 

Dee Wilde Walker

 

 

PS

Your four-hour promise has just been broken.

 

PPS

 

Anyone else having this problem?

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2012: What's the 'real' truth?

Published on Oct 22, 2012 by Carl Boudreau

Another good news/bad news month. But it’s also a test of our determination, our perceptions and our reactions. Depending on what you choose to focus on, it could seem all bad or all good. All of life is like that to some extent, but November is a special case. How we respond to November 2912 will have a major effect on the whole rest of our lives.

However it affects you, though, November will be a very, very eventful month, full of final decisions and major turning points. An interesting runup to the 2012 chart.

A technical note: I encountered an unusually high number of technical issues while preparing this video, especially with respect to sound. Please excuse any glitches I didn’t catch.

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The Adult Territory of Desistance

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(This first appeared as a Guest Blog on the No Offence Forum – 5th October 2012)

 

Desistance is a new concept to me having only stumbled across the idea in the last week or so but it speaks to and answers a great many arguments I have had with both society and the justice system. It’s the first authentic approach I’ve found that offers adult-to-adult contact between offender and community by confronting the failures of responsibility on both sides of the relationship. In doing so, desistance offers the potential for change, transformation and healing. An offender cannot transform themselves out of that label and into desistance without similar changes within society itself. By stepping into the adult responsibilities of fault, the desisting offender calls to the same within the community. These are therapeutic concepts I recognise and am very familiar with. In encountering desistance, I met an old friend.
Whilst society, in general, makes a big song-and-dance about adult responsibilities, this is not actually reflected in a lot of its behaviour. The best theoretical structure to ‘hang’ this on probably comes from Transactional Analysis. TA talks about the different approaches to interpersonal relationships from the perspective of Parent-Adult-Child. Responsibility issues are clarified and become accessible to both sides of the criminal justice relationship, creating attainable measures for both.
For example; the traditional relationship between system and offender can be seen to belong to the ‘Critical Parent to Adapted Child’ dynamic. This is the “You are bad and must do as I tell you or else” message of the system to the individual offender who is expected to comply by adapting themselves, not simply their behaviour, to these highly critical parentally-oriented demands. That it fails ought to come as no surprise to anyone because it reinforces irresponsibility on both sides. In adult-to-adult relationships, we have to recognise that neither is going to be perfect because perfection is unattainable to honest human beings. We are all imperfect. The only difference between me and most of my community and me is that I am fully qualified as imperfect. Presently, as a rehabilitating or desisting offender, if I am taking on the adult responsibilities for my own social redemption, I will inevitably confront those aspects of a critical-parent society that refuses to take responsibility for allowing me to do this. These are the obstructions faced by both the individual offender and the criminal justice system. The beauty of desistance, both as an idea and as practice, is that it enables discussion between the two. We are required to relate to each other in order to find the way through. That desisters clearly exist demonstrates this ‘intelligent framework’ has functioning ‘legs’ capable of producing the outcomes society claims it wants. At the same time, desistance challenges that same society to transform the attitudes that actively prevent such outcomes from occurring.
One of the problems within the criminal justice system are the judgmental and blaming qualities within its structural ‘DNA’. What is certain, from a psychotherapeutic perspective, is that nothing can change whilst judgement and blame remain in overall charge. Introducing an adult-to-adult interpersonal dynamic to this system does not mean responsibility issues relating to the offences themselves are ignored – far from it. These have to remain as central issues because they are the necessary seed from which desistance can grow. Without the offence, there can be no desistance and there can be no change in either offender or the offended society. What makes the transformational difference is that the offence is seen as an aspect of the human being who is also an offender, rather than the whole of their being. A therapeutic relationship looks for what else the offender is capable of. We know they can behave so badly that they attract legal punishment but what else is there about the individual that is healthy and could be supported to the point where this overshadows the offence. This is what Carl Rogers called “unconditional positive regard”.
By utilising ‘unconditional positive regard’, the onus is placed on the offender themselves to build upon what is being identified – to diminish the unwanted and antisocial aspects of their attitudes and behaviour in favour of healthier alternatives. The choice for change becomes the offender’s adult responsibility and those who decline to take up the offer can be confronted with the fact that their refusal then becomes society’s responsibility to manage. It’s not a case of wholesale abandonment of traditional ways but of introducing a choice. Desistance adds to what exists but does not replace it. Society needs to be able to deal effectively with irresponsible criminal behaviour but a healthy society recognises that this is not the only solution.  If an offender takes up the personal and social responsibilities inherent within the desistance challenge, society is confronted by the need to provide the necessary support to make it a realistic and achievable possibility. The responsibility becomes a shared project where each party teaches the other about the problems within the collective field by identifying the personal and social factors which result in offending behaviour coupled with a joint effort to resolve them.
For as long as society and the individuals who make up that society are caught up in parent/child attitudes, we are all contributing to the creation of offending behaviour. It is a vicious circle that helps no-one and does a great deal of social harm. Excluding offenders from determining what they need in order to be able to shoulder the responsibilities of becoming a functioning adult is highly controlling, unhealthily parental behaviour. It inevitably fails those who might be capable of desistance were they given the necessary support.  From my own perspective, this is as socially irresponsible as any offender’s crime because it actively contributes to recidivism. Equally, failure to address the issues that give rise to criminal behaviour is socially irresponsible and offenders can be forgiven for thinking our political and social leaders are hypocrites because they are required to shoulder the entire blame created by poor decisions over which they had no control. In psychotherapeutic terms, critical parenting is abusive and adding more social controls on to already abusive circumstances can only create more problems than it will ever solve.
When I entered personal therapy for the first time, almost thirty years ago, I began a journey that brought me face-to-face with all those aspects of self that had failed to ‘grow-up’ into adult responsibility. Anyone who has undergone such self-examination will tell you that this is the hardest road anyone can walk. It is excruciatingly painful to discover that reality falls well short of our beliefs about ourselves. If society wants its pound of flesh from those engaged in desistance, I really couldn’t recommend this route more highly. Nevertheless, the advantage to the individual for undertaking such a monumental task is a level of self-worth and self-determination like no other. In examining our self-beliefs, we often find that those aspects we thought valuable are worthless and vice-versa. An individual who has a realistic grasp of their own value and capabilities has a very great deal to offer, regardless of how they got to that point. In fact, I might suggest that those who have direct experience of the worst of themselves and the society they grew up in have far more to offer at the end of such a therapeutic journey than those who have not. We know where the problems are because we’ve lived them and we have a better idea of effective solutions because we’ve tried them.
To become a healthy-enough and functioning adult is probably the greatest challenge as well as the greatest achievement available to any individual, offender or otherwise. Without a framework that recognises this, we create the problems we face now as a society. What we can be certain of is that the old ways of thinking don’t work and everyone, community and offender alike, is paying a very heavy price for this failure. The question we all need to ask is whether we can afford to continue to treat each other this way?
I know what my answer is. Do you?

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part Five: “Return of the Exile”

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Dear Dr Wollaston,

 

I’m writing to you because your name has appeared in dispatches about the Tory party again. Through you, I am trying to contact the kind of Tory who expresses the kind of view posted here on this Guardian thread. I am also deeply concerned about the class divisions occurring in this country and the levels of corruption being demonstrated by those who hold public office across all political parties.

 

To put it bluntly, your government is in the process of creating a crisis of social chaos and we, the people, have had enough. We told you this, politely, yesterday – October 20 – in Belfast, Glasgow and London. Whilst you might want to point to the small few who ‘invaded’ shops after the demonstration, I might point to the arresting officers and suggest they probably had no personal disagreement with the message “Pay Your Tax”. If this was the worst some 100k people could do in a confined space, then I think we are doing rather well, don’t you?

 

I am writing to you because I see what your government is about to do to the criminal justice system. As a desister, I cannot remain silent. Our country cannot afford this kind of criminal system any more – it is far too expensive, at every level, and has proven to fail each and every time it has been used. It is morally wrong to continue to punish those capable of rehabilitation and desistance because it denies the possibility of redemption. I sincerely hope there are those amongst your number that still understand what redemption means because, to be honest, it is very hard to see through the miasma of corruption that surrounds you. It is truly an act of faith that tells me decent Tories still exist and given that you, Dr Wollaston, appear to have all the right symptoms, I’m hoping this might reach as many like you as possible.

 

I don’t know how much can be done to start putting things right at your end, but I think I can see ways of doing it at mine. I would like to help but you are going to have to stop treating me as if I have no value. Whoever told you that was lying. I doubt very much if I would have retained the quality of my Twitter followers if that were true. This also means that other people like me have value too and the only way we can begin to deal with the problems we all face is through mutual respect. Until that is agreed, there is no point in even trying to talk to each other, even though I think it’s time we did.

I want to talk to the kind of Tories who recognise the importance and value of community. Any conversation would need to be ‘public’, via the social media, because as a desister I must be visible – people must be able to see what I am doing.

 

If you aren’t the right person to talk to, do you know anyone who will?

 

Yours sincerely

 

Dee Wilde-Walker

 

 

PS

The reason this letter appears as a part of a series on the archetype of the Scapegoat is that I am in a position to be able to demonstrate what I am teaching and how easy/difficult it can be for people to do this at the moment. We have exiled far too many people from our community – if I can find my way back, so can they.

 

You can find the previous posts on the subject here:

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part One: The Collective versus Andrew Mitchell

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part Two: Behold the High Priest

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part Three: Blood Sacrifice

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part Four: The Goat that Escapes

 

#20Oct Demonstration & what we may all need to bear in mind

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On 20 October, London is going to host the biggest public demonstration against UK government plans the city has ever witnessed. My contribution here is to raise awareness of the potential problems I see together with how they might be managed on the day itself.

These potential trouble-spots are worth reflecting on beforehand because there are strengths we can all draw upon to address them.

 

The Central Issue

What lies at the heart of this demonstration is a major clash of both politics and public morality. The UK has a government actively dismantling a social structure that has been in existence for over 60 years. The government has no electoral mandate to make such changes and has openly acknowledged misleading the electorate in order to gain this political power. It claims that its reasons are financial but this can be demonstrated to be untrue and its policies are now being openly criticised at international levels. In addition, there is now overwhelming evidence of corruption and crony capitalism at the very top between government and the corporate private sector. Based on current behaviour, our government is planning the following for the ordinary people of the UK:-

  • Slave labour
  • Homelessness
  • Starvation
  • Mass death by financial attrition
  • Complete dismantling of health and welfare services
  • Mass transfer of public wealth into private hands

My list is not inclusive but it does impact upon everyone who is involved with or dependent upon our public services and is why people employed in our public sector are demonstrating on Saturday.

This clash between public and private interests is not new in Britain but there are, in my opinion, some highly significant differences between the past and present. In the past, the levels of public corruption have not been so evident and Tory governments have been able to use the police and armed services to enforce their will. Our current government has undermined this connection – in general terms, our police and armed forces are now as disaffected as the protestors.

 

My main concerns for Saturday’s Demo

Again, this is not inclusive but these are the factors I have identified that may impact upon the demonstration.

Long-term Fatigue

As far as I can tell, everyone involved is likely to be extremely tired, particularly the police who have had leave and rest days cancelled over a long period, from the riots of 2011 to the Olympics of 2012. The same will be true for the public sector demonstrators. Everyone has been experiencing cutbacks in personal finances together with an inability to recover from unreasonable work pressures whilst, at the same time, ever increasing workload demands. This combination makes for short fuses and impatience. It would be foolish to think that some won’t take advantage of this. If we are aware of how this affects both police and demonstrators, it can be managed.

Anger

The present government is highly abusive towards those it regards as plebs. The normal healthy human response is anger towards the abusers. It is well within the realm of possibility that this anger could be manipulated by government supporters in order to provoke disturbance and create divide-and-rule scenarios between people who would otherwise agree with each other. If we are all aware of this, we can forward plan to manage this too.

 

Where are the problems likely to arise?

One of the biggest problems I see arises from senior management decisions amongst those who will be responsible for policing the event.

It is now quite obvious that the Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe, is a government lackey taking his orders from a Home Secretary with a criminal conviction for contempt of court. This suggests that there is a very real possibility that some orders issued to police officers may not be lawful. It is also clear that some Met Police officers will obey these orders willingly, when we consider past corruption being identified within the Met and other police forces. Given the size of the demo, it is quite likely that the Met will be calling in officers from outside London. For those police officers on duty who might otherwise have joined the demonstration themselves, it would help if close attention were paid to issued orders as this may prove invaluable in minimising unlawful provocative police actions against a lawful protest. If there is apparent mismanagement, it would also help to know that officers would report this afterwards through their chain of command (bearing in mind that it might not be possible – it always depends upon the integrity of the senior officers involved). This could make a considerable difference to improved police/public relations. To any senior officer on the receiving ends such reports, I would make this point. If, as we are being told by government, there is no money then the public can no longer afford to employ corrupt officers and the matter needs addressing in the urgent public interest. To those attending the demo, please remember that the police won’t be able to discuss it because their rules don’t allow them to.

Equally, there is a very good chance that ‘black bloc’ agent provocateurs will be seeded amongst the demonstrators themselves. It’s been done before and there is no reason to suppose that it won’t be done again on Saturday.  If union stewards and police work together, the impact of their activities ought to be contained or minimised. Additionally, the presence of citizen journalists and legal observers collecting photographic and video evidence of the demonstration will enable identification of anyone – police or public – intent on creating trouble.

At the same time, those of us monitoring the event on the social media can ensure that any necessary information is passed quickly and efficiently to where it is needed – including identifying those who are intentionally circulating misinformation.

During the past year, various members of the public have learned a great deal about how to effectively communicate during various protests and demonstrations. Provided the social media is not censored – which has been known elsewhere – we all ought to be able to support each other to ensure overall public safety. This post aims to contribute to this.

 

If there is anything you think I’ve missed or needs including, please post these in the comments below. Our arguments are not between different sections of the public sector – the problems are with blatantly corrupt government acting in its own personal interest together all those who support them. We empower them by fighting amongst ourselves and they are already drunk with the stuff. We disempower them by working together, overcoming personal prejudices about each other and keeping our collective eye on demanding a government answerable to the electorate and not its corporate masters.

 

Let’s all be safe out there on Saturday but let’s all be prepared to identify those who want us to fight each other, whoever they might be – police or demonstrators – because they won’t be acting in the public interest.

 

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part Four: The Goat that Escapes

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Expulsion from the Garden of Eden by Tommaso Cassai Masaccio

Before I embark upon the story of the second goat within the Scapegoat archetype or complex, I would like to briefly revisit the first one – the goat that dies. When I wrote about it here, I used a highly sensitive example that could easily have caused offence to all those involved in the events I described. I offer my sincere apologies to anyone who felt uncomfortable with it as a result. What I was attempting to do – albeit badly – was raise awareness of the very powerful spiritual component within unfolding events. Nevertheless, I would invite readers to explore some of the strikingly beautiful creative responses from the community directly affected that I have reblogged here, here and here.

From within a community that was feeling undervalued and attacked, have emerged poets and dreamers, volunteering time and effort to enable the sacred aspects needed to ensure that two women’s deaths did not pass unnoticed or dishonoured. It would have been a very hard heart indeed that remained unmoved by the response of both the police nationally and the city of Greater Manchester to the funerals of PC’s Hughes and Bone. If ever there was an example of ‘sacrifice as pharmakon’ or healing agent, this was surely it. It serves as a reminder of our best in the face of the worst humanity can sink to. It is important to remember that, within the ancient ritual, the souls of the sacrificed are rewarded with immediate union with god. For those who remain behind, such events are the reminder and memory of what is finest within us, the human face of the divine spirit within, which are not just measured by our living but by our dying as well. For the community as a whole, all failings on my part have been more than compensated for by the work of those more closely involved. In this instance, I am very grateful for their corrections to my mistakes.

Nevertheless, my exploration of the scapegoat is not yet complete. We still have the second goat to study – the one who is exiled. Given the examples I have been using for this series, it is interesting to note that Andrew Mitchell, instigator of “GateGate”, appears to have exiled himself from the political debates of his party’s conference. This has greater significance because his constituency is in Birmingham, where the Conservative Party conference is being held. It would seem as if he has become an exiled goat – a mild example of what happens to a sin carrier for the community.

The exiled goat is the most familiar aspect of the scapegoat ritual in modern times and our personal response to its emergence says far more about us than we might feel comfortable with. In a world whose perceptions are dualistic, this is the issue of ‘right’ (the high priest) and ‘wrong’ (the exiled goat). When this kind of separation is occurs within a community, it is inevitable that we will be applying such divisions to our own internal selves too. We make judgmental decisions about which bits of us are acceptable or not. Many of us exile aspects of our personalities we dislike to our unconscious in our attempts to fit it with our society. We fool ourselves into believing that the problem of sin is somehow ‘out there’ by failing to acknowledge or respect our own dark side. It is worth remembering that within an ego-level psyche, when we occupy our own personal moral high-ground, whatever we may think or feel about others, is almost certainly something within ourselves too. This is why we know it so well when we point our fingers at others and can recognise it for what it is. We are talking about our true selves when our ego becomes ‘high priest’. The only time this may not hold true is at a social conscience level. This is where we can openly acknowledge both our dark and light aspects whilst working in the interests of our wider community – these are the kinds of ‘special’ aspects of difference associated with the scapegoated exile.

Where the sacrificed goat speaks to ‘unholy’ divisions within the community, the exiled goat speaks to our attitude towards ‘difference’ both personally and collectively. There is always going to be a quality of difference within each one of us simply because we all have the potential to be unique individuals. This quality of individual difference means that, regardless of how we try, at some point we are all likely to have an experience of becoming the exiled goat.

There are many reasons why an individual might find themselves in the role of the exiled goat. Within the archetypes we find the voluntary (Jesus) and involuntary (Orestes); sinners (Oedipus) and innocents (Orpheus); and we find those for whom this is a vocation – the sin-eaters, like the Aztec goddess, Tlazolteutl. In all cases, the individual involved will be marked out by some personal difference, identified by the collective as ‘undesirable’, about which the ‘exile’ can do little or nothing because it is who they are. These are the vital differences within us, within the archetype, that are capable of carrying the sins of an entire community – the exiled goat doesn’t bear its own sins alone into the wilderness, it carries everyone’s.  There is something about these differences that are ‘bigger’ than the individual and capable of bearing far more than just the guilt of personal ‘transgression’.

So what might we look for as ‘different’ enough to be able to bear the weight of collective ‘sin’ of scapegoating? The following are common markers:-

Royalty

Amongst archetypal scapegoats, many are royal in some form or another. It’s a difference that marks the individual out as special or ‘above’ the commons.  In a psychological setting, this can be termed ‘grandiosity’ when viewed negatively or it might be an emerging of social conscience within an individual desiring to give to the greater ‘good’ of the community. To act on such beliefs inevitably sets an individual apart from the collective in the same way as royalty is perceived as ‘outside’ the general whole. Both archetypal and historical examples exist of the royal sacrifice and/or exile deemed to be necessary for greater social good. This is difference as specialness.

 Physical Differences

Many archetypal scapegoats have physical differences that mark them out as ‘special’. For example, the name Oedipus actually means ‘swollen foot’ which, in addition to his royalty, marks him out as dissimilar. Others, like Jesus during the crucifixion, are maimed. Scapegoats may be ugly or deformed in some way and this particular aspect comes into very clear focus when we consider how the scapegoat complex plays out at the collective level. People of physical ‘otherness’ often become targets of collective persecution.

 Foreign

Many individuals who find themselves scapegoated, either in archetype or reality, are perceived as foreign in their difference or specialness. This applies to equally to groups if ‘difference’ within a greater society and it is not hard to name examples who have experienced this, whether it be Jews of the past or Muslims in the present.

 Magical

Within the archetype, individuals may be perceived as having magical powers. For example, Orpheus’s music was regarded as so exquisitely beautiful it caused trees and stones to weep. Jesus could heal the blind and raise the dead. A scapegoat may have a mysterious talent that can be perceived as a gift in a stable environment but which transforms into a threat during a crisis. When the community faces a catastrophe, such individuals may find themselves blamed and hunted down for the same talents, skills or gifts previously regarded as blessings.

 “Mad”

This feature of scapegoating comes from psychological differences where individual perception is seen to be so different from the norm as to be regarded as madness. This is the role of holy fool who is, in some cultures, regarded as sacred and the madness as ‘god-inflicted’. Sometimes the individual may be genuinely insane; at other times, they may simply be guilty of holding a different viewpoint from that of the scapegoating collective.

Outlaw

“The scapegoat in myth may also be an outlaw whose crime has turned the wrath of the gods against the community. The scapegoat is the one who has committed, or is believed to have committed, the murder, the theft, the rape, the breach of social taboos. But the motive behind the crime is never simple…

The crimes of this kind of scapegoat figure are different from ordinary garden variety crimes. These crimes challenge some universal authority, breaking collective law yet at the same time fulfilling a secret collective need. The scapegoat may enact the crime which all of us long to commit, which on the most profound level is the crime of individuality. The mythic outlaw is often an individual who defies the stagnant or unjust rules of society or the gods, and he or she is punished by those laws at the same time as being secretly admired and envied by the very people who have invoked the punishment.”

(From “The Dark of the Soul” by Liz Greene: CPA Press 2003; ISBN: 978-1-900869-28-7)

 

These are the qualities likely to be found within those who are individually ‘marked out’ for attention when scapegoating moves within both the collective conscious and unconscious. When it erupts as a collective social complex, this ‘marking’ takes on the ominous destructiveness of ethnic or other ‘special’ cleansing. This form of scapegoating becomes the sacrificing/exiling of entire groups which, unfortunately, has become all too familiar. Groups likely to be subject to scapegoating persecution frequently fall into the following categories: race; religion; class; sexuality; gender; and “non-human”, like animals or the environment. We can begin to get a sense of what community values are by looking at those who are sacrificed or exiled. For example, if a society routinely scapegoats black people, Muslims, the differently-abled, the poor, the mad, non-heterosexuals, women and nature, these provide very precise measures of what it does value. Using recent examples, it’s possible to perceive the outline of the offended god demanding appeasement as probably white, maybe Christian, physically perfect, rich, ‘sane’, misogynistic, heterosexually male and disconnected from nature.  As humans, we are inevitably going to fall short of such measures which means, especially within the scapegoat complex, that as one ‘difference’ is sacrificed or exiled, other individual differences emerge to be subject to the same. The complex morphs into wholesale collective xenophobic attrition capable of exterminating whole communities and peoples.

Having identified those individuals or groups likely to carry the scapegoat archetype when a community experiences a crisis, it is vital to look at what sins are being exiled.

“The reason the goat is exiled is not because the community doesn’t like goats. It is because the community has offended God, and the exile is carrying that which has caused offence. This goat bears not only the pain of alienation from the community, but also the pain of alienation from its spiritual source.” (ibid)

 In addition, it is important is to explore how the individual exile responds to their situation. Some may choose to reject the exiling community:

“The exiled goat may… turn its back on the collective. The anger may be too great, and personal pride may also be involved. The exiled goat may say, “I don’t need them anyway. In fact, I am going to do everything in my power to sabotage and destroy the collective which has rejected me…” The exiled goat can become an anarchist and a revolutionary. It is the lone gunman, the social outcast who consciously chooses the role of outlaw. In its most extreme form, it is Charles Manson, who gleefully accepts the projection of the collective shadow and says, “Since you will condemn me whatever I am or do, I may as well do what I have been accused of, and justify your condemnation of me.” That response provides a form of power and a feeling of being special, and this can compensate for the humiliation of rejection. Such exiled goats are necessary to a community which is unconscious of its own sins, because they carry the collective shadow.” (ibid)

This is the realm of the terrorist whom having, either individually or collectively, experienced the terrors of rejection and exile, returns to visit this shadow upon the community who perpetrated the expulsion. This is particularly true when the ‘unconscious’ high priest mercilessly heaps communal sins upon individuals or groups who are subsequently destroyed or exiled through blame, thereby avoiding conscious responsibility for their own sins. It creates a vicious circle. As the ‘sin’ is hidden within the unconsciousness of the community itself, no amount of projection,  sacrifice or exile can resolve the ‘loss of connection to the divine’ and the failure requires more ‘high priests’ to relentlessly seek out new victims to blame. The ultimate result leads to an ‘empty world’ as one difference after another is sacrificed on the altar of this insatiable, blood-thirsty ‘god’ until the whole community is dead. Sadly, we do not need to look far for real-life examples of this being acted out in the world at the present time.

There are other choices available to an exiled scapegoat. They might refuse revenge but reject the community by choosing to remain in exile. A third option is the role of pharmakon – the exiled goat as healer. This is the goat who not only who escapes death thereby becoming ‘the one who lives’, albeit in exile, it is also the goat who returns from the wilderness seeking to win back the acceptance of the rejecting community through service to others.

It is this particular scapegoat, ‘the one who returns’, which is the subject of my next piece.

The Archetypal Scapegoat – 1

The Archetypal Scapegoat – 2

The Archetypal Scapegoat – 3

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In praise of the boots on the ground using the social media properly

The Plastic Hippo

What better way to spend an autumnal Sunday than attending the Walsall Police Open Day at Walsall Police Station on Green Lane. Come rain or shine, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

The fun starts today at 11-00am with the arrival of an RAF helicopter and goes on until 4-00pm. You can pat a police dog, look at some cars and guns and if you are lucky enough, hold a policeman`s truncheon. The cells will be open for inspection by those few remaining members of our rich, diverse community unfamiliar with the interior of a slammer.

An open day is, of course, an excellent idea and gives the community a greater awareness of the sometimes difficult work undertaken by the police. Anything that promotes trust and understanding between the police and the public has to be a very good thing. It seems a shame then, in this of all…

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