Thursday, 30 April 2015

General Election: It's The Final Countdown

With less than a week to go before the UK goes to the polls there seems to be more confusion than ever about our political system. Whats the point of voting if nothing changes? With the Liberal Democrats almost certainly to experience total erradication at the polls and another 5 years of Cameron and the icy Conservatives sounding like a death sentence where do we turn? Well, I turned to the excellent documentary by Adam Curtis and trust me when I say this is not going to be comforting journey...

Irrespective of your politcial leanings, the decision to jump into bed with the Conservatives seems to have been a disastrous one. Nick Clegg has shown a lust for power that has undone decades of hard work by the party faithful but the cyncial grab for power has uncovered far more. We have an unwritten democracy which is held together by a tacit agreement with the ruling Monarch and the ability of any government to run the country. Over the last 5 years we have seen that ability for what it is and it doesnt work anymore. But perhaps it never really worked in the first place, perhaps we just thought it did. What has been uncovered is an eye opening glimpse of who truly holds the power and this is expertly explored by Adam Curtis in Bitter Lake.

Bitter Lake is a 2 hour BBC documentary that begins with this premise: "Western politicians keep simplifying the stories they tell, into a simple-to-digest by the public "good" vs. "evil" argument, due to society's overwhelming chaos and disorder, which they neither grasp nor understand" A powerful and evocative statement and over the duration of the program Curtis explores the origin and facts that he believes support this damning statement. What is striking about Bitter Lake is the absence of opinion. Normally, when you watch a documentary it is made up of a mix of opinion with the facts cherry picked to prove the point. Not so with Bitter Lake, It is 2 hours of historical background, interview and analysis that leaves you with a horrific conclusion. 

The title is taken from the lake, in Afghanistan, that was the venue for a meeting which changed the world forever. The Roosevelt brokered deal for oil flow with Saudi Arabia secured America a strong bargaining chip, seen as essential during the Cold War. But it was to have unforeseen and far reaching consequences that echoed around the Globe. The agreement was made with one evocative clause, Saudi Arabia would supply America with oil provided it was allowed to continue its violent and fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, uninhibited from external influence. This in turn has fed like a feedback loop into the many troubles the world faces with regards to various pseudo-Jihadic forces spanning the 1970s to present day; be they the Mujahideen, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and into IS. I was shocked to learn the truth of this as this certainly points to the current destabilisation in the region being the fault of American policy. Whilst Saudi Arabia cannot be blameless as it is their belief systems that have been used to inflict the worst atrocities in recent human history, they have been given a louder voice because of the deal struck on that fateful day.

In order to understand and communicate the eruption of violence the documentary comments on Political rhetoric and the change that occurred. Reagan, Bush, Blair and their successors have all bought into the over simplified "Axis of Evil" and positioned their respective countries in the role of the good guy. Its not that simple, how can it be? We are looking at a clash of culture, of ideology and of belief system. To simply label individuals as evil is to gloss over the issues and complexities and to ignore the part Western countries had to play. Our countries constant interference with Afghanistan has not stabilised the country it has made it worse. The interview with a senior commander within the Armed Forces backs this up. Whether motives were pure or not, by believing the over simplification of this combustive situation we have added oil to a fire that is already out of control.

The price hike imposed by Saudi Arabia in the Eighties made the country incredibly rich and they channeled the billions of dollars they had amassed into the international banks. This "Oil Money" still used today is invested all over the world and is unregulated. With the further deregulation of the banks we come to the assertion that is they and not the politicians that truly hold sway. It is an age old adage that the love of money is the root of all evil and nowhere more but here is that true. Whilst our politicians argue and squabble over who should run the country people are dieing, people are hungry and people are disillusioned. The reason our political system has failed is because there is no real power or ability to bring lasting change at all. Conservatives win and they embark on a policy of crippling money saving measures that are aimed at the poor and not the well off. Whilst protecting their own followers and party members they hurt those that do not have a voice, at least one that is heard. Labour win and they overspend, wildly, all under the pretence of fixing what the Tories have broken. Strange isn't it? Because that's what the current lot have been saying for the past five years. Liberal Democrat win.... I'm not even going to bother. UKIP? interesting policies, some of them but Farage is a foaming at the mouth,rabid dog. He has single handedly destroyed any chance the party had with his ill advised comments and hatred. 

The conclusion I reach? It really doesn't matter who you vote for. It wont make the slightest difference to you and it certainly wont fix our country or anyone else's for that matter. Parliament is a pretence of power, of government. The biggest smoke screen that has ever been invented or imposed on a country. Our politicians are like multiple clones of The Wizard, hiding behind his smoke and mirror effects before a cowardly Lion. Pull back the curtain and you find small, frightened men playing a real life version of Risk. But vote you must, because your ballot paper is soaked in blood. The blood of those service men and women who gave their lives so people like me can write this sort of article. We cannot release ourselves from the strangle hold the banks have over us but we can tell them and show them that our eyes are open. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Time to vote with our feet but also with our minds.

You can watch Adam Curtis's amazing documentary, Bitter Lake here

David Martin is a firm believer in wider reading but also spends his time watching horror films and going to the theatre. He has been known to venture outside but prefers worlds he can imagine. Follow him on Twitter at @ventspleen2014

Images from BBC and Wikiepedia

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