Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are more powerful than we can imagine.

Posts tagged ‘review’

Race: The issue and coming up with a solution

Before I begin as a disclaimer: it is not my intention to cause any controversy but simply provide insight, based on my own experiences, affairs through my life as well as current affairs and other people’s experiences and how they understand the world around them. I want to say I have a well-balanced perspective on subject, without coming off a pretentious or condescending. I’d like to think with the educational background I have, it’s affected the way I critically analyse subjects.

For me, the issue of race has always been weird and convoluted one and I’m lucky to be at a position, intellectually and emotionally, where I am at the capacity to understand it. Race has always been a subject that I’ve been somewhat confused about and to this day, struggle to understand it in terms of the controversy, feelings and harm it causes. I want to emphasise this is not out of ignorance or the sense of privilege or being ‘better than anyone else’ (whatever that means). Throughout my life, it seems to have always stood out in some way or another. Growing up as a Greek Cypriot in a diverse area, it would always provide a unique perspective on matters that seemed to deviate, and mediate, between different perspectives and that’s a lot to do with cultural, historical understandings and simply how I was treated.

An important aspect to emphasise as well is, importantly, I grew up in London which I guess was an education in itself as much as a geographical location. It’s not simply a matter of being in a diverse area. Growing up, terms like ‘black’ and ‘white’ were never emphasised and were always seen as something predominant in America. People from different ethnic backgrounds rarely ever referred to themselves as ‘Black’, ‘Brown’, ‘Asian’ or ‘White’ and these only became relevant as I entered adulthood from my teenage years. In Britain, communities have always taken pride in their ethnic backgrounds without generalising, and always been contextual; people would always refer to themselves by their country of origin rather than skin colour or ethnicity. Nigerian, Ghanaian, Caribbean, Pakistani, Indian, Turkish, Irish, English, Scottish, Kenyan, Congolese, Tartar, Egyptian were what people would say (and many other locations). It never occurred to me that generalisations like these existed the way they did, for example, in the USA. In fact, within Britain the opposite effect has occurred today whereby people are beginning to stubbornly say “I’m British” or “originally my parents were from x but I’m from London”. For me, that always had a way of deconstructing things and meant it was easier to create dialogue and access people’s testimonies and cultural experiences. The main point is things would always be looked at, and emphasised, contextually. I mean the only time it was ever referenced was in jokes and banter but even then, it never serious or consequential. That’s always provided an advantage because it stops any attempt to force generalise on a base level.

Most importantly (and on a single note) within Britain compared to the USA, divisions emphasised have always been class rather than race and that forms a better idea of how prejudices are mounted in the UK. People have always been discriminated more for their working class background and even then, things are ambiguous to say the least. In many situations, ethnicity often intermixes with class however as more people from ethnic backgrounds diversify out of areas like East London (where people are predominantly African and Caribbean), that link will start to degrade and eventually weaken. It’s already been witnessed now with better opportunities. On that note, there are prejudicial cases such as institutional racism in the police still, and ‘random’ stop and searches however my hope is eventually these will die out as London’s police begins to represent its population.

Being Greek Cypriot I guess also provided a unique perspective on things. There’s always been a stereotype that Greeks consider themselves unique players in the world and there’s some validity to that historically. Perspective wise, Greeks culturally consider themselves a continent unto themselves when I was growing up; the border between East and West. We were never ‘White’ but at the same time never ‘dark’; we were always considered ‘olive skinned’. Historically, with Ancient Greece, the Hellenistic Empires, the Eastern Roman Empire and being under the Ottomans (which really depends, being Greek ethnically is still a very recent concept), made us stand out as was the case with many Eastern European countries, especially in the Balkans. Being part of the Ottoman Empire, during the slave trade and colonialism (apart from the ‘Magna Greca’ idea which lasted until 1923 with genocide on both sides and even then it was within a small geographical area, as well as the Second World War) meant we were never really part of that history and, in a way, were isolated. In that context, we were never considered part of the ‘West’ as countries such as the UK, France, Germany and Italy are; though we were somehow venerated in them. Even my parent’s backgrounds emphasised that point further. My mum grew up in the north of the Congo where her father owned a series of supermarkets (before the civil war broke out in the 1960’s). Even that, the fact there were Greeks in the Congo (as in many different areas of the world such as Australia) was a product of colonialism and being what would be considered an ‘ethnic group’; a middle party that was neither for or against in the European empires. The Greek community in that sense was always an economic and mercantile group (similarly to Jewish communities in history).

It struck a paradox that enabled me to mediate between different groups of people culturally and ethnically. It also struck me growing up as a teenager. In secondary school, I was often mocked for being Greek from English, Irish, African and Caribbean backgrounds (with examples such as being the basis for homosexuality in history). In situations such as those, it’s easy for people to fall back on their backgrounds as a clear form of identity in situations of uncertainty and that’s what I did. In many ways it meant I wasn’t the centre of a large group and that enabled me to go between groups and get to know different people; empathising with them. I think that’s ultimately important; it was a way of making me a middle party, a social nomad who could travel and associate himself with all different kinds of people; who could humour, charm, debate, argue, mimic and create dialogue. To be in such a position meant getting such an insight into how other people feel and their perspectives, and gave a vast amount of social freedom to pursue and interact. Even today it is still relevant, though with over-sensitivity to ethnicity it is more difficult to open those dialogues (but still possible).

With what’s occurred or happened in the United States, it is easy for any person to turn to the matter and say “well, why don’t they just sort out the matter?” or “why don’t blacks get the independence they deserve?” and I say it’s not that easy. In the United States, it’s not a simple matter of people getting on their own feet, in many cases it’s physically denied by state institutions, the police (due to institutional racism, macho culture and competition with targets) and on a local level. In the UK, racism has always been confined within a class issue and, through 19th and 20th century history, was more imposed by the wealthy and higher strata’s of society; support for ethnic minorities often came from working and lower middle class backgrounds. Indeed, lower class racism stemmed from the United States during the Second World War and was imported along with American products. In that sense, in the United States, race is a literal issue and not just academic contemplating, political correctness or a matter of over-sensitivity. The division between ‘black’ and ‘white’ is felt on very serious terms and constantly pushed onto people (who may not want those definitions pushed onto them). There are constant questions as to how to solve the crisis with a lack of perspective or insight; with a lack of innovation or creativity. People seem to treat the issue of race like a puzzle whereby all the pieces are available and it’s simply a matter of moving the pieces in correct places. However, I would say there is no puzzle; this is a problem that requires new solutions.

Put it this way, on a very personal note, with everything I have learnt about ‘Black’ people in history it both frustrates and infuriates me that people could be treated harshly for such a long period of time, even after slavery. The nerve to have this injustice and be treated this way still is something to get angry about. Of course, with context, the situation is a lot more complicated. However the general and continual theme of treatment and inequality is not a promising one. Throughout history, people who have been oppressed have risen up, formed their own countries on the basis of freeing themselves. For example, Greece constantly emphasises “Freedom or death” and many countries follow this theme in Asia, the Balkans and the Middle East. With everything I have learnt about the treatment of Africans and Caribbeans, if I were in their situation I would have either risen up (which isn’t surprising since for example 9 out of 10 slave ships revolted and there were constant uprisings in mainland America), founded my own country or moved if I had the opportunity. In many cases these were hampered by strong forces and lack of education (due to segregation). Given the violence towards these ethnicities, it is understandable that sentiments are strong and, given the USA, it seems the idea of founding an equal society and the American dream has failed. Even the term ‘black’ was made by ‘the white man’ (just like the term ‘Indians’). For people who consider themselves ‘black’ it is a game that was lost the moment it started. It was a fixed game.

I could continue but I don’t feel the need to and, to an extent, it’s not going to solve anything. My aim is to constructively come up with a solution to this problem. The issue is that both terms ‘black’ and ‘white’ have a problem whereby they over-generalise large groups of people. In that way, these terms are social-constructions, they are inventions, they are illusions, they have no application to reality unless they are enforced so. My solution would be to disintegrate that. However, this isn’t a matter of simply being politically correct or ‘not talking about it’; both issues don’t address race directly or constructively.

The solution would be to bring ethnicities into tangible terms and the answer comes through science. DNA tests have enabled people to come to terms with what areas of the world they originate from. This would give the opportunity to do that for 10 million people. If people reconciled the identities taken from them historically, it would provide a means for contextual dialogue. Put simply, it would no longer be a case of saying ‘black’ or ‘African American’. It’s now a matter of well, which part of Africa specifically? Africa is a continent with a diverse range of cultures and to categorise it as one identity is quite frankly insulting. I’m surprise this definition has existed for so long. If this works, it would no longer be the case for people to say otherwise; instead they will say “well actually I’m Ghanaian-American”, or “Mozambique American”. For those with different origins, it would be an opportunity to say “well, I’m from a mix of different backgrounds; Egyptian, Congolese and American”. By doing this, you are denying fuel for the fire and not abiding by this language game; a language game built upon forcing huge groups of people under one term in the name of segregation and oppression. That doesn’t make sense.




The Romans: The surprising similarities underneath conventional knowledge

“What have the Romans ever done for us?”, a typical quote used today to signify Rome’s achievement’s as late antiquity’s great power. Conventionally underlined are stories of grand extravagance, triumphs, aqueducts and other projects. This is just the tip of the ice berg and is something which is not new by any respect to public knowledge. Rome outlines an underlying reality: a philosophy which completely shaped and re-defined motions of state, governance and themes that we understand as important today. Sure, they were understood in different contexts but conceptually they remained vastly similar. This will investigate that claim and show how in some respects, many of what we accomplish today can be related; things pointed out can be seen and things understood can be acknowledged. Let me take you on this journey and welcome you abroad.

Rome itself was an immensely large and prestigious power for its time. With territory stretching from Britain in the north, Africa and Egypt to the South, Syria and Iraq to the East and lower Germany, France, Belgium and the Balkans, to the West (during the time of Trajan), for 600 years it had endured as an empire however it’s customs, laws and philosophies had survived for much longer and thrived culturally. It expanded to the point where it laid the foundations for Western culture and ideals which survived subtly even today. I would argue at any rate, British society is largely the idealised version of Roman society that the Roman aristocrats and philosophers could have only dreamed of. Let me demonstrate this.

When analysing the similarities, it is important to look at law. In many respects Roman law and British common law are very similar, as well as the political institutions that formed during the republic and survived as formal institutions during the Empire (that were inheritingly based on common law). Roman law, like British Common law, is very similar for the simple reason that rather than based on abstract ideas, it venerated and constantly modified itself based on dialogue. In the case of Rome, there would be various political lobbying groups that represented specific strata’s of society, for example the conciliam plebiswould represent the plebeian legal group in Roman society (free born citizens); the Comitia centurata the military and Comitia Tributa was divided amongst the different classes which were separated into plebeians and patricians (aristocratic and wealthy members of Roman society). The leaders of these lobby groups, which were tribes, would be magistrates which would form part of the senate: an advisory body which the magistrates depended on. Though it held no executive power, it dictated pay to the Roman military and allocated where which provinces the consuls (the highest magistrates would rule). These customs of politics were ultimately defined by the confines of the law and these formalised how Roman customs took hold (in other words, the law aimed to determine everyday behaviour and not vice versa) with “justice laying at every man’s door”. The British legal and political system, though different in custom and contexts, holds and similar ethos. Let the origin begin with the word parliament: it derives from the French word parley which means ‘to speak, converse or discuss’. It represented an advisory council which sort to legally and morally guide the English monarch and the term appears in the 12th century. Like Roman law this is also a result of a culmination of previous legal documents, in this case being the Magna Carta (arguably the first basis of British common law) which helped define the confines of British law and ultimately, like its Roman counterpart, formalise customary behaviour. In legal terms (rather than historic), no longer was the king able to simply dictate but had to abide by the culmination of varying land and tax laws.

Similarity also takes hold in the way both Roman and British laws articulated themselves through empirical measurements. Both laws founded themselves on economic aspects because of its simplicity and easily regulatory basic principles. For the Romans, laws such as The Custom Laws of Asia created justification through common goods, land holdings and trade and this is seen in the language it articulates. A similar case can be posed for British Law: when the de facto reasoning for British law is expressed, empirical measures are used as a form of referencing and to ultimately attribute quality to un-qualitative aspects; for example, British law constantly quotes ‘the law the common land’ when talking about holdings and, like Roman law, was used to distinguish different economic and social groups in society. Many would argue that the nature of European civil law is vastly more similar because, like Roman law, it is adaptive and compiles law through discussion. However unlike European law, which sought to mimic its Roman counterpart, British common law provides a basis on tradition which is outlined through historical texts. A good example is the accumulation of laws under the monarchy and, like Roman law, does this on the basis of spiritual tradition which continues to be preserved even today.

Similarity also appears in the basic underlying ethoses of legal perception. Roman law is very understandable because it is very blunt in its interpretation of reality and seeks to attain a real honest distinction. In the first paragraphs, Roman law distinguishes ‘all people as either slaves or free’ and within free there were different classes and within different classes there were certain privileges and condemnations. These became the forefront of determining political and economic positions in society, which any family could achieve over generations; for example, a freeman could become eventually wealthy enough to become a patrician and therefore possibly go into a political role but this came with customary restrictions which could demote his class. However, if successful, and with enough money earned, the political position could be purchased. Augustus (the first Emperor of Rome) used this as a determining factor to get his supporters into the senate by charging the position 900,000 sesterces (a lot of money) and giving a million sesterces to people to buy them. The basis of British law is very similar in the fact it makes itself very blunt and contextual through discussion. It states all people are free and entitled to be accountable under law and therefore have an equal basis however certain economic partners, holdings and land holders are entitled to certain responsibilities, privileges and condemnations if the law isn’t proceeded through. The same effect lies within social groups since, in today’s society, economic and social classes and intrinsically linked (as they were in Ancient Rome), for example a working class profession, such as a builder, scaffolder, roofer etc need certain licensing and contracting which offer different terms and conditions to be met, whereas what is considered middle class professions, such as merchants, businesses, contractors etc, hold different terms and conditions which determine different pay, entitlements and privileges based on profession. This can be an inevitable determining point in the political arena as well with British politician being able to gain political standings based on education, social or economic standing informally (which can by-pass or re-shape the law). A good example is Boris Johnson’s entrance into power based on his education in Eton, Oxford and profession in journalism. It seems there is a social and economic requirement to hold the high vestures of power.

Manipulation and the development of Roman and British law can also display similarities but also how both have branched in different directions. In the case of Roman Law the transition from Republic to Empire and the gradual political nurturing of the Emperor was successful in re-defining political institutions and their legal standing. The legal institutions, such as the conciliam plebis, became obsolete and only existed formally, as did the consuls (whose numbers expanded) and the senate transitioned from a corporate and advisory branch, to an executive branch. In the middle of all of this laid the emperor who did not exist as a legal entity. In legal terms, he was a senator who was given imperium (absolute power and authority over troops) and was delegated a number of titles but whose positions were based on informal customs such as honour. In many ways he was the ceremonial father figure that the Roman Empire depended on and his display of honour was one which leaned upon the honour of other institutions. In British law there was a similar development but it occurred in a different/opposite fashion. As originally stated, parliament was an advisory body to the English monarch but, as the monarch centralised its absolute power during the 16th and 17th centuries, it transitioned into a full executive and sovereign body after the English Civil war. It was then that the King became a figure head which established the empirical authority of British common law. However, unlike the Romans, the King was based on legal proceedings: its honour still stood but that’s all it held. In both cases, both were looked at as figure heads, but in the case of British law, the Monarch ultimately succumbed to the executive branch of law.

A similar transition can be seen with the role of politicians because of the diluted social and political boundaries. In the Roman Empire, a politician would specialise in different social and economic positions as a means of experience and strength; in fact it is arguable there were no boundaries as we understand it today. A potential Roman politician who would want to become a consul in the time of the Republic would have to go through the Cursus Honorum (the courses of office) which would enable them to go through a hierarchy of positions to achieve political advancement; for example a Quaestor (the lowest in the course) served as paymaster to the legion as well as supervised public games; others positions such as Aediles supervised public works and religious property. Eventually, they would advance to praetor where they would hold military authority and be designated to a province which they would need to look after. This position would act as both a military, political and legal figure (as there was a lack of distinction) and it was not surprising that the praetor would look over legal cases, read petitions, command units in the provinces and lead men into battle and tour the provinces. Cicero governed the province of Cilicia and sorted legal cases as well as defended Cappadocia against the Parthians (the successor to the Persian Empire). Pliny the Younger, under the Emperor Trajan, was delegated provincial governorship of Pontus-Bithynia where he was delegated authority to sort of corruption (which would lay the way for Trajan’s Eastern campaigns). These were considered building blocks to govern and were delegated to high wealthy political classes. A similar case is seen in British politics. In political parties, a person can work their way through the hierarchy by excelling in different institutions and skills, though many are successful as a result of their educational and social background. However, unlike Ancient Rome, the roles are reversed. As was formal, different informal skills are now perceived to be informal in the eyes of the British political system (it’s seen as something that contributes, but doesn’t matter as much on a superficial level).

The similarities are also affected in roles of business and, more importantly, business relationships because both Roman and British cases possess a mixture of formal and informal customs and relations. The Roman style of business was inevitably intermixed with its political and social counterpart and enabled mobility between different social groups because it developed a form of creating connections. A patronus (patron) would have a range of connections with lower clines (clients) who would contractingly oblige to support each other based on verbal or written consensus. In return for money or protection from a patron, clients would be guaranteed security and committed favours which would be paid back in kind. It was part of the Roman social system of honour whereby favourable acts were outwardly performed and perceived to be morally upright. In British society the framework still exists and arguably this bears onto social and political relations, the Romans knew these boundaries did not exist and inevitably were part of each other. Today a business quotes its customers as ‘clients’ and it is expected to stretch beyond economic means. In the workplace, though it is expected for the person to work, it is informally expected for them also to develop social relationships with their co-workers in a daily basis which goes beyond the realms of business. After all, it is needed to know the person in order to work comfortably with them, the Roman’s knew of this however it seems much of this is not understood today. With the institutional boundaries that are placed, it seems the opposite has ironically taken effect and the social relations of the Romans have transferred to the formal procedures of business.

What is similar are the issues which enveloped Roman society and continue to do so today. Many of the issues have different boundaries and contexts but still hold the same considerations in principle and also have similar themes:

One of the most important was the idea of the military, especially in the realms of welfare. The Roman Military, as a cohesive land force, is estimated by historians to have numbered roughly 300,000 men protecting an Empire of 60 million and it is no coincidence that this force was under much consideration and acceptance as a major factor in the issues of the time, as it is today. In fact, the only variable difference is funding: the funding and maintenance of the Roman military is estimated to have accumulated half of the Empire’s budget whereas today it is 2.7% (measured in 2013). Of course, there are many different contextual considerations when taken into account: the technological and innovative advances of warfare today has meant less men are required, especially with the innumerable increase in firepower and specialist training/ education. Much of it coincides with the increase of the life expectancy of each soldier as well as the economic paradigm British society has formed through history (we now have the currency to guarantee that expenditure and welfare). During the Roman Empire, the context differed considerably: the economy worked on a measurable basis from agriculture whereby wealth was empirically measured in crops and therefore was the only homogenous source of income; the only other sources of revenues being rents from property and taxes from the provinces. In the spectrum of health, it was acceptable that the mortality rate for legionaries and auxiliaries during peace was high because of the lack of medical innovation or understandings that were available today. This, coinciding with the manufacturing the supplies, requisitions, armour, weapons etc, (and the lack of regularised currency as we obtain today) meant more talents (a form of Roman currency) needed to be invested. As well as difficulty, funding tended to come from the Emperor’s fiscus (treasury) rather than the states which further originated from plunder. Especially with the pestilent standard of living of soldiers, it was probably wages come from the plunder itself. Nevertheless the general theme remained, as it does today, of military welfare. The Roman emperors always made sure to pay their soldiers and ensure that they received full entitlements during retirement such as pensions and land. This concern still permeates within British society today as the standard of equipment and care for serving soldiers comes into consideration.

Public perception of the military also shares various similarities with its Roman counterpart and the prospect of ‘war far away from home’ still beacons within the confines of the public. Since the Roman army was always absent from public perspective during the Empire, people sought the reflection of war through public events, such as the coliseum where re-enactments of land and sea warfare were done for purposes of entertainment. It can be said that today, the public follows a more superficial version to come to grips with the absence of violence. Things such as violence in video games, films and public events such as cage fighting enable people to come to terms with violence by de-sensitising it so to be more aware of it. Much of this is attributed to the media and it is no coincidence a similar principle followed in the eyes of the Romans. Perceptions of events outside or afar from the Empire were advertised through few parties that gave their own perception of the situation (contributing to the glory of Rome).

It is arguable that both today’s and the Roman case attend similar concerns with emphasis on foreign campaigns. Within Ancient Rome, military units were confined near the boarders of the Empire and it was not expected for them to be in urban areas, unless for strategic purposes. In a wider context, this was to reinforce cultural or economic domination of the area (both at times being part of each other). Bordering kingdoms, leagues or tribes would often be client states to Rome in order to reinforce political stability for purposes of trade and the pax romana (Roman peace). The implications of this were so potent that towards the end of the Empire, or the so called ‘barbarian invasions’, many of the tribes sought to become part of the Roman Empire rather than destroy it. Cicero governance of Cilicia had to deal with the king of Cappadocia’s (Central/Southern Turkey) concerns that his family members were conspiring against him as well as protection of the Armenian King. Within today’s world, there lies a similar case as a result of the former colonial ambitions of the 19th century and the problems it has caused. Many of the campaigns waged by British army in places such as Iraq or Afghanistan are done for similar motives of ideology, finance or to simply give to culturally re-define states and these deal with similar political cases (it is arguable client states still exist today) The majority of states in the world, on paper, have been more secularized than ever before and share similar European democratic procedures.

The British social spectrum similarly mirror’s off the Roman one via its class system and perception of class. When Tacitus was invited to a banquet at a colleague’s house, he noted how everything was separated according to class and how he disproved of such customs. The implication of this writing enables us to proceed into the attitude of Roman patricians and plebeians and how fluid the social boundaries were. Like today, different separations were based upon legal customs however de facto a lot of it did not apply. For slaves, once they had escaped, they were hard to find. During the reign of Augustus, it was easy for plebs to copy the rings of the equestrians to get special treatment (though they were made out of iron and not gold). Non-senators often sat in senator’s seats during performances. Since it was hard to distinguish each person’s social status, it was simple for people to simply not live by them and legal distinctions should be seen as something that was for people to fall back upon. The only cases where these mattered were within the wealthy patricians who used their legal distinctions to enforce their social statuses; though it is probably true they mangled with plebeians on a daily basis and did things that went beyond the eyes of law such as sex. Such distinctions are made today. There is a ‘formalised’ class system though it is loosely defined and only bares informal barriers as it did in Rome. Groups of people, such as celebrities and wealthy members of society, use their wealth to display social distinction through events, parties etc. At times these are reinforced or are fluid, based on the individual who wants to be recognised or uses social status for purposes of insecurity, ego etc. At times it doesn’t matter, only in the eyes of people who think it should or feels the obligation to enforce it.

In the social arena, welfare was also one of the consisting political topics in the Empire and the idea of tending to the unfortunate is nothing new (within the economic capability of Rome). Within Rome, the poorest in society were given a bread doll where they would receive a token and that would entitle them to a bread supply, eventually carrying on to Constantinople where citizens received free bread before the Islamic conquest of Egypt. During Trajan, a welfare system for children was set up which consisted of food rationing. Like today, the perception of welfare largely originated out of charity and the majority of welfare was circulated through non-state groups as it had been in Britain before the mid 19th century.

All these points have outlined similar perceptions from today and many of them would have been issues and themes in the Roman world. Indeed many Roman philosophers and politicians, such as Cicero, could have only imagined a society such as ours and how we have carried the burdens which the Romans once experienced and idealized about. Yep, there are many things the Romans did for us and I think the legacy is more potent and influential than ever before.

University: Where it was and is now, a review

As many who read this will learn, I get most of my stimulus to review (as well as rant) from facebook; the reason being because it’s an outlook where people think they can write almost anything without the fear of re-procussion from others. Don’t get me wrong, I use to do things like that on facebook and I was probably the epitome of that person: constantly ranting and bitching about various things, VERY long facebook status updates and very long discussions that went nowhere. The problem with these is: firstly they testify to how much time you have on your hands; secondly it tells you what the person could be doing while they’re doing this and finally it advertises yourself outwards with, what should be private information. Essentially, it shows your dedication to facebook and the domineering role it plays in your life. You’re probably asking ‘why does this matter?’; because not only does it illustrate the lifestyle people have chosen but it gives a greater context to the way people deal with situations and how that effects us in today’s society. This point is merely a stepping stone in showing this. I mean with the role of the mass media, instant information and people who are able to articulate their views in a short period of time, it’s no wonder people gain the idea that: not only can they feel they’re contributing to something much greater than themselves, but not need to think that elsewhere isn’t as valid e.g. anything outside the confines of the internet. Now, this perception doesn’t merely lie within the responsibility of the internet, or the mass media, but illustrate time and time again the way cultures, and especially the youth cultures, operate. I’m going to use the example of universities to show how this is made possible and the effect it has on the person, but I’m also going to show how it takes both parties, the students and the increasingly marketed universities, to actually make a difference (and I emphasise BOTH parties).

Now with universities, today’s period of time seems to be displayed as a turning point in the way universities operate and it’s no surprise. The massive un-necessary increases in fees for university; the difficult requirements for getting into university, and the ambiguous information of where the course can take you afterwards e.g. getting a job, have all contributed into turning universities into something they weren’t meant to be in the first place: a place for higher education. Today, it seems that it seems one of the only options to get employment which doesn’t consist of doing an NVQ or actually seeking employment after college or secondary school. No, it seems it’s become a place where in order to get higher positions, you need a degree and I think this is one of the worse beliefs that has ever been betrothed onto university expectations. People seem to gain this idea that in order to gets a high position working in a corporation, business or anywhere else; you need a degree in humanitarian studies or you need to look like you’re doing something with your life, so you can show you’re worth the hassle when you do apply. But (and this is a big but) people take this perception for granted, as if it’s true and, again, this testifies to the way people think society operates, which I’m having difficulty understanding this; mainly because it’s not and because it seems people attempt to take everything at face value.

I think to make this point more detailed, it’s appropriate to underline some context about universities or society. From the 17th century, until the 1980’s, universities were embodied as the epitome of higher education: as something, in order to achieve greater academic experience, you applied to and that would increase your chances of greater positions within learning and the academia; positions such as: philosophy, quantum mechanics, very advanced sciences and mathematics, theology, history, sociology, acting and the performing arts etc. Don’t get me wrong, until the 1960’s, university was mainly reserved for people from comfortable and wealthy backgrounds since they were the people who tended to seek a higher education to better their understanding, or to pursue a much favourable career, nevertheless these people only excelled in academics. People like Charles Darwin and Clive Anderson (people from two different spectrums in terms of career) aimed to do so because they knew it would be something that as worth it in the long term.

However, the latter point, about class, can be disagreed with because universities were something which was seen as a state institution and thus was paid for, and free, by the government. Any accommodation you did have was purely seen as something which needed to be paid for necessarily, as not to provide a financial distraction to the student, whose purpose was to learn advanced subjects. Now, of course, this differs from university to university, however the theme was generally very similar. It has only been since the 1980’s, and the introduction of Thatcherism, that Universities began to change. Thatcherism attempted to privatise what were state institutions in order to market them for a greater amount of income. Now, you can clearly see that being done today, with the fact, currently, a conservative government is in power and now we’ve seen a further marketing and privatisation of universities: coinciding with substantially higher fees (up to ten thousand pounds a year) and increasing competition, between universities, to gain more income. This has further led to a lack of co-operation between universities (in which some have been upheld thanks to things like the Russell group) and stricter tests and expectations for students wishing to get into universities. This has been a major problem because not only are fewer students getting into a university, which means less money, but also universities were never meant to have the purpose of employment in the first place. Back when universities were aimed at for higher education, people use to simply enter their family’s profession or just apply for work (and yes before you say anything, it was much easier). This coincides with the fact we were the remnants of our industrial age and thus we still had a manual labour force who were still being employed for business’ that still operated on British soil.

Now, with all this change over a short period of time, coinciding with a greater commercialisation in society, you might say ‘no wonder we’re so disadvantaged, things are very poor at the moment, especially for the youth of today’. Well, it’s partially right. A key point, which people fail to realise, is the fees are loaned but don’t need to be paid back until students find a job. Thus, it is implausible to state that the student is burdened with debt: especially with the fact the debt is paid off by an extremely small amount per year that is unequivocal compared to other debts e.g. debt with a.p.r, rates , that have to pay on a daily basis. Okay, the fact we have debt for university students in the first place is un-necessary and the fact the student loan company is a private one doesn’t make any sense, but it hardly states that the person is financially doomed. By the time the person is paying student debt off, they would have a job and, most importantly, be paying other debt off, because the debt only works when you’re working. Don’t get me wrong, I’m having to pay my student debt off as soon as I work and, like European countries, I wish my university was free  but I know for a fact I won’t have to pay it back for a long period of time, giving my leeway.

Nevertheless, what does this all tell about universities? It tells me that, due to privatisation, the number of students applying for university have increased rapidly, which has never happened before. What does this mean? That increasingly, universities are being seen as the one of the only windows to opportunity in society for middle class, and upper working class students. Now, given that the middle class are stereotyped as the ‘intellectual, educated class’ in society, it’s only reasonable most would seek a higher education. However, it seems to me, based on experience that many go and aren’t sure what they want to do, especially with the fact university courses have become somewhat ambiguous and give no indication of where the courses will take you in the future. Also courses tend to be very tangible. Studies like ‘cultural and social studies’, ‘humanitarian studies’ and ‘media studies’ seem very trivial and often aren’t properly recognised academic courses because they don’t have a deep academic embedding such as with mathematics, anthropology, history, sociology, theology, philosophy, economics, performing arts, the sciences etc. This implies that many of these courses are simply diversified versions of the main academic courses.

However, as I have mentioned before, it takes two sides of the party to operate and this mainly falls within the responsibility of students. This is where my introduction comes into play because it shows not only the lack of effort of the majority of students, and how university isn’t suited for most of them (that there only there because it’s seen as a window of opportunity) but also how most deal with university on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, university teachers have been stereotyped to be non-caring and I think there is truth in this. However, this doesn’t take validity away from the way students deal with things on a daily basis. Doing my course in history, when I went to seminars, ready to debate about the issues put forth, I came to find no one really wanted to debate anything and many people chose to stay quiet: either out of sensitivity or simply not being bothered and I think this testifies to a wider context; especially with the student mind frame or lifestyle. Obviously, a minority of people want to go to university and learn as well as seek a better understanding of the subject they’re passionate about and most of them aren’t sure what they want to do in the future (like most of us) however they are constantly undermined by people who simply aren’t bothered to learn. As I have found, many students simply can’t be bothered to read the material given or do advanced reading about the subject, which they can display in seminars. Also, it seems many students have this vague belief that there is a shortcut to success, that once they finish university they will be given a job. I think it rings out within all academic subjects.

Students constantly whine and complain about how there life is rubbish; they’re the most undermined people in society and they’ll have no opportunities once they come out of university, but, as I have seen, it’s as if people don’t want to try to be successful in what they do. It’s as if the youth have this belief that there is a shortcut to success and that, if things don’t go the way they want it to, they should give up on the first try. In order to succeed, you have to keep trying (which I know sounds cliché) but also to deal with things and move on. It just shows how pessimistic and how much of whiners we are. Now people reading this may argue “we’re simply following in the footsteps of those before, that we are showing how downgraded and barren society has become” and my answer to that is no you’re not. People before you, in the history that spans universities faced a lack of liberty; more poverty, a less regulated welfare state and, when they did go on strike, they striked about something which was worth striking about e.g. unemployment, the destruction of industry, massive wage cuts, infringements on human rights, (such as in the student protests about the vietnam war or the poll tax riots). All these examples have something in common because they threatened the well being of the people who were striking, because it actually affected their lives in terms of comfortability and the standard, as well as quality, of living. People today live comfortable lives, with parents who often work earn a reasonable amount of income and have many choices of leisures at their disposal. I’ve witnessed people in debt, but proceed to buy something that was completely un-necessary (e.g. a 50 inch wide screen t.v.), which is the basis of a consumerist society: one which thrives of leisure and uses money, which isn’t owned, for things that can’t be afforded. Most people who do live in the most desolate conditions in Britain, most likely don’t go to university; only a small minority of people do. Most either pick up a profession or start work due to their economic state, and before anyone says anything, yes I know the situation has a lot more factors and complications but that, statistically, tends to be the general theme of things. This can also be seen by the fact, since the 19th century the middle class was a lot smaller yet tended to be the class to go to university or enter merchant trading. The same applies to today, it’s only that now the middle class is the dominant class of society compared to 100 years ago.
All these points tell us so much about students, that many who come to university hardly study or put effort into their work; they choose tangible subjects which gives them little prospect for employment in the future, because they aren’t recognised as core subjects, and many of today’s youth often complain and whine about conditions which actually doesn’t affect them as much as they exaggerate. This also coincides with the fact that many people, coinciding with all the complaining, have a higher drop-out and lack of effort rate than ever before. What does this tell you? Yes it tells you that universities are being increasingly commercialised and, as a result, it is making it harder for students to get into university, but it also tells you that once the majority of students get into university they take courses that have no prestige (which is important in the job market) and they fail to put in the effort that they did when they wanted to get into university in the first place.

The same massively applies to employment: instead of making an effort to find work and picking up themselves when they’ve failed, many simply whine about how they’ve failed the first time, coinciding with the fact that many aren’t prepared to do the lowest paid jobs, that no one else wants to do, hence we’re in the situation we’re in now and hence why this country thrives on immigration. Of course those who work, study and put in the effort, defy all I’ve said, by a long shot. In fact, they prove me wrong completely. It’s the people who do otherwise which annoy me and also bring down the learning of the universities as well as the subjects.

My conclusion is this. Yes, hardships have happened because of the government and because of their policies: concerning universities (why cut services when the large private sector goes un-regulated?) but also it concerns the students themselves who tend to complain more about things disproportionate to their experiences and tend to have a lack of will to carry on when hardships do hit; as well as a lack of bother to learn: which can either be limited to disfranchisement with university or will power. There are times to play and then there’s times to work, I only hope people know the difference and that they’ll actually know what to complain about when true hardships really hit; instead of complaining about trivial ones, based on a lack of effort. Don’t take subjects which aren’t academically approved, stick the academic ones which embody all those proxy ones (such as the deep cored ones: History, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, performing arts, music, I.T, mathematics, the sciences, law, art) and most importantly, when things don’t go your way, pick yourself up and dust yourself off and try again. I’m sick and tired of seeing complaints about things that can easily be dealt with: I’m starting to believe its more people not wanting a solution than finding the ones which actually will help.

The Batman shootings in Denver: a review

Back when I use to debate on facebook, to the extent where I gave up hitting my head against a brick wall, I got into an argument concerning The ‘Batman’ shootings, by James Holmes, in Denver. The main basis of this argument is a person had posted a joke about it and, as a result this sparked various heated debates. Many of the people arguing against the status update argued that due to the 10 people dead, including a child and many wounded, we should feel no empathy for the person in question, mainly because of the act which was committed. Eventually the argument accustomed to between myself, and everyone else, and it was weird to see that, out of this argument, no one was willing to accept a wider context, or take it into account, when analysing the shootings. Of course, this hasn’t been the first shootings that have happened in America. There have been countless accounts of disenfranchised, or socially inept, students gunning down other students in high schools, or of students committing suicide for bullying, persecution of beliefs, sexual orientation etc or people who have generally had psychological conditions. However, what strikes me the most is the way the killings are dealt with and it seems immediately a person or organisation, whether the media, the parents or witnesses, will give an accusation towards the opposite party; without so much as a realisation at what is occurring in the process: out of ignorance or experience of the moment. Of course, it is hard to hold any thought process whatsoever when you have been a gun victim of the person, or you are the parent, or you are an outraged republican at the moral fabric of the example. However this does not mean we cannot put aside our individual perceptions and analyse the state of affairs which exists at the time, something I will be analysing in this blog.

Now what does the killings reflect in the Batman shootings? That there was a university student who, armed with the proper equipment and weapons, had entered a cinema, and, using gas canisters, disorientated an audience before opening fire on them (though some of this is questioned, based on the witnesses testimonies or conditions, though I will not into detail about this, neither will I be a conspirator). What this shows is not only did the person know what he was doing but obviously the person had a constant amount of time and preparation in order to ready himself, to commit the operation. It seems absurd to think how a university student can be skilled in firing a weapon with military efficiency; however the point is that if this was prepared, it would have covered a process which would have taken a very long period of time. James Holmes, in court, confirmed responsibility for the acts he did. But if it is true he did so, many of the skills, equipment and planning would have indeed needed much time. We are talking about weapon training and maintaining; the making of very high level military grade explosives, an expert skill in marksmanship, skills in laying traps in a domestic environments and finally the skill of concealing a weapon in a public area. Though these sound relatively easy, based on testimonies of people from the army that I know, they aren’t. These require constant profession training and refining of skill. So what does this tell you? It tells you that this case, and similar cases, has consisted of a long term context, something which is expressed by long term factors. In many of these cases, people don’t just decide to shoot a school or a cinema, it occurs within a certain period of time to which the person has gained a certain understanding of the world around him; relative to his state of affairs. This signifies a long psychological process in which the person has developed which can be social, domestic or internal: in other words the causes for such can be what have been mentioned.

A huge testimony to this can be seen by the role of the media and the so called ‘media or social crises’ which takes place, whereby an event recorded by the media is disproportionally exaggerated and results in both generalising and an agenda which is set forth by the public, and the police. Most of the time this is both un-necessary and does more harm than good. Why does it matter? because not only does it contribute to people developing certain perceptions of the acts taking place, but it begins to deal with short term solutions rather than long term problems which, if solved, would result in less short term problems, such as the shootings. It also matters because it illustrates the role of the media in greater detail. In the media, especially within the news, constant testimony has been given by psychiatrists, such as Dr Park Dietz, that reporting the crime, within the mass media, merely reduces the crime to something of a drama and results in the mass murder, or suicide victim being publicised; something which should be stride to be prevented. The reason is because it propagates more mass murders and suicides by advertising them: displaying sirens; showing the picture of the person or victim; constantly making it 24/7 news coverage; making the body count the lead story; making the person an ‘anti-hero’ and mass advertising the act rather than making it relative to the location, and community, where it has taken place; as well as portraying it as exciting. These various aspects are very important. Most killings and suicides conducted, in most cases, are an indicator of attention as they signal either a cry for attention or help which, in this context, is performed dramatically through external means e.g. so every can see it being done. This not only provides the stimulus and motivation for other people, in similar cases, to commit similar acts but also means that if these events are massly advertised, they provide a means of creating an outlook that will be witnessed by various people.

As can be seen, this is a much larger part of a greater social context. Now to just point the finger and blame someone or something is foolhardy: as I’ve said before it only results in un-productive results. Nevertheless there’s nothing wrong with analysing the situation and then forming an opinion about how the situation is dealt with, or who is entirely responsible. My opinion would be this: that the results of this is the product of both a long history of how society has organised and structured itself (industrial and post industrial, mainly within the Western hemisphere of the world e.g. The united states, Britain, France, Germany, Japan etc) and the way that has resulted in an entirely different conception in the way things are dealt with, or excluded. A very good example that comes to mind is the Batman shootings. The thing which comes to mind is the fact it was, possibly, an advertisement of the person and that the person had various psychological and long term problems: as most suicide victims or high school actors of shootings have demonstrated. Okay, let me simplify my point: these acts are the result in which society has been shaped and formed which results in certain patterns, or generalisations, of consequences.

A very good example can be the start of industrialisation. Economics dictates that within the industrial period, the cohesion of the countryside and the increase in urbanisation meant more people from rural environments migrated to cities. This signals a complete change in lifestyle, patterns, moral and social boundaries etc. It also signals the means in which the person expresses themselves or the locations where the person can express themselves. For example, increasing urbanisation results in a greater population, closer and more cramped living conditions, a lack of relation to the people around you etc, which can further lead to depression, anxiety a sense of laziness or worthlessness etc. As a result, society has needed to develop institutions to deal with these problems: stretching from taverns and pubs, to counselling and group therapy sessions. As is observed, these do not take a solid shape or form but merely illustrate that people start to act in a certain way, and society counters these with places and institutions to deal with these problems (if they are problems). However, though these various things have sprung up, they depend of many factors e.g. trust, finance, content etc. As a result, though some institutions may help, if they don’t get enough finance, or aren’t seen as to be taken for granted by the population, they decrease in their overall awareness. This provides a perfect commentary on the Denver shootings. Questions which can be asked are why weren’t measure taken to prevent events like these from happening? Why was it that the person came to the situation where they perceived the shootings to be appropriate? Why weren’t the problems addressed in an earlier stage to prevent acts like this from happening? With questions like these, all I can really emphasise is social welfare which implies either: there is a lack of care and consideration for the people, or for people in general, which leads to acts like these, or there is a lack of funding to support the people who do. In my opinion, I think it’s a bit of both, depending on how you analyse. However, with the economic and social state of America, coinciding with gender and ethnic constructions; narrow traditions and simple minded views of human welfare, and a lack of funding and empathy for social welfare; it’s no wonder events like these happen as a means of displaying a reality or condition.

My main point is that if you were to provide a solution to problems like this, you have to analyse the wider context of why events like these happen. It also means that a solution isn’t simple. My solution would be a better financing, and funding, of social welfare as well as a re-conceptualisation of events such as these, as well as the education of this from a younger age. This would result in the changing of perception, which would result in the changing of certain lifestyle and thus it would prevent more of these events occurring. However, that’s just my opinion.

The olympic opening ceremony 2012: a review

The Olympics, within Britain has effected a variety of people in opinion, perception, social and cultural consciousness etc. I mean, as I have talked to various people about it, it seems that many have stated their own opinions as to why the Olympics, within Britain are either valid, or non-valid, and most, for most of the time, have made sense. However, there is a fine line between supporting a national event, such as this; criticising it, for various reasons and not saying anything for convenience and in a way this isn’t surprising. The British tradition, of being reserved, has long affected us and our attitudes towards social, political and economic changes and this has, as a result, reflected our outlook as being docile or fairly organised in everything we do: whether it’s queuing up at the post office, or protesting (though I would question whether the act would be protesting in the first place if nothing ever gets done).

Nevertheless, let’s not focus on British behaviour and instead focus on the Olympics, though I think the previous factor reflects a key point: about how we deal with the reality of the situation and that, in turn, effects how events are acted out in general. Now this can be said more about the Olympics, because the major sporting event, which was chosen in Britain holds so much commentary about our society, and all the negative aspects, that it has become an obligation to show these. This is because it seems either people lack any insight whatsoever on the subject or can’t seem to observe a wider context within Britain (this applying to British people of course). It’s like people receive all this cynicism on a daily basis and people seem to accept things and take them for granted, as if they are docile; or seem to justify a reason for why it’s happening. Nevertheless, let’s not let ranting stop me from illustrating the point that people have perceived the Olympics to be something special when, on the other hand, it has been something which manages to show how, not only were we not prepared economically and socially for the Olympics but it has systematically resulted in a questioning of things, such as British national identity, or the economy, which have been either mis-understood, or simply a means in which to express political ideology. This is why I think the Olympics is a good example when illustrating this point. Anyway, let’s begin:

Firstly, let me provide some context about the Olympics- actually, let me not. If you’re old enough to read this and you don’t know what the Olympics is, read a book, or actually google it, it’s a lot easier. Now, the main problem I have with it is we were in no economic or social state to host these Olympics. Altogether, the event cost about £12 million (a rough estimate) and this sucks: firstly because we’re in a recession and secondly because that money could have been used effectively elsewhere. This coincides with the fact we’re still at war after 10 years and there’s so many complaints about economic cuts in the military and social sectors. £12 Billion: You have more money than god, yet not as nearly as much common sense. The problem with this is it illustrates that we’re wasting vast sums of money on purposes of prestige rather than utilising the money for any practical means (Oh I don’t know, stuff like fixing the economy; financing and investing in areas that are needed such as social projects or institutions; creating better and more effective regulations of large financial industries; financing the military; gaining a better foothold on white collar crime, investment in the police and institutions such as transport….but that’s just my opinion). The problem with this is it displays the intention of government and large financial institutions, to say that this will bring more income in than spent and that all the money invested will not go to waste, points I strongly disagree with. If you are going to invest money in something long term and worthwhile, please refrain from destroying half of the Olympic village after the event has occurred (since most of the buildings will be destroyed afterwards): there’s plenty of people and organisations which could use the facilities for social, athletic and economic development and, by destroying it, you’re implying most of the money invested has been done in vain.

Now these are valid reasons to not host of the Olympics, but it was the opening ceremony which really pissed me off. It was something which resulted in both myself and my parents screaming at the T.V. shouting “when? When will this end?”. The reason why it was such a hard ache, as well as a major cause of anguish is because not only did it lack any imagination whatsoever but also it failed to properly express the significance of both British culture and it’s aspects to the rest of world: mainly because of both sensitivity and political correctness. A key to a performance is either an intention or to prove a point, one which has a lack of modesty: hence why Greece and China did very well in their opening ceremonies, because they managed to properly express their significance of their culture on history and in the world today (via the quality of the performance). People may argue that this is bias but, let me break the ice for you, nationality and ethnicity are both constructions which date back to the time of the French revolution: they depend on constructing an identity which unites people of linguistic and geographical similarity: this is what those countries succeeded in illustrating. Britain failed in this, mainly because of its planning and performance. It was like the organisers for the Olympics got together, threw some simple minded concepts around and attempted to dissect them as not to offend anyone: resulting in a similar result to the Olympic mascots: a lack of coherent performance as well as both originality and imagination. I mean, have you not seen the Olympic symbol? Or the mascots? It’s as if a child had created it, and that cost us £700,000 to make something which looks like a constipated telly tubby. It’s as if the organisers have just thrown money at the situation and hoped that a solution could be found.

Now how does this relate to the opening Olympic ceremony? Because, with a country that has such as vast history, wealth of knowledge, scholars, historians, economists, theologists, philosophers and musicians, it failed to show the majority of these and proved to be incredibly patronising; however I will be talking about this later. The major flaw of the opening ceremony was, as many had witnessed, the history. I don’t think I’ve seen more mistakes than the grammatical, and punctuation, errors of the twilight series. The ceremony gave a main focus point; being the industrial revolution, however it horribly portrayed this event because it pre-assumed that Brtian was a pleasant, harmonious, countryside then, BOOM, industry existed. Now you may argue this is simply knit picking but, if you actually saw the way the introduction was organised, it looked like something out of the Lord of the Rings (and, for the record, portraying the countryside as a happy harmonious place before industrialisation does not make it so). The most patronising thing about it was it tried to portray the industrial revelation as something peaceful co-operative. Now I know, especially with national events, history can be portrayed positively, and even at times be fabricated, however this was on another level; the amount of fabrication was monumental to the point where I began questioning every single aspect about it (and this included every other single historical event being portrayed). If you are going to talk about British history, you need to be very general, especially in the amount of time it took to act everything out, but the event took specific cases and attempted to portray them; to the point where it excluded a large portion of its history. Yes, the industrial revolution was very important but it was under-represented and Brunel (a major industrialist and over-seer of the construction of the London docklands during the 19th century) was not an adequate representation. That is the point I’m making about a lack of variety. There were plenty of scholars which could have best represented the industrial revolution, or even the entity of Britain itself. And before anyone asks, there’s loads of them, some names being:

J.S. Mills, Jeremy Bentham, Andrew Fletcher, Daniel Defoe, Oliver Cromwell, William Shakespeare, Disraeli, Gladstone, etc etc

These are only a small minority of a much larger spectrum. And this didn’t only effect the variety of historical figures, other can include a lack of costume variety, which seemed to be either working industrialist or worker, coinciding with some of the costumes which were very minimal, which reflected how minimal some parts were. I know the event doesn’t have to be historically accurate, but at least show most events Britain went through. There’s such a variety of history we have a good example being the fucking Empire we use to own, historical eras such as that may be harsh but they are a part of history, you can’t just exclude them so you don’t offend other people: that’s the point. Other examples can be Waterloo, the opening of crystal palace, Victoria’s diamond jubilee, a better representation of the first and second world wars etc. These would also include negative aspects; I for one was still waiting for them to represent the Irish potato famine through the expression of rhythmic gymnastics (either that or the bayoneting of 300 different ethnic children to the same thing). And, for the record, the industrial revolution wasn’t an easy process: it was built on the lives of thousands of un-paid workers, child workers, slavery and disintegrating other economies, such as that of British held India, whose agriculture was destroyed because of British industrialists who wanted to enforce their economic ways of understanding the world: causing mass famine. If anything the industrial revolution was one based on conflict and economic hegemony rather than harmony and co-operation (something the opening ceremony tried to portray). The first and Second World wars were foreign policy wars of 19th century politics. Now, with this information, people may argue “well, it’s only a ceremony, what does it have to do with anything today?”. Well, if we to fabricate these parts of history and leave them out, what limit is there to how much we will fabricate in the future? as not to be honest?. History doesn’t hold a perspective, it’s a series of events that occur in the past, you might as well embrace those events and embrace the fact they occurred in Britain, rather than try to deny them.

Another aspect that I was surprised they didn’t display as the military as Britain has a long history of military tradition but that was just me. They did give remembrance but other than that, events such as that, if you are going to attempt them, deserve full military honours and outlook, however this is mostly my opinion.

With reference to everything else which happened, other than the scene with Rowan Atkinson and the Queen, everything else was terrible. The reason why the specific events I’ve mentioned were highly successful was because they played to the strengths of the opening ceremony: they portrayed key British national figures which a coherent purpose, something all the other scenes lacked, or portrayed trivially. The other events seemed to merely trivialise parts of British history in the 20th century, spontaneously coming up with random un- representational segments: only to end it with a really patronising scene to the youth and parents of Britain, that scene with the teenager who loses her mobile phone, which turns into a love story.

If I am going to analyse the scenes, let me use specific examples. The first I can give was the Beetles, and the costumes from the album ‘St Pepper’. The reason why this pissed me off so much was because it merely summarised all the Beetle’s achievements and made them worthless. That amount of time to show one of the most influential British bands on the music industry that have ever existed is foolhardy and is something which was not properly addressed; mainly because their career stretched after the 60’s for another 15 years. It merely reduces the importance of some major influences in British history to trivial ones (such a fucking important love story concerning a phone). This basically repeats itself for the next series of events: some being very un-historical to suit political correctness. For example, the suffragette movement was portrayed but only for a short amount of time and there was a representation of the ‘Jarrow crusade’ in which the first Caribbean immigrants landed on British shores seeking employment and a better quality of life. However, if we are going to talk about immigration, we need to look at the full context. The first immigrants were Jewish people in the 50’s, followed by the Irish, followed by the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, in a similar period of time, and then the Carribbean immigrants arrived in large numbers, which was in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, which was then followed by Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. Though Caribbean immigrants were the first to arrive in 1948, they were in a minority and, by then, there were many Irish and Jewish immigrants who had already arrived. Is this not an under-representation of immigration in Britain? One of the main reasons for immigration was the fact many British did not want to the do the jobs that many working class had done before, so those who replace them were of all different ethnicities. Are we to forget them as well because Stratford happens to consist of a large Caribbean community? This is what I’m talking about; you can’t just exclude history for the sake of political correctness or over-sensitivity.

Another example is the great Ormond street hospital. As much as I respect what Great Ormond street do (and I do….a lot), I don’t think it was as important as, say, the NHS which, though was shown, was overtaken by it. Things such as the NHS I would say are better in events like the Olympic ceremony because they were national icons of Britain and contribute to what makes Britain famous today, I don’t think Great Ormond street hospital has this specific expectation and I don’t think it’s historical significance is as well known to the rest of the world. Also, if we are going to represent this, why not other medical institutions such as cancer research UK, another huge contributor to cancer research for children which has a huge amount of investment and donations?. Also most of the scenes were hugely inconsistent. With the Great Ormond street example, I managed to forget half way through that it was about Great Ormond street, not because of the children (though many did lack acting skills) but because the scene was so saturated and non-continental. It just consisted of loads of children characters, and though I do realise the impact of children’s books from Great Ormond street, these characters were hardly recognisable and were not done in any specific order to make it easier. That was one other main flaw of the ceremony: nothing was done chronologically and when it was done so, it was either ambiguous or very generalised. The key to an opening ceremony is to act things out in a clear and cohesive order so people can understand what’s going on. If you just throw things in, without thinking of their significance, then things becomes very confusing, and there’s nothing worse than trying to figure out whether the characters are from books, or they’re monsters trying to kidnap children.

Another example can be music aspect, which was heavily over-rated and heavily under-acted. Though there were parts such as the punker scene to represent the 70’s and 80’s, this seemed like the only type of music which was represented for the time (others being metal) and others were done randomly, making the process a whole lot more complicated (processes don’t need to be complicated!). Also, I don’t know if it was me, but some songs that were played weren’t British, such as in different segments with the scene of the main house. However, if we are going to talk about British music, there was so much to be desired. Where were the rolling stones? The who? Deep purple? The Zombies? Black Sabbath? The streets? UB40? The sex pistols? The spice girls? These are some examples of great British bands which became very well known for being British and yet were never mentioned. Most of the bands were unknown, such as underground, and some were terrible singers, such as Emeli Sande, whose song ‘abide with me’ which was both bland, repetitive and monotone. It’s such as shame that there was such a potential for a variety of music, which could have been good, but wasn’t.

Nevertheless, out of all this, what pissed me off the most was the last scene. The scene where a girl, whose gone clubbing and seems to have a superficial outlook on life, loses her phone and a boy, who happens to be in lvoe with her, tries to return it to her. This includes him following her, to the un-organised choreography of dancers, to the point where he finds her and returns the phone. This is done to music which half the audience would have probably not recognised or didn’t want to hear: Dizzie Rascal (not everyone likes grime and rap, and this is coming from someone who likes them). What was the most annoying point about the scene was the fact the male finds the phone and proceeds to text the girl that he has her phone……on her own phone? People argue this is social networking, sure didn’t look like social networking. The point is this scene was completely wasteful, over-generalising and proceeded to stereotype British pop-culture. This also includes the middle class working mum who has a kid and just happens t leave him outside.

My final point will be Danny Boyle. As much as I respected him, he contributed to probably the most important flaw which was profession. In situations of organising an Olympic ceremony, you get organisers, from different backgrounds and cultures to do the profession, not a single person. This means that there is a lack of variety and imagination in terms of thought and everything is spontaneous: a very good summery of the 2012 opening Olympic ceremony. However, if we had what I have suggested, which has been a method used for the past Olympic opening ceremonies, then it would have been more exciting, thrilling and purposeful. This coincides with Danny Boyle’s occupation which is a director, something which is completely different and something which holds, and emphasises, different aspects of media.

In conclusion, this event in my opinion was bland, often spontaneous and something which was a failure. I think people only liked it because either they lacked any sufficient knowledge of what was going on or they can’t be asked to complain about it: even though we’ve wasted billions on something that could have been potentially better, or could have been better spent elsewhere. In essence, you’re better off beaten dead puppies against a brick wall. At least that would have had taste and imagination.