Controversial Borders

If I were psycho-analyzed it would be interesting to see why I always had a fascination with controversial international borders.

At the age of 16 in the Summer of 1961, within days of the Berlin Wall being built (or quite possibly while it was still being built/made more escape-proof) I was on holiday in Margate, but instead of helping my younger brother build sandcastles I was happily building a very rough representation of the Berlin Wall snaking its way across the city.

Borders such as this are so dramatic, and when they separate two totally opposed political systems and states, then even more so. Five years later, my first trip abroad was by train to the Soviet Union with a group of others, and one of the most exciting things was crossing the ‘Iron Curtain’ not once but three times on the way there. We crossed it between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, arriving at the GDR town of Marienborn where I proudly handed over my passport to GDR officials to be stamped, then again as we passed thru the enclave of West Berlin 100 miles inside the GDR, and across the Wall itself as we entered the GDR capital. The borders with Poland and the Soviet Union were also exciting to cross, but not in the same league.

Two years later I returned to the GDR, and one of my most memorable moments was being taken with a group of trade unionists, peace activists, and others on a tour of the ‘heroic border installations’ near the Brandenburg Gate by an officer of the National People’s Army of the GDR. There we were taken on to a viewing platform on the Western side of the Brandenburg Gate, just East of the Wall, to peer over it at West Berliners and other Westerners looking back at us. This moment focuses my fascination with such borders – at that moment I was so proud to be stating so dramatically my political beliefs by standing on the Eastern side of the visible dividing line between the capitalist West and the Communist East.

But it was not just borders between opposing political systems which fascinated me, and still do. Another dramatic border, the Green Line, runs right thru my father’s country of Cyprus. He was Greek-Cypriot, but on several visits to that country I have proudly crossed or entered the Turkish side, not least in that still divided city of Nicosia and once again was proud to identify myself with the Turkish Federative State of Cyprus and later the renamed Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.

In both Berlin and Nicosia, I attracted the fury of West Berliners, West Germans and Greek-Cypriots by my open display of support for the border and the state which lay the other side of it. In West Berlin fists were shaken at me and curses uttered as I wore the GDR state emblem on my lapel. In the Greek part of Nicosia by the Wall dividing the city, I signed in their book that it was the fault of the Greeks that the island was divided, and made no secret of my support for the TRNC as a separate state.

When on a holiday in Yugoslavia in the 1980s I also went on a one-day trip, with my partner, south to the border with Albania, another ostracized country in Europe. But this border was disappointingly very undramatic. We were several miles from the border up a high mountain, and no visible sign could be seen except where the spires of mosques could no longer be seen – Enver Hoxha having demolished them all in the world’s first atheist state. Otherwise, the pastoral countryside laid before us looked disconcertingly like observing Surrey or any of the Home Counties from a high vantage point just outside London. I think I expected to see 500 ft statues of Enver Hoxha and even Joseph Stalin staring at me from across the border.

This was my other fascination, huge monolithic monuments, such as the Worker and Collective Farm Girl monument in Moscow holding aloft a giant hammer and sickle. Or the TRNC flag etched defiantly in the Kyrenia mountains overlooking Nicosia taunting Greek-Cypriots.

I have always been a rebel, very rarely siding with the majority. Not only seeking out minority causes and siding with minorities or identifying myself with minorities, but then becoming a rebel or siding with a minority faction within that minority. This was as true inside the Communist Party and the Young Communist League as anywhere else, where I refused to follow the leadership line. At a YCL congress in Scarboro, for instance, I and other Stalinist comrades defiantly gave a standing ovation to the Soviet fraternal delegates who were only being given polite seated applause or even booed by the majority because of the recent invasion of Czechoslovakia, which I and my comrades in the hard-line faction of course supported.

A psycho-analyst would presumably seek to find out why I have this need to identify myself with unpopular political positions or with minorities generally, and even minorities within a minority. Why am I always seeking to rebel?

I don’t know, but perhaps it is a good thing not to follow the common herd. It begs the question what I’d have done if born behind the Iron Curtain. Would I slavishly have followed the Party line, or ended up in prison or a mental institution for constantly defying it?

Perhaps the clue is to be found in my departing speech from an FDGB (GDR equivalent of the TUC) hotel in Kuhlungsborn near Rostock in the then GDR in 1968. I stood up and told my hosts that I fully supported the Soviet-led invasion of (or ‘fraternal assistance to’ as I called it then) Czechoslovakia, and that I thought the GDR itself might be the next candidate because of bourgeois practices such as tipping waiters and dressing for dinner which I had observed during my visit. I got a frosty reception from State officials dressed in their finery, who evidently didn’t appreciate my telling them the Soviets should march in with tanks and sort them out. Being a foreigner, I got away with it, and was just called ‘a silly ass’ by Peter, our interpreter, who was himself a GDR citizen studying at Humboldt University in East Berlin, and quite critical of the regime in his own quiet discreet way.

The Ages of Invention, Innovation and Progress

We look around this modern world of ours, and marvel at all the gadgets and inventions we take for granted. However, people often make the mistake of assuming that many of these are recent inventions, and that the late 20th and early 21st centuries have brought us lots of new technology.

In actual fact, the great age of invention was in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and very little has been invented from the 1950s onwards. Most of the modern technology we are familiar with are simply innovations or adaptations of much older inventions and technologies.

Let’s look at some of the modern gadgets and technologies and their history:

1877  First recording/reproduction device, patented by Thomas Edison the following year (cylinder)

1889  First disc recording (gramophone record)

1940  First vinyl discs

1930s Magnetic recording tape invented

1940s First tape recorders available

1937  First stereo recordings

1982  First digital recordings/CDs

1940s First electronic computers

1850  First dishwasher patented (hand powered)

1920s First plumbed-in electronic dishwashers

1940s First electronic drying elements for dishwashers

1691  First washing machine patented

1904  First electronic washing machines advertised for sale

1868  First vaccuum cleaner

1901  First powered vaccuum cleaner

1945  Microwave oven invented

1908  First mobile (wireless) phone

1947  First cellphone

1897  Color TV first patented

1928  Color TV demonstrated by John Logie Baird

1938  First color TV broadcast

1944  First demonstration by John Logie Baird of fully electronic, 600 line color TV

1844  3D photography invented with the stereoscope

1855  Kinematoscope invented for 3D animation

1922  First 3D movie ‘Power of Love’

1935  First 3D color movie

1941  John Logie Baird patented and demonstrated large screen 3D television. (It took over 60 more years for the BBC to demonstrate large screen 3D TV in 2008).

1943  John Logie Baird advocates adoption of 1000 line Telechrome color TV comparable in quality to today’s HD TV. His advice was ignored.

Early 20th Century   First rocket engines developed

1957  First orbital space satellite – dawn of ‘space age’

1960  First working laser demonstration

1934  Nuclear fission discovered.

You’ll see that out of all these inventions, technologies and gadgets, only digital recording (1982) and lasers (1960) were invented/demonstrated after the 1950s. Lasers were first demonstrated one year after the 1950s ended, and digital recording is really just an innovation of earlier recording methods rather than a completely new invention.

Similarly the internet is only an innovation, the networking of individual computers via telephone lines and radio. So not much really new technology is involved there either.

Apart from all this ‘new’ technology, it is a sobering thought that in the 1950s a third of the world was hopefully marching forward towards the utopian society of Communism, and now we are back in the dark ages of imperialist wars and the recurring economic crises of capitalism with little or no progress, in most countries, in developing fairer and more democratic political, economic and social systems. The failure of Communism was largely due to a) the apathy of the masses and their refusal to become involved in political activity to govern society and b) the enthusiasm of careerists, opportunists and criminal elements to take advantage of this apathy and infiltrate the world’s Communist and Workers’ Parties which were in power.

However, all is not gloom and doom. The 21st Century also heralds the New Age of scientific and paranormal investigation and evidence, with the old orthodox religions and materialistic science becoming outdated. Quantum mechanics and New Age spirituality and awareness of other dimensions and realities give us all hope of using our modern technologies for the good of society, the world and the environment, and also of progressing to better and fairer political and economic systems. While we may never achieve the utopia of self-governing, stateless Communism, some form of Socialism is inevitable sooner or later.

Foreign workers, British jobs, and international solidarity

This is a very contentious issue at the moment, with the so-called ‘credit crunch’ and rising unemployment. As a strong supporter of the European Union and free movement within the EU, it may be assumed that I have no problem with workers from other EU countries coming here for jobs. In actual fact I see it as a real problem.

As I see it, the problems are not caused by the EU itself, nor by the rule about free movement within the Union, but rather it is caused by the use of non-union labor. The trade union movement was greatly damaged in the Thatcher era of course, but it is essential that it is built up again to protect the wages and working conditions of workers everywhere.

What is quite unacceptable is when workers are exploited by being brought in from other EU countries at lower wages or inferior conditions than British workers would be. This problem can only be solved by the trade unions flexing their muscles and insisting that all places of employment are fully unionized. Every office, factory and public service in the country should be a ‘closed shop’, i.e. either you join the union or you don’t get employed. This is the only way we can fight capitalist exploitation, otherwise, in this era of globalization, of course the big multi-nationals will seek to exploit the workforce and drive down wages and conditions.

The danger is of course, if we have a highly unionized workforce, then the multi-nationals will simply move their factories, call centers, etc. abroad to where labor is cheaper (i.e. exploited more) than here.

The only long-term solution is international solidarity, with the international labor movement helping to build strong trade unions in all countries. Never was the maxim of Karl Marx more appropriate than today: ‘Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains!’

Without international solidarity, we are all vulnerable to the wily machinations of those out to make a quick buck out of the labor of others. Take the huge influx of workers recently from Poland and Eastern/Central Europe. Instead of coming here and working thru the day without proper breaks, at lower wages and conditions than British workers would tolerate, these workers should either join trade unions here and demand union wages and conditions in solidarity with their fellow British workers, or they should unionize their workforce back home and demand decent wages and conditions by being prepared to withdraw their labor power.

In the developing countries too the workforce must be fully unionized. Capitalism has always sought to exploit the labor force, it is the only way it can make its profits. As Marx showed, only labor power can create value. All the talk about capitalist investments creating wealth is complete nonsense, a clever sleight of hand to hide the fact that money is being stolen from the workers’ wage packets.

You only have to think about it for a moment to realize that capital of any sort, be it money or assets such as property, factories, shops, etc., cannot create any wealth without labor power. So it is the workers who create all wealth, NOT the capitalist. Give everyone in the world a plot of land or a factory, but without workers to develop or till that land, without a labor force to operate the machines in the factory, these capitalist assets are worthless.

Not only that, but all unearned income causes inflation because it drives down the value of money. This is why the ‘credit crunch’ is a good thing. People living on credit are not producing anything of value for this money. It is hard to visualize this unless you bring it down to very simple levels.

Thousands of years ago people produced things for their own needs. They grew their own food, made simple tools and items of furniture, etc.. Then people started to specialize. So you might get a farmer producing food, someone else making tools, and another making furniture. Then the system of barter was introduced, and in exchange for food the farmer would get tools to till his land and furniture to put in his home. A more sophisticated system came about with the introduction of money, which initially was in the form of gold coins. Then paper money, which is simply a certificate saying the owner has produced so many labor units and is entitled to goods of that value.

Now, if you start letting people live on credit or other unearned income for which no goods have been produced, you devalue the currency. Say in the above example an armchair, a bag of tools and a sack of wheat were all worth £50. If three other people come into the picture, all living on credit or other unearned income and all seeking to buy these goods, then due to the law of supply and demand the price of the goods will go up. The three examples above may then be priced at £100 each. All that has happened is that the value of the currency has been halved.

This can’t happen under true Socialism, where every able-bodied adult below retirement age works, there is no unearned income, and so prices and the value of money is stabilized.

Under the conditions of capitalism, however, the only way we can protect ourselves and our standards of living is by unionization, international labor solidarity to unionize workers abroad, and by avoiding the trap of living on credit or thinking we can live off the revenue from investments, which is simply exploiting the labor of others (i.e. stealing from their wage packets).

International solidarity can break capitalism, because without our labor power they can produce nothing at all. So foreign workers, whether here or abroad, must be fully unionized, and it is up to the international labor movement to do this.

The practice, as in the recent example, of jobs being recruited in other EU countries and not even offered to British workers should be solved by new EU legislation to insure a level playing field. Quite obviously this is an unfair practice, but it probably wouldn’t even arise if we were all fully unionized and working for the same wages and conditions wherever we lived.

A Socialist government in an EU state or elsewhere would make sure that any cheap imports coming into the country from outside had heavy import taxes slapped on them to make home or EU produced goods competitive, and that those import taxes were used to improve the wages/working conditions of the labor force in the country producing those imported goods. This could be done by setting up worker cooperatives in that country, where the labor force could make the same goods and receive a decent wage and decent working conditions, so putting the capitalist exploiter out of business. Together with a strong international labor movement unionizing all labor around the world, the stranglehold of the capitalist multinationals could be broken.

Survivalism and Spiritualism

Survivalism has more than one meaning, but it is now being used by some atheists, agnostics and non-religious people to describe a belief in ‘life after death’ based on empirical evidence from many sources.

Spiritualism also uses similar methods and seeks to prove ‘life after death’ thru presenting evidence for it, but has many religious trappings. In the UK many describe themselves as Christian Spiritualists, and have services with hymns, the Lord’s Prayer, etc. on Sundays in places they call churches. This is very uncomfortable for those who are not Christians, or for non-religious people.

One of the 7 principles of Spiritualism speaks of the ‘Fatherhood of God’, which is not only outdated and sexist, but meaningless to those of us who don’t necessarily believe in God, certainly not as some sort of father figure.

Indeed in the UK, most Spiritualist churches are regarded as just another branch of Christianity, even though they usually include along with crosses, pictures of Jesus, etc, pictures of guides from other non-Christian cultures such as Native Americans, etc..

Moreover, the principles of Spiritualism directly conflict with orthodox Christian dogma. Most importantly, the Christian doctrine of salvation thru the crucifixion of Christ. Spiritualists do not believe in this, but have much more in common with the Eastern religions which teach that every person has to work thru their own karma in this life and probably in many reincarnations. So Spiritualists believe everyone is responsible for their own actions, and must take the consequences of them. There can be no instant salvation by saviors from on high sacrificing themselves on crosses, nor can their be absolution by priests. Only we ourselves can work thru the karma we create.

Survivalists base their conviction of the after-life on mounting and overwhelming empirical evidence from mediumship, near-death experiences, out-of-the-body experiences, materializations, apparitions/ghosts, and the latest developments in ITC - Instrumental TransCommunication with the after-life dimensions in the form of recorded voices and even pictures received electronically on computers, TV, radio, photographic and recording equipment. 

Both Survivalists and Spiritualists are finding and studying the same evidence, and so come to similar conclusions: i.e. that all living things are immortal, that mind is separate from the brain, that we are essentially some sort of energy/mind/spirit and that there are many dimensions or planes existing alongside the one we are familiar with.

One theme runs thru the whole process, for both Survivalists and Spiritualists, and that is evolution. All the messages and evidence from the after-life dimensions suggest that all living things are slowly evolving into higher forms, and that life on Earth (and presumably other planets in our Universe) is a learning experience.

Spiritualism can certainly be regarded as a religion, but it encompasses all other religions and also atheism because it teaches that it makes no difference what you believe, your future state of existence will be based not on what you believe but on your actions and what karma you create. Indeed fixed religious ideas can hold you back, as can a conviction that there is no possibility of an after-life. Open mindedness is the best tactic, as fixed ideas of any kind can cause you to be trapped by your delusions/beliefs after death for long periods of time. For instance, an atheist convinced there is no after-life who dies and finds him or herself still very much alive and aware of what is going on around them will be in an extremely confused state for possibly a very long time indeed, trapped between the physical world and the next after-life dimensions which he or she refuses to believe exists.

The evidence and messages from the after-life dimensions suggest that mind is a very powerful form of energy which can organize or even create matter, or the illusion of matter. So we can create our own environments in after-life dimensions according to our tastes or expectations. We can also interpret after-life beings encountered in near-death and similar experiences according to our religious background, so some would see highly advanced spiritual beings as recognizable religious figures. Indeed they may well be right, as we all survive death, so Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed, etc. are all still real beings existing in the after-life dimensions.

There have been many great teachers thruout history, highly evolved spiritual beings who in their Earth lives tried to teach us how to live and progress to higher states of evolution. These teachers include religious figures like Jesus, the Buddha and also more recent teachers like Mahatma Gandhi, and atheists like Bertrand Russell. 

Christian Spiritualism is to me something of a nonsense, because there is really nothing unique or remarkable about the so-called resurrection of Christ, if indeed it happened as described in the ancient religious texts written years after Christ. There are many cases of apparently solid apparitions of the dead, and in one partial materialization of a hand of a suicide victim described by John Logie Baird, the television pioneer, fingerprints of the deceased were obtained.

Many inventors, medical doctors and scientists have studied the evidence for survival, and come to the conclusion it is true. Many more are afraid to speak out, because to admit the truth would rock the very foundations of our present physics and science.

It is only a matter of time, however, before new quantum theories put forward by the likes of Ronald Pearson, B.Sc. which correct the flaws in Einstein’s theories and give a scientific basis for the after-life are universally accepted.

At that point, Spiritualism and all other religions will gradually become redundant, as we understand that there is nothing unscientific or religious about the after-life or the many other dimensions around us. We will also understand the true nature of consciousness, and how it relates to life on Earth and other planets.

Basically, all environments, all matter is created by mind, which is constantly learning and evolving. That is what all the evidence coming from after-life dimensions is revealing. Mind or consciousness is the prime organizing force in the multi-universe, and it is constantly learning from experience and evolving.

In the era of quantum physics, can anybody really believe that there is only the illusion of solid matter that our five senses tell us is around us? We now know nothing is solid, and that sub-atomic particles behave in ways which defy our so-called laws of physics. This means something is seriously wrong with these laws and the theories behind them. People like Pearson are coming up with new theories, which have been mathematically proven to be correct.

We have been tuned solely into BBC 1 (i.e. the Earth and the Universe we see and sense around us) for far too long. It is high time we all realized there are many, many other ‘channels’ or ‘dimensions’ if only we learn how to tune into them.