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The Open Road

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:53 pm    Post subject: The Open Road Reply with quote

I'm not actually sure what to call this topic thread ... I am about to write about an incident involving photography in a shopping centre but I think that that is not the political issue that I am groping after ... but if I called this topic thread ' The Open Country ' it might be construed to be about immigration. The Open Country is a fairly obvious title where this issue pertains to questions such as whether property rights are public, solely created by society and people can go anywhere they please ( clearly not desirable ) or whether they are absolutely private and inviolable and that individual person can do as they please and nobody can intervene. Ultimately it is down all so often to a contention of wills where all too often rich people or their employees assert that poor people are breaking some law that does not in fact exist ... even lawyers try this on for their clients, but more often than not the minions doing it are well muscled security guards and if by any chance you start to protest that you were going about your lawful business and then try and do so - well it can be as little as you raising your voice that they twist your arm behind your back and accuse you of assault, affray and call the police who allege public disorder and ... then let you go having taken your name and address etc : it is all about intimidation and they stand there as you walk away glowing with pleasure, admired by those who have stopped to watch and are convinced by now that you are a thief or a terrorist ... now I put this down partly to the kind of people who are hired and partly to a sort of play acting as doormen, security guards and policemen. I am articulate and easy going and polite, but I fully understand how people who put on uniforms put on an act : one minute the police are as you and me, the next minute they are not merely wearing a uniform but they are playing the role that they have been taught for it.

To give a couple of examples from my own life, there was a demonstration against the war in ( Afghanistan I think, it is so difficult to keep track in recent years of where the UK is killing people in order to secure for them their human rights ) and I arrived late and in a very decent three piece suit to lend my body to make up the numbers and the demonstration was at the junction just across from the doors on the corner of the Welsh Assembly. The steward, a well known elected politician, was arguing with the highest ranking police officer there who wanted the protestors to remove themselves from the other side of the street ' because they might rush the primeminister's car ' ( they were behind railings, some on zimmer frames ) ' because they might become violent ' ( most were either pensioners or nearly so and veteran pacifists and they were all there demonstrating against violence ) ' because they might get hurt if someone attacked the primeminister ' ( the main threat to the primeminister and to UK state security was the fact that the tv cameras were there and the protestors' banners hung on the railings were clearly in view and loud singing could be heard : the crowd were singing in tune with the Welsh nation and the primeminister definitely was not.) The steward, a local councillor, was as I remember it about to turn for help to a friend of his who was an assembly member standing by the doors : thereupon the highest ranking police officer ordered him to be arrested and thereby ' won ' the political argument by having the politician stuck in a van and carted away : he struggled and protested quite a bit.

Several people had crossed the road to the pavement in front of the Welsh Assembly to play supporting roles in this drama and although not a steward I went over there too in case this became disorderly and went straight up to this highest ranking police officer and tried to reason with him : true there were some people beyond the railings and over that side of the road hoping to be on camera with placards when the prime minister arrived, but surely if everybody was on the other side of the road behind the railings that was entirely reasonable ( the railings are about 25 m away from the doors, on the opposite side of the adjacent road.) : the police could do their job and we could do ours. He ordered us all away from that position and demanded that we go across the dual carriageway to the corner diagonally opposite the doors of the Welsh Assembly - about 50 m away, which I protested would prevent us from being able to protest. He turned his back on me and ordered a nearby policeman to deal with me, and after a couple of minutes I was threatened with arrest and was told that there was to be no discussion to which my response was to turn to others there and suggest that we sit down where we were until somebody offered us a reasonable compromise.

It was a bummer : I was in the whole three piece black funeral suit complete with manhattan hat, and at that point I was less concerned with the possibility that these idiots might start World War Three than I was with the dry cleaning bill and whether the jacket was going get ripped, so I took off the jacket and folded it on my lap as I sat down. I'm not sure exactly how long I was waiting, and other people did not sit down but hung around to watch what happened ( this probably helped me not get arrested, but it is not a very effective kind of protest when only one person does it : that person generally then gets picked on in order to intimidate the others - if everybody sits down the labour of removing them is a good bargaining tool, but then the leader often gets arrested.) Perhaps some of these people thought that they were on tv : a hired surveillance team were filming and then came in close as six policemen set about dealing with me. Apparently they were annoyed that I just let them pick me up after I explained that I would not go of my own volition, that it was unreasonable to place the demonstrators so far away : we had a right to protest peacefully, but that does mean protesting to other people - nobody goes and stands in a corner to protest to themselves about some people over there. Apparently because I was not struggling and shouting and lashing out enough for their camera man they had decided to try and provoke me to be ' violent ' and the fifth one supposedly carrying me head was actually digging ( his thumb ? ) into my jugular / windpipe to both cut off my blood supply and make me choke and struggle : I managed to look directly into their surveillance camera and say that I didn't mind being carried but I did mind being assaulted - and after a pause ( the thumb ) was removed. They dumped me on the diagonally opposite corner and threatened me with arrest if I returned or moved from there without their permission and I think that they left two policemen guarding me.

A few more people opted to be carried, although it might be the case that the police merely got impatient with her slow progress across the road on her zimmer frame, and I suppose the police found this a tad tedious. I am under the impression that because they could not shift the demonstration across the road junction as swiftly as they intended they actually asked the primeminister to drive around a bit or he parked up in an industrial estate to pass the time whilst the highest ranking police officer was imposing law and disorder on the steps of the Welsh Assembly - in other words wasting everybody's time and patience by creating an argument that was entirely unnecessary. The cars swept past us and drew up in front of the Welsh Assembly and within a minute all had posed for handshakes surrounded by a throng of admirers who had been summoned from their offices for the purpose of the photocall - and of course 50 m behind the camera men's back were perhaps two hundred protestors who were not newsworthy in comparison.

There was to be a reception in County Hall and so the protestors moved there but I believe that the police later smuggled the primeminister past them by putting him in a garbage can ( his policies however remained and were recycled within the Welsh Assembly and have been used again and again - after the fiasco in Ynys Mon there was a secret war council within the Welsh Assembly Government late one night but despite the undisputed evidence that Plaid Cymru was really a front for Al-Queda and that they were accumulating stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction - not to mention indoctrinating suicide bombers as candidates for places like the Vale of Glamorgan - Plaid Lafur resolved that their own internal civil war must take priority if the nation was to be saved for them.) With nobody in evidence to sing hymns at, the demonstration began to break up and I acquired a placard on a stick to keep me company until the end. Right at the end I could see that the five or six policemen now keeping me company half an hour or so after everbody else had left were looking rather bored so I asked them how long it was since they had had a cup of tea and a sit down. They had been at it for hours without a break so I decided that it would be kinder to let them go but they started protesting that they needed the overtime so I agreed to stick around for a further fifteen minutes or so ...

Personally speaking, I think that on this day the police were wasting my time, or rather the highest ranking police officer there that day wasted everybody's time by not respecting the fact that on The Open Road there are rights of way accorded to the public - and the police are part of the public : they are not in charge of us and they are not the proprietors of the highway - rather they are our employees and the public space is our property. To put it another way, there is no such thing as ' the state ' in the sense of ' the person ' - the state is an object not a person, it belongs in the same category as ' brick ' or ' book ' - or ' idea ' - nobody sane thinks that ' the republic ' actually exists or thinks or loves or possesses authouthority or indeed possesses possessions to have any authority over. The state can pile gold braid up on your uniform but the authority comes from your behaving in a rational reasonable manner - and as the record of rational reasonable behaviour the law is the source of authority in society. Nobody should assume that being a policeman or security guard or judge empowers you to order others to do irrational unreasonable things just because you have been given a uniform or title. On The Open Road most people recognise this point easily : the police have to keep to the same laws as the rest of us and they have no special priviledges other than those granted to them by other road users e.g. if the police need to move quickly we all move aside when we hear their sirens and we do so because they are our employees and we think that their job is important to us all. It is very aggravating therefore to find that they are standing in front of us in the queue in the chip shop five minutes later.

The moot point is of course how reasonable and rational the law is that we live under : this is the whole republican critique of the UK - its laws are often not reasonable or rational and since poor people can not access the legal system anyway in order to get justice it is irrelevant to the present political system that the laws that it makes are good or bad ones. When the law and the legal system and the political system become discredited in this way there is a well known remedy : Republicanism's main preoccupation is that everything should be laid under the rule of law - hence it is hated by those who would escape being accountable to the law, and historically it has been opposed many monarchies because of this - but ! - note that republicanism proper is indifferent to all systems of government provided that the law is held to be the source of all authority in society ( in as much as it can be demonstrated to give an account of justice that is rational and reasonable.) In Republicanism there are no crimes that a person can commit against himself e.g. it is not a crime to be colourblind, or fall in love, or believe in Fascism or fart in the bath ; a further principle of Republicanism is to consider the public interest in trying to police or prosecute any crimes that can be made to exist by passing laws against such things.

Therefore Republicanism confines the rule of law to the interactions between people : the Res Publica pertains to people not things because only people can be held accountable for their actions - you do not pass laws against the weather because even if God or Mother Nature or the Cosmos is the cause of harm to people you can not hold these accountable because we can not bring them to trial. Likewise we do not legislate to regulate the behaviour of people who live outside of our jurisdiction - but we are free to be privately shocked by their behaviour, to hate it passionately and to argue why it is wrong and to resolve to never let anybody do that within our jurisdiction and so pass laws against such things as eating snails in Wales. This principle caused a number of problems in the past e.g. it was used to argue against passing laws to prevent cruelty to animals : you could flog your own horse to death because it was your own property, but woe betide you if you harmed another man's horse. But another Republican principle to consider in the light of this is that concerning the purpose of the law : people are held accountable at law because in Republicanism it is held that the law is the embodiement of the Res Publica itself and the record of a society's agreed ethics. The reason for taking a person to court is to reform their behaviour not merely to punish them and therefore the purpose of politics is not so much to govern but to educate, and therefore everybody should be taught the law as children and participate in politics as adults : it is the sacred duty of citizens to develop their understanding of the Res Publica and to make laws in accordance with the morality that they discover which teach the ethical behaviour that addresses that morality. Since children can not be held to be fully accountable for their actions but have rights before the law, which mean that they are not the property of their parents to do with as they please, it was conceived by Republicans a long time ago that all adults have a duty to protect and care for children. By analogy, it became obvious that all adults have a duty of care for animals and this is now being extended by Republicans to all living things and since fish can not live anywhere but in the sea etc this is being extended to environments that can not protect themselves. The power over nature that science and technology have given us have made us as gods - but we must hold ourselves accountable for the exercise of that power over the world to whatever communities that it effects : other humans, animals, plants, funghi, minerals even.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the end of the above post I was saying that my line of thought had carried me in an unexpected direction - to Stryveland where Gethin has been tilting at windmills : I am fond of Gethin but I disagree with him over this one in that I am in favour of wind turbines for various reasons but I do question how these planning applications are being granted for these big infrastructure projects i.e. it is not a transparent process, deals are being made behind closed doors and then announced as fait accomplis which means that planning applications are rail-roaded and not subjected to proper scrutiny. The politicians are members of the public elected to do this job yet they seem to think that they themselves and the planning officials etc are de facto proprietors of the landscape and have the authority to dispose of it as they see fit. Now there is something about Gethin's campaign that is deeply rooted in Republicanism that I respect, but it is not really fully articulated and made understandable - so I am now going to try to plunder his verbiage to extricate the legal principle that it is crowded around. ( When I wrote about this at the end of the last post I did not have the time to do this and resorted instead to a metaphorical description of Gethin that was not pertinant.)


Gosh Gethin that's a lot been said ...


We have been informed that Abnormal Indivisible Loads (AILs) will be delivering replacement turbine blades for Cefn Croes wind farm on Tuesday 1 st May. ... We believe the loads will reach Newtown in the morning, then move on past Llanidloes and towards Ponterwyd. There will be many pinch/pressure points along the route eg under the rail bridge near Coleg Powys, Mc Donalds traffic lights (Newtown), Llanidloes/Welshpool roundabout, amongst others. ... Please film and photograph these loads, especially at pinch/pressure points and any damage/danger and send to ... YOU MUST NOT INTERFERE WITH or OBSTRUCT THE CONVOY, IT IS ILLEGAL TO DO SO. ... ( - text taken from - www.trapp-online.org ? )




( On this page Gethin begins to try to tie things together to create a bigger picture and thinking historically, as he does, he seizes on " Stryveland " as the binding theme to link various websites - )


(On this page Gethin gets busy creating propaganda associating his political symbols with the anti-turbine campaigns that he wants to join with - to be honest I am always intrigued by symbols, logos, trademarks, signs etc : it is a challenge to create a successful one - but of course if you start a campaign and then other people crowd round it and you find yourself with difficult bedfellows you have a problem - look at the tone of the majority of protestors actually living in the area http://www.trapp-online.org/index.php/videos/youtubegallery?galleryid=1&start=5 )


More of Gethin's artwork - I admire the creativity, and I enjoy this sort of stuff ... but for others it is unsettling not amusing : " WINDMILL TRAITORS BE WARNED - posterity will not forgive you for collaborating in the devastation, despoilation and destruction of our heritage in the landscape and allowing our land and resources to be taken so cheaply with no real benefits to our country and communities." - all over a Welsh flag where the red dragon has been replaced by a red skull and crossed bones which I think is a brilliant and striking combination of imagery and words BUT whilst I am entertained I really do not see the retired teachers from England etc who have opened B&B's advertising them as being in unspoilt rural Wales sharing my pleasure. Some people will find this positively threatening, especially when it is linked to other propaganda keening on nationalist sentiments, and many more will think that it is irrelevant : their concerns are more prosaic.


Then Gethin goes to the scene of the action and does various interesting things like painting the red pitchfork on a gate pillar and wrapping a trig point in the green flag with a red pitchfork on it - all without a grant from the Arts Council of Wales mind you and far more interesting than the public arts installations that they pay for, millions of pounds they hand out for utterly mediocre efforts by the idle nephews and neices of the local crachau you know .... but again some will find this positively threatening and will deny that this sort of thing adds to our environment. Personally I am not fond of graffiti as practised in Cardiff, I'm sure that our local vandals are being sponsored by the council : it demonstrates the same lack of imagination and meaninglessness as the rest of what is claimed as public art. I like purposeful art to be purposeful, interesting and well-executed ... but then not on my property or without my consent.

( insert picture of graffitti )


Then Gethin begins to grapple with the arguments in order to synthesise a coherent view of things. I approve of this business of publishing correspondence to and from companies, councils etc ... I hope that I don't shower other people's private email addresses around - there are search engines etc that harvest these. This could do with some editing, but interesting arguments recorded there.


I wonder if this was Gethin's first Youtube video ? He increasingly starts to use them for this and they get better and better -


- and now he starts to reach down into Welsh history : " One could almost forgive the stupidity of our 'Anglo - Cambro Greenies', most have never held down a proper job as our Copper and Iron Workers, Coal Miners and Quarry men. I guess most are perpetual students, Teachers, Preachers, Social Workers and Probation Officers et al or 'Y Crachach Newydd'. They just want to feel important and immagine they are 'Saving The World' ... these sons and daughters of the Manse are left feeling lost and lonely and unfulfilled. Their Chapels are almost all closed down, turned into Holiday Homes and Restaurants or just falling down. Thus they now with their new secular green religion want to see as many Windmills set up as their religious fore fathers established 100's of chapels across Cymru "

Oh ... I think he means people like me ... anyway the blog continues with more and more youtube videos as well as a mass of material to browse, but what I am fishing for is the underlying political issue in the arguments that Gethin and Sian are making, such as these -



You will note that Gethin frames the issue in terms of history and along the way mentions the Enclosure Acts. Now there is a big problem using history and cultural identity as the basis of politics and I have teased Gethin about it this way : my surname is Lawrence and this name is Cymro-Norman : its reputed origin lies in events some 900 odd years ago when Bernard de Neufmarche and a number of other Norman knights were on the losing side when a war broke out on the death of William the Conqueror over who was to succeed to the throne of England. They needed a base beyond England to fight from and they carved their way into the Welsh territory of Brycheiniog seizing all of the good land, murdering the inhabitants or driving them into the hills where they then lived on the remaining poorer land. The Normans and the Welsh in Brycheiniog lived through a series of truces, shifting alliances and further conflicts thereafter and about a hundred years later one Lawrence de Boulogne married or abducted a Welsh princess ( she is always a princess isn't she ) and their children were thus named ' ap Lawrence.' The Lawrences were thus the bastard line to the de Boulogne family ( who some three hundred years later were being called ' Boleyn ' ) and were basically their enforcers, in charge of castles and walled towns. One of the incidents that set off the events that led to Owain Glyndwr's revolt was the murder of a Lawrence who was the sheriff of Cardigan, and it was another Lawrence who defended Newport against Owain Glyndwr's assault and was left standing in the ashes afterwards. So if politics is all about what happened centuries ago and we should take sides according to some identity that is determined by what we read in a history book - then Gethin and I are deadly enemies !!! Ha.

The reason why Wales was not totally overrun by the Normans at the same time as England was because the thing that drove feudalism was banking : prior to the development of a cash economy there was not much point fighting for personal ownership of more resources than you could use to support yourself. The laws of Hywel Dda show that the princes of Wales expected people to provide to the court the means for the court to function : food, clothes, firewood etc neccessary to support the institution that ensured the rule of law and little else. When the Normans invaded England the English had a very similar system of government in which each free man, more or less, owned a plot of land big enough for his needs and rendered his taxes in kind - but obviously there was more potential for surplus : the Norman Conquest was a straightforward business proposition. William the Bastard had the Pope's blessing and a large amount of credit to fund the expedition in 1066. I think that the most notable thing thereafter was the harrowing of the north of England - the Normans did not have the military resources to secure the whole kingdom but they had hold of enough to repay the bankers using those English that they had already enslaved in the south - so they simply killed off as many as they could in the north to end any potential counter-attack. The Normans reduced the English to the status of livestock, perhaps almost pet animals - they ruthlessly terrorised and degraded the English and within thirty years the English language had effectively ceased to exist - " English " is more or less French spoken badly, it has barely any resemblance to Anglo-Saxon speech, and most English names are of Norman not Anglo-Saxon origin.

Nationalists tend to overlook the inconvenient historical fact that the Welsh were not conquered by the English but by the Nornan-French who brought French and Flemings and other nationalities along with them as well as English with them either as bonded men or mercenaries or as entrepreneurs - but we should disregard the matter of the nationalities involved because feudalism was driven by banking not nationalism. After Bernard de Neufmarche had burned the court of Talgarth to the ground and secured his forward position by slaughtering the hastily rallied Welsh army at that Norman French place known as " Battle " he set about the business enterprise that was going to finance his rally against William Rufus - cattle rustling. YES - this was the very first cattle drive to London, selling stolen Welsh cattle at Smithfield market and founding an industry : the Welsh reared their cattle and either had them stolen and their houses burned down or agreed to be taxed in cattle.

Feudalism taxed everything, and in order to ensure that nobody could escape taxation it was standard practice to make it illegal to hold a market outside of a borough - and THAT is where the focus of conflict was between the Welsh and the English : over the fact that the Norman-French kept the Welsh out of the boroughs and kept the English inside of the boroughs. There were extensive laws to prevent the Welsh making common cause with the Flemish and English immigrants in the broughs against their oppressors : the Norman French did this all over Europe, conquering peoples and extorting saleable commodities from them for sale elsewhere by planting foreigners in their midst to conduct the trade for excessive pofits from which the Norman French could draw the taxes to pay the banks with.

There are the remains of a number of these boroughs around in Wales where the Norman French conquerors miscalculated and the business plan proved to be rather too optimistic and the enterprise failed : they are not lying in ruins because the Welsh fought back and drove the foreigners out, its just that the proprietor was bankrupted and the bank could not find a replacement feudal lord. Sometimes the burgers knew that their borough was failing and in order to try to stop the economic decline they invited Welsh people in to trade on their own account for a fee, then successful ones became burgers themselves and then people began to inter-marry and ... medieval chroniclers from England would return home to report their outrage about the English and the Welsh quite liking each other and the burghers not bothering to lock the borough gates any more.

Because Wales was not as profitable as England to exploit by feudalism the Welsh language was never surpressed as the English language was because the total conquest of Wales was not worthwhile economically. If there ever was a link between the Welsh language and the land that it is spoken in it is that - but note that the Norman French feudal policy of deliberately cultivating racist antagonism between the Welsh and the English has had a terrible legacy, and in a sense it still scars the Welsh landscape that we imagine in that there is the Landsker linguistic divide and other remnants more physical.


This may seem like a long detour but I am coming around to Sian and Gethin's seizing on Stryveland as the theme of their campaign - note that below Gethin mentions a Land Act and that the utility companies are receiving subsidies from those who pay for electricity i.e. taxation is being imposed and ultimately is ending up in the coffers of the banks via new feudal lords - instead of funding matters of the Res Publica, the UK state continues to operate in a manner akin to the medieval feudal state because that is what it is founded upon and an inquiry into its proper purpose and reform is long over due -



But if there was to be a Land Act what would its proper purpose be ? Let me see if I can finally find a point to this that is linked to what I am after. Gethin mentions the enclosures and the Beauforts there is a bit of history there with my not-imagined family who used to be ... I suppose they might be counted as yeomen farmers rooted in and around Common Y Coed which was subject to enclosure about two hundred years ago. I do not know if they previously owned any land, but before the enclosures they ran a sort of extended family farming operation and rented Ty Mawr, which I suppose was originally the manorial farm, as the base for their operations which stretched across Undy and neighboring parishes. Up until about one hundred years ago ' farms ' were not as Tecwyn y Tractor might imagine, a compact area of land consisting of fields with a house and farm yard in the middle, because land was a source of income and jealously guarded and not sold but bequethed to the next generation. Yeoman farmers therefore had to bid to win the use of a field or a farm house or just a farm yard and what they farmed might be all over the place. Estate agents then held your balls in their hands and they knew it.

The land was owned by the middle classes who would perhaps have inherited a few fields scattered across several parishes from which an estate agent might collect money and forward it to families who now lived in London, and they in turn might not have a freehold and would pay fee to much bigger landholders : I think that the Beauforts owned a lot in Monmouthshire and that they were the people who most probably promoted the enclosures in the area. If my family were landless before, they were slightly better off after the enclosure in that when my great-great-great grandfather scratched his cross at the bottom of the will that the vicar had written for him he left each son and each daughter a cottage with a field and an orchard : he had carved out of the edge of the common a homestead that provided the means for each to subsist as freeholders and become enfranchised as voters. The rich people took the rest ... and then in 1879 the first refridgerated ship arrived and by the 1890's frozen meat was pouring into the UK at knock down prices and these small farmers who rented their fields were soon bankrupted and so my great grandfather ended up as a surface worker in the coal mine at Bodringallt.

Now the collapse in the price of beef was due in a sense to another form of cattle rustling that deprived a native people of their claim upon their land : this time the barons building their wealth upon cattle had seized the Americas, and it might well be argued that it was the invention of the refridgerated ship that drove the sudden expansion into the prairies which resulted in the buffalo being killed to make way for the cattle to graze in North America to be fattened up and be exported as carcasses to Europe where the population explosion was going on, which in turn resulted in economic consequences that included the peasant struggles against landlords as they were driven into poverty.

In the UK the success in getting the landlords to relinquish their property was a bit hollow : they let go of it because the peasants could not pay the rent and sold it for what they could get and invested in industrial company shares - the peasants could finally put together Tecwyn y Tractor's farm instead of trailing from here to there to the plots of land they farmed as tenants. The popular idea was that now that they owned their own land it would break the cycle of neglect : no more being forced by estate agents to pay rents so high and finding that any improvement that they made might be solely benefit of the following years bidder whom you could not outbid because you had had to repair all of the walls because the previous tenant farmer had paid too much and been bankrupted.

So ... I think that what I am getting at here is that the focus upon victims of a particular event in a particular location with a particular culprit leads to a particular conclusion - or rather that a particular conclusion demands locations, events and victims to suit the purpose which can be got from the pages of history books. Now I like history, particularly Welsh history - but if the focus is forever on Wales and people are reading history books in order to find out how to be Welsh then this is more or less all about egotism or rather I think narcissism : the myth of Narcissus is that he died because he was preoccupied with his own image in a pool and fell into it and drowned. In terms of real people, narcissists are people who pour all of their effort into maintaining an image of themselves to other people - and this is one of the reasons that Republicans intensely distrust Democracy where it involves people joining political parties and working their way up the greasy pole to be prime minister : the trick is only to use the greasy pole to steady yourself - you never climb it, you tread on other people's heads by appealing over their heads to the electorate with a seductive image ... once elected it is neccessary to spend all of your time and effort on your image, not with the job that you have been elected to do, in order to get elected again. Scrutiny of politicians in Wales is non-existent so there is usually no possibility of your indifference and incompetence being found out because our politicians subscribe to the British way of doing politics and have managed to convince the electorate that public affairs must be conducted in private, arguing that matters such as gas pipelines, nuclear power stations and wind turbines are such sensitive matters that the deals being made with such companies must be kept ' confidential ' in order to serve the public interest i.e. they have to be kept secret in case anybody asks awkward questions about whose interests the state is in fact serving.

So the whole point of Republicanism is not about being elected but about our being awkward buggers like Gethin who ask those awkward questions and loudly : if Gethin looks mad and his rhetoric sounds obscure well ... this is how Republican politics works : a charismatic politician who sounds utterly reasonable to the majority of people because he has carefully calculated his pitch in order to win an election promises those who will elect him to take them to the land(s) of their dreams if only they will give him the key to their Democratic charabanc - once he is at the wheel he is constantly looking over his shoulder at his audience and they are so entranced by him they don't even bother to look at the scenery, except Gethin with his map sitting on the back seat. The map is centuries old, it has " here be dragons " marked on one edge and little figures of mythical foreigners with no clothes on dragging curiously flat clubs on the other, and Wales is curiously bigger than England and there is a cliff at the edge of it with a ... as the charabanc of Democracy gathers speed and the passengers are screaming their heads off claiming that they never voted for this the driver that they elected is still smoothly assuring them that they need not worry - and he is still not looking !!! Now this is a political fantasy ofcourse and as Gethin as it happens will save the day by using his magical powers to summon the dragon to rescue the charabanc and all will be well ... that might not sound like a reasonable argument, it may sound plainly off the wall and begs the question of its rationality - which is that democracy is OK for countries that are stable, if you are content to accept the idea that this political system is as good as it gets and you can not get better politicians and just shrug your shoulders and say that ' shit happens,' but if countries are not stable then you need to figure out where the country is going - in which case you need a map, preferably an up to date one : Gethin's political maps are drawn from history, which does have a habit of repeating itself and certain landmarks do persist in the landscape, whereas I prefer to navigate using the equivalent of a compass constructed from theories drawn from various -ologies.

Out of date maps may make it impossible to identify your present position and if you are not certain of your present position then you can not use a compass to ascertain the exact direction to go forward in - but - that doesn't mean that you should stand still or you will go nowhere and therefore discover nothing : you have to make a choice and considering historical precedents is actually not a bad way to make a choice, even if it is wise to distrust historical accounts and the evidence is thin and partial, the map is not the journey but a description of how to make it : I will never climb a mountain in order to count the contour rings, I go up mountains for reasons that I take with me that are not marked on the map. In fact it is not worth bothering to climb a mountain if I do not carry those reasons with me - in my family, if anybody was fretting about things and burdened by them they were told to " go climb a mountain " and they meant it literally, surly children were kicked out of doors with a fork and bowl and told to bring back whimberries too. If you are fretful it really is a good remedy - it requires concentration and exertion which takes your mind off things and lifts your mood, and by the time that you are looking down on the terraced streets crowded into the valley below in contrast to what is all around you, the tiny transient lives below and the vast grave of trillions of lives laid down across the aeons in the rocks above them, you realise that everything you do is trivial so why be so concerned about success or failure in your life ? Hell, if having climbed the mountain to get a more objective view of the situation you can see your desired destination, then why bother with using roads made by other people in past ages to carry them to other destinations ? Make your own path straight and true, prophesying the lightening that you have forked to the people that you return to ... please do not take this too literally if you live in Cwmparc, just take the A4107 and turn left at Bwlch Y Clawdd onto the A4061 to get home.

Well I set out on this road several hours or rather more ago and it now seems to be a wide open road leading I know not where ... although it is supposed to be about who owns the road and how people should behave towards each other on it ... one idea that I had in mind was that given that in Republicanism the rule of law is the highest public good, the embodiment of the Res Publica, its purpose being primarily to educate not to punish with the function of court rooms and prisons being to re-educate and provide criminals with opportunities to be welcomed back into society not damned forever and excluded such that crime is their only choice in life : the justice offered by Republicanism is to sentence people to life - not death, to order their lives to be ones of love, truth, peace and freedom - not hate, lies, war and enslavement : these are the cardinal points of the political compass for Republicans, it not only indicates the equivilent of west, north, east, south but also each direction has an up or down ... it is a compass that reacts to people not places, a guide as to whom you meet on The Open Road and how to behave towards them, how to decide whether to distrust another person or to trust that whether they know it or not they are in The Open Conspiracy.

All of these terms that employ the adjective ' Open ' date back to the inter-war years when Socialist and Fascist ( which I tend to denote as ' Red ' and ' Green ' to make these categories a little bit more fuzzy ) conspiracies threatened such civil disorder that anybody who advocated any sort of theoretical political analysis was immediately assumed to be about to pursue their ideas through violence. ' The New Republic ' as a loosely associated group of people who generally met privately to discuss their ideas were viewed with suspicion - most especially because they kept going out on The Open Road investigating things, visiting foreign countries like Fascist Italy and Communist Russia, India and South Africa, Ireland and Canada and ( worst of all in the eyes of the British Imperial Authorities ) America ( with whom they had had some trouble beforehand.) There were allegations that ' The New Republic ' had mysteriously appeared almost exactly at the same time that the Irish Republican Party Sinn Fein had begun its climb to infamy in defying the United Kingdom through folk dancing and reciting poetry and playing shinty - and that had resulted in insurrection followed by outright civil war just because the petulant Irish objected to the fact that they had peacably achieved their damned home rule act by patient lobbying, pleading, petitioning, and parliamentary debate for over a century and the UK parliament had ... just put aside for year or two or three or ... and once the Irish had got a home rule bill the Scottish started asking for one, good grief even the Welsh wanted one and they did not even have a country of their own to call home ! ' New Republican ' groups like ' X ' and ' Cosmopolis ' were closely watched by the UK authorities ... it was almost a relief to know that they were indeed preparing to embark upon a conspiracy, that they were openly discussing it amongst themselves ... Special Branch liased with MI5, the Metropolitan Police made ready and the Prime Minister readied himself to answer questions in the House of Commons and listed the names of those MPs the whips had to bribe or nobble to keep quiet, once the arrests began of the prominent writers, scientists, artists, historians, actors, vicars and mistresses involved - all must be explained and justified and democratically done : as the hour approached the time came to square the press and get their story straight - the Prime Minister picked up the phone - " Ah ! Hello - Your Excellency ! " " Uh, have you got a wrong number Lloyd George ? I'm not in the House of Lords yet you know, I'm still too poor ! " " Well, you could be - that foolish fellow H G Wells is right at the centre of a conspiracy involving many prominent radical intellectuals who think that the World War, all of that senseless slaughter of millions of young men and nothing gained except that I have enslaved their surviving sweethearts and widows to lives of loneliness lived out in grinding poverty as they are enslaved to work to pay off the debts that I have incurred to ... er ... well to be honest I can not remember what we were fighting for but at least I was good at organising it - I always seemed to be able to persuade the armaments manufacturers to sell me more - and - " " David ! Are you ringing me up about the popular series of articles that I have been publishing over the past few months entitled " The Open Conspiracy " - ? " " - oh ... well, yes - they are ... excellent and I ... er ... the goverment is examining them with interest and ... er ... is that the time ? - Goodness me ! - Do please excuse me, I am supposed to be running the country ! " PING zzzzz " Uh .... I thought that Bonar Law was ? What a narcissist ... "

Bwlch Y Clawdd was hidden above the ceiling of cloud and smoke that trapped the valley beneath it, the tall chimneys of Parc colliery ahead of them and Dare colliery behind them joining in the endeavour of the ranks of terraced houses' chimneys to choke each others inhabitants ... ahead of the others the small red haired man trudged alone, bare headed in the misting rain his boots broken and tied with string, his hands thrust into the pockets of somebody else's ragged trousers that he had hauled together at the waist with string ... thus he was the first to reach the pile of tools thrown down together and squatting besides them looked up and across the valley where the wires strung across the ragged landscape hauled waste into the vast pocket in the mountain from out of which was thrust the arm that loomed above him whilst before him was the head of the road, red rock laid bare and broken ... my grandfather nodded to the others as they arrived and he surveyed their progress up the mountain in his minds eye : the General Strike of 1926 had thrown him immediately out of work afterwards because he had only just finished his apprenticeship and many others had been refused work when the bitter struggle of the colliers against the mine owners and the governments of left and right had ended in defeat, with families broken by poverty wages and their remnants scattered into exile while those that remained not knowing what to do or where to go ... Tadcu now found himself here, the rain soaking his torn shirt stained with the soot of the anthracite from beneath his feet : it was the very foundation of life in the Rhondda Valley upon which everything stood and it had turned to ash before their eyes. He did have a jacket but he would need it to be kept decent : above all he needed a pair of boots with enough life left in them if he were to have enough life left in him after this to walk out of here, to walk to London. With a nod to the others he picked up the sledge and held out a mandrill to an older man in order to spare him the heavier work after the climb to the face of the mountain had obviously tired him. The ragged band of men then set to work, hewing away the stubborn mountain which imprisoned them in their valley, leaving them with nothing but the same road in to poverty and out to poverty : they needed a new road, one of their own making which had a destination of their own choosing - not this meandering sheep track up to the narrow cleft of Bwlch Y Clawdd but The Open Road : eventually they built four as part of a make work scheme in which they were employed for slave wages - and arguably these are the four most dramatic and picturesque roads in south Wales - the A4061 and A4107 through Bwlch Y Clawdd, A4061 through Bwlch Y Rhigos, A4233 through Bwlch Rhos Gwawr - so go drive on them, admire the views and remember that the men who built them were dressed in rags and wore broken boots.

MMM ... I still don't know where this is going, but in passing I tink that it is worthwhile noting that whilst I am drawing on real family history I am fictionalising it to reflect the sorts of historic events that people were living through and not presenting it as actual history. Furthermore I am starting with a fairly openly stated political idea and then writing to explain it through dramatization : I do like history but as a consequence of doing some real historic research from time to time I am very much aware of how selective the writers of history books are, if history were to be written as it actually happens on a day to day basis it would read like a telephone directory or a desk diary. It seems to me that those " Greens " who are caught up in constant preoccupation with their identities usually love history books that focus on famous people that they would like be e.g. anybody who is Welsh who has ever done something is immediately elevated to the status of hero, important not only for the history of Wales but as often as not claimed to be of historic importance. What follows is the erection of monuments, appointed days of celebration and books, tin badges and t-shirts - and then the political argument becomes that the followers of this personality cult are right every time because of their passionate " patriotism." Reds " seem to sort of turn this on its head in that their constant preoccupation with their identities leads them to the sort of history books that describe not famous people but great events that ordinary people have been caught up in and they enthuse over these in much the same way and their political arguments being drawn from these argue that they are right every time because of their passionate " class solidarity." When I find myself being lectured for not being sufficiently Welsh enough or working class enough ... well I've encountered people claiming to have all sorts political views over my lifetime, starting from when I was a small child and even when I was a small child I instinctively understood that with most people the political opinions that they profess are more or less arguments for what they themselves want : if somebody is supposedly expressing a " political " opinion and yet is using it to hurt you in some way in order to coerce you to do what they want - then take it from me, go with your gut instinct and say no : don't worry about not being able to reason to them why. From a " White " republican democratic viewpoint if you fail to persuade somebody to do something you should not jump to the conclusion that they are in the wrong or should be coerced to do the correct thing, the first thing to do is wonder whether your own argument is wrong - and to seize the opportunity of learning something new yourself by eliciting their point of view. The whole problem with the political system in Wales is that it is not republican and, although some republican principles have found their way into it and all our political parties use them, we can not openly discuss republicanism and draw upon its stock of useful ideas. It is a fact that in Wales republicans face discriminatory treatment in the political system : it is very much metaphorically like there being an Open Road for everybody else, including some obnoxiously racist organisations, but the minute that somebody sits down in front of a committee and mentions that they are a republican they are either denounced or studiously ignored. I don't feel embarrassed to be a republican - but to be Welsh : this nation has no future if the way forwards to it is not The Open Road of republican democratic politics where all facts and opinions are relevant to the decision making processes of our political systems.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OkKaY .. not strictly topical, but Cerys sings a song called ' Open Roads ' -



- on Cerys Mathew's album ' Never Said Goodbye ' - ?
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