jueves, 30 de abril de 2015

Self criticism

There was an interesting programme on Spanish TV on Monday night.  Three journalists, from leading newspapers in France, Germany and the United States, were discussing the current political climate in Spain.
All three of them pointed out one aspect which particularly surprised them. After years of austerity and cuts in social spending, to date no right wing xenophobic party has emerged (unlike in France, Greece, UK…).
That this should catch their attention shows how little they understand the Spanish electorate.
The party in power, Partido Poular, is right wing enough for most Spaniards, nostalgic as it is for other, now discredited regimes. It embraces not only the moderate right, but also the far right, those who would happily bring back authoritarianism and recreate a centralised, Catholic nation. So there is no need for another, extreme right wing party, as the poor response to Vox has so clearly underlined.
But more than that, the fact that Spanish politicians have under achieved does not mean that the Spanish electorate is undemocratic or tired of the format. The famous Transition was left unfinished, that is undeniable now. Perhaps the politicians believed that with left wing/right wing rotation real democracy would be achieved. Unfortunately they now realise it takes a lot more than that. Eradicating corruption is only possible with stricter control, and that means breaking down the oligarchies and corporate interests that riddle the Spanish state.
The irruption of alternative parties such as Podemos or Cuidadnos proves that the voter is mature, unafraid to do away with bipartisanship if necessary and embrace alternative politics.
There is a desire to have a modern, truly democratic state, honest and efficient.  Because democracy is not about political leanings, but about how a government can best serve its people. 
It would be simpler to blame immigrants for the current situation, but it would not ring true. The problem with Spain lies in its political leaders. So they will be changed.

jueves, 26 de marzo de 2015

All sewn up

Market forces dictate the world economy, and they've got it all pretty well sewn up.

Here's the trick.
You manufacture in the cheapest country with the lowest labour costs.
You sell on the best and most expensive markets.
You pay tax in the country that offers you the best deal, or in tax havens if you can swing it.

Obscene profits guaranteed.

No wonder they call it Free Trade!

So maybe, instead of stating where the article was produced, Made in China, for example, multinationals should be forced to add yet another label.

Tax Paid in Luxemburg, for instance. Tax paid in Ireland. Tax Paid in the Virgin Isles.

Then let the customer, who is always right, decide what to do next.

lunes, 16 de febrero de 2015

The Executioners

In Oklahoma they are thinking about bringing back the gas chamber because their supply of anaesthetic drugs has run dry.  Or the electric chair, or the firing squad.
There are a thousand ways to kill a human; we are very inventive on that score. Thankfully most of the excessively cruel ones, like hanging the culprit upside down over a sulphur pit, have falling into disuse. Nowadays for the State to eliminate one of its members there has to be a swathe of laws to guarantee that the miscreants are put down mercifully.
In ISIS they don’t waste time with legal niceties. They are not interested in killing ‘humanely’ like their hypocritical American cousins. Beating about the Bush is not their style.
Public execution is all the rage. Off with their heads! And upload it to the web for all to see. 
And we do, with morbid curiosity.
We had believed that the days of barbaric slaughter were over, a thing of the past, the stuff of History. Wrapped in comfort and relative security we had faith in the positive evolution of mankind. But as Lord of the Flies tried to warn us, the barbarian is inside us all. The veneer of civilisation that we have acquired over the centuries is fragile and thin. In one generation the culture of millennium is blown away.
We are what we learn. If we are taught to hate and destroy, we do so with verve and efficiency. If we are told that we have the right to set ourselves up as judges and executioners, so be it. Let the guilty tremble, our hands will not shake!
In the name of God, in the name of the Law, in the name of some Ideology or other, it makes no difference. It is power over persuasion, obedience over education. That is the real conflict. But it is a never-ending conflict; we must at all times remain alert and nip these attitudes in the bud. Not by the use of force, but by the use of reason, culture, tolerance and humanity.
There is no utopia. The moment we relax our efforts others will take advantage of that laxity. 
And we will be the first against the wall.

martes, 28 de octubre de 2014

Once more, a thousand thanks.

And today, on smashwords alone, A World Apart and Other Stories hit the thousand mark, following close on the heels of Balls. So once again my sincere gratitutde to all of you who have taken the time to read my stories. Thank you.

martes, 14 de octubre de 2014

El número de millonarios crece en España.

El número de millonarios crece en España un 24% y supera las 460.000 personas. (eldiario.es/economia/numero-millonarios-Espana-supera-personas_0_313568805.html).

¡Ya os dije que no había crisis!

martes, 7 de octubre de 2014

Amado Nervo

Cuando llegué por primera vez a Cádiz, en el 82, sin hablar nada de español, me dieron un librito para ayudarme a aprender el idioma. Entre declinaciones y sinónimos encontré, ya al final del libro, este poema. No sé muy bien por qué, pero hoy quiero  compartirlo con todos. Ahí va.

Amado Nervo

En paz

Muy cerca de mi ocaso, yo te bendigo, vida,
porque nunca me diste ni esperanza fallida,
ni trabajos injustos, ni pena inmerecida;

porque veo al final de mi rudo camino
que yo fui el arquitecto de mi propio destino;

que si extraje las mieles o la hiel de las cosas,
fue porque en ellas puse hiel o mieles sabrosas:
cuando planté rosales, coseché siempre rosas.

...Cierto, a mis lozanías va a seguir el invierno:
¡mas tú no me dijiste que mayo fuese eterno!

Hallé sin duda largas las noches de mis penas;
mas no me prometiste tan sólo noches buenas;
y en cambio tuve algunas santamente serenas...

Amé, fui amado, el sol acarició mi faz.
¡Vida, nada me debes! ¡Vida, estamos en paz!

jueves, 2 de octubre de 2014

Three monkeys

Martin Amis’ new novel The Zone of Interest has been released in the UK, but his French and German editors have decided not to publish it, claiming lack of demand and below standard quality. Nothing surprising there.
Except that the theme for the new satire is the Holocaust. So we hear the word ‘censorship’. Censors do exist, From Cuba to China, From Russia to Saudi Arabia. But to suggest state or ‘other’ intervention in this case is mere headline grabbing.
Amis is free to write and make available whatever he chooses. The readers will be the judges of his work, and no-one else. If he wishes he can publish digitally and offer his creation to most of the world.
If The Zone of Interest really is just that, then he will have no trouble selling his work.
If, however, he has come up with a dull, tasteless, insensitive and basically unfunny tale.... I say no more.