Harvest Time with a Dash of Non-Compliance

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banksy-anarchy

 

We have entered a new month that is to bring us the season of autumn. It will feel like summer for at least another 6 weeks here on the Rock, but the days are shortening and I need to mentally prepare myself for the horrid, damp indoor cold that is the hit my dwelling in a few months’ time. But for now it’s still very much flip-flops- on- my- mind. It has been a good, yet not terribly eventful summer and as it’s getting considering cooler, it might be interesting to take stock of the harvest. It’s been a year since I returned to the Rock after a fantastic adventure, that has reinforced my desire for a certain lifestyle and on this Rock I have been leading a life that is quite contrary to that desire. But (for now) I am a corporate whore and my pimp is good to me, so there you go.

Feasts and ‘Victories’

Today is a public holiday on the Rock carrying the name Feast of our Ladies of Victories. Having done British-Isles living I’m used to public holidays just being a days off, seemingly for no evident reason besides that the government has decided so. If public holidays have ladies and victories in the name, one might start to wonder why. Apparently this public holiday is to celebrate the end of the Great Siege of 1565(!) when Malta’s rulers of the time, the Knights Templar, successfully withstood the Ottomans who wanted to conquer the island. The name might have been given to the event, because it was seen as a victory of Christianity over Islam, but I might be taken this too far. Although I am darn pleased with a day off, I don’t quite get why there needs to be a public holiday to celebrate something that happened almost 5 centuries ago and commemorates that some foreign rules, forming a secret society, kept some other foreign rulers out. But history can be weird and some people’s customs even weirder.

Election Scam and Burkini Ban

While September is a great month in terms of public holidays it also announces the end of summer.  My summer might not have been that eventful, plenty has been going on on the world stage. The phantom war on terror is still raging, and in the US a buffoon on the one hand and a lying, deceiving, corrupt and murderous she-bastard no one likes, except the mainstream media, on the other, are ‘fighting’ who is to become the next puppet president of the US. Who wins doesn’t actually matter. The populace is sure to get fucked by the pay masters of whoever gets (s)elected. Slightly closer to home, things have got rather quiet in regards to Britain’s Brexit vote and I don’t see it quite happening. In La ‘douce’ France some beach towns have found it necessary to prohibit women from covering up on the beach, which is just about the most retarded ban a so-called ‘free’ nation could impose. The French High Court has already ruled that the ban is unconstitutional, which a 5-year old could’ve figured out, but some towns stick to the ban anyway. I suggest that people, who find fully clothed people on the beach offensive get a life. If you are all about liberty and yet support this ban, you are imposing on someone else’s liberty in two ways. A, you seem to want to have a say about what people should and shouldn’t wear and B, you obstruct a woman who prefers to cover up on the beach from having a chilled time on said beach, because if she can’t wear what she would like to wear, she ain’t coming to said beach. If these are French values they totally suck.

Love and Non-Compliance

Besides a summer of burkini bans it has been a sports summer and with the exception of a few Euro 2016 matches I didn’t catch any of if. Give the people bread and games. I don’t eat bread and most of the games they want to distract us with are shit. Meanwhile I’m biding my time in the corporate prison, where I am sufficiently entertained and plan for new adventures. As I called for a no-fear summer a few months ago, I’d like to encourage you to keep the no-fear stance, prepare for the darker days and don’t be deceived.

Sail & Discover in Warriors One Two and Three

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maltese flag

Fire, Water and the Cross By Paul K Porter #paulkporterphotography

A couple of weeks ago I did something rather impulsive. I don’t consider myself an impulsive person, but when it comes to travel and adventure I’m keen to take on pretty much anything you throw at me, even- or especially- when it’s planned as a last minute experience. The yoga studio I train at in my overpriced and overrated neighbourhood full of foreigners, of whom many call themselves ‘expat’ – and if you want to know what I think of those, please check earlier posts on my life at the African Med- had organised a yoga- sailing retreat around the Maltese isles. As I am considered a loyal customer- and if you like yoga and know what hot yoga exercise costs in London Town compared to this island, you would be too, I was invited to join the enterprise at last minute for a very friendly price. My corporate jailers looked upon me favourable and I was released for a week to go on a yoga- sailing adventure. There were a few firsts for me, which I didn’t quite realise until a couple of days into the retreat. Although I am a keen yogini I had never been on a yoga retreat. I had never been at open sea on a sailing boat that small- the yacht had space for 10 sleepers- and I never had been on a boat for more than a full day.

The Retreat I went on- I bought it

What first became apparent was the clientele. As sailing is not a cheap hobby and inexpensive yoga retreats in Europe are very thin on the ground, most of my sister yoginis- as yoga tends to be a chicken fest- where boss-women with salaries to match. Think Destiny’s Child’s

“All the women who are independent
Throw your hands up at me
All the honeys who makin’ money
Throw your hands up at me”

Some of these honeys reserve plenty of time and funds to go on retreats as a solid investment into and for the betterment of themselves.

What’s Water Got to do with It?

Besides the boss-women honeys, there is the fact that one is on water and if you are used to steady land at all times, this can feel quite  unfamiliar and unsteady. On our first day the sea was unusually rough for the time of year and I got sea sick for the first time . Then there is the space, or the lack of it. Space on floating vehicles tend to be limited, unless you’ve booked a luxury cabin on a floating city. Although people are my favourite animals, I am a closet hermit, who needs her space and to some this can come across as anti-social or moody behaviour.

Beware the Zombie Collapse

As most of the power honeys were terribly attached to their mobile phones I was forced to deal with my pet peeve and what I consider socially accepted anti-social behaviour. It can be considered weird by some to physically remove yourself from a group, yet for most it seems totally accepted to mentally remove yourself from the group by finding the pettiness – in most cases- on you mobile device far more interesting than the people around you. I don’t get how real, face-to-face human interaction could every win it from interaction in cyber space between profiles, that are often just fabrications and half truths in an attempt to make oneself look good in cyber space, because one fears that the real ‘thing’ will never do. You might think I’m exaggerating, but the zombie collapse is here and it ain’t a joke.

Sailing, especially sailing for several days in a row in summery settings, forces you to connect with water. When it comes to the zodiac, I am an earth sign and I have been told that both the moon and the rising sign at the time of my birth within the same system are fire signs. For what this knowledge is worth, there is not a lot of water going on in my character. I both admire the wideness and depths of the sea and, as I am not a confident swimmer, they fill me with trepidation at the same time, but that trepidation might be a common sentiment amongst sailors and other sea-folk. Despite this sense of fear I believe that water has healing and transcending powers and that connecting with this element could be good for me, especially after getting rather frustrated after a sup yoga session, which is yoga on water on a longboard.

The Salt of the Earth

When I came back home, which was never far away, I felt that something had shifted and wondered what is in a holiday that can make you ‘shift’? What is in a challenge and what makes people change? Holidaying seems a necessity of life and it doesn’t seem to matter whether you work or lead a life of leisure or whether you love your occupation or vocation or not. As human creatures we seem to like a change of scenery and as everyone- who can afford it- seems to be doing it, it could be considered weird if one preferred to stay at home. Although we might be creatures of habit, I seem to learn and discover most if I break with my current routine. Besides not going to the corporate prison, this can entail engaging with people, you might normally not engage with or choose to live on water when you’re used to the steadiness of land. Or do yoga in the outdoors, where you can be effected by the elements, let it be wind, the sun or mosquitoes at dusk.

I’ve always considered Malta an interesting and pleasant Rock one needs to escape from ever so often. For this adventure I didn’t escape from Malta. I just saw the islands from a different perspective. For now, it’s my salt of the earth as it has given me well-being and great experiences and above all; it reinforces the idea to stick to the written word to set me free and avoid the smartphone zombie collapse in the process.

Namaste, sisters and brothers.

Anti-Fear Summer Times

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Ms Rosa Parks

Fear-Defying Ms. Rosa Park

I don’t believe in biblical prophecies, but with all the terror events (reported on) in this world, it seems the End Times have come. June, the month that is to bring us summer, was a tough one with the passing of Muhammed Ali, terror attacks around the world and a Brexit vote that took everyone, friend and foe, by surprise. A few months ago I said that the Brexit camp didn’t have a change in hell, because the powers that be want the UK to be part of the EU, just as Scotland is not allowed to go for it alone. I was wrong and that to my pleasant surprise.

The Shock of the Brexit Vote

The referendum gave me a clear insight in how pro-European my friends in the UK are. I am sure they had been indoctrinated, like me, in their younger days. After the surprise result the scaremongering began. Apparently pound sterling was at a record low- which was not true: If you took any online currency calculator on 25 June it would’ve told you that the pound had only fallen slightly against the dollar and had gained slightly against the euro- and according to the papers the sky was to fall on our heads now the British people had voted ‘out’ by a narrow margin. The losers started petitions to make the result of the referendum non-valid and thousands hit the street to protest against the result, which was widely covered by mainstream media unlike many other protests directly aimed at the government. Imagine it was the other way round; the Remainers had won by a narrow margin and the Brexiters had protested against the result. They would have been painted as bad losers, besides being bigots and racists, wouldn’t they.

To be quite frank, I love this political bomb. Everything that shakes up the corrupt status quo is good and, no, I’m not calling for an uprising or revolution. Massive change would be great, though.

Fear and Loathing on the Earthly Plane

The vast majority of the deadly attacks of last month took place in the Arab and Islamic world and got very little attention from Western media. Notable attacks on ‘Western soil’ took place in Orlando, Florida and Yorkshire, England, where Labour MP Jo Cox got stabbed to death by a deranged man. The perpetrator was white and British, which doesn’t quite fit the muslim/ arab flag a ‘terrorist’ is a supposed to carry, so the man was called a right-wing bigot instead. The murder was still politicised and milked by the Remain camp, to no avail. I immediately had to think how similar this was to the murder of Anna Lindh. She was a Swedish social-democrat politician and at the time foreign minister set to become prime minister. She too was killed by a deranged man in September 2003, days before Sweden was to vote whether to accept the euro or keep the krone. Both Cox and Lindh were very outspoken proponents of the EU and both their murders have been politicised, yet not creating the desired result (Sweden accepting the Euro and the UK voting to remain part of the EU).

The mainstream media and other conventional channels of information don’t tell you like it is. They tell you what to think and they want you to be scared. ‘Cause if you are scared you want Superman- or fill any superhero- in the form of the state, the EU or NATO to come and save you. But to do that, they need to take your liberties away one by one. You are so freaking scared, however, you just cry “do whatever the fuck you want, just protect me from the boogie man!”. And then they are taking those liberties away, yet the next terrorist attack is just around the corner, so you lost (some of) your liberties not feeling remotely safer. Remember when it all started in this century? There was 9/11 in the US, 11-M in Spain, 7/7 in London and dozens if not hundreds of other attacks across the world. They freaked us out, we demanded our governments to act. They did, yet we are by no means safer now. So maybe we shouldn’t fall for that scaremongering bollocks any longer.

Not after the attacks in Nice – how the fuck is a truck allowed to enter those promenades by the police anyway? And how convenient the perpetrator left his ID with grainy picture in the vehicle, as you do, like all the other deadly terrorists- and not after a failed coup in Turkey- instigated by who exactly?

Now the UK has a new prime minister after a tiny, yet decisive motherhood row and the quickest non-campaign ever. Now (some) people are demanding a general election, as the prime minister hasn’t been elected by the people. Very few of those people seem to give a shit that the head of state is unelected and will be after the country has taken its ‘sovereignty’ back from the EU’.

The Summer of Love (No Fear)

I’m sick of this shit. Not only because of the death and destruction, but also because of the great deception, scaremongering and taking me for a fool. Our ‘masters’ are not only in government. They are in the media and other sectors of the corporate world too. They don’t give shit about us, so why would we believe a word these evil bastards have to say. Especially if all they want is to keep us scared, obedient and ignorant? It’s time for another summer of love; no fear!

Jordan: the Uprising and the Great Peace

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arab revoltA week ago it was Independence Day in El Urdun, or Jordan in transliterated Arabic. This year 2016 is extra special as this month it will be exactly 100 years after the beginning of the so-called Arab Revolt. This uprising was immortalised in the cinematographic classic Lawrence of Arabia on T.E Lawrence, the British diplomat, military officer and spy, who fought with the Arabs in the Levant against the Ottoman Empire in the second half of the 1910s, midway the First World War. This whole episode was romanticised in Lawrence’s autobiography and literary classic Seven Pillars of Wisdom, in which he described the desert of the Wadi Rum in the south of the country in most lyrical fashion.

What’s in a Revolt

After the First World War the Ottoman Empire imploded and instead of gaining independence the Levant and the Arabian peninsula got new masters in the form of the French and the Brits. These ‘victors’ carved up the region, as if it were a piece of juicy meat. As determined by the Sykes- Picot agreement all areas were officially  called ‘protectorates’ not being entirely clear what these areas needed protection from. The French claimed Lebanon and Syria and the Brits the area that is currently known as Israel/ Palestine, Jordan and Iraq. The region known as Palestine was promised as a fiefdom to the zionist movement in 1917 by means of the Balfour declaration in exchange for US support in the war. But that is – obviously- not how we learn it in school. The British mandate of Trans- Jordan was ruled by a puppet leader in the form of Abdullah bin Hussein, who became Abullah I King of Jordan after the country gained ‘independence’ in 1946. He was the second son of the emir of Mecca and was considered a suitable puppet ruler due to his ties with T.E Lawrence. As the Arab revolt and its centenary are a big deal in this region I have the idea that Abdullah bin Hussein is considered a hero and the architect of the ‘great uprising’ against the Ottoman Empire. Every state and especially post-colonial states, need(s) their heroes. It’s just very often- let’s just say always- white-washed from history that these heroes have very strong links with their former colonisers. Like I just mentioned Jordan, like many other colonial states,  gained fake-independence after the Second World War and the royal ruling class remained in power when Jordan was proclaimed an independent state in 1946.

Oasis of Refuge

Jordan has remained a remarkable oasis of calm in a volatile region forming a place of refuge for several hundreds of thousands of displaced people. Palestinians fled to the country when Israel was bombed into existence in 1948 and after the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. Around half of all Jordanian citizens are of Palestinian decent and many thousands still live in refugee camps without having any citizenship. After US and British hell-raising since the mid-noughties and the proxy war in Syria after the Arab spring, several thousands of Iraqis and Syrians have sought refuge in Jordan putting significant stress on the country, which it citizens seem to undergo with calm and dignity. It is unclear what Jordan’s ‘lucky charm’ is and why neighbouring countries seem to lack it.

To work or not to work

Official unemployment figures are high as almost 15% of the working population is out of work. I heard from a few people that this unemployment is self-inflicted as many jobs in hospitality and tourism are filled by foreigners, as (some) Jordanians consider themselves too good for certain roles. Just like in London Town back in the days (before the crash), when almost all non-managerial roles in hospitality were occupied by foreigners and if there was a Brit among them, he or she would most likely to be an actor. Some things seem the same all over the world.

A hotel I recently stayed at employed two young women from the Philippines. The owner told me it would be much easier and cheaper for him to employ Jordanians, as he needs to pay several thousands a year for working visas and residency permits and the like, but they seem hard, if not impossible to find. As I know what being stranded in the Land of job-hunting frustration feels like, I know it can be hard finding employment that you are happy with. It is a fine balance between making compromises and sticking to your guns. You didn’t do that degree course, internship or what-the fuck-ever to wait tables, clean toilets or any other jobs few locals seem willing to do. That’s when one moves to Malta or other places of economic and meteorological refuges I guess.

Holy Adventures in Sacred Lands

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Mount Nebo

Mount Nebo

After a mild winter, plenty of 9-to-5 bollocks and the longing for a new adventure, which I planned when I was in marvellous SA, I boarded a plane to the so-called cradle of Western civilisation from which I was to take another flight to the Holy Land. In Athens I met up with an old mate from London who showed me his groovy neighbourhood of Exarchia and brought me to the top of the hill from which I could see the Acropolis, which made my five-year-old traveller’s heart very excited. Boarding a plane around midnight flying over the Eastern Mediterranean and what I assume must have been Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah, we landed in Amman, Jordan in the early hours of Friday ,which is the day off in the Arab world. As it was ‘their’ day off, it was also my day off, so I did very little on that day. The next day it was a sight- seeing day when I and two other travellers staying at the same hotel went to see the ancient monuments of Umm Quais, Ajloun Castle and Jerash. Jerash is also called the Pompei of the East and as the site is of considerable size and in a great state it is very impressive indeed.

I’ve been to the mountaintop

The next day I visited with three different travellers Mount Nebo, which Moses, according to the biblical book Deuteronomy chapter 32, had climbed to be shown the Promised Land shortly before he died. He is supposed to have been buried in the vicinity, but no one know where exactly. The question is if he existed in the first place, but that is a contemplation for another post. Before our visit to Mount Nebo we spent a view hours at the Dead Sea, which was just fabulous. I had driven passed he Dead Sea when I was in the Holy Land about 6 years ago, but didn’t have a dip into it. On the Jordanian side there are not many, if any public beaches at the Dead Sea. So one goes to a resort for which one pays and entrance fee varying from 15 Jordanian Dinars, which is pretty much the same as 15 pounds sterling, up to 50 JD for the fancier resorts. Besides the beach there is a restaurant, two swimming pools, changing facilities and stuff for rent and sale like towels and beachwear. This particular beach we were at in it self is not that special and contained a few chairs and parasols. While you wade into the water there doesn’t seem to be anything special to water until you wade in a bit deeper and your legs are pushed upwards as by magic- i.e. a lot of salt- which is such a weird sensation that it made me giggle to the amusement of some ladies in the vicinity. I gave myself a proper mud bath with Dead Sea mud and floated around for a couple of hours. It’s the most relaxing sensation and one’s skin feels baby soft afterwards.

Jordan Charm

After a few days I can hardly call myself an expert on the country, but up till now the experience has been great. Amman is just noisy and although there is plenty to see, it is no comparison to Umm-ad-dunya, The Invincible, my beloved Cairo.  I have only travelled a fairly small region, yet the area in the North bordering Lake Tiberius and the Golan Heights, the Jordan Valley and the Northern stretch of the Dead Sea, have been very varied and strewn with magnificent sites. Jordanians in general seem gentler, less pushy than Egyptians and the country seems slightly more developed.

When I told people my next adventure was to take me to Jordan I got a few raised eyebrows from some square-heads who tend to believe what they read in the papers. Jordan is full of Arabs and muslims so therefore it must be very dangerous. It is true that the wider region is in great turmoil and Jordan, luckily and surprisingly, is an oasis of calm. When I asked a couple of locals why Jordan seems to be able to avoid all the trouble one said half-jokingly, but with a most serious undertone that Jordan is the 51st state of the US and calm most remain. The US has tens of thousands of military personal based in the country of which at least 10.000 apparently are based at the US embassy. A very large proportion of Jordanians are from Palestinian decent and about half a million Palestinians are still housed in refugee camps, where many have been for decades. The Jordanian flag is very similar to the Palestinian flag and often you see the two flags waving side by side on buildings and on cars. Many Jordanians fled what was called Palestine in 1948, during what muslim and christian Arabs call the Nakba or the catastrophe and in 1967 during another Arab- Israeli war. One of our guides told us that he fled his birth place of Bethlehem in 1967 as a 19 year-old young man never to return, as the Israeli state doesn’t allow him and many others with him to return to his homeland. The extra bitter taste is that on a clear day you can see Jericho, Jerusalem and Bethlehem on the other side of the Dead Sea. The homeland is so close yet so far. Despite a lot of misinformation my experience with Palestinians is that there are very kind and dignified people and also with the Jordanians of Palestinian decent I sense little to no feelings of resentment or hatred, which is most remarkable.

More Jordan Magic

What is up next is the country’s most famous site the Pink City of Petra and the desert area Wadi Rum, after which I plan to do some (more) hiking in Dana Biosphere and hunt some more crusader castles. This country is magic. It can be difficult not to be influenced by what the square-heads are saying, but it pays to ignore them. This country is magnificent and I think the best is yet to come.

Lowlands Liberation Day: Celebrate Your Prison Cell

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jail cardToday is Liberation Day in the country of my birth. I remember it as one of my favourite feast days. People celebrate their freedom living in a so-called democratic country with all sorts of activities and there always used to be a festival-feel in the air. I also remember that the weather was always good, just like on Queen’s Day which used to be celebrated 5 days before.

I left Lowlands Country almost a decade and a half ago and I can’t remember the last time I celebrated Liberation Day. Even if I were in the Netherlands today, I’m not sure how keen I would be on celebrating my freedom, as I don’t think I would feel that free.

Liberation Day Dutch Style

The Netherlands was (were?) occupied by Nazi Germany from 10 May 1940 until 5 May 1945. The war time years are very well documented, but what not that many people know is, that the Dutchies were very keen collaborators and percentage wise most jews and other ‘undesirable’ were transported to concentration camps from the Netherlands. We seldom hear about the murkier side of history via mainstream channels, so keen collaboration or not, we were occupied and on 5 May the allied forces ‘liberated’ the rest of the country (the south of the country had been freed the winter before).

The idea of celebrating your existence in a country where you don’t have to fear your human rights seems absolutely amazing. We can have fun and all sorts of philosophical debates about what freedom actually is. We could be absolute prisoners thinking we are free, because we don’t perceive the bars of our cell. We could’ve been indoctrinated to the extent, that we believe there can’t be any other possibility besides being free.

Lowlands Prison

I’m sure to many people residing in the Netherlands the country seems a wonderful one to live in. Back in my days that idea was very much reinforced. Every year in early May we were indoctrinated about the horrors of the Second World War and how great it is was that we were living in a free country. Just before I left the Netherlands the country did seem like some sort of Paradise Below Sea Level, but a lot has changed since then. A few things have always remained the same, which reinforces the idea of the Lowlands prison.

Rules, Bloody Rules

The Netherlands is known for its many rules. There seem to be rules for pretty much everything and virtually everything is allowed as long as you have a permit. We learn that rules create and maintain order. Everyone knows where he or she stands and order promotes an increased quality of life. It was quite a shock to the system when I moved to Egypt where pretty much every rule can be bent. What I used to see as a clear framework became more like a straight-jacket the longer I had been away from the Lowlands System. Rules might create order, they also restrict and restriction obstructs freedom.

Government Theft

Here in Malta most people pay around 20% income tax. Some people pay less, a few people pay slightly more, but never more than 35% and only on the income that exceeds a certain threshold. No one likes to pay tax, but here in Malta people seemed to be well looked after. There are (virtually) no homeless people, the elderly can enjoy a pension which is not much, but most manage and (state) education is free. In the Netherlands the base rate for income tax is almost 40%, so even if you are on minimum wage, which is tough living nowadays, you have to hand over almost half of what you earn to the state before it even reaches your bank account. If you are lucky enough to make a mint, you’ll be paying 60% of your income to the state. In Malta I pay income tax, and VAT on goods and services and that is pretty much all the tax I am paying. If you have car you’d pay road tax as well, which, depending on your vehicle, is not a lot. In Lowlands Country however, income tax, road tax and VAT are only the beginning. You also pay council tax, sewer tax, water tax, environment tax, game-of-chance tax (when you hit the lottery), parking tax, dog-ownership tax and landlord/ -lady tax. Then you pay extra tax on top of VAT in the form of excise duty on tobacco, alcohol and petrol. How can a country be considered free if the government finds all sorts of ways to rob you of your hard earned cash and calling it not only legal, but also morally just?

Corporate Control

If you live in the Netherlands and you think your government is yours and/ or acts on your behalf you might be living in a pipe dream. It’s been known in certain circles for a while that Dutch foreign policy is very much in line with the policies of large Dutch multinationals like Shell, Unilever or AkzoNobel and these policies are not always in line with what the people want or need. A scary indication of corporate control across Europe are the current TTIP and CETA trade treaties between the US and the EU and between Canada and the EU, which our democratic governments are sealing in secret. We are promised jobs and economic prosperity, yet the negotiations are kept secret and no mainstream media outlets are reporting on them, it’s that good. Through leaks we are informed that the instalment of private tribunals are part of these treaties. Corporations can use these tribunals to sue any EU state if they can prove that public policy is damaging their profits. It is also expected that with these trade deals evil empire Monsanto will get a firm hold on the European market, which will be the end of healthy farming, food production and food consumption.

Besides all that there is the increasing democratic deficit of the EU that is growing out to be this monster super state ruled by a small, unelected elite, who believe the people are useless eaters and just need to be ruled.

Happy Liberation Day. Go celebrate your prison cell or your first step towards the Great Escape.

The Bollocks of Labour Day

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freedomToday is the beginning of a new month and also May Day or Labour Day. They seem to be different institutions, but might as well be one and the same. In Lowlands Country, the region of my birth, Labour Day is not a public holiday and therefore not celebrated as such. I remember the event as a yearly recurring news item mainly about demonstrations and violent protest in some European cities about we-don’t-really-know what. In the UK May Day is celebrated and the first Monday of May is always a public holiday. In the UK the public randomly gets a few days per year allocated as public holidays and besides Christmas and Easter none of these public holidays seem to clearly link to a religious or otherwise big fest, or that is what we think. For that reason there might be far less awareness about May Day not being just another day off. The May Day bank holiday is some sort of celebration of spring and in general a good opportunity to do something fun for the long weekend, assuming one is not working. Here on the Rock Labour Day, celebrated on 1 May, is a public holiday and if only today were a week day, all 9-to-5-ers would have had the day off.

May Day: The Slavery and the Magic

There are two distinctive aspects to May Day or Labour Day. One is the celebration and promotion of workers’ rights and Labour Day as such is also known as International Workers’ Day. The origins of the celebration of International Workers’ Day on 1 May seem a bit obscure. In America researchers explain the date as a commemoration of the Haymarket affair, which took place on 4 May 1886. The Haymarket affair refers to a tragedy in which four demonstrators died during a workers’ rights protest in Chicago, when the police shot on demonstrators after a bomb had gone off. This event is specific to the United Stated and I don’t think it was such a watershed moment for the whole world to start celebrating Labour Day on 1 May because of it. Also, the Haymarket affair took place on 4 May. If this affair would have been the reason behind Labour Day it would have been commemorated on 4 May.

Among pagans, hippies and dabblers in the dark arts of the Celtic tradition, May Day has always been an important celebration in the yearly cycle. It’s also known as Beltane and this is the second distinctive aspect to May Day. It takes place in between the spring equinox and summer solstice and is an announcement of the beginning of summer. Beltane is usually celebrated on 1 May and throughout the ages people have celebrated Beltane in different ways. In the spiritual sense by doing rituals to protect livestock and crops and on a seemingly more hedonistic level with markets, may pole dances and bonfires. It is assumed and believed that during Beltane the veil between ‘our’ world and the spirit world is at its thinnest and besides making sacrifices to please or appease certain entities, beings from other realms can be summoned to help accomplish certain things in ‘our’ reality.

In many regions across the world many holidays- whether really ‘holy’ or not- have merged or have been given a new name. A well-known example is Christmas, which many Christians celebrate on 25 December. This same holiday was known as Saturnalia in ancient Rome and Midwinter fest or Yule in more Nordic regions (the Danish word for Christmas is (still) yule). From the second half of the 19th century workers became more vocal and organised. They protested against certain aspects of their conditions and demanded workers’ rights. In the so-called western world the 40 hour week, sick pay, holiday pay and other employment rights are considered very big achievements. For unions and socialist movements to have a day to celebrate the worker, his achievements and his rights became an important next step in workers’ emancipation. Perhaps one has chosen to celebrate workers’ rights on May Day as people were out celebrating anyway.

Happy Labour Day?

On Labour May Day we can ask ourselves the following: what makes someone a worker and is this condition something to be celebrated? And also: are you mentally, emotionally and spiritually preparing for summer and if yes, how? Chances are high you are a worker or have been one in the past. You might not work in a factory or in a mine, but you might be chained to your desk or locked up in your car all day driving from client to client. Despite the 40 hour work week and sick and holiday pay, is there really something to celebrate? Proud industries throughout Europe like mining and textiles have been dismantled decades ago leaving communities still suffering today. The job for life is no more, just like my pension. By the time any of my generation, or anyone coming after us, wants to retire and claim their pension, there will be nothing left. As an employee 20% to 60% of my income will be taken away from me before I have even seen it and I have no say in how that money is being spent. They call it tax and because it’s the government who robs you, they say it’s a moral obligation. But what it is, is theft, especially if you realise that our tax money is not servicing the community, but is bailing out greedy and uncaring bankers, is paying for rich people to get even more and better tax deals and is financing dirty wars in country we have no business. Most of us wouldn’t work if they didn’t have to, so for many work seems to be self-imposed slavery.

Perhaps this May Day Labour Day we can think about what kind of worker we are and if we are happy with our bondage. We can think of how work can be different; more inspiring and much more constructive. There is no need to be a slave to the system, but first comes the awareness that we are one. I wish you much joy and contemplation this May Day and a great preparation for a glorious summer.