the Disillusioned kid
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Saturday, January 06, 2018

Happy Xmas (War is Over) 2017


Source: Twitter

Bagram, Afghanistan

Source: Mail Online

Raqqa, Syria

Source: Japan Times

Manchester, England

Source: The London Economic

  Previous years: 2006, 2007,2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy Xmas (War is Over) 2015

 Previous years: 2006, 2007,2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Season Message: Revenge of the Message

I started writing seasonal posts on the blog way in 2006. Almost
a decade ago. It is now the only sign of life in an otherwise moribund blog.

Usually I post a rambling festive message as well as a compilation of images juxtaposing Christmas imagery (trees, Santa etc) with symbols of conflict (soldiers, tanks, protests etc).

The latter I dub Happy Xmas (War is Over) as an ironic nod to the John Lennon and Yoko Ono Christmas song. A not terribly subtle reference to the fact that when I began this project with the occupation of Iraq at its height and ongoing strife in occupied Palestine, war was far from over.

Over the last few years these posts have
become harder to put together. The world really did seem to be becoming more peaceful.

It doesn't feel like that this year. With the brutal Syrian civil war grinding on, the rise of ISIS, continuing conflict in Israel-Palestine and simmering tensions in Ukraine things look to be going downhill.

Perhaps this is just a question of perception. I do think there is something to Steven Pinker's argument that the world is generally, on average, becoming less violent. But that will be small consolation to those suffering this Christmas.

Closer to home, the government continues it's assault on the working class under the banner of austerity. This is unlikely to change next year even in the (unlikely) event of a Labour victory at the General Election.

The left, meanwhile, is nowhere to be seen. For whatever reasons it is in abeyance and in no position to exert any real influence on national politics. (The betrayal of the local government pay strike earlier this year hasn't helped.)

It is tempting to hope for some spontaneous uprising. Nobody could have predicted in Russia in December 1916 what would happen the next year. This is true, but it misses a fundamental point.

Apparently spontaneous activity is rarely genuinely spontaneous. It is usually the product of long-standing political activity. Just because history doesn't record the day-to-day organisation of political movements doesn't reduce it's importance.

The simple reality is that this sort of activity has largely ceased in the UK. Much of the infrastructure on which it previously relied has now gone. It will take a lot of effort to rebuild it.

So there's a lot to be getting on with in 2015...

Happy Christmas, Chrismukkah, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Duckmass, Festivus, Hannukah, Hogmany, Holiday, HumanLight, Koruchun, Kwanza, Marxmas, New Year, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Winterval, Xmas, Yalda and/or Yule! (Other holidays are available. Probably.)

Previous years: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004

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Happy Xmas (War is Over) 2014


Previous years: 2006, 2007,2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Xmas (War is Over) 2013 


Previous years: 2006, 2007,2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

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Monday, December 24, 2012

The Laziest (And Most Pointless?) Seasonal Message Yet

For a self-styled "radical" I'm a major sucker for tradition. How else to explain that fact that this blog (such as it is) only springs to life but once a year for the festive season with a duo of seasonal posts retreading much the same territory as the year before?

Nevertheless people (that is to say one single person) tell me that they enjoy this stuff and who am I too disappoint my core audience? (Apart from anything else she knows where I live.)

As I suggested above these rarely cover new territory, constituting little more than a thinly veiled excuse to convey seasonal greetings to those who continue to still visit this blog, however rarely. Rather than insulting your intelligence (the only person I have any confidence will read this has a PhD for FSM's sake) allow me to summarise the key points of the Disillusioned kid's idiosyncratic position on Christmas:
  1. Christmas is not, contrary to what you were taught at school, really a Christian festival. Rather it is a much older pagan celebration "hijacked" (the more charitable among you might prefer the term "borrowed") as part of efforts to convert the masses to the upstart religion; therefore
  2. Christians have no monopoly on celebrating at this time of year and us atheists can enjoy the tofurkey without feeling hypocritical; and
  3. The so-called "War on Christmas" is an intellectual nonsense promoted by a virulent cultural right-wing which exert undue influence on large swathes of the mainstream media (notably tabloids like the Mail)
Seems sensible, no? Good. Now we've got that out of the way we can all get back to the important business of mindless hedonism and drinking.

Happy Christmas, Chrismukkah, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Duckmass, Festivus, Hannukah, Hogmany, Holiday, HumanLight, Koruchun, Kwanza, Marxmas, New Year, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Winterval, Xmas, Yalda and/or Yule! (Other holidays are available. Probably.)

Previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004

Happy Xmas (War is Over) 2012

Previous years: 2006, 2007,2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Seasinal Message: The Eighth

This isn't really a blog anymore, so much as an website of vaguely coherent ramblings about Christmas. But if one thing characterises the festive season, it's tradition. Hence, here I am again.

Following on from last year, the all too real economic class war being waged by our leaders and their allies in the media has meant that the phoney cultural war has been put on the backburner. There has been little talk this year of any supposed "War on Christmas".

The British Freedom Party (a rather unimpressive splinter from the BNP now linked up with the English Defence League in an unpopular move engineered by Tommy Robinson/Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) did try and motivate the assembled Christian soldiers by recycling a story about the Red Cross from 2002. Unfortunately, the claim that they had "banned overt reference to Christmas from its 430 fundraising shops" was demolished almost immediately (having been nonsense when it was current 9 years ago) and the BFP are now pretending it didn't happen (like the Holocaust, presumably).

In place of opening a new front in the War on Christmas, it is perhaps a good opportunity to look back on what has been a truly monumental year in which we've witnessed the Middle Eastern revolutions, the Libyan war, the Eurozone crisis, the August Riots, the indignados and Occupy movements, mass public sector strikes, the phone hacking scandal and more.

I don't want to overstate the connections between any or all of these events, but I do believe they speak to a fairly serious crisis in our soi-disant leader's ability to control their populations. After the demise of the Soviet Union, capitalism reveled in its victory, never again would anything challenge the "free" market in its domination of the world.

Since then capitalism has produced a vast quantity of stuff, but it has singularly failed to buy people's loyalty. Things might have been OK when the economy was booming, but with unemployment on the rise and "austerity" likely to last for at least a decade, people are becoming increasingly disillusioned in capitalist democracy.

This isn't necessarily a positive development. There are obvious parallels with the 1930s which fueled the rise of Fascism and ultimately led to World War 2. Nevertheless, there are very real opportunities for those of us interested in serious, progressive change. What we make of those opportunities over the coming year could be hugely important.

Happy Christmas, Chrismukkah, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Duckmass, Festivus, Hannukah, Hogmany, Holiday, HumanLight, Koruchun, Kwanza, New Year, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Winterval, Xmas, Yalda and/or Yule! (Other holidays are available. Probably.)

Previous years: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004

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Happy Xmas (War is Over) 2011

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Seventh Deadly Seasonal Message

Once again, the season of goodwill to all men is upon us. The tree is up, the lights are on and the alcohol is about to kick in.

It is now traditional that to mark this annual event I put fingers to keyboard and deposit a Christmas blog in your mental microwaves to see if it defrosts. This is now just about the only time I write here. The real world now impinges on my time more than it once did and this coupled with different focuses for my activism has meant that blogging is no longer the priority it once was.

I'm sure this is a great disappointment to many (some? any?) of you who miss my critical insights, witty prose and well-selected images, but when reality calls, what am I to do?

Returning to the traditional message, this is usually my opportunity to reflect on the nonsense of the so-called "War on Christmas" a conflict which has allegedly raged in shopping centres, schoolyards and council offices. A cynically manufactured controversy driven by a right wing which is disprate, often incoherent but ultimately all heading in the samer direction: seeking to turn back every social advance of last century from gay rights to female equality.

This year, however, I'm short on material. The leading protagonists in this conflict seem to have been relatively quiet on the subject. One assumes they have been too busy slashing public services to worry about trivial things like the wording used on Christmas decorations. The cultural phoney war has been replaced by an all too real economic class war.

It is this assault on our communities and the effectiveness of our response which will, I suspect, define 2011 politically. This may sound like a pessimistic view, but it doesn't necessarily have to be. Already we are doing better than Ireland, where meaningful resistance to the imposition of austerity did not emerge until almost 2 years after it began. This provides some hope that we may be able to avoid following them into a spiral of cuts, bailouts and worsening cuts.

But hope is no substitute for action and we have a long battle ahead of us. So far the students have shown the way, but the struggle needs to spread to other sectors: trade unions, public sector workers, the unemployed, service users and the rest of society.

So enjoy your strangled turkey, drink until you throw up your liver and revel in the spirit of the season, for tomorrow we bring down a government.

Happy Christmas, Chrismukkah, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Duckmass, Festivus, Hannukah, Hogmany, Holiday, HumanLight, Koruchun, Kwanza, New Year, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Winterval, Yalda and/or Yule!

Previous years: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004

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Happy Xmas (War is Over) 2010

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Episode 6: Return of the Seasonal Message

Everybody's favourite pagan drinking festival is almost upon us. The decorations are up, the lights are on, the shops are full and school children across the land are dusting off their sheep costumes for another year as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Our Lord Saviour and Protector Cliff. Tradition dictates that I mark this event with some seasonal blogging, even if I haven't bothered to write anything since last xmas.

Usually, this message consists of some unoriginal reflections on the non-existent "War on Christmas" apparently being waged by an Army of Godless-Liberal-Socialist-Pinko-Homosexual-Feminist-Islamofascist-Terrorists. This year, there appears to have been a lull in hostilities with few high profile clashes.

There was a minor skirmish in Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire. A leaflet distributed by the council outlining their festive plans referred to "Christmas Elves", "Christmas pop tunes", and a special dance "to link the Diwali and Christmas celebrations," but this wasn't good enough for the stalwart defenders of Christmas who derided the council's reference to a "Beeston Lights Switch On Event" held on November 28, almost a month before Christmas. Cue inane comments like, "We have had Christian tradition in this country for thousands of years" (about, two thousand, actually) and a promise by the council to use the term next year.

This is of course, complete nonsense. With lights on for almost a quarter of the year in many towns, it is bizarre that we should think of them only as "Christmas" lights. It should be obvious that none of this has anything to do with Christianity. Christmas is after all a pagan festival hijacked by Christians as a way of getting themselves through winter. Rather it is the latest front in an ongoing conflict raged by those who would set back what advances (in rights for women, homosexuals and ethnic minorities) have been made over the previous century.

None of this means we can't or shouldn't celebrate at this time of year. It's just that we shouldn't let a bunch of right-wing authoritarians dictate how we celebrate. Bear in mind that if we had their way we'd all be tea-total and would spend Christmas morning in church before going back to the Workhouse in the afternoon, with a quick break for bread and water if we were lucky.

One tradition I've decided not to follow this year is that of sending Christmas cards. I've never been a big card writer. I'd like to say this was driven by ethical considerations about destruction of forests, the generation of waste and the perpetuation of thoughtless consumerism. The truth, of course, is that I'm just a bit lazy. That said, this year, I have decided that instead of sending cards I'm going to send my friends an email (something I've done in past years, anyway) and donate the money to charity.

In case you're interested, I've decided to donate the money to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a group dedicated to ending "the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species." Do check them out, they've done a lot of good work and put Greenpeace to shame.

Talking about environmentalism, 2009 may well be remembered as the point at which we failed to stop anthropogenic climate change. That isn't inevitable, but I think it is very likely we will look back on it as the year where it became clear that our so called leaders were not up to the job.

From the attacks on climate activists during the G20 in April, through the failure to intervene in the closure of the Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight in July (despite an inspiring occupation by sacked workers), right up to the farce played out at Copenhagen, the reality of state capitalism's antagonism towards the environment is now obvious for all to see.

None of this makes climageddon inevitable, but it does mean that if we want a half decent world to live in for ourselves and future generations then we can't wait for our so called leaders to sort it out. It's down to us.

Something to think about while you're tucking into the steaming remains of a strangled turkey...

Happy Christmas, Chrismukkah, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Duckmass, Festivus, Hannukah, Hogmany, Holiday, HumanLight, Koruchun, Kwanza, New Year, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Winterval, Yalda and/or Yule!

Go forth and drink until you throw up your liver (but make sure you do it responsibly).

Previous years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Xmas (War is Over) 2009

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Xmas (War is Over) 2008

Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq (Dec 24)

Amritsar, India (Dec 24)

Zimbabwe Embassy, London (Dec 20)

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Episode V: The Seasonal Message Strikes Back

It's that time again. Happy shoppers are congregating in the cathedrals of consumerism, turkeys are contemplating going into hiding and Ron Wood's on tour once more. The annual celebration of Cliff Richard's birthday is a holiday replete with traditions old and new, but none more important than the Disillusioned kid seasonal message. Now in it's fifth year (no I hadn't either) this is almost the only reason this blog exists, given its inactivity over so much of the previous year. Fortunately its also a tour de force of shiny prose, witty reflections and cutting insight. (Note: prose, reflection and insight are not guaranteed.)

This is usually my opportunity to reflect on the so-called "War on Christmas" which the oxygen wasters of the right get so excited about. This year, the latest front in this war has opened up not far from me in Nottingham. Greenwood Junior School in Sneinton has got into all sorts of trouble for postponing a Christmas performance. According to the Torygraph:
Greenwood Junior School sent out a letter to parents saying the three-day festival of Eid al-Adha, which takes place between December 8 and 11, meant that Muslim children would be off school. That meant planning for the traditional nativity play were shelved because the school felt it would be too difficult to run both celebrations side by side.

The move has left parents furious. Janette Lynch, whose seven-year-old son Keanu attends the school, in Sneinton, Nottingham, said: "The head has a whole year to plan for Eid and so she should be able to plan for both religious festivals. I have never heard of this at a school. It is the first year my son has been there and a lot of the mums like me were really looking forward to seeing the children in the nativity."
Predictably, this hasn't gone down well with the fascist onanists of the BNP who quickly moved in to try and make political capital from the controversy. They grumbled, "such outrages will inevitably progress from the exception to the norm, if Britain fails to embrace the BNP and continues its present headlong plunge into the abyss."

Of course, reality is rather more complicated than the knuckle draggers can understand. An Associated Press report suggests that it isn't a nativity at all, but rather a pantomime (Cinderella, in fact) and that it hasn't been cancelled, only postponed to late January.

This pattern will be familiar to students of the War on Christmas: a manufactured controversy fuelling manufactured outrage which can then be capitalised on by the political right. In America where the Christian right is a major political movement this is all a much bigger deal. Here it's rather easier to be dismissive. The recently leaked BNP membership list indicates that the BNP are not a major political force in the Nottingham city area and with several of their prominent members in the area having left the party over the last year or so (including those most likely responsible for the leak) this can't have done them many favours.

In any case, as I've argued in previous years, the fundamental premise of the War on Christmas is wrong. Christmas is only superficially a Christian festival. The timing and most of the traditions are taken wholesale from paganism and any number of religious festivals take place at this time of year. Personally as a godless atheist hedonist I intend to enjoy as many of them as possible with little or no regard for their theocratic justifications. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we abolish religion and smash the state!

Happy Christmas, Chrismukkah, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Duckmass, Hannukah, Hogmany, Holidays, HumanLight, Koruchun, Kwanza, New Year, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Winterval, Yalda and/or Yule!

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

The War on Christmas

The Greeks really know how to celebrate Christmas.

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