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A Citizen's Guide to Civilization

Some preliminary thoughts...

One of the abiding themes of this website is that civilization and social progress has stalled. Technology inexobrably marches forward, transforming every aspect of citizens lives but technical advance does not equal progress, unless it produces a more humane and caring world. Technology cannot, of itself, combat the loathsome ideocy of so-called political leaders who persist with their mission to move in opposition to the possibilities that scientific advancement offers. The Philistines have the high ground.

When we see Putin's Cossacks beating up Pussy Riot, the punk group, with whips, pepper spray and not a few kicks and punches because they dared to protest at the Sochi Winter Olympics, we may wonder how much longer we will have to wait for a civilized world to arrive.

Clearly, the Winter Olympics Committee does not want to play any part in the forward march of civilization, preferring to say nothing about the beating of Pussy Riot and pretend it's got nothing to do with sport. Obviously, sport transends protest, existing as it does in some Elysian Field, an enclave for gods and heroes, a place where the nasty, loathsome idiocy of Putin's Russia shall not enter.

Here in the West, we like to think we are far more civilized than a hive of Russian oligarchs. How can we be, when we allow ourselves to be led by philistines, indifferent to anything that doesn't turn a penny for them or those they serve. It's an amazing delusion that allows Tony Blair to walk in our midst, to masquerade as a peace envoy for the Middle East, to trot across the globe offering 'reputational advice' to those whose lives are without repute. "Tough up, it will pass", Blair told Rebekah Brooks, who was under siege over the despicable hacking of Milly Dowler's phone. What sort of sick mind takes advice from the man who lied to the nation about weapons of mass destruction. A man who allowed the moron George Bush to use him as a foot stool.

No Tony, it will not pass, Iraq is a basket case, Afghanistan is worse, the suffering of its people immense, lingering like a chronic illness, while you smugly take tea with the barbaric Saudi royal family and discuss their contribution to global terrorism and the marvellous distorting effects of Wahhabism. Yes, 'King' Abdullah, what a wonderful client, how he and Mr Putin would enjoy a tea together. Abdullah believes that homosexuals should be burnt, stoned or thrown from mountains or tall buildings. And like all good believers he puts his money where his mouth is, funding DVDs and books for a host of British schools to share his vile message with young muslims here.

This is not a complaint about the distortion of ideas but rather the damage that those ideas do. For vileness, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh gets an A star:

“We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively,” Jammeh said.

“As far as I am concerned, LGBT can only stand for Leprosy, Gonorrhoea, Bacteria and Tuberculosis; all of which are detrimental to human existence.”

It's not just gays that Jammeh dislikes, it's anyone who disagrees with him, he's a nasty man. The UN reports that the hallmark of his regime is "forced disappearances, illegal detention, denial of due process, and the abuse and harassment of critics."

The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa but its governance is typical across the continent. Elsewhere across the globe, everywhere we look, we see the same evidence of uncivilized conduct.

Yoweri Museveni, Ugandan President, has introduced a new law (Feb' 2014) outlawing homosexuality. Anyone convicted will be imprisoned for life. Citizens have been asked to denounce to the police anyone suspected of being gay.

In North Korea, we see Kim Jong-un feeding his relatives to savage dogs, locking up over 120,000 people in torture camps; while he spends a fortune on luxury goods, behaving like a comic book hero while 'his people' starve. Savage dogs, Cortez was fond of feeding the Aztecs live to his dogs but that was 500 years ago and we are far more enlightened now, well some of us are.

All of which leaves us wondering, how long must we wait for a more civilized world - perhaps when people like Tony Blair stop pimping for a living and use their influence for the common good.