Friday, 30 June 2017

Paddington Bear is a ignorant bluekippers......

Paddington Bear is a refugee....The death of Michael Bond the creator of the Paddington bear stories gave me much to think about. Bond developed the character of Paddington after witnessing refugees during World War 2. So I am afraid that Mr Farage and his Kipper friends would be sending Paddington back to Peru. It's remarkable that in the same world there can be those with compassion like Michael Bond and those who are not. Paddington Bear is an immigrant, a refugee , a brown skinned person ..I am sorry Paddington the Tories and UKIP are sending you back...

Another Friday............

Looking back to another Friday five years ago...

Another Friday and I reflect upon another Friday some five years ago. That Friday was the end of a long legal nightmare thatrhaps had brought me closer to the abyss than any other single event had done in the entire course of my life. Those who have been through a similar process will know exactly what I mean. The sheer brutality of the legal process is something to be feared and appreciated as a mechanism. The process destroys and damages . It's result leaves the individual frightened and gives nightmares for years after. Those who have never experienced it are fortunate . Then there are those who use it in argument when their own ability to debate is non existent and empty. Long ago Oscar Wilde wrote "that every saint has a past, every sinner a future" . It serves many of us to deny the shadow within by projecting it onto others. Thus occurs across society in many forms. Unless we understand it we brutalised ourselves and our souls. The truth is that just as we all could be the persecutor given a certain set of circumstances, so all of us could experience the process that I experienced five years ago.  

The solution and the wisdom it brings is to understand that we all are frail, broken and scared at times. It should make us have empathy for both the individual concerned. It could be any of us.
I often think of this on Fridays. I am fortunate I am articulate , I am resilient and I am middle class. There are many who are not , who did not have an excellent legal team and who are not now sitting on the having this freedom to reflect. I am also fortunate, very fortunate to have live and friendship that sustained me during the nightmare. In the words of Leonard Cohen " Here"s to the few who don't mind what you do and the fewer who don't even care. ...." And Neitzche said that we don't love to live but that we live to love Have a great day everybody......

If they want me to believe in their god, they'll have to sing me better songs..... I could only believe in a god who dances.


When I was five my father began to read mythology to me . I found a great tension between the religion I was taught at school and the tales of the Greeks, Romans and ancient Egyptians. I remembered asking at school why the Christian stories we heard at school were true and the mythologies of the ancient world were false. No teacher ever adequately convinced me . The best they did was to tell me I was foolish or indeed odd.

If they want me to believe in their god,
they'll have to sing me better songs.....
I could only believe in a god who dances.

Companions the creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and
believers. Fellow creators the creator seeks--those who write
new values on new tablets. Companions the creator seeks, and
fellow harvesters; for everything about him is ripe for the
-- Friedrich Nietzsche,
"Thus Spoke Zarathustra",
No polytheist ever imagined that all humankind would come to live in the same way; for polytheists took for granted that humans would worship other deities. Only with Christianity did the belief take root that one way of life could/should be lived by all.. If only one belief is true, then every other is wrong.
For polytheists, religion is a matter of practice,not belief, and there are many kinds of practice. For Christians , religion is a matter of true belief, and therefore every way of life which does not accept it must consequently be an error..
While many polytheists may vigorously defend their deities, they never perceive themselves as missionaries. It is certain that without monotheism humans would still be violent unstable beings ; yet history would have spared us from the wars of religion. If the world had been spared monotheism we would not have developed communism or indeed global democratic capitalism. It is possible to dream of a world free from militant faiths religious or political.
Yet it is also true that unbelief is a move in a game set by .believers. To deny the existence of a God is to accept the categories of monotheism. As these categories fall into disuse, unbelief becomes uninteresting, and soon is meaningless. Many humanists say they want a secular world, but a world defined by the absence of the Christian God is still a Christian world. Secularism like chastity, a condition defined by what it denies.. If atheism has a future, it can only be in a Christian reviva ; and it is true that both Christianity and atheism are declining together.
Atheism is a late bloom of a Christian passion for the truth. No Pagan is ready to sacrifice the pleasure of life for the sake of mere truth.. It is an artful illusion, not unadorned reality that they prize. Among the Greeks, the goal of philosophy
was happiness or salvation, not truth.The worship of Truth is effectively a Christian cult.
The old Pagans were right to shudder at the uncouth earnestness of the early Christians. None of the Mystery religions of the late Roman Empire would have claimed what the Christians claimed- that all other faiths were in error. For that reason non , none of their followers could ever become an atheist.. When Christianity alone claimed they possessed the truth they condemned the rich and lush profusion of the pagan world with damning finality.
In a world of many gods, unbelief can never be total It can only be a rejection of one practice and gods and acceptance of others or else as Epicurus and his followers claimedthe conviction that gods do not matter since they have long ceased to bother about human affairs.
Christianity struck at the root of pagan tolerance of constructed interpretation. In claiming that there is only one truth faith, it gives truth a supreme value that it had not had before. It also made unbelief in the divine possible for the first time. The long delayed consequence of Christian faith was an idolatry of truth that found its most complete expression in atheism. If we live in a world without gods , we have Christianity to thank for it. Iamblichus of Chalcis commented
"You Christians have driven the Gods from the world and made it a lonely place".
Algernon Charles Swinburne writing in the late 19th century felt the same . In his poem Hymn to Proserpin he bold states
"You have conquered O Pale Galilean, the world has grown grey from thy breath".......
In D H Lawremce`s story “The man who died” Jesus comes back from the dead only to give up the idea of saving mankind. He views the world with wonder and asks himself; “ From what ? and to wha , could this infinite world be saved ?”
Humanity considers itself as perfectible beings superior to all other non human animals upon the planet and yet at the same time we never cease to escape from what we consider ourselves to be. Our religions are attempts to be rid of a freedom that we never perhaps have had.. In the last two hundred years the utopias/dystopias of right and left have served the same function. Today when politics is bland and unconvincing even as entertainment, science has taken on the role of humanity's deliverer..
I believe that we need a teaching that stresses that there is nothing from which to seek deliverance, a teaching whose aim is to free humanity from the yoke of salvation.
Nikos Kazanantzakis states my belief clearly “Whoever says salvation exists is a slave , because he keeps weighing each of his words and deeds at every moment. Will I be saved or damned? He tremblingly asks.......salvation means deliverance from all you understand who is the perfect saviour. is the saviour who shall deliver mankind from salvation.”or indeed Nietzsche once more claiming,
"Man is a rope, tied between beast and mg-back, a dangerous
What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under.”
Many people today think that they belong to a species that can be master of its destiny. This is faith and not science. We do not speak of a time when whales or gorillas will be master of their destinies. Why then should we humans?
Science today has an authority that common experience cannot rival, jet let us remember that Darwin tells us that species are assemblies of genes, interacting at random with each other and their shifting environments. Species cannot control their fates. Species do not exist. This applies to us as humans. Yet it is forgotten whenever people talk of the progress of mankind. . We have now put our faith in that which originated in Christian belief and in the last hundred years it has been been taken over by scientific rationalism.
I believe that at heart humans and other animals are kin. By contrast, arising from Christianity humans are set beyond all other living beings, and have triggered a bitter argument that rages to this day. In Victorian times this was a conflict between Christians ans unbelievers. Today it is fought between secular humanists and those who believe that humans can no more be masters of their destiny than any other animal. This is the hope of rational science today for although human knowledge will very likely continue to grow and with it human power, the human animal will stay the same; a highly inventive species that is also one of the most predatory and destructive.
Darwin showed us that humans are like other animals, humanists claim they are not. Humanism insists that by using our knowledge we can control our environment and flourish as never before. In affirming this they renew one of Christianities most dubious promises -that salvation is open to all. The humanist belief in progress is only a secular version of the Christian faith.
Perhaps is is therefore impossible to describe an adequate definition of real progress. To anyone reared on humanist hopes this ls intolerable. As a result, Darwin'steachings have been stood on their head. Christianity`s cardinal error-that humans are different from animals- has been given by science a new lease of life.
Many Green thinkers like myself realise that humans can never really be masters of the earth. Our spirituality must recognise that we are mere stewards of the biosphere and therefore must except a neo -pagan or pantheist belief For much of our history and all of prehistory humans did not see themselves as being any different from the other animals among which they lived. Hunter gatherers saw their prey as equals, if not superior and animals were worshipped as divinities in many traditional culture.
The humanist sense of a gulf between ourselves and other animals is an aberration. It is the animist feeling of belonging with the rest of nature that is normal. Feeble as it may be today the feeling of sharing a common destiny with other living things that is embedded in the human psyche.
Those who struggle to conserve what is left of the environment are moved by the love of living things, a "biophilia" a frail bond of feeling that ties humankind with the earth and that should form the basis of our spirituality./political activity.
"We love life, not because we are used to living but because we are used to loving.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche and Europe


 Some interesting thoughts......

 Terrorist attacks. Tensions over religious and ethnic minorities. Growing support for extremist political parties. A widening North-South divide. A powerful German chancellor. An aggressive Russia expanding its territorial reach. A United Kingdom embroiled in distant wars, asking itself whether it should disengage from continental Europe. A young political order, born of a series of devastating international wars, threatening to implode.

The list of problems facing Europe today is long, but this is not unprecedented. Indeed, in many respects, contemporary conditions look strikingly similar to those confronting Otto von Bismarck’s Germany.
At that time, the fear was that southern Catholic minorities would undermine the unity of the newly founded German empire, intended to bring stability in the face of a rising radical socialist party, after a series of bloody wars (most recently against the French) and assassination attempts on the Kaiser. Germany was sandwiched between an imperialist Russia and a vengeful France. Meanwhile, Britain was entangled in military adventures in Asia and the Middle East. 

Today, as Europe faces difficult questions about its future, exemplified in the UK’s upcoming referendum on its European Union membership, perhaps Germany’s experience in the late nineteenth century can be brought usefully to bear. If so, there are few better guides to that experience – and our own – than Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the most perceptive thinkers of his time.
Nietzsche was a fearsome critic of the “blood and iron” power politics by which Bismarck had brought about German unity. He called it an example of the “slave morality” that he lambasts in his great work On the Genealogy of Morality – a “lowly” approach to morality, focused simply on relieving suffering. 

Nietzsche knew what he was talking about: he had volunteered as a cavalry officer during the Franco-Prussian War. Though a bad fall kept him from combat, he did serve as a medical orderly – and gained first-hand experience of the trauma of war. The militaristic Germany that emerged from that war, in Nietzsche’s view, had lost touch with its original cultural mission.

In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche went further, exploring how a superior political system – based on “master morality,” which transcends simplistic notions of “good” and “bad” to develop values from a position of nobility and strength – would look. He envisioned a united Europe, led by a trans-European cultural elite focused not on grandeur, but on the development of a new European culture.
Only through unification, Nietzsche argued, could continental Europe have a strong voice in world affairs, which at that time meant being on an equal footing with the British and Russian empires in their strategic “great game,” the winner of which would control Afghanistan and northern India. The alternative – the power politics in which Bismarck was engaged – was “petty,” as it was premised upon European fragmentation and disintegration. 

Nietzsche thought hard about how his new politics might come about, speculating that a growing threat from Russia could spur unification. He also believed that continental Europe would have to “come to an understanding” with Britain, whose colonies were important trade partners for Europe.
The details may have changed, but many of the core issues – from the threat posed by Russia to the strategic benefits of European integration – remain the same. As for Britain, while it no longer has an empire, it remains hugely important to Europe’s economy; indeed, the logistics of trade following a British exit from the EU is a key issue in the debate surrounding the referendum. And, though Nietzsche could not have predicted the level of integration between the UK and continental Europe, he did warn against precisely the kind of fragmentation that the British referendum threatens to advance.

 Much of the debate about the UK’s “Brexit” referendum has little relation to Nietzsche’s ideas. But, with the political, economic, and social cases from both sides having so often been guided by fear, it seems that that debate would benefit from some more philosophical depth. With Nietzche’s ideas in mind, British voters might recognize that the real question that was answered on June 23 last year is whether to endorse petty and divisive power politics or the great and noble politics of unification.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Hillsborough, Grenfell Tower and Orgreave...make the establishment accointable.........let Justice roll down like mighty waters......

The establishment is in crisis. Criminal prosecutions for Hillborough have been launched. Grenfell Tower has had a Judge appointed for the Public inquiry. They niw need an inqyest to testify and get to the basis if just how many have died. Then there is Orgreave, the rolr of the state here mist be examined and those who have perverted justice amd misrepresented the evemys of all three situations must be looked at,
A shockingly callous letter written by Margaret Thatcher's press secretary has come to light in the wake of an inquest jury's ruling that the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster was caused by police failures.Thatcher and her aide Sir Bernard Ingham visited the stadium the day after the FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield, and were told by South Yorkshire police that "drunken Liverpool fans" had caused the crush that killed 96 people. The pain of families and survivors has been dragged out by several inquests and repeated attempts by the police to minimise their responsibility for the deaths by blaming Liverpool fans' behaviour.Much of the media and political establishment sided with the police as campaigners fought for decades for answers on what really happened on the day of the tragedy.Their protests fell on deaf ears in Thatcher's office, if this 1996 letter from Ingham to Liverpool fan Graham Skinner is anything to go by:"Thank you for your letter of June 13. I am sorry you are disgusted with the uncomfortable truth about the real cause of the Hillsborough disaster. It is my unhappy experience to find that most reasonable people outside Merseyside recognise the truth of what I say.
All I get from Merseyside is abuse. I wonder why. You are at least right in believing that you will have to put up with my discomforting views. I cherish the hope that as time goes on you will come to recognise the truth of what I say. After all, who if not the tanked up yobs who turned up late determined to get into the ground caused the disaster? To blame the police, even though they may have made mistakes, is contemptible."Boris Johnson wrote this equally appaling article on Hillsbourough in the Spectator.. He is not the cuddly, idiot you see before you.The real Boris Johnson is shown by his initial approval of this 2004 Simon Heffer article:
"The extreme reaction to Mr Bigley’s murder is fed by the fact that he was a Liverpudlian. Liverpool is a handsome city with a tribal sense of community. A combination of economic misfortune – its docks were, fundamentally, on the wrong side of England when Britain entered what is now the European Union – and an excessive predilection for welfarism have created a peculiar, and deeply unattractive, psyche among many Liverpudlians. They see themselves whenever possible as victims, and resent their victim status; yet at the same time they wallow in it. Part of this flawed psychological state is that they cannot accept that they might have made any contribution to their misfortunes, but seek rather to blame someone else for it, thereby deepening their sense of shared tribal grievance against the rest of society. The deaths of more than 50 Liverpool football supporters at Hillsborough in 1989 was undeniably a greater tragedy than the single death, however horrible, of Mr Bigley; but that is no excuse for Liverpool’s failure to acknowledge, even to this day, the part played in the disaster by drunken fans at the back of the crowd who mindlessly tried to fight their way into the ground that Saturday afternoon. The police became a convenient scapegoat, and the Sun newspaper a whipping-boy for daring, albeit in a tasteless fashion, to hint at the wider causes of the incident. “
The Establishment wished to blame the powerless, the working class, the "yobs" they used the forces of the state, the "Sun" newspaper and the higher ranks of the police force. Now it is your time to go to Hell...Bernard and Boris.......
Liverpool has taken on the Establishment and won. Now Boris Johnson and Bernard Ingham should hang their heads in shame over their comments.
It is time to spot and explore the links between the Hillsborough disaster and the battle of Orgreave Orgreave in the North of England was the focal point for a mass protest by miners in June 1984. At this time, miners were angry over proposed pit closures and reacted by striking and pressuring other pits to close. The culmination of these protests was a mass gathering of miners from all over the country at Orgreave. On the morning of 18th June miners were escorted into Orgeave. At this point, police tactics already resembled a military campaign. After a push by the miners, the police acted with force, charging the pickets on horses. The protest soon turned violent with the police deploying dogs, batons and guns in an attempt to suppress the protest.
Newly uncensored documents have revealed shocking linked between Hillsborough and the alleged police cover-up at the Battle of Orgreave.Papers show that the same senior officers and solicitor were involved in the aftermath of both national scandals.It is claimed they knew police officers perjured themselves at the trial of striking miners arrested during the 1984 clashes - but kept it secret.
Five years later in 1989, it is claimed that history repeated itself.
The revelations appear in the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) dossier which can now be revealed following the verdicts on the unlawful killing of 96 Liverpool football fans.
One officer interviewed about the alleged Hillsborough cover-up by South Yorkshire Police claimed that at Orgreave some of his colleagues were told not to write anything in their notebooks.They received the same instructions in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.The clashes saw 95 miners arrested at the coking plant, near Rotherham, and 50 people injured.The Thatcherite state was determined that the Miners should be destroyed . We must expose what has happened and learn for the future. we are entering a period of powerful right wing domination. Nigel Lawson has recently claimed that Brexirt gives the right the chance to complete the Thatcher revolution. It is important that new generations see the long term trends and begin now to understand the processThere is a right wing hegemony dominating us. At the last general election the combined Right wing vote is over 50% It is essential that weaknesses are exposed in that grouping and that those hypnotised by the Rghts use of immigration wake up....they are coming for you next..

 The Coming Judgment Book of Amos
23"Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. 24"But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. 25"Did you present Me with sacrifices and grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, O house of Israel?…

It's Not Politically Correct To Say, But People Who Say "It's Not Politically Correct To Say, But . . ." Are in most cases generally the type who say they are not political....

It's Not Politically Correct To Say, But People Who Say "It's Not Politically Correct To Say, But . . ." Are in most cases generally the type who say they are not political....

What, exactly, do people mean to signal when they preface a comment with "I know this isn't politically correct to say, but . . ."? in my experience the person who says they are non political really means that they are not prepared to challenge the status qua either in themselves or in others. They accept things the way they are and moan about those who do not.
What does it mean to make a group non political? Does it let the admin off the hook/ Does it mean not upsetting someone? Does it mean that there is a common sense that is agreed at all times and at all places. Or does it mean that there are questions and issues that should not be raided? The personal is always political .I am so fed up with those who want an easy life and to be liked for everything they do. That's not what being political is political cowardice The personal is most political..........

The meaning of the phrase goes further to say that all the choices we make, even the ones that seem totally apolitical and personal, have political implications. The choice to wear particular clothes or not, to watch TV or not, to eat this or that to use a bank or not, and so on, is personal, but it is also political.

The "personal is political"- meaning that personal outcomes are largely a product of systemic relations and of structures beyond each individual that need to be addressed-came to mean, instead, that all political phenomena arise from the accumulated personal choices of individuals, so that what needed to be addressed to win better circumstances was primarily people's personal choices.
People who say they are not political raise certain questions. It is boasting? "Please acknowledge that I am brave, a rebel, a nonconformist, by being willing to say the following in defiance of social convention." Is it special pleading? "I recognise that the following may be considered rude, but please pretend that it is not because I have acknowledged it.""You can treat this as not-rude because I have pre-announced that it could be seen as rude. "Nobody would actually be offended by what I'm about to say, but I'm going to pretend that some people will in order to paint them as ridiculous." Is it self-serious cross-climbing? "Contemplate, for a moment, how I will suffer for being willing to share great truths with you."

There are plenty of interesting issues embedded here. Is there some sort of social or moral convention that requires us to keep unsolicited messages private?
But let's carve out just one issue: what does it mean ny saying with "I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect"? I don't see anything to admire about it. It smacks of "I sense on some rudimentary level that this will likely annoy you but I'm going to say it anyway, so deal with it" Or perhaps it means modern norms of discourse annoy me and I shan't
abide by them and I find it necessary to announce my defiancem
Saying it strikes me as strengthening the argument that the communication is rude, or uncouth, or aggressive.

Norms about courtesy and rudeness change. Do you disagree with the changes? Are you trying to resist and push back against the changes? Fine. Speak, and let the chips fall where they may. But ask yourself: what are you trying to accomplish by such a statement in any particular communication?

My dyslexia and the gift of memory and creativity.

I think I have been dyslexic all of my life. I remember in 1968 having my legs smacked by Miss Serank for getting my letters the wrong way around. I font think that English Prep schools figured it out . The key to the solution has ale=ways been my imagination and my ability to ask “What if?” . Its made me an avid reader of books, particularly Science fiction and fantasy. Its made me able to understand James Joyce and Virginia Woolf as well as William Faulkner and the streams of consciousness approach of William James,

Its also helped me think metaphorically and symbolically/ I think in many ways its helped me think outside of the box. Its made me a rebel and a challenge of systems and oddly I am very grateful for the gift it has given me,

One of the things that has made me laugh is that when you are winning an argument on social media then the last refuge of the narrow minded conservative is to reply about spelling. What is fascinating is that the more conservative they are then the worse is their imagination and their creativity. Its rather like saying I have nothing say, nothing to contribute in originality and are the most obsessed with the the correctly s pelt words whilst having the least to say/. Perhaps it is the inability to think outside the box. Anyway I found this fascinating article from the Scientific American. It has great resonance with me.

Those who read my posts as I travel in to work must sometimes wonder exactly what I am saying. I usually correct it with Word once I get to work but a few things will always slip through. Spelling is immensely important but too often the critics of those who are mildly dyslexic are often ise this approacj a defence mechanism of the critic`s conservatism and imaginative ability. However these cases are few in number and I take great pleasyre in pointing this out.

It with my poor sight has given me a first class memory and an inability unfortunately at times the inability to deal with ignorance and stupidity. So it gets me into trouble regularly. Anyway first please read about Leonardo Da Vinci and then on to the Advantages of Dyslexia

15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519

Inventor, Painter, Designer, Musician -"Renaissance Man"

Leonardo da Vinci was an inventor, painter, and sculptor whose broad interests also included architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography.
Art historian Helen Gardner wrote that the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent in recorded history, and “his mind and personality seem to us superhuman”.
One remarkable indication that Leonardo was dyslexic is in his handwriting. Leonardo was constantly sketching out his ideas for inventions. Most of the time, he wrote his notes in reverse, mirror image:
Leonardo mirror writing sample
Although unusual, this is a trait sometimes shared by other left-handed dyslexic adults. Most of the time, dyslexic writers are not even consciously aware that they are writing this way; it is simply an easier and more natural way for them to write.
Leonardo’s spelling is also considered erratic and quite strange. He also started many more projects then he ever finished – a characteristic now often associated with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).
However, when it came to his drawing and artwork, Leonardo’s work is detailed and precise.
Leonardo sketch of helicopterLeonardo was intrigued with the concept of human flight, and spent many years toying with various ideas for flying machines. When he drew his flying machine, he wrote (backwards, of course): “A small model can be made of paper with a spring like metal shaft that after having been released, after having been twisted, causes the screw to spin up into the air.”

His extraordinary art work and inventive genius are proof that he truly possessed the gift of dyslexia.


  • Mona Lisa
  • The Last Supper
  • Virgin of the Rocks
  • St.John the Baptist
  • The Virgin and Child with St. Anne

Inventive Designs:

  • Leonardo’s Robot (mechanical knight)
  • Helicopter (Aerial Screw)
  • Parachute
  • Ornithopter
  • Mechanical Adding Machine
  • Diving Suit
  • Steam Cannon
  • Machine Gun
  • Armored Tank

The Advantages of Dyslexia

Impossible "Waterfall" Credit: "Escher Waterfall". Via Wikipedia
“There are three types of mathematicians, those who can count and those who can’t.”
Bad joke? You bet. But what makes this amusing is that the joke is triggered by our perception of a paradox, a breakdown in mathematical logic that activates regions of the brain located in the right prefrontal cortex. These regions are sensitive to the perception of causality and alert us to situations that are suspect or fishy — possible sources of danger where a situation just doesn’t seem to add up. 
Many of the famous etchings by the artist M.C. Escher activate a similar response because they depict scenes that violate causality. His famous “Waterfall” shows a water wheel powered by water pouring down from a wooden flume. The water turns the wheel, and is redirected uphill back to the mouth of the flume, where it can once again pour over the wheel, in an endless cycle.  The drawing shows us a situation that violates pretty much every law of physics on the books, and our brain perceives this logical oddity as amusing — a visual joke.
The trick that makes Escher’s drawings intriguing is a geometric construction psychologists refer to as an “impossible figure,” a line-form suggesting a three-dimensional object that could never exist in our experience. Psychologists, including a team led by Catya von Károlyi of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, have used such figures to study human cognition. When the team asked people to pick out impossible figures from similarly drawn illustrations that did not violate causality, they were surprised to discover that some people were faster at this than others. And most surprising of all, among those who were the fastest were those with dyslexia.
Dyslexia is often called a “learning disability.” And it can indeed present learning challenges. Although its effects vary widely, children with dyslexia read so slowly that it would typically take them a half a year to read the same number of words other children might read in a day. Therefore, the fact that people who read so slowly were so adept at picking out the impossible figures was a big surprise to the researchers. After all, why would people who are slow in reading be fast at responding to visual representations of causal reasoning?
Though the psychologists may have been surprised, many of the people with dyslexia I speak with are not. In our laboratory at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics we have carried out studies funded by the National Science Foundation to investigate talents for science among those with dyslexia. The dyslexic scientist Christopher Tonkin described to me his sense of this as a sensitivity to “things out of place.”  He’s easily bothered by the weeds among the flowers in his garden, and he felt that this sensitivity for visual anomalies was something he built on in his career as a professional scientist.  Such differences in sensitivity for causal perception may explain why people like Carole Greider and Baruj Benacerraf have been able to perform Nobel prize-winning science despite lifelong challenges with dyslexia.
In one study, we tested professional astrophysicists with and without dyslexia for their abilities to spot the simulated graphical signature in a spectrum characteristic of a black hole. The scientists with dyslexia —perhaps sensitive to the weeds among the flowers— were better at picking out the black holes from the noise, an advantage useful in their careers. Another study in our laboratory compared the abilities of college students with and without dyslexia for memorizing blurry-looking images resembling x-rays. Again, those with dyslexia showed an advantage, an advantage in that can be useful in science or medicine. 
Why are there advantages in dyslexia?  Is it something about the brains of people with dyslexia that predisposes them to causal thinking? Or, is it a form of compensation, differences in the brain that occur because people with dyslexia read less? Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is unknown.
One thing we do know for sure is that reading changes the structure of the brain. An avid reader might read for an hour or more a day, day in and day out for years on end. This highly specialized repetitive training, requiring an unnaturally precise, split-second control over eye movements, can quickly restructure the visual system so as to make some pathways more efficient than the others.
When illiterate adults were taught to read, an imaging study led by Stanislas Dehaene in France showed that changes occurred in the brain as reading was acquired. But, as these adults developed skills for reading, they also lost their former abilities to process certain types of visual information, such as the ability to determine when an object is the mirror image of another.  Learning to read therefore comes at a cost, and the ability to carry out certain types of visual processing are lost when people learn to read. This would suggest that the visual strengths in dyslexia are simply an artifact of differences in reading experience, a trade-off that occurs as a consequence of poor reading in dyslexia.
My colleagues and I suggested⁠ that one reason people with dyslexia may exhibit visual talents is that they have difficulty managing visual attention⁠. It may at first seem ironic that a difficulty can lead to an advantage, but it makes sense when you realize that what we call “advantages” and “disadvantages” have meaning only in the context of the task that needs to be performed.
For example, imagine you’re looking to hire a talented security guard. This person’s job will be to spot things that look odd and out of place, and call the police when something suspicious —say, an unexpected footprint in a flowerbed— is spotted. If this is the person’s task, would you rather hire a person who is an excellent reader, who has the ability to focus deeply and get lost in the text, or would you rather hire a person who is sensitive to changes in their visual environment, who is less apt to focus and block out the world?
Tasks such as reading require an ability to focus your attention on the words as your eyes scan a sentence, to quickly and accurately shift your attention in sequence from one word to the next.  But, to be a good security guard you need an opposite skill; you need to be able to be alert to everything all at once, and though this isn’t helpful for reading, this can lead to talents in other areas. If the task is to find the logical flaw in an impossible figure, then this can be done more quickly if you can distribute your attention everywhere on the figure all at once. If you tend to focus on the visual detail, to examine every piece of the figure in sequence, it could take you longer to determine whether these parts add up to the whole, and you would be at a disadvantage.
A series of studies by an Italian team led by Andrea Facoetti have shown that children with dyslexia often exhibit impairments in visual attention. In one study, Facoetti’s team measured visual attention in 82 preschool children who had not yet been taught to read. The researchers then waited a few years until these children finished second grade, and then examined how well each child had learned reading. They found that those who had difficulty focusing their visual attention in preschool had more difficulty learning to read.
These studies raise the possibility that visual attention deficits, present from a very early age, are responsible for the reading challenges that are characteristic of dyslexia. If this theory is upheld, it would also suggest that the observed advantages are not an incidental byproduct of experience with reading, but are instead the result of differences in the brain that were likely present from birth.
If this is indeed the case, given that attention affects perception in very general ways, any number of advantages should emerge.  While people with dyslexia may tend to miss details in their environment that require an attentional focus, they would be expected to be better at noticing things that are distributed more broadly.  To put this another way, while typical readers may tend to miss the forest because it’s view is blocked by all the trees, people with dyslexia may see things more holistically, and miss the trees, but see the forest.
Among other advantages observed, Gadi Geiger and his colleagues at MIT found that people with dyslexia can distribute their attention far more broadly than do typical readers, successfully identifying letters flashed simultaneously in the center and the periphery for spacings that were much further apart. They also showed that such advantages are not just for things that are visual, but that they apply to sounds as well. In one study, simulating the sounds of a cocktail party, they found that people with dyslexia were able to pick out more words spoken by voices widely-distributed in the room, compared with people who were proficient readers.
Whether or not observations of such advantages —measured in the laboratory— have applications to talents in real life remains an open question. But, whatever the reason, a clear trend is beginning to emerge: People with dyslexia may exhibit strengths for seeing the big picture (both literally and figuratively) others tend to miss.  Thomas G. West has long argued that out-of-the-box thinking is historically part and parcel of dyslexia, and more recently physicians Brock and Fernette Eide have advanced similar arguments. Sociologists, such as Julie Logan of the Cass Business School in London agree.  Long ago I found that dyslexia is relatively common among business entrepreneurs; people who tend to think differently and see the big picture in thinking creatively about a business.
Whatever the mechanism, one thing is clear: dyslexia is associated with differences in visual abilities, and these differences can be an advantage in many circumstances, such as those that occur in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In physics we know that an engine is capable of productive work only when there are differences in temperature, hot versus cold. It’s only when everything is all the same that nothing productive can get done. Neurological differences similarly drive the engine of society, to create the contrasts between hot and cold that lead to productive work. Impairments in one area can lead to advantages in others, and it is these differences that drive progress in many fields, including science and math. After all, there are probably many more than three kinds of mathematicians, and society needs them all.
Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology? And have you read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about? Please send suggestions to Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook. Gareth, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, is the series editor of Best American Infographics and can be reached at garethideas AT or Twitter @garethideas.


Matthew H. Schneps is an astrophysicist with dyslexia who founded the Laboratory for Visual Learning to investigate the consequences of cognitive diversity on learning. He is a professor of computer science at UMass Boston, and conducts research in dyslexia at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Currently, Schneps is writing a book on how the emergence of e-reading technologies is redefining dyslexia.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

U pdate on FridayThe far right siirs up hate.......... against refugees

I took this from a Hope not Hare email...please support their work

"Earlier this month, we broke a story that a group of young far-right activists were trying to raise over £50,000 to disrupt NGOs from saving refugees off the south coast of Italy, which was then picked up by the Observer and other newspapers.

Dubbed "Defend Europe", these identitarians – a European movement similar to the American alt-right that has developed a large following and influence online – pride themselves on an anti-immigrant, anti-Islam agenda.

Now, we've discovered they have secured a 25-person ship and are raising more funds to operate it in the Mediterranean. In their own words, their aim is to "defend EU borders" and "rescue Europe by stopping illegal immigration". They have also begun to collect information on the NGOs working to support refugees and their staff.

We must not allow this to take place. This is a clear call to action by the far-right, using the internet as a powerful tool to drive their agenda by fundraising using crowdfunding platforms, recruiting and mobilising supporters, and spreading their toxic message.

And the result of these actions could very well result in lives being lost."


 We have been able to track down the ship to a port in Djibouti, on the east coast of Africa, and we have eyes on its movements. We know that the boat is due to set sail next week and will reach the Mediterranean, via the Suez Canal, in two weeks' time.

This is a very real threat. Defend Europe has two main aims: to block aid agency ships from making life-saving rescue missions, and to patrol the sea and prevent crossings from taking place.

A number of the NGOs working in the area have already recounted stories of being threatened by far right activists and fear a hostile and intimidating environment in which to carry out their essential work.

Strange synchronicities from a year you remember? England the only country to leave Europe twice in one week

Synchronicity is a concept, first explained by psychiatrist Carl Jung, which holds that events are "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related. England has managed to leave Europe twice in one week.

Karma(Sanskrit: कर्म; IPA: [ˈkərmə] ( listen); Pali: karma) means action, work or deed; it also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect).

How ironic, how karmic it is, And who was responsible? look at the following table it states it all quite clearly. People over the age of 50, people with a poor educational background meaning those who are most psychologically fixed into an inward looking position, most able to be manipulated and most prone to be stirred up by the racists and the bigots. It is important that our education system should teach us to think, rather than obey. To discover rather than be made into a docile workforce and to realise that the forces who oppress us here are the forces that create international oppression and inequality.

You remember the joke Boris Johnson , an immigrant and a voter were sitting around a table on the table were 20 biscuits. Boris Johnson took 19 of them and shouted out to the voter “ that immigrant is after your biscuit”. The tragedy is that vast sections believed Boris, Farage and Gove. They want you to be poorly educated, to think in a particular way and the collective unconscious has given you a message. They gave it to you via Iceland. It was no accident that on google the day after the referendum the second most searched topic was “What is the EU ? ” It was a little too late..........

An election looms when will you wake up to what is coming?
Yesterday I came across a message in Port Talbot Debate and argue it had the words clearly stated “If you dont fit in fuck off” A great message for the English football team.............

From Grenfell Tower to Hillsborough...the scales fall from our eyes....

We will learn today if there will be prosecutions after Hillsborough. I do not think it will take 27 years to hear the same about Grenfell Tower. The climate has changed. The Sun and the establishment could hide the truth in. 1989 but today in 2017 it is different. Words not used in the 80s such as a inequality and the poor are back on the agenda. The political right though in power is weakened. The right wing Spectator magazine talked last week about * the dying of the right" ...this isost apt. We will learn the fate of the Labour amendment to the Queens Speech calling for increased spending on the emergency services and for the recruitment of more people for the Police Service as well as the formal end of austerity. It will be defeated but it will clearly show the vileness of the theocratic DUP tail that wags the Tory dog of capitalism. It is now clear the reality of power and of oppression and denial. Still the perception lurks that 120 survivors of the asks the question where are the remaining 400? The question will not go away and though it is difficult till human remains are found the perception of denial will not go away. Long ago i read George Orwell's essay " How the poor die" now perhaps we should ask the same question about Grenfell.
The poor have been ignored, denied, forgotten .For 35 years of Friedman and Neo-liberalism they have been made invisible but now the veil has been ripped aside. The useless Neo-liberal wars in Iraq , iand n the Balkans has shown the reality of the military industrial complex. The scales falls from the eyes of so many and the dissapearance of Tony Blair with his guilt ridden eyes reveals it all. It will not be long before Garage, Give , Johnson and IDS will be seen to be as toxic over June 23 as Blair was about Iraq.

As the events unfurl, as the chickens come home to roost ,event after event expose the reality of nature of power. denial, the cheapest price and the massive profits demanded by the corporations is being exposed. If Orwell wrote his essay today it would be called " How the poor and ignored burn and die.

Corporate murder is hidden by the lawyer and the corporate executive but the time it can be hidden from is at maximum s few weeks unlike the 27 years that it took for the reality of Hillsborough to be seen. Grenfell Tower has been the breaking point...enough is enough..

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Bourdieu and Habitus

Bourdieu and ‘Habitus’

Raul Leon 016The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu approaches power within the context of a comprehensive ‘theory of society’ which – like that of Foucault – we can’t possibly do justice to here, or easily express in the form of applied methods (Navarro 2006). And although his subject was mainly Algerian and French society, we have found Bourdieu’s approach useful in analysing power in development and social change processes (see the articles by Navarro, Moncrieffe, Eyben and Taylor and Boser in Eyben, Harris et. al. 2006; Navarro offers a particularly solid introduction to Bourdieu’s method).
While Foucault sees power as ‘ubiquitous’ and beyond agency or structure, Bourdieu sees power as culturally and symbolically created, and constantly re-legitimised through an interplay of agency and structure. The main way this happens is through what he calls ‘habitus’ or socialised norms or tendencies that guide behaviour and thinking. Habitus is ‘the way society becomes deposited in persons in the form of lasting dispositions, or trained capacities and structured propensities to think, feel and act in determinant ways, which then guide them’ (Wacquant 2005: 316, cited in Navarro 2006: 16).
Habitus is created through a social, rather than individual process leading to patterns that are enduring and transferrable from one context to another, but that also shift in relation to specific contexts and over time. Habitus ‘is not fixed or permanent, and can be changed under unexpected situations or over a long historical period’ (Navarro 2006: 16):
Habitus is neither a result of free will, nor determined by structures, but created by a kind of interplay between the two over time: dispositions that are both shaped by past events and structures, and that shape current practices and structures and also, importantly, that condition our very perceptions of  these (Bourdieu 1984: 170). In this sense habitus is created and reproduced unconsciously, ‘without any deliberate pursuit of coherence… without any conscious concentration’ (ibid: 170).
A second important concept introduced by Bourdieu is that of ‘capital’, which he extends beyond the notion of material assets to capital that may be social, cultural or symbolic (Bourdieu 1986: cited in Navarro 2006: 16). These forms of capital may be equally important, and can be accumulated and transferred from one arena to another (Navarro 2006: 17). Cultural capital – and the means by which it is created or transferred from other forms of capital – plays a central role in societal power relations, as this ‘provides the means for a non-economic form of domination and hierarchy, as classes distinguish themselves through taste’ (Gaventa 2003: 6). The shift from material to cultural and symbolic forms of capital is to a large extent what hides the causes of inequality.
These ideas are elaborated at length in Bourdieu’s classic study of French society, Distinction (1986), in which he shows how the ‘social order is progressively inscribed in people’s minds’ through ‘cultural products’ including systems of education, language, judgements, values, methods of classification and activities of everyday life (1986: 471). These all lead to an unconscious acceptance of social differences and hierarchies, to ‘a sense of one’s place’ and to behaviours of self-exclusion (ibid: 141).
A third concept that is important in Bourdieu’s theory is the idea of ‘fields’, which are the various social and institutional arenas in which people express and reproduce their dispositions, and where they compete for the distribution of different kinds of capital (Gaventa 2003: 6). A field is a network, structure or set of relationships which may be intellectual, religious, educational, cultural, etc. (Navarro 2006: 18). People often experience power differently depending which field they are in at a given moment (Gaventa 2003: 6), so context and environment are key influences on habitus:
‘Bourdieu (1980) accounts for the tensions and contradictions that arise when people encounter and are challenged by different contexts. His theory can be used to explain how people can resist power and domination in one [field] and express complicity in another’ (Moncrieffe 2006: 37)
Fields help explain the differential power, for example, that women experience in public or private, as Moncrieffe shows in her interview with a Ugandan woman MP who has public authority but is submissive to her husband when at home (2006: 37).  This has been widely observed by feminist activists and researchers, and is another way of saying that women and men are socialised to behave differently in ‘public, private and intimate’ arenas of power (VeneKlasen and Miller 2002). See gender perspectives on power and a New Weave of Power chapter 3 Power and Empowerment.
A final important concept in Bourdieu’s understanding of power is that of ‘doxa’, which is the combination of both orthodox and heterodox norms and beliefs – the unstated, taken-for-granted assumptions or ‘common sense’ behind the distinctions we make. Doxa happens when we ‘forget the limits’ that have given rise to unequal divisions in society: it is ‘an adherence to relations of order which, because they structure inseparably both the real world and the thought world, are accepted as self-evident’ (Bourdieu 1984: 471).
Bourdieu also uses the term ‘misrecognition’, which is akin to Marxian ideas of  ‘false consciousness’ (Gaventa 2003: 6), but working at a deeper level that transcends any intent at conscious manipulation by one group or another. Unlike the Marxian view, ‘misrecognition’ is more of a cultural than an ideological phenomenon, because it ‘embodies a set of active social processes that anchor taken-for-granted assumptions into the realm of social life and, crucially, they are born in the midst of culture. All forms of power require legitimacy and culture is the battleground where this conformity is disputed and eventually materialises amongst agents, thus creating social differences and unequal structures’ (Navarro 2006: 19).
While much of this may sound abstract, Bourdieu’s theories are firmly grounded in a wide body of sociological research, and across a range of social issues. Part of his appeal, in fact, is that his research is so prolific and empirically documented. Another appeal of Bourdieu for politically committed researchers is that he sees sociological method as part of the process of change. Careful analysis can help to reveal the power relations that have been rendered invisible by habitus and misrecognition (Navarro 2006: 19).
Bourdieu proposed a ‘reflexive sociology’– in which one recognises one’s biases, beliefs and assumptions in the act of sense-making – long before reflexivity became fashionable.  Self-critical knowledge that discloses the ‘sources of power’ and  reveals ‘the reasons that explain social asymmetries and hierarchies’ can itself become ‘a powerful tool to enhance social emancipation’ (Navarro 2006: 15-16).
The methods and terminology used by Bourdieu are distinct from those used in the powercube, and suggest much more detailed sociological analysis of power relations rooted in a comprehensive ‘theory of society’. Yet the implications for applied analysis and action resonate very strongly with the meanings of internalised, invisible power and ‘power within’, and with the implicit ‘theory of change’ in the powercube, This is the idea that understanding power and powerlessness, especially through processes of learning and analysis that expose invisible power, cat itself be an empowering process.

References for further reading

Bourdieu, P. (1980). The Logic of Practice. Stanford, Stanford University Press.
Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. London, Routledge.
Bourdieu, P. (1986). ‘The Forms of Capital’. Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Capital. J. G. Richardson. New York, Greenwood Press: 241-58.
Gaventa, J. (2003). Power after Lukes: a review of the literature, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies.
Moncrieffe, J. (2006). “The Power of Stigma: Encounters with ‘Street Children’ and ‘Restavecs’ in Haiti.” IDS Bulletin 37(6): 31-46.
Navarro, Z. (2006) ‘In Search of  Cultural Intepretation of Power’, IDS Bulletin 37(6): 11-22.
VeneKlasen, L. and V. Miller (2002). A New Weave of Power, People and Politics: The Action Guide for Advocacy and Citizen Participation. Oklahoma City, World Neighbors.
Wacquant, L. (2005) Habitus. International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology. J. Becket and Z. Milan. London, Routledge.

The DUP takes power...

The DUP takes power...

And so the DUP coalition with the Conservative party is formed. The dark psychology of the DUP is reminiscent of the Biers and the puritans if New England. The belief that you attend Gods elect now mingles with the crude ethos of the Tory party .Each party believes in its own manifest destiny ..each is false. Each has its own conspiracy theory. For the Conservative party it is a conspiracy of privilege . They aim to allow in a few billionaires, newspaper owners and a few outsiders worthy to be given a few crumbs of this privilege. It aims at keeping power at all costs The DUP is like a the large stand of General Custer . It is surrounded by the forces of modernity, the tribes of evolutionary theory, of climate change, of gay sexuality and of diversity. It is a paranoid world view and us now allied with the Tory desperation to remain in power.
The DUP considers itself British yet it's very Brutishness depends on the myth of King Billy and the battle of the Boyne. Its roots go back to the the " Protestant ascendancy. It's outlook Calvinist in form and Philosophy. It retoxifies the Tory party to a much richer darker shade
This arrangement antagonizes the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish parliament. It shows the real views of central government to the region's and nations if Wales. It shows the magic money tree can be summoned up when power is at stake.
We have seen the market forces make the decision about safety regulations in the last 30 years. Thus has been supported by both Tory and Blairite Labour but now the paradigm has changed. The DUP Tory arrangement dies nothing to change this outlook. The DUPs theological roots makes it a supporter of predestination and eternal judgment. This is not the outlook of a party that will understand risk or the vagaries of the market and the price mechanism This is a travesty and offers nothing but fear, bigotry and the very worst of prejudice...this shabby deal makes worse the perception of. Politics, and of a worsening of trust in the media and of the ability to be critical and free thinking. In two years when the deal ends what then will Arlene want then?..truly this is the age of stupid.
It is a strange tale involving Theresa May’s new “friends” in the Democratic Unionist Party, the Brexit referendum campaign and a mysterious donation of £425,000. And,…

Monday, 26 June 2017

Gramsci in 2017 and for Tuesdays Philosophy class

Antonio Gramsci was born on January 22, 1891 in Ales in the province of Cagliari in Sardinia. He was the fourth of seven children born to Francesco Gramsci and Giuseppina Marcias. His relationship with his father was never very close, but he had a strong affection and love for his mother, whose resilience, gift for story-telling and pungent humor made a lasting impression on him. Of his six siblings, Antonio enjoyed a mutual interest in literature with his younger sister Teresina, and seems to have always felt a spiritual kinship with his two brothers, Gennaro, the oldest of the Gramsci children, and Carlo, the youngest. Gennaro's early embrace of socialism contributed significantly to Antonio's political development. 

In 1897, Antonio's father was suspended and subsequently arrested and imprisoned for five years for alleged administrative abuses. Shortly thereafter, Giuseppina and her children moved to Ghilarza, where Antonio attended elementary school. Sometime during these years of trial and near poverty, he fell from the arms of a servant, to which his family attributed his hunched back and stunted growth: he was an inch or two short of five feet in height.
At the age of eleven, after completing elementary school, Antonio worked for two years in the tax office in Ghilarza, in order to help his financially strapped family. Because of the five-year absence of Francesco, these were years of bitter struggle. Nevertheless, he continued to study privately and eventually returned to school, where he was judged to be of superior intelligence, as indicated by excellent grades in all subjects.
Antonio continued his education, first in Santu Lussurgiu, about ten miles from Ghilarza, then, after graduating from secondary school, at the Dettori Lyceum in Cagliari, where he shared a room with his brother Gennaro, and where he came into contact for the first time with organized sectors of the working class and with radical and socialist politics. But these were also years of privation, during which Antonio was partially dependent on his father for financial support, which came only rarely. In his letters to his family, he accused his father repeatedly of unpardonable procrastination and neglect. His health deteriorated, and some of the nervous symptoms that were to plague him at a later time were already in evidence.
1 was an important year in young Gramsci's life. After graduating from the Cagliari lyceum, he applied for and won a scholarship to the University of Turin, an award reserved for needy students from the provinces of the former Kingdom of Sardinia. Among the other young people to compete for this scholarship was Palmiro Togliatti, future general secretary of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and, with Gramsci and several others, among the most capable leaders of that embattled Party. Antonio enrolled in the Faculty of Letters. At the University he met Angelo Tasca and several of the other men with whom he was to share struggles first in the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) and then, after the split that took place in January 1921, in the PCI.
At the University, despite years of terrible suffering due to inadequate diet, unheated flats, and constant nervous exhaustion, Antonio took a variety of courses, mainly in the humanities but also in the social sciences and in linguistics, to which he was sufficiently attracted to contemplate academic specialization in that subject. Several of his professors, notably Matteo Bartoli, a linguist, and Umberto Cosmo, a Dante scholar, became personal friends.
In 1915, despite great promise as an academic scholar, Gramsci became an active member of the PSI, and began a journalistic career that made him among the most feared critical voices in Italy at that time. His column in the Turin edition of Avanti!, and his theatre reviews were widely read and influential. He regularly spoke at workers' study-circles on various topics, such as the novels of Romain Rolland, for whom he felt a certain affinity, the Paris Commune, the French and Italian revolutions and the writings of Karl Marx. It was at this time, as the war dragged on and as Italian intervention became a bloody reality, Gramsci assumed a somewhat ambivalent stance, although his basic position was that the Italian socialists should use intervention as an occasion to turn Italian national sentiment in a revolutionary rather than a chauvinist direction. It was also at this time, in 1917 and 1918, that he began to see the need for integration of political and economic action with cultural work, which took form as a proletarian cultural association in Turin.
The outbreak of the Bolshevik revolution in October 1917 further stirred his revolutionary ardor, and for the remainder of the war and in the years thereafter Gramsci identified himself closely, although not entirely uncritically, with the methods and aims of the Russian revolutionary leadership and with the cause of socialist transformation throughout the advanced capitalist world.
In the spring of 1919, Gramsci, together with Angelo Tasca, Umberto Terracini and Togliatti, founded L'Ordine Nuovo: Rassegna Settimanale di Cultura Socialista (The New Order: A Weekly Review of Socialist Culture), which became an influential periodical (on a weekly and later on a bi-monthly publishing schedule) for the following five years among the radical and revolutionary Left in Italy. The review gave much attention to political and literary currents in Europe, the USSR, and the United States.
For the next few years, Gramsci devoted most of his time to the development of the factory council movement, and to militant journalism, which led in January 1921 to his siding with the Communist minority within the PSI at the Party's Livorno Congress. He became a member of the PCI's central committee, but did not play a leading role until several years later. He was among the most prescient representatives of the Italian Left at the inception of the fascist movement, and on several occasions predicted that unless unified action were taken against the rise of Mussolini's movement, Italian democracy and Italian socialism would both suffer a disastrous defeat.
The years 1921 to 1926, years "of iron and fire" as he called them, were eventful and productive. They were marked in particular by the year and a half he lived in Moscow as an Italian delegate to the Communist International (May 1922- November 1923), his election to the Chamber of Deputies in April 1924, and his assumption of the position of general secretary of the PCI. His personal life was also filled with significant experiences, the chief one being his meeting with and subsequent marriage to Julka Schucht (1896-1980), a violinist and member of the Russian Communist Party whom he met during his stay in Russia. Antonio and Julka had two sons, Delio (1924-1981), and Giuliano, born in 1926, who lives today in Moscow with his wife.
On the evening of November 8, 1926, Gramsci was arrested in Rome and, in accordance with a series of "Exceptional Laws" enacted by the fascist-dominated Italian legislature, committed to solitary confinement at the Regina Coeli prison. This began a ten-year odyssey, marked by almost constant physical and psychic pain as a result of a prison experience that culminated, on April 27, 1937, in his death from a cerebral hemorrhage. No doubt the stroke that killed him was but the final outcome of years and years of illnesses that were never properly treated in prison.
Yet as everyone familiar with the trajectory of Gramsci's life knows, these prison years were also rich with intellectual achievement, as recorded in the Notebooks he kept in his various cells that eventually saw the light after World War II, and as recorded also in the extraordinary letters he wrote from prison to friends and especially to family members, the most important of whom was not his wife Julka but rather a sister-in-law, Tania Schucht. She was the person most intimately and unceasingly involved in his prison life, since she had resided in Rome for many years and was in a position to provide him not only with a regular exchange of thoughts and feelings in letter form but with articles of clothing and with numerous foods and medicines he sorely needed to survive the grinding daily routine of prison life.
After being sentenced on June 4, 1928, with other Italian Communist leaders, to 20 years, 4 months and 5 days in prison, Gramsci was consigned to a prison in Turi, in the province of Bari, which turned out to be his longest place of detention (June 1928 -- November 1933). Thereafter he was under police guard at a clinic in Formia, from which he was transferred in August 1935, always under guard, to the Quisisana Hospital in Rome. It was there that he spent the last two years of his life. Among the people, in addition to Tania, who helped him either by writing to him or by visiting him when possible, were his mother Giuseppina, who died in 1933, his brother Carlo, his sisters Teresina and Grazietta, and his good friend, the economist Piero Sraffa, who throughout Gramsci's prison ordeal provided a crucial and indispenable service to Gramsci. Sraffa used his personal funds and numerous professional contacts that were necessary in order to obtain the books and periodicals Gramsci needed in prison. Gramsci had a prodigious memory, but it is safe to say that without Sraffa's assistance, and without the intermediary role often played by Tania, the Prison Notebooks as we have them would not have come to fruition.
Gramsci's intellectual work in prison did not emerge in the light of day until several years after World War II, when the PC began publishing scattered sections of the Notebooksand some of the approximately 500 letters he wrote from prison. By the 1950s, and then with increasing frequency and intensity, his prison writings attracted interest and critical commentary in a host of countries, not only in the West but in the so-called third world as well. Some of his terminology became household words on the left, the most important of which, and the most complex, is the term "hegemony" as he used it in his writings and applied to the twin task of understanding the reasons underlying both the successes and the failures of socialism on a global scale, and of elaborating a feasible program for the realization of a socialist vision within the really existing conditions that prevailed in the world. Among these conditions were the rise and triumph of fascism and the disarray on the left that had ensued as a result of that triumph. Also extremely pertinent, both theoretically and practically, were such terms and phrases as "organic intellectual," "national'popular," and "historical bloc" which, even if not coined by Gramsci, acquired such radically new and original implications in his writing as to constitute effectively new formulations in the realm of political philosophy. 

For modern Greens and Ecosocialists Gramsci is essential reading
Antonio Gramsci’s writings provide a valuable conceptual and political sensibility for critical approaches to nature.

The question of-Gramsci's reflections on ‘nature’ is important to examine the embryonic possibilities and limitations of Marxism and its relationship to Green ideas and political action. Gramsci, I think provides stimulating commentary on the differentiated unity of nature and society: in part, this anticipates recent arguments on this subject. Similarly, it is important to see how Gramsci’s conceptualization of how hegemony relates to core issues within political ecology.

Given the centrality of ‘environmental issues’ to ecosocialism,it is necessary to consider how social groups enrol natures and environments (both material and symbolic) in their struggles for hegemony. Gramsci has much to offer us all in 2017