Dear Donald, What a roller coaster…

trumpmay

Dear Donald,

Well what a roller coaster it is running world politics! I recognise that Medium Britain, as I now call it in deference to the Great United States of America, is concerned with more humble things than cross your desk every day. But I hope you will pay attention to the person reading this while you play on your computer and comb your hair. We in MB are Brexiting, which means we are leaving Europe. We will stay in the same place, but we are cutting our political ties and becoming independent, like you so wisely did in 1776. That means all we have is our special relationship with you, and I treasure that above all. I remember the Beatles hit, “I Wanna Hold your Hand” as one of my favourite bits of music about world affairs..

Leaving Europe is very difficult, but I am being strong and stable. Thank you for your advice about building a wall across Ireland, but I think we won’t. The locals like blowing walls up, although in recent times they have had less of your explosives, for which we are very grateful. We are trying to make a frictionless wall which is not there and yet is. We think it makes more sense. It is like people playing two games – Draughts and Noughts and Crosses – which I know you like. They just have to know which game they are playing when they cross the invisible border and we have to know too, and then it works.

We want to trade more with GUSA, and are working on it. We like our meat battered into shapeless slabs and will be quite happy changing the shape of our cricket bats. We need some more of your super missiles to frighten the Russians and some more fighters to put on our aircraft carriers. Some of them can be dummies as long as they look good. The Starfighter is the best in the world, even though it is a bit expensive. Fortunately, poor people are costing us less, so we can spend more on weapons. My defence man, Gavin Williamson wants British bases around the world, though not as many as you, so we can be Great again, and not just Medium. If you sell arms to the Middle East and we push them too, perhaps we can persuade them to buy even more, especially if a few unfortunate conflicts are going on like the one in Yemen, which we, like you, never mention. I was very pleased with your announcement that you have won the war in Afghanistan an made the Taliban much nicer. I’m sure, too, that you can persuade the North Koreans that you do not want to attack them and their missiles are entirely wrong and not needed as a deterrent. That WE should be deterred is an absurd idea. We deter others but do not need deterring, because we are good.

I see you have your problem with Nancy Perlosi, like I have my problem with Corbyn. Extremists are always difficult to deal with and both could destroy our countries. Corbyn has this extreme policy with Brexit that he only wants to be on the edge of Europe rather than come out firmly. It seems a moderate policy, but he holds it extremely and will destroy the country if I do not stay in power, which I am determined to do. When I Brexit on time, the Conservative Party will fall behind me and all will be well.

So, I hope your state of the Union address goes well and you can read it. Perhaps you should edit out the big words. I congratulate you on opening up the American Government for business again, a truly statesmanlike act, and as you look to the future with your lips firm and your hair blowing gently in the breeze I am sure that the greatness of America, the GUSA spirit, will flood through the nation. It is not WHAT we do, but what WE DO, or SAY WE DO, that counts.

Your humble and obedient servant,

Teresa May,

Prime Minister of Medium Britain.

Media Addiction, Children and Education

MOVEMENT FOR CHRISTIAN DEMOCRACY
Discussion Paper Alan Storkey

Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it? Or an image which teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation.
Habukkuk 2 18

Copyright © 1999 Alan James Storkey
Thanks to Dr Shirley Dex for comments on the text.

PRINTED BY: Christian Democrat Press, Old Hall Green, Ware, Hertfordshire, SG11 1DU T: 01920 821970

The Main Argument

The dominance of different forms of electronic media in our lives is massive. The amount of time spent watching television in Britain is nearly 50% more than we spend in paid work. Computer Games absorb children for an average of 45 minutes a day. Screen leisure is thus our most common human activity, absorbing nearly a quarter of our waking lives. We needs to examined it more carefully. The evidence is of each generation being more captured by electronic media – earlier, longer and in new forms. The case made here is for a pattern best described as MEDIA ADDICTION, a behavioural addiction as deep as chemical forms and much more pervasive.

This case is not proven. Indeed, it has been relatively little examined in much of the research. Yet the accumulated evidence already gives a high level of plausibility to two arguments: first, that these media forms have become addictive, and, second, that they change the way we function as persons. Later research may refine the arguments, but the overwhelming weight of media consumption suggests it could change the structure of personal development. If this is the case, we should address it.

Moreover, this addiction is no accident, but the result of intense planning by many companies and organisations to make the media compulsive, to hook and capture audiences. It is an explainable development. We are invited to view it as an inevitable technical trend, but it is not. Technical developments – Satellite, Cable and Digital have taken place, and, in theory, these facilities can be used well or badly. Yet, the scale of watching needed to make them profitable pushes towards addictive viewing. The character of programmes is changing. They are profit driven in ways that reshape the product. Much television and media output is not manipulative or enslaving by intent or content. Such programmes are good and worthy of their audiences. This study purposes no criticism of them or of television generally. However, many other programmes, channels and computer games claw at audiences on any terms, and the consequences for them are dire. Although we may recognize the dishonesty of this process – hype, unreal trailers, psychological hooks, lying ads, pressure and oversell – still the effects of this manipulation grow, especially with the young. Media groups which proclaim “choice” aim at blatant enslavement. In the lives of many of us, especially children, substantial addiction wins out.

It is not merely the fact and scale of media addiction which is a problem, but its consequences. Thus far, public concern with the media has concentrated on violence and pornography. This study suggests that the ordinary effects are far greater. Media addiction, especially among children, has destructive effects on basic aspects of life. It undermines speaking, thinking, sleep, emotions, activity, seeing, concentration, reading, the formulation of beliefs, growth of relationships and even people’s sense of identity. These are some of the most basic functions in human life. A growing body of research is charting these changes. The influence is massive. It is damaging the way we live. Some children are severely handicapped through it.

This study is particularly concerned with children. Jesus’ words that “if anyone causes a child to sin, it were better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the sea”, are fair warning. Many experience childhood substantially or partly wrecked by media addiction. Children are now massively pressured into it, and few can resist properly. Media exposure pre-dates education and is often a bigger influence than school. It can, and frequently does, dominate a child’s development, giving it insoluble personal and learning problems.

Recently, in the political and educational debate about standards in schools, those concerned have focussed their attention within schools – on curriculum, teaching, tests and school performance. Teachers have been scapegoated. But two trends shape educational standards almost as strongly as what happens within schools: – media effects and family breakdown. Because the debate on standards in education, especially as articulated by OFSTED, has not taken these into account, it has been intellectually sloppy and biased. Many children’s educational development is undermined by media addiction, even before they start school, and any serious attempt to address educational standards must consider it.

This study has the simple focus of stating how massive a problem media addiction is – for children, adults, families and teachers. At present it is unrecognized as an issue of justice. Many media producers look only to audience numbers and ignore the consequences of what they produce. They bluster, manipulate and hook audiences to make money. Good, honest media communication is sidelined, not on grounds of quality, but through financial pressure. Bad media are driving out good.

Propaganda swamps us and prevents us recognizing the problem. Some politicians are too servile and frightened to confront those with media power. And so the commercial electronic media continue to control and tame us into addiction. Parents and teachers do not have the power to confront the steamroller of profit, marketing, advertising and PR. Reform will be dismissed as impractical, when it merely does not suit media companies. Simply to state this problem, even though it be true, will result in widespread media denial. The issue will be blurred, ignored and misrepresented. But millions of people are being damaged and billions of hours of our lives wasted through deliberate and culpable media addiction. This paper does not look at ways of addressing the issue; first, its seriousness must be acknowledged. If our children are to be free to live unprogrammed lives, this issue must be publicly and politically recognized, and then tackled.

If the tradition of virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time, however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for some time. (Macintyre 1981 last para)

Chapter One: Media Addiction

The Scope of the Problem.
The scale of media consumption is massive. The United States is the most mature television society in the world, and it is perhaps best to examine them first. There, people watch 1,625 hours of television a year, a further 56 hours of video and 34 hours of home video games. (US 1997 Table 887 1998 projection) This amounts to a fairly stable 31 hours of television a week plus another hour and a half of video related screen watching. Thirty two hours a week is well over a sixth of the total lives of 270 million people, including their sleep. Excluding 8 hours nightly sleep, it works out at over a quarter of their lives, two 16 hour days a week, or twenty years of waking life. This is an extraordinary chunk of life to spend watching a screen.

The level in the United Kingdom is slightly lower. People here watch television an average of 25 hours a week, over a seventh of our total lives, or well over a fifth of our waking lives. The hours increase with age, but are over two hours a day for all but the very young. Women watch slightly more as adults, partly because they spend more time at home and also because they live longer. (ST 1997 216, ST 1998 216-8) The average here is about fifteen years of waking life. We are one of the heaviest television viewing nations in Europe; only Portugal is regularly higher, while the four Scandinavian countries watch at two thirds our level. It is a life-dominant activity.

And the prospect is for more. Broadly, we lag behind the States, but the levels of use of the electronic media seem on a long, steady climb. A quarter of a century ago, in 1973, viewing was 17 hours a week. The recent growth in computer and video games, Web activity and other “interactive media” highlights this. Children now spend an average of 45 minutes a day playing computer games, a relatively recent development. Given that many children do not have the means of playing these games, many others must be heavy users. As a general rule substantial early exposure leads to heavier later habitual use. Our figures will climb, following the United States.

The claim that this is an addictive process is not made lightly. By “addictive viewing” we mean that people view considerably more than they would freely choose to view. Does this addiction take place? Not necessarily. If people freely watch programmes, then these figures would merely reflect that reality. There are many programmes which people do freely choose to watch. This document is not an indiscriminate attack on television or the electronic media. Indeed, it is just the opposite – a discriminating study that seeks to identify the good from the addictive. But a proportion of this vast quantity of viewing and playing is addictive, because it is designed to be. This possibility has been recognized since the fifties. (Himmelweit et al 1958) There are similarities to chemical addiction. The alcoholic is theoretically “free” not to have another drink, but personally and realistically he/she is compulsively going to reach for the bottle. The television or computer game addict is theoretically free not to watch or play, but actually he/she will click into the same behaviour and is pressured to do so, by trailers, inertia, a desire for the next stage of the plot, sexual stimulation or a sense of suspense. Teachers, parents and older children regularly refer to this behaviour as addiction, and we would do well to recognize it as such.
“For the true addict there is little that the school can do.”
“Some children seem to spend huge amounts of time in front of games, TV or videos; 5 hours a day in term time, 8-10 hours on Saturday, Sunday or in the holidays.”
“The children I teach have learning difficulties and behavioural problems. They are all “hooked” on computer games.”
“Upper school pupils have told us that they are fighting addiction to games.”(Miller and Carver 1994)
Of course, this addiction is not chemical, but much of the work on chemically addictive forms also stresses the psycho-social sources of addiction. Media addiction is similarly constructed. There are felt needs which become compulsive and routine, and the media output generates and meets those needs. As with drug pushers and users, the problem is both with users and pushers. The media pushers pretend the pressure does not exist; they are merely giving us a “choice”. But they want captive audiences and with heavy marketing, they get them.
This marketing process changes the language. Consider for a moment the word, “thriller”. It is a word of tension and frisson, until used as a routine come-on for watching. Consider the following adjectival qualifications of the word THRILLER in one TV guide. “Wildly inventive”, “futuristic (2)”, “high octane”, “surprisingly good”, “run of the mill sci-fi”, “taut heist”, “futuristic” (2), “thriller” on its own (15), “action” (6), “gripping” (3), “superb”, “impressive”, “psychological” (2), “fascinating and absorbing”, “taut” (2), “effective”, “fast-paced, crime”, “a superb psychological”, “spine-chilling”, “stylish, tense Australian”, “gory”, “tight”, “adrenalin-pumpin'”, “adult”, “suspenseful”, “superlative action”, “ugly Hitchcock”, “Excellent supernatural”, “slick”, “brutal British”, “martial arts”, “Cold War”, “comic”, “downbeat”, “B-grade made for TV”, “unusual”, “mediocre action”, “horror”, “tough”, “enjoyable sci-fi”, “complex”, “thrill-fest”, “mystery”, “dark, “complex”, “spine-tingling turn of the century”, “yet another sci-fi”, “romantic”, “violent but exciting futuristic”, “tough and unpleasant”, “foreign”, ” a hard action”, “Hitchcock”, “bizarre”, “stupid”, “silly”, “high altitude”, “action suspense” and “edgy”. (Satellite TV Oct 1998 p 58-85) After 80 or so “thrillers” the thrill does begin to wear off, for this is just a formula to get people in, to keep them switched on. Many of these programmes will follow tired formulas, and it would not be difficult to find millions of us who regret some or much of the time spent watching “thrillers” and other TV output. We do not know the scale on which this behavioural addiction exists. It is possible that 20% or 40% or more of our media exposure is involuntary in this sense. If we only watch one in five programmes involuntarily or compulsively, it works out at over 15 billion hours nationally. Electronic media addiction is almost certainly vast.

The Structure of Media Addiction.
Most addictive patterns involve a relationship between the supplier and the subject: the tobacco company and the smoker, the drinks firm and the alcoholic or the drugs dealer and the addict. With chemical addiction the addict comes to physically need the promoted product, and the supplier supplies. The same structure operates with media addiction. The initial propaganda is vast. The print media, often joint owned, back up the visual media. Advertising within television has grown rapidly, endless trailers pushing us to watch more, hyping programmes, demanding us as audience. The addict becomes captive in the relationship. If a business is unscrupulous, having captive consumers is ideal. That is why we must examine the motives and ethos of those who sell and the way they try to make the viewer captive. It is not true to say that as long as people buy, it is by choice. It is amazing that tobacco companies, selling an addictive product which has killed millions, have not been held to account. That shows how lax we have been with addictive suppliers.

Media addiction also works through this supplier relationship. It sets out to create and supply psycho-social needs and produce captive audiences. The characteristics of behavioural addiction can be described, although different clinicians emphasize different things. It must offer short-term gains and rewards, induce dependence, retain the illusion of freedom of choice, offer initiation and long-term membership, respond to cues and develop appetite. It must offer comfort, security and some sense of well-being, even if this is not real. (Rice 1996, McMurran, 1994, Baer 1993, Drummond 1995, Orford 1985) When media companies are market and audience driven, they will tap into weaknesses wherever they are found. They will produce anything to hook an audience. Here the problem is to be found. For a good supplier-subject relationship should involve respect for the subject, but addictive suppliers are manipulative. Their motive is to capture viewers, and the means they use are dishonest. This manipulation is so common that we do not notice it. It involves formulas like suspense, revenge, death, detection, secrecy, voyeurism, emotional arousal, personal confrontation, sexual arousal, dicing with evil and so on which will hook the viewer in. These are backed by a range of mechanical or electronic techniques. Heightened colour, emotional orchestration, rapid angle changes, dramatic lighting, music and sound effects, tempo, movement and activity, change of focus, the zoom in and out, scene variation, change of definition and clarity are all used to captivate the viewer’s retina on an almost mechanical basis. In addition there are programming techniques like tension build and release, escalation of drama, crescendo-diminuendo, dramatic contrast, denouement, multiple story lines, suspense and audience character identification which orchestrate the viewer into staying with the programme they might otherwise not watch. A vast range of third rate programmes can thus keep people watching programmes which actually give them little in terms of content and quality In the States many programme audiences are tracked every three minutes or so to see what instantly switches viewers on or off. Through such pressure the only question is whether we have wasted one, two, three, ten or twenty years of our lives watching these kinds of programmes.

We need to be clear that this is something which is deliberately done to the viewer or computer game player. It is not reflecting life. This is not difficult to show. Much righteous indignation comes from the level of violence on the media, justifiably so, but a more interesting issue is why it is there in the first place. You are about five million times more likely to see a murder on television than you are in real life! Handguns are now banned in Britain. Almost all of us have never used a gun in our lives, and yet they appear daily on television and in a high proportion of computer games. So this level of violence is wildly, and irresponsibly, unrealistic. Life is not like that. Why then does it appear? The answer is simply that it causes fear and an adrenalin rush, and hooks people in. The process is quite blatantly manipulative. Little kids get into shooting: “Bang. You’re dead” but will never have a gun in their hands. This massive media shooting industry has no relationship with reality, except for a few sad characters, who may do real damage, but is used as a technique of addiction. It’s as old as the Lone Ranger and as new as Lara Croft. The industry is now able to capture and hold people in this violence rush through much of their lives. Computer games like Panzer Commander, Duke Nukem, Total Annihilation, Dead or Alive and Crime Killer trade in the idiom. Stallone and Schwartznegger personify the macho killer and make millions. It is unrealistic, manipulative, dishonest and addictive and it is also fundamentally an ethical lie. You should never nuke or erase those with whom you disagree. Yet, because the hook of violence and adrenalin works, especially on the young, and it makes money, the companies go for it and cover their dishonesty with Public Relations.

Many programmes or games trade on the weaknesses of the viewer or player. There are a range of addictive needs which can be generated. The supplier needs the audience or consumer to be captive – to laughter, to drama, action, news, gossip, conflict or sex – and they are fed the bait until they are hooked. In addition, there is an ideology promoting the addictive need. These are pushed by the most efficient and sophisticated propaganda machine ever, unspoken messages, which focus on mild personal weaknesses. Let us outline some of them.

1. You have been working hard and now you need a psychic reward. Put your feet up.
2. Life is full of stress and what we offer makes no demands.
3. Life is a bit depressing, and you need some laughter to cheer you up. Have another comedy show.
4. Life is dull and boring, but we will offer you excitement and violence. – “a psychopath forces a one-time friend and his family…”
5. Relationships are demanding, but we offer an escape from demanding relationships. Watch a panel game.
6. Your life may be a bit of a backwater, but we’ll show you the important stuff. Watch the News.
7. Life is uninteresting, but we offer you drama and suspense. Will they all die?
8. You may be upset, but we will offer you comfort. Watch a repeat.
9. You may be a loser, but here is your chance to win – the lottery.
10. You may be lonely, but here are friends you can easily get to know. Watch it.
11. Life may seem meaningless, but plug into meaning. Watch Noel’s House Party.
12. You are unsure of yourself, but here’s a self-image. Pick a star.
13. You may not know what to do with your time, but we will keep you entertained until bedtime.
14. We will offer you what you do not have and what your life needs – food, clothes, homes, holidays or gardens on screen, if not in life.
15. Nobody understands you, but Oprah understands you.
16. Your life is tough, but there are others worse off. Neighbours from Hell.
17. You are unhappy, but we will cure that. Audience laughter.
18. You are worried; we will help you forget. In outer space.
19. You are a failure, a nobody; but we will make you a success, a hero. Or at least watch Gladiators.
20. Worried about the future; enjoy yourself now. Have fun.
21. You may feel powerless, but you have power. Audience power.
22. You may be ordinary, but you can watch people like yourself. In a soap.

These messages work by indulgence, by pampering the ego or by exploiting weakness. The first twenty times of watching Oprah may be harmless, but soon there are cult viewers with dependence needs which are not properly met, and addiction follows. Many people were relating more strongly to their media friend, Diana, than their own friends and relatives. It is so easy for this kind of communication to be riddled with dishonesty, because its motive is to capture and enslave audiences.

Because many of these messages are manipulative and shallow, their expression involves dumbing down. Don’t spoil your ratings by intellectual demands. Jerry Springer shows you a family with rows worse than your own, and you feel good; in reality you are just degraded by enjoying others failings. Generally, the message is “Relax and recover; television heals.” (Fowles 1992) But, as we see later, it does not. When the electronic media set out to make addicts, that is precisely what they do. The question is whether too many of us are junkies for change to happen. We may be so captured and changed from early childhood that we are sedated beyond caring. They are all watchable programmes. The alcoholic, too, says, “There’s no problem.” With addiction goes denial.

And the problem is getting worse. The terms emerging from recent studies are – “electronic children”, “saturation entertainment” (Gill 1996), “immersion in image worlds”, “virtualities”, “telepresencing” (Morse 1998) These clearly imply the engulfing of the child in an electronic experience. As Turkle and Sturtz say:
When you play a video game you enter into the world of the programmers who made it. You have to do more than identify with the character on the screen. You must act for it. Identification through action has a special kind of hold. Like playing a sport; it puts people into a highly focused and highly charged state of mind. For many people what is being pursued in the video game is not just a score, but an altered state…. When interviewing [500] children on their preferred computer games I found the ones containing fighting to be unanimously the favourites; and when asked what they understood of the storyline in a game, all they could say was, ‘you gotto kick ’em and punch ’em; you gotto kill ’em. (Gill 64-5)
From this to the simple command before the advertisements – “Don’t go away” the culture aims to make captive audiences for life.

This adds up to a cumulative pattern of behavioural addiction touching or absorbing millions of us. We can probably identify our own weaknesses and the overwatching that follows, but most viewers have not even done that and remain trapped or enslaved.

The underlying Christian principle is for children and adults to be free to live their lives before God without manipulation, patterns of control and enslavement. Because people have a God-given value in themselves, using them as commercial pawns, without proper respect, is degrading and wrong.

Chapter Two: The Consequences of Media Addiction.

The growth in media-dominated living is a massive change of lifestyle; it is relatively recent, and we do not really know what it is doing to us and our children. Thus far, attention has focussed on special areas like violence and pornography. However, a much bigger issue is the damage done to the central personal activities of children and adults. Arguably, it is changing our thinking, relating, studying, seeing, talking, listening, reading, writing, identity and maturing, possibly at the most basic levels, in ways which have not even yet been recognised.
In what follows we ignore many detailed media issues and take for granted good quality programmes. The issue is not in the detail. It is easy to look at the trees and not see the sheer weight of the screen leisure forest. This study aims to show the big picture. Reviewers and scholars may rightly evaluate and nuance, but media companies often do not bother. They go for full frontal audiences, and we must see the scale of impact this has on people’s lives. Let us therefore consider some of these central life activities and how the media affect them.

Talking.
Talking is a central human activity. It occurs at many different levels – formal, intimate, friendly, arguing, banter, academic, debate, telling stories, reading aloud, joking and sharing. Any good teacher helps a young child to participate in class, because learning to talk is also talking to learn. By expressing what we have learned or understood, we quickly recognize whether we have or not. Yet you cannot talk to a television set. It dumbs the viewer. If you talk to your set, see a doctor. Social chat which occurs while television is watched is usually incidental and of poor quality.

* Children effectively quit talking for the two or three hours a day they watch television or playing computer games.
* Parents listen poorly to their children while they are watching television. The child therefore loses out on her/his most important audience, or learns to shout and pester for attention.
Indeed, television is often used by parents as a way of babysitting their children to avoid interaction. As well as these dumbing effects, children often experience both parents working, perhaps for long hours, fewer siblings and isolation in the home. There are many children whose levels of talking are drastically cut, to the extent that they cannot express themselves. Nursery and primary teachers observe this routinely.
But it is not just the amount of talking, but also its meaning to the child or adult.
* Talking among children is now often about the media – personalities, programmes, games, events, soaps and stars, leaving them less scope for ordinary self-expression.
* Much talking occurs in media idioms – rap, DJ talk, hype, star talk and so on – and many children are slow to find their own voice.
This, of course, has been going on for a long while. Consider an Iona Opie playground account:
‘”Do you know about this Irish footballer?” he yelled. This Irish footballer, ‘e went to this man who asked questions, and ‘e goes, “What’s your occupation?” and ‘e goes, “Engineer,” and ‘e says, “What’s your hobby?” and ‘e says, “Footballer,” and ‘e says, “What do you do in football?” and ‘e says, “Pass”‘ Having delivered his punchline, he grinned like a ventriloquist’s dummy, baring his teeth and switching his head from side to side. The story was in imitation of the television quiz Mastermind (Opie 183)
Here the format and delivery were television inspired, but the storytelling and the joke were using the medium, not being used by it. Now even that kind of independence may be less common. Children’s communication is suffused and swamped by media. Now it is more likely to be:
Fay: I have, I have seen a shark on Home and Away
Cesca: I remember seeing Jaws when I was three years old…it was dreadful.
Fay: Daddy, you remember Rory got eaten by a shark? On Home and Away (Buckingham 1993 33)
It is just a chronicle of mixed TV images. The use of advertising slogans, catchphrases, soundbites, haranguing and noise show that children often do not know their own voice. Many borrow their talking from the electronic media and rarely speak from their own person. Not to be able to speak personally is a deep loss.

Emotions.
The range of emotions in a person’s life should be rich and complex. But the electronic media hammer certain emotions which are profitable and manipulate them. Suspense, aggression and sexual arousal seem powerful for men and empathy, social engagement and romantic love for women. Many programmes remain sensitive and emotionally complex, but others play one emotion for all it is worth. Fear is an obvious example. It is not clear which is the better reaction:
I liked the park where the girl choped of her dads head and ate it as a birthday cake..I like the part when the man wlaks on his hands and this man cops him in half and when his girl Friend came in and lay on the bed and she looked up and their was her boyfirend cut in half and the knife went thout her.
or
I was scared to go to the toilet… I hate it and can’t get it out of my mind. It makes me have nightmares… I always look under my bed now. (Briggs 173-4)
The scale on which people are subjected to media fear is enormous, and in any playground you can see children frightening others and being frightened by them using media images.
Various emotional languages tend to be either encouraged or suppressed by the media. The ones encouraged include aggression, joking, rudeness, distrust, competition, fear, hatred, self-expression. Those suppressed include patience, tenderness, sincerity, respect, trust, co-operation, peace, love and empathy. What we have illustrated with fear, could be repeated for other emotions – the requirement of joking, strongly competitive relations, aggression and hatred feature massively. What the effect of this is on the young and the rest of us, we really do not know.
* The electronic media are a massive source of emotional manipulation and distortion, especially for children. They bias our emotional languages.
Reading.
OFSTED reports have highlighted the problem of low standards of reading in British schools. This follows an earlier similar decline in the States. Yet, these trends may well reflect, not schools, but television. The impact of television on children starts earlier than school and outweighs in absorption time that of teachers. The emphasis in the literature on television and reading is changing. Earlier conclusions were that television did little harm among educationally advanced children, but heavy viewing children tended to find their reading impaired. We need to put these conclusions in context.
1. The first families to get television tended to be more middle class and educated, and earlier studies therefore partly reflected this background as well as the effects of television.
2. Previously, the discipline of many parents over their children’s watching was more strict. Now children have easier access.
3. Although the effects of heavy viewing have always been clear, it is now quite difficult to control for non-TV viewers, and the normal effects are less easy to establish, except through trends over time, when other explanations might be relevant.
4. One of the most important effects may be through parents who, because they have lost a book culture and also largely watch television, do not introduce their children properly to books and reading. This effect takes a generation to work through.
5. Many of the most important effects will take place in the first few years of life, and the growth of early kiddies’ TV culture has taken time.
For these reasons it has taken time for the relationship between substantial viewing and poor reading to emerge, but the “weight of evidence suggests that television may slow down the acquisition of reading skills.” (Williams 1986 71) This process is likely to be cumulative as post-literate parents emerge, and television offers both an opt-out and inhibits reading in complex ways. (Van Evra 1998, Gunter and McAleer 1997)
* A straightforward massive substitution of images for words occurs in the normal television exposure of many children.
* Concentration and absorption in reading are often spoiled by television and other media during early childhood.
* Many adults, perhaps as many as 30-40% of the population, have become post-literate in the sense that they have given up on reading much more than tabloids and cereal packets. They convey a weak commitment to reading to their children.
* The disciplines of reading: sequential use of the eyes, following a text, conceptualising, imagining, understanding sequence, referencing and so on, remain relatively undeveloped in television and computer games. When other habits have been learned, as with dislexia, the child finds it more difficult to unlearn and relearn.
* Children sometimes escape from difficulties of reading into easier media experiences.
* The idea of entertainment undermines the business of learning and introduces a “boredom” ethos.
The impact of these effects must be considerable, not just for young heavy viewers. Computer games add another level of impaired reading for the young. A teacher comments, “The sole topic of conversation is TV, videos or computer games. It occupies all out of school time. They have stopped reading from choice; they now play games.” (Miller and Carver 1994 10)

Writing.
The loss of writing skills: spelling, grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and sentence and paragraph structure is linked to reading. Usually those who read well, write competently. Again schools are often blamed for the perceived level of failure. Teachers are Melanie Phillips’ focus in “The War of the Words” and are addressed for the loss of writing abilities. (Phillips 1996 66-103)
It [accuracy in writing] is simply a matter of being taught the skills of spelling and punctuation so that the eyes and ears become trained and the skills become automatic. What stifles creativity is the kind of unteaching that fails to provide a child with mastery of its own language.” (Phillips 1996 101)
Yet this kind of unteaching happens far more extensively through exposure to the media and the linguistic passivity which accompanies much of it. Consider this extract from a young writer.
A great big guy said obveusly the leader Questor he had a scare on the right side of his face and a silver glove with spikes on the left hand ond his left stood a great big s cyborg who had muccel on his muscel and sword on his back and two miny rockets on his left cuf. and a double barrol lazer gun on the right other…. Plaz didn’t know what to do fight of run, so he done both, he pulled out hand gun and shot s five guards he couldn’t shoot Questor because the cyborg stepped in the way. Plaz then picked up his fusion canon and blew a hole along in the wall along with a few guards. Plaz then began to run but the cyborg shot one of his rockets at p Plaz and blew Plaz’s left arm up to the shoulder off. (Buckingham 1993 148,153)
The writer is to be commended on his use of apostrophe, but it is clear that he is far too absorbed by a media culture to write coherently. The screen relegates the word to serial action. The discipline of thinking about writing gives way to processing action. Other aspects of writing are lost. Screen passivity undermines the business of articulating on paper. The essay is passé. Many children’s favourite TV stars murder the language. The dynamics by which writing is undermined are very complex, but media exposure that dominates the process will be among the most harmful.
* The ability of children, and then adults, to write clearly is restricted by the limited place of words, especially written words, in the electronic media and by the jumbled narratives which most programmes convey.

Seeing.
How we see is one of the great formative influences on life. Observation has been a part of education for a hundred and fifty years or more, and learning to see is a development that touches most of what we do, especially in science. Yet, this is also threatened by television and other electronic media. The definition on a screen is poor – a fuzz compared with the subtlety of what directly meets the eye. It also makes the eye passive; the screen presents the picture rather than the eye actively discerning it. Television, video and computer games’ colour is often strident and bright, especially in children’s programmes, perhaps to attract and hold the audience. Thus the gentle modulated tones and colours of life are not good enough; the eye is taught not to value them. A child’s life is often full of shouting colours. Similarly, screen images pass very quickly. One sits in an unchanging room for an hour, while maybe a thousand images flit across the screen and condition the retina to this kind of transient image. Many eyes are shaped, not to the pace and look of life, but to the image. Some intense users of computer games are having epileptic fits through the visual effect of the games. Finally, eye fatigue through long hours of screen exposure and lack of sleep also feed into people’s lives. But, of course, as media PR points out, games do improve certain kinds of hand-eye co-ordination….
* Television removes our purpose from the use of our eyes, and requires them to be passive, seeing as the camera intends.
* Television definition, colour, images and changes of images are crass, desensitizing the eye.
* Overfill with media images, often poorly related, jumbled or with no links at all, undermines the relationship between seeing and understanding and weakens visual memory.

Doing and Playing.
The importance of children’s early physical development through exercise and good diet is something that has been recognised for a century or so. Each generation should grow fit with strong body formation. Because of poverty, war and depression this has often been difficult to do, but this is the first generation to turn its back on this principle when it has been possible, and even easy to do. Adults have preferred using television as a way of supervising children, and children have been persuaded to slump in front of television or stay with a console rather than get exercise or play outdoors. Indeed, playing outside is now seen as dangerous partly because there are so few kids and adults around. This pattern starts early and the cumulative effect on a child’s body development and energy levels through the years is considerable. Children are walking a third less miles annually that they were even a couple of decades ago.
Decline in distance walked between 1985-6 and 1994-6
AGE Males Females
0-4 14% 6%
5-10 14% 19%
11-15 25% 32%
16-20 19% 16%
21-29 19% 13%
(Social Trends 1998 p204)
Precisely in what should be the most active and energetic age, our kids are giving up on their legs. Partly, this is the use of cars for school journeys, but there is a substantial media contribution to this change. Overweight is also a long-term problem for many because of this trend.
Another level of physical response concerns tiredness. Television is often a source of delayed bedtime, for children and adults. Teachers often complain of the listlessness that results. Late viewing, rushed breakfasts and perpetual tiredness are now part of our culture. Comparative studies have long shown later bedtimes for television families. (Schramm 1961 147-8) In the United States throughout the week 43% of households were using television between 11 and 12p.m. and 26% between 12 p.m. and 1 a.m. in 1984-5. The figures are not likely to have fallen since. (Nielsen TV index Sept 84-Aug 85) The advent of 24 hour television is too recent to assess, but its impact on some people’s pattern of rest will be considerable. Links between television/video and poor sleep and nightmares are routinely reported. “Tiredness and inattention [caused by media use] was noted by over 50% of teachers’ responses in both primary and secondary phases.” (Miller and Carver 1994 8-9) Television tiredness and poor sleeping patterns are rife.
* Media passivity, the couch potato syndrome, is undermining health, fitness, readiness for work and the ability to get things done on a scale that dwarfs pressures to efficiency in other areas.
* The negative impact of television and video on the amount and quality of people’s rest is considerable.

Concentration.
Concentration is an important quality. It is most fully associated with study and work, but it is also relevant to relationships, conversation and many other areas. The links between electronic media and poor concentration are various. Television and computer games change the meaning of concentration. It is a different process. Living in the medium brings disorientation elsewhere. “One child in particular seems inattentive and muddled most of the time – but put a console in front of him and he is active. He then remembers all details and information possible.” Addiction cuts out time for other activities. “One child was hospitalised with suspected grand mal after playing computer games for over six hours non-stop. (Miller and Carver 1994 9)
Electronic media either tend to demand attention or they offer a deal: “you watch us and we will entertain you.” Engagement with the activity comes from the medium, and the subject is passive/responsive. This is entirely different from the concentration where the subject initiates her/his engagement with the object of work or study. Here there is initiative, proactive concentration, interest and exploration. Passive media attention may be destroying this latter kind, which is the basis of most educational progress. Teachers frequently point out heavy media children’s “poor attention span”. Further, media concentration is fragmented. It is often described as “stimuli processing” and is markedly different from analysis, memory work, calculation and many other kinds of educational concentration. Children immersed in media “stimuli processing” cannot concentrate so well in these other ways. “I’ve observed constant eye and body movement – it’s very rare for the children to achieve stillness or calm. This is the forerunner to inattention.” (Miller and Carver 10)
* It is likely that the passivity of television watching and the required responses of computer games are changing the kind of concentration of which people are capable and undermining their ability to actively engage for long periods.

Relating.
Television supplants relationships on a grand scale. Adults of working age spend more than two hours a day watching television; many couples only talk to one another for a fifth or a tenth of that time. Levels of conversation in a home tend to be inversely related to the amount of television watched, and in many homes conversation, discussion and shared activities have dropped alarmingly. But there are further dynamics. In the United States in the early 1980s women not in paid work watched an alarming 35 hours of television a week. A lot of this was daytime television. A decade or so later the same trend is evident in Britain. Although more women are in paid employment, still there is heavy daytime watching. The cost is the shrinkage of the great engine of British social life – women’s informal visiting and chatting. Work and television makes many neighbourhoods into social graveyards each morning and afternoon.
The world of children is more radically changed. Parents often use television as a babyminder, and presumably children realise this (and clamour for the removed attention). Their homecoming from nursery or school is often plugged into television watching rather than sharing. Some children sit close to a television set to express their intimacy with it. Increasingly, domestic viewing happens on two or even three sets in isolation. In the United States there are an average 2.3 sets per home. Often evenings are dominated by television – 78% of the population in the States participate in prime time viewing, and it is not much less here. So children, often or even usually, face homes where television is dominant and family relationships recessed. The impact on their growth in relationship is incalculable. When the isolating impact of computer games is added, the deterioration of children’s relationships looks formidable.
More serious still are the kinds of relationships encouraged. Many media relationships are conceived as selfish exchanges, which rule out love, trust and the other great Christian virtues. Aggression, as well as violence, is widespread and many boys, and increasingly girls, see aggression as the normal way of relating to one another. Increased “toddler rage” is seen in nurseries. (Independent 25/9/98) Games actively engage children in violent acts. Often men are aggressors and women victims, and sexual prejudice is linked to this exposure, according to several teachers. (Miller and Carver 20-21) Boys especially are influenced by exposure to pornography and are likely to see sexual relationships in terms of the availability of women, rather than in terms of faithfulness, love and intimacy. Personal victory, the escalation of aggression, amorality and above all de-sensitisation characterize much of what is communicated. Bringing children up on these messages is bad news for relationships.
* Relationships suffer deeply because of television, video and computer games. Intimate family relationships shrink to a fifth, tenth or twentieth the exposure to media.
* Parents often use television as a way of marginalising their children’s relationship with them.
* The quality of relationships portrayed on, and learned from, television often offers low levels of insight.

Thinking.
Thinking, understanding, reflecting and analysing are also basic to life. Wisdom doesn’t come cheap. Democracy is normally thought to hinge on persons being able to reflect with some independence on their governments. Thinking, of course, is incredibly complex and varied. Language, logic, calculation, cause-effect thinking, thinking from core beliefs, epistemology, metatheory, analysis, deduction, evidential thinking, evaluation, analogy, consistency, systematisation, critique and much more besides are involved. Some television programmes contain high levels of thought and analysis. Educational computer use is also expanding, although it is also accompanied by more hype than other efficient educational processes like using books. But vast tracts of media output invite trivial levels of response. As one teacher said, “Now they can’t think, only imitate.”
We do not know the scale of this problem. Indeed, unthinking media schmuck is so widespread we regard it as normal. Consider how moronic is the level on which we are asked to think about MacDonald’s. MacDonald’s, children are told, makes families and homes. We are given hamburgers and magic. Assert it and it is true. “In the night the welcome sight of an old friend… Feels so right here tonight at McDonald’s again” (Steinberg and Kincheloe 249-66) Kids are advertized into compliance. This vacuous blab is multiplied thousands of times in the commercial and media experience of children. The assault is so pervasive that often they do not have the space to think with independence, which is the point of the exercise, because many companies want to make children and adults into unthinking (i.e. captive) consumers. Good young minds are being swamped by trivia. It is likely that this uncritical pap, repeated so often for children and adults, will undevelop minds, brainwashed into thoughtlessness.
It is interesting to reflect on “dumbing down”. Channels feel the need for ratings and popularity. The dogma is that the viewer is always right, and viewing figures reflect the quality of the programmes. But if children and adults are being slowly manipulated into responding only to thrillers, hype, entertainment and movement, the audience could slowly be getting less capable of thought. Looking at game shows for twenty years must do something to you. Of course, this process will be denied, and it is too complex to demonstrate. But “Garbage in, garbage out” applies also to the mind. Is television going to train us to think, or require us to give it up? Really the issue is as stark as that.
* Much television output does not engage logic, deduction, consistency, analysis, presuppositional analysis, consideration of worldviews, religious argument and philosophy at any depth. Effectively, it rules out many of the most important processes of thinking.
* The quality of thought reflected in television and other media is being “dumbed down”, so that potential audience will not be excluded.
* The moving image marginalises the business of thinking things through and replaces them by a stream of visual consciousness. The limitations to, and brainwashing danger, of image dominance are vast, but largely unrecognized.
Americans watch 31,000 advertisements a year. We receive the doctrine of materialism in advertising chunks, say fifteen times a day, always conveyed subconsciously and without real reflection. {Will buying things sort out your family relationships?} Why do we not have critics reflecting on adverts, as happens with football, news, films or politicians? Please don’t wake up and ask questions.
* Many children’s most powerful exposure is to media consciousness, rather than thought. It may be that now they cannot think in ways we have taken for granted for centuries.

Being and Identity.
Childhood is the time when a toddler’s sense of identity is fleshed with the circumstances and events of life. A child grows up as it has been gloriously created by God in the context of its parents and peers. It totters around, gets hugged, learns to talk and can soon relate big-time to adults. Sanders in an interesting book suggests this sense of self grows especially in the oral, story-telling stage of development when a young child learns to tell, her/his story. (Sanders 1994) “Big dog knock me over.” Gradually the wonderful child emerges in the chatting and events of each day. This normal healthy process is what childhood has been about for generations.
If, by contrast, infancy is dominated by the media, there is far less room for the child’s stories and self-reflection to develop. The child’s story is never heard, and the implication is that it is not worth listening to. This is serious. Millions of kids want to be the Spice Girls or football stars when they could just be themselves. This has sometimes been a passing phase, but now it goes deeper. Their development through relating and chat has not taken place. They must indwell Beckham, Owen, Michael Jackson or other icons, because in daily living they have no strong sense of their own God-given identity. We do not know the extent of the lost childhood self. This may be one of the biggest problems of the age, linked in turn to a poorly developed conscience, a detached approach to violence and other ills.
Similarly, many computer games invite identification through action and saturation entertainment. (Gill 1996 62-5) Children go inside the games, and while they are there, in a certain sense, they are not. Fantasy worlds or virtual realities occupy considerable space to the exclusion of the real world and their own identity. They are invited to live in the game.
* Many children’s identity is so locked into the media that their own personal development is retarded or incomplete.
* The massive media projection of stars detracts from the growth of personal identity and the significance of ordinary people in daily living.
* Fantasy and vicarious patterns of living tend to absorb a normal sense of self. “I am Superman.”

Believing.
The ways in which ordinary television programmes convey and relate to faith and basic beliefs is complex. There are codes which address balance, fairness and freedom from indoctrination. CRAC and other bodies monitor them quite carefully. In the light of these standards, it is amazing what happens in other areas of media output. Advertisements and many programmes disseminate Consumerism as an unquestioned faith, indoctrinating viewers every fifteen minutes or so. Goods promise, in so many words, peace, security, relationships, happiness, beauty, traffic free travel, energy, youth and fame. These are lies, but the lies are never called. (Coffee is not sexy, just brown) The repetitive weight is massive, even from the age of two or three, effectively for the whole of their lives. This is indoctrination way beyond Goebbels, yet the perpetrators are never called to account. We develop propaganda resistance, and think we are not dragged under. But the children might be. They might believe in trainers, hamburgers, pop groups and clothes as the meaning of life. They might think electricity companies sponsor the weather.
Over the last few years programming has consumerised; programmes focus on buying cars, antiques, houses, flowers and plants, food, holidays, clothes, CDs, videos and almost anything. Of course, it is possible to say that this is providing what (some) people want, but it is, more accurately, the spreading of an indoctrinating belief, which makes money for the multinationals, salespeople and media tycoons who feed off advertising. If Marxists or Islamic groups produced only a fraction of this kind of material, the uproar would be enormous. The multinational consumer groups have been so successful through their media indoctrination that there is little opposition to this process, and a much more intense exposure of children to this manipulative belief system is underway. It was interesting recently when the possibility of advertising in schools came up; it was correctly resisted as an infringement of children’s right to learn without external pressure and indoctrination. But, of course, that conclusion showed our incredible double standards, for those same impressionable children will go home and face saturation advertising. We take their toe out of the water at school and then throw them in the pool to drown at home.
Apart from this media indoctrination, there is also a failure to engage with religious beliefs and other philosophies of life. The Bible is the world’s most read book, but it would be difficult to identify a programme in the last forty years where its contents have been discussed with some depth and respect. Jews, Muslims, Hindus and many other groups with important things to share would witness to a similar trivialising of their faith. Stereotyping occurs, whether of so-called, and much overemphasized, “Islamic Fundamentalists” or of Church of England vicars. As one religious programme researcher said after asking for my views, “Oh, I’m sorry we can’t use them; they are far too sensible.” Often the faiths and perspectives are pathetically misunderstood. Justice is not done to the central beliefs of millions of citizens.
* Commercial television is the fullest programme of indoctrination (into materialism) that the world has ever seen. Many children learn “I want” from a very early age and impose it on their families.
* Religious beliefs to which millions subscribe are largely ignored by television, and are also stereotyped, parodied and trivialised.

Listening.
Listening is a sensitive and significant process, and, since the electronic media can offer some of the best communicators in word, music, information, drama and story, they are a rich and important source of listening. Yet it is also true that the character of much listening in the media, and for children is changing. For many programmes and games now SHOUT.
Shouting comes in many forms: first, in programmes and games which assault and attack the viewer, second, in exaggerated drama, thriller, action, adventure and conflict. Most of us are not going to be attacked by a swarm of aliens, or sink in the Titanic, or need to avoid the feet of dinosaurs. Life is not like that. But the media tediously throw every lurid drama conceivable at us. “Real life” is now too boring. Another genre of shouting occurs in computer games. They have explosions, noises producing tension and a range of other sound effects which engulf the player. The sounds of the amusement arcade are now carried straight into the head. The level of aural assault is amazing. One researcher described it thus:
In order to acquaint myself with the children’s experience I watched some of the video films, thus to be able to enter to a small extent into the world by which they were captivated – the continual flow of scenes of brutality and sadism, accompanied by loud screaming and gruesome side effects, are watched for hours on end, daily. (Gill 1996 65)
The consequence, especially with children, is a process of desensitization. Just as parents who always shout at their children tend to get ignored, so kids are learning to switch off from ordinary talk. Teachers often remark that these children cannot hear.
* In the competitive search for ratings there is an increasing tendency to SHOUT at the viewer or game player. The result is that respect for the listener is reduced, and they are invited into insensitive patterns of listening and communication.

Conclusions.
The present discussion on problems of the media is too restricted. Far wider than the problems of media violence and pornography are the ordinary implications of media addiction absorbing 78 billion hours a year, the dominant human activity in Britain. This addiction, intentionally pursued by many media people and companies, is changing our basic functions of living. They are probably disseminating thoughtlessness, unsure speech, emotional poverty, relational breakdown, poor concentration, parodied beliefs and even the loss of a healthy sense of self.
These changes probably affect a substantial proportion of people. Among the young perhaps 30-60%, especially of the male population, is affected. Many are unable to resist the commercial pressures drawing them into media addiction. Many more have a reduced quality of life. When we reflect on the change in the way many of us function in daily life, it is amazing it should remain unaddressed for so long. That bears witness to the ability of the commercial media to shape the agenda and present themselves unashamedly as benign.

Chapter Three: The Electronic Media and Education.

Schools and Media.
The weight of media and school exposure which children have is interesting. During an average school year the time spent in education is about a third more than is spent watching television. However, if the time spent on computer games is added in the level comes close to matching that spent in education. But earlier in their lives children spend a higher proportion of their time watching television than they do even attending pre-school groups. So the general pattern is that early on children’s weight of experience and exposure is substantially greater for television than it is for education, but by the time they reach 15, allowing for homework, the impact of education is stronger in terms of hours than television and computer games. After 16 many people’s educational experience drops off, although for many others it continues for five or more years, often quite intensely. This overall profile of the exposure to education and media is important, especially because of what happens during the early years when the weight of media exposure is higher.
But other factors have to be taken into account, like the ways in which families operate and use television, a child’s relations with significant adults during the early years and the kind of programmes watched at each stage. Here there are polar possibilities. Either the parents supervise the use of television or they rapidly hand over its use to the child for considerable portions of time. Second, either parents and other adults actively communicate and teach their children, or they are relatively passive or absent in relation to them handing over much communication to television. Third, what a child watches may be limited and edited for good content or relatively indiscriminate. The level of parental watching is likely to be transmitted to the child. Clearly families where parents are relatively passive in communicating with their children, who watch a lot of television themselves and who do not edit exposure are likely to expose children to substantial television and video viewing.
The thesis of this chapter is simple. If at an early stage children by large television exposure enter a culture of compulsive and addictive viewing, then the functional changes described in the preceding chapter are likely to be built into their pre-school and early school development. Let us detail what the resulting educational disabilities are likely to be:
1. There is underdeveloped talking and self-expression.
2. Children not used to being listened to carefully.
3. They use media-centred and media-copying talk.
4. Children have not found their own voice.
5. The gentler emotions are suppressed, and aggression, fear, rudeness are overdeveloped.
6. They dwell in false media-generated emotions. “I’ll shoot you”
7. They lack all kinds of familiarity with words and their use.
8. They display poor absorption in reading.
9. They are poor at reading, sentence formation and grammar.
10. Their writing is media – dominated.
11. Their vision tends to be passive – does not notice things.
12. The children display confused visual understanding and memory.
13. They are unfit and lack the spark of youth.
14. Tiredness is evident and lethargy inhibits learning.
15. Their ability to concentrate is impaired.
16. There are poor relationships with teachers.
17. Behavioural and relationship problems emerge.
18. They show poor and undisciplined thinking.
19. Imitation and visual stimulation replaces thought.
20. There is identity transference to within media.
21. Fantasy worlds come to rival the real one.
22. Children are compulsive consumers.
23. Deeper levels of belief and self-understanding are undeveloped.
24. They are poor listeners.
Within schools many children are exhibiting these problems in serious or even chronic forms. Now it is clearly wrong to dump responsibility for all these patterns of behaviour and culture just on the media.

This study is not trying to assert more than what is the case, and we do not know what is the case. Nevertheless, there is a strong structure of plausibility here. Let us express it in three points.
* Teachers, parents and others engaging with children are experiencing a marked and substantial growth in such traits, undermining the educational development of the child.
* For some children these patterns become a malaise, making them difficult children and increasing pastoral needs within the school.
* Alongside the family, television is likely to be the most formative influence, because of its weight in the child’s experience, in shaping educational development or lack of it.
This early link into educational failure and difficulty is largely unrecognized and unaddressed. It seems that OFSTED unthinkingly views educational development as an outcome of school, and does not consider television. Similarly, learning theory often ignores the impact of the visual media. Yet the reality must be very different, as the following quotation from a boy conveys.
sometimes#they’re not real strong#cause#they might be made out of every kind of material but#if Leonard had sliced them#they wouldn’t get sliced… but if Raphael sticked ’em#they would die but if Donatello hit ‘im(.)he wouldn’t die. (Hicks 1996 122)
Here is a boy whose way of talking and thinking is media saturated to the extent that thinking and talking in sentences would be difficult. There will be millions of others for whom this is true.

Or hear this case study of Ricky, where the explicit focus is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He is described as “generally restless, fidgeting and shaking his legs rhythmically. Could not sit still. Emotionally aware of his problem. He escaped into a fantasy world populated with robots, spacemen, and members of a “galactic patrol” His parents state that they never considered Ricky’s behaviour a problem.” (Silver and Hazim 1990 384) That the escapism might be part of the problem, rather than just a symptom, seems likely in the behaviour problems of millions of kids. ADHD, and the use of the sedative drug Ritalin for children, is increasingly being linked to too much television.

The weight of fantasy on this generation needs careful consideration. Alongside vast amounts of television fantasy is the average 45 minutes a day spent on computer games. Teachers’ comments convey the scale of the problems.
The aggression and acting out of fantasies are far more prevalent among the boys.”
I’ve observed constant eye and body movement – it’s very rare for the children to achieve stillness or calm. This is the forerunner to inattention.
The arousal of fear, suspense, and sexual response on a routine, fantasy basis is traumatic and disturbing, as the reality would be. I think it raises artificially children’s need for excitement/stimulus without a reality basis. They seem hyped up and nowhere to go with it.
The perseverance of “living in” the game prevents children’s attention and imagination being caught even by exciting school activities. The images persist, as they are constantly (that is, daily) reinforced. The only topic of conversation possible is on aspects of the games, usually one of the violent titles. It’s very frustrating to teach. It’s like a drug.
Children do not converse or play as they used to. (Miller and Carver 1994)
There are thousands of teachers who would make similar and more serious observations. Sooner or later the weight of fantasy solutions will distort enough people’s thinking to cause major problems, both individual nutters who do their own bizarre things, and collective failures of realism. But their long-term impact on normal processes of learning creates routine difficulties for teachers. Educating children through this destructive barrage is very, very difficult.
This study points to many young children being saturated in addictive electronic media from birth. As a result, they will grow up with a loss of freedom and with their thinking, emotions and relationships severely impaired. They will be trapped for life in a form of slavery, which a commercial media elite has successfully made dominant in the West.

The Later Culture of School.
The process does not end there, however. For older children pick up other attitudes.
* Entertainment becomes an overall frame for experience. School is entertaining or boring. The child is taught rapidly to lose the humility and awe of learning by focussing only on what seems to reward and entertain them. They are keyed out of a love of learning by the consumer’s need to be pleased.
* They are recruited to live in a media commercial culture. Roy Fox’s title says it all:- “Harvesting minds: how TV commercials control kids” (Fox 1996) Thinking about dress, buying, watching, playing dominates all.
* The hype of television persuades many that the world of stars, personalities, films and spectaculars is more significant than their world of home and school. They lose basic allegiance to where they live and come to inhabit the untruths of medialand. Their meaning comes from, say, wearing Premier League football shirts. Emotionally, they (especially the boys) are not full participants in education, but rather live in a world of media credibility.
* Electronic media are short-term and relatively instant. They condition older children away from long-term memory and cumulative learning which should be central to much schooling. Areas like learning foreign languages are especially at odds with media-saturated adolescent life
* Boys are taught to participate in violence, to stereotype women, to need to win, to enjoy predatory sex, to dissociate sex from love and marriage, to become macho, to play obsessively.
Many older children are being “persuaded” by these pressures to opt out of education, or work. Unless things change the numbers of such children will increase. They will effectively enter adulthood blighted by the spreading greed of media producers.

OFSTED and Educational Standards.
If these trends are going on, and thousands of teachers will identify them at the drop of a hat, they need to be taken seriously. Again we emphasize the weight of the exposure and effect. In most households the preschool exposure to screen leisure is far bigger than the educational contact of parents and others. During early school years, taking into account holidays, electronic media exposure exceeds or matches schooling. Only when substantial homework kicks in can the weight of education be seen as heavier than media effects. The distribution, of course, is key, and the problem is with the heavy viewer/light education children who may comprise a quarter of each educational cohort. They are the ones who are likely to be seriously educationally disabled, although others will be affected.
The amazing thing is that OFSTED and many ministerial statements do not seem to take this into account. All the accountability is focussed on teachers, who are, after all, committed to children’s education, while this media system is, by and large, not. The OFSTED Review of Secondary Education, which considers reading and writing in some detail, ignores media influences. (OFSTED 1998a) The construction of the National Literacy Project seems to do the same. (OFSTED 1998b) The rejoinder may be that OFSTED is concerned only with schooling and not education more broadly, but in that case it should change its name. The deeper issue is the lack of awareness of the massive social influences which teachers have to fight and overcome to help many pupils through these problems. Where there should be support in this task, there is often blame. This study at the very least affirms and encourages teachers in their commitment to educate children by recognizing how difficult the task has become. Perhaps those who have adopted these limited terms of reference should do likewise.
Conclusion.
This study commends much television, video and computer use. Their quality is often good. But vast quantities of other output is corrupt and corrupting, because it is constructed with addictive techniques and content. We are being persuaded to accept this trend of media addiction as involving more freedom, as progressive and inevitable. This is not surprising because some companies make great profits from it. They would say that wouldn’t they? But it is none of these. The so-called freedom is actually often intense pressure to be hooked and lose freedom. It is deliberately addictive commercial media aggression, which produces its desired result, especially in young and defenceless children. It is for the worse in millions of lives. Sober assessment merely of the waste of time involved would lead to this conclusion, irrespective of the forms of harm discussed here.
Jesus attacked hypocrisy as a basic human problem. The appearance is not real. What appears beautiful is dead men’s bones under the lid. What much media presents itself as being, it is not. Truthfulness, and the uncovering of lies, is a massive task in this area, and telling it has scarcely begun.
Moreover, the status quo does not need to be accepted. This is not, as is often claimed, a matter of technical progress and fate, but of proper trading and honest communication. Reform can take place. But first we must be convinced of the problem and be capable of moving outside its conditioning. We may already be too conditioned to escape. It is time to own this as a core problem in our lives and address it as a matter of political justice and personal lifestyle.

Appendix One. Research and Television.
There are a number of issues in relation to sociological research about television. The methods of study of this kind of issue are various. 1. Over time. 2. Comparative. 3. By statistical analysis of variables. 4. By content analysis. 5. By audience reporting. 6. By qualitative or cultural analysis. Although methods 4,5, and 6 can give important insights, they do not set out to directly test hypotheses like a relationship between heavy viewing and poor reading development. Methods 1,2, and 3, apart from usually involving samples and being time and space specific, cannot easily escape from the problems of (a) other changes over time. (b) other similarities or differences. (c) linked variables. The result is that “proof” of quite simple relationships is difficult to show. This does not mean that they may not be correct. The best check is when different kinds of analysis are brought together to give a plausible overall picture. This study begins to do that, though the picture is not yet conclusive.
Second, I think there has been a built-in tendency to underestimate effects. We must appreciate the sweep of history. The initial generation to grow up with television were young in the fifties, sixties, seventies and even eighties. Initially television, and then colour television, was first bought by the educated and affluent. Colour television didn’t become dominant until 1977. Video and computer games are yet more recent. So it is difficult to see the overall and long-term effects. Second, the media had massive and varied audiences and programmes, and adducing effects was therefore a subtle and difficult business, usually outside the scope of proven cause and effect. Effects take place within people and these are difficult to show in terms of data and verifiable evidence. Third, long term patterns are very difficult to assess, because so much else changes and because those involved in the process cannot assess how they themselves have changed, except through folk memory and other less “scientific” procedures. Fourth, especially with children, the subjects themselves cannot easily assess the effects of the media on them, given its complexity. This does not lead directly to the conclusion of David Gauntlett: “media effects research is a waste of time” (1996 vii, 1995) Rather, we conclude that the normal quantitative and experimental research methods of sociology, psychology and other related areas lag behind, often quite considerably, conclusions and judgements which arise as more direct judgement and experience. These, of course, continually need testing and evaluating, but they may be true long before research evidence is, or can be, available.
That media addiction takes place on a massive scale can be adduced, but probably long after millions of people already know it to be the case. The consequences, as spelt out in these basic functional changes to our lives, have been subject to relatively little research. And the links between heavy electronic media use and education, although studied often, have suffered from the diffuseness of some methodology. Consider the following reflection on an American study.
Further evidence has emerged from another American study by Michael Morgan and Larry Gross, who examined relationships between amount of television viewing and intelligence and reading comprehension scores for over 600 children, aged between 11 and 14 years, at a New Jersey pubic school. Among the sample, children with lower IQs again tended to watch more television than those with high IQs. But while children with lower IQs also exhibited poorer reading skills, when the effect of IQ difference was controlled, a significant negative relationship still remained between amount of viewing and reading performance. Although suggestive, these latter results are not unequivocal because there are still two possible explanations for the observed relationship. It is possible that television viewing impedes development of reading skills; but it could equally be the case that children with reading problems turn to television as an alternative source of gratification and amusement. (Gunter and McAleer 122-3)
This commentary ignores the fact that if television can both inhibit the development of understanding and provide a replacement for reading, the negative relationship between TV watching and poorer reading is stronger than stated. Perhaps we should remember how long tobacco companies were able to resist the idea of a proven link between smoking and cancer in any person to see how difficult it is to establish behavioural links beyond any sceptical assault. More direct reporting, like the Pied Piper study, often shows an important social reality quickly.
Within media studies there are a range of perspectives which focus on audiences, cognitive impact, the construction of choice, cultural analysis and so on. these perspectives have elements to add to the general picture. However, the feeling of this study is that the central weight of media impact is often understated in specialised studies which reflect professional media interests.

Bibliography.
Richard P ADLER The effects of Television Advertising on Children (Mass: Lexington, 1980)
(eds) John BAER et al. Addictive Behaviors across the Life-Span (London: Sage, 1993)
Erik BARNOUW Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television (Oxford: University Press, 1979)
Margaret BLAMHARD A History of the Mass Media in the United States (Chicago: Fitzroy Pearborn, 1998)
(ed) Freda BRIGGS Children and Families: Australian Perspectives (NSW: Allen and Unwin, 1994)
Mary Ellen BROWN Television and Women’s Culture (London: Sage, 1990)
(ed) David BUCKINGHAM Reading Audiences (Manchester UP, 1993)
David BUCKINGHAM Children Talking television: the making of television literacy (London: Falmer, 1993)
Brian CLIFFORD et al. Television and Children (N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1995)
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(ed) Colin DRUMMOND et al. Addictive Behaviour: Cue Exposure Theory and Practice (NY: John Wiley, 1995)
Jacques ELLUL The Humiliation of the Word (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1985)
Allen EMERSON and Cheryl FORBES The Invasion of the Computer Culture (Leicester: IVP, 1989)
Judith Van EVRA Television and Child Development (N.J. and London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998)
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John FISKE Television Culture (London: Routledge, 1987)
Dan FLEMING Powerplay: toys as popular culture. (Manchester: University Press, 1996)
Jib FOWLES Why Viewers Watch (California: Sage, 1992)
David GAUNTLETT Moving Experiences: Understanding Television Influences and Effects (London: John Libby, 1995)
David GAUNTLETT Video Critical: Children, the Environment and Media Power (John Libby Media/ U of Luton Press, 1996)
(ed) Tim GILL Electronic Children: How children are responding to the Information Revolution (London: National Children’s Bureau, 1996)
(eds) Andrew GOODWIN and Garry WHANNEL Understanding Television (London: Routledge, 1990)
(eds) Debra GRODIN and Thomas LINDLOF Constructing the Self in a Mediated World (California: Sage, 1996)
Barry GUNTER and Jill McALEER Children and Television. The One eyed Monster? (London: Routledge, 1990) 2nd ed 1997
Barry GUNTER and Jackie HARRISON Violence on Television (London: Routledge, 1998)
Barry GUNTER and Rachel VINEY Seeing is Believing (London: John Libbey, 1994)
Deborah HICKS (ed) Discourse, Learning and Schooling (Cambridge: University Press, 1996)
H HIMMELWEIT, A OPPENHEIM and P VINCE Television and the Child: An Empirical Study of the Effects of Television on the Young (Oxford: University Press, 1958)
(ed) Sue HOWARD Wired Up: Young People and the Electronic Media (London UCL Press, 1998)
John LANGER Tabloid Television: Popular Journalism and the other News (London: Routledge, 1998)
Sonia LIVINGSTONE Making Sense of Television: the psychology of audience interpretation (London/NY: Routledge, 1998)
James LULL Inside Family Viewing (London: Comedia, 1990)
Alisdair MACINTYRE After Virtue (London: Duckworth, 1981)
Mary McMURRAN The Psychology of Addiction (London: Taylor and Francis, 1994)
Jackie MILLER and Geoffrey CARVER The Street of the Pied Piper (Derby: Professional Association of Teachers, 1994)
Margaret MORSE Virtualities: Television, Media Art and Cyberculture (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1998)
Bob MULLAN Consuming Television: Television and its audience (Oxford/Mass: Blackwell, 1997)
Robin NELSON TV Drama in Transition: Forms, Values, Cultural Change (London: Macmillan, 1997)
(eds) Georg NEUBAUER and Klaus HURRELMAN Individualisation in Childhood and Adolescence (Berlin/NY: Walter de Gruyter, 1995)
Elizabeth NEWSON Video Violence and the Protection of Children
OFSTED The Teaching of reading in 45 Inner London Primary Schools (Ofsted, HMSO, 1996)
OFSTED Secondary Education 1993-7: A Review of Secondary Schools in England (London: The Stationary Office, 1998a)
OFSTED The National Literacy Project: A Report from Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools (London: HMSO, 1998b)
Iona OPIE The People in the Playground (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993)
Jim ORFORD Excessive Appetites: a psychological view of addiction (NY: John Wiley, 1985)
Patrick PARSONS The Cable and Satellite Television Industries (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998)
(eds) Duncan PETRIE and Janet WILLS Television and the Household (London: British Film Institute, 1995
Melanie PHILLIPS All Must Have Prizes (London: Little, Brown and Company, 1996)
Neil POSTMAN The Disappearance of Childhood (London: W H Allen, 1985)
David PORTER Children at Risk (London: Kingsway, 1998)
Neil POSTMAN Amusing Ourselves to Death (London: Methuen, 1986)
(ed) Sue RALPH et al. What Price Creativity? (Luton: University of Luton Press, 1998)
John RICE A Disease of one’s own: psychotherapy, addiction and the re-emergence of co-dependency (NJ: Transacction, 1996)
George RITZER The McDonaldisation of Society (California: Pine Forge Press, 1996)
Muriel ROBINSON Children Reading Print and Television (Sussex: Falmer, 1997)
Barry SANDERS A is for OX (NY: Pantheon, 1994)
Jack SANGER et al. Young Children, videos and computer games: issues for teachers and parents (London: Falmer, 1997)
Wilbur SCHRAMM, Jack LYLE and Edwin PALMER Television in the Lives of our Children (California: Stamford University Press, 1961)
(ed) Phil SCRATON “Childhood” in Crisis? (London: UCL Press, 1997)
Social Trends 1997, 1998 (London: HMSO)
Steven STARK Glued to the Set (New York: Free Press, 1997)
Shirley STEINBERG and Joe KINCHELOE (eds) Kinder-Culture (Colorado and Oxford: Westview Press, 1997)
US 1997 Statistical Abstract of the United States 1997 (Washington: US Department of Commerce. 1997)
John TULLOCH Television Drama: Agency, Audience and Myth (London: Routledge, 1990)
James WALKER The Broadcast Television Industry (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998)
Raymond WILLIAMS Television: Technology and Cultural Form (London: Collins, 1974)
Tannis MacBeth WILLIAMS The Impact of Television: A Natural experiment in three Communities (Orlando: Academic Press, 1986)

Screen leisure is the most common experience in British life. It takes up about 50% more time than paid employment and a fifth of our waking lives. Thus far, there is some concern with media violence and sex, but we ignore what for many is media addiction. This behavioural addiction is difficult to fight, absorbs billions of hours and leads to serious personal disabilities. These levels of viewing are changing us, and especially our children. Ordinary human activities, like talking, thinking, relating and seeing, are being damaged.
We tend to relate educational standards only to what happens in schools. This is largely true of OFSTED. This study shows the extent to which teachers are fighting against media-induced disabilities in children.
Media addiction is not accidental. Media companies want captive audiences. They use manipulative techniques to hook us, while declaring they are giving us freedom. This is now exploitative, and an issue of justice.

The Movement for Christian Democracy is a Christian Political Movement whose guiding principles are Social Justice, Compassion, Good Stewardship, Respect for Life, Reconciliation and Empowerment. Dr Alan Storkey is chair of MCD.
Movement for Christian Democracy
Discussion Paper

Media Addiction, Children and Education

Alan Storkey

Big Picture Christianity

1. The Christian World Presence.

About 2.3 billion Christians are found around the world in most countries and continents. In cultures not historically Christian, like China, there are at least 50 million. In others, like Russia, where persecution has taken place, Christianity has returned strongly since 1990. Of course, these groups are different in language, culture and often outlook, but there is a great deal they share. The Bible has been translated into almost all languages and most Christian worldwide interact with it often at least once a week. There is a focus on the teaching and life of Christ at the centre of their faith and they meet and share their lives in varying degrees.

The model of Christian growth around the world is also not quite accurate. It is sometimes seen as spread with western colonialism. But that is not fully true even in the Roman Empire. Christianity spread through migration often, and more especially through missionaries, perhaps the most ignored group in human history. The Spanish Empire was substantially a conquest of state and religion, but many missionaries went beyond imperial boundaries, were outside the patterns of conquest and even worked against the imperial power from which they had come. The New Testament model of “go and tell” spread the Christian faith mainly on the basis of coming to faith as a communal and personal matter.

A further aspect of the Christian presence, often ignored, is of the level of persecution and suppression present throughout the 20th century and until the present. In Germany the Kulturkampf signalled a determination to subject Catholicism to the prior loyalty of the State. The Communist Revolution was ideologically secular aiming to eradicate Christianity from the USSR after 1918. The Nazis attacked the Churches and replaced it with a Nazi Church, and Mussolini similarly brought the Catholic Church under the Italian State. This pattern was extended to the Eastern European block after 1945 and the Chinese Communist Revolution had a similar focus. Throughout much of the later 20th century Christianity has been substantially repressed in the Muslim world right up to the present. This makes the two billion figure remarkable.

The other dominant perception of Christianity is of churches and denominations which divide its loyalties. Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant groups were followed by a spate of Protestant denominations and them more recently Pentecostal and Charismatic groups. These groups, it is suggested, inhibit the sharing and commonality of Christians, just as different loyalties are present in Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. There is some truth to this, but it may be changing. For example, the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism at the Reformation have effectively been buried in recent Encyclicals, and denominations work together at all kinds of levels. More than this, the denominational difference which seemed so toxic in earlier centuries are now of little or less import. Most Christians value and enjoy the contributions of other Christian traditions in teaching, faith, music, worship, thinking and community, rather than seeing it in oppositional terms. The globalisation of contemporary culture makes these patterns of Christian international contact easier and they are happening on an enormous scale. A Christian friend flies in from New Zealand on her way to a tree nursery in Uganda which she mentors that has now produced a million trees. Vast patterns of Christian co-operation are underway that seldom hit the headlines.

In truth Christianity has been global in intent since Jesus invited Christians to go into all the world to share the Gospel and global Christianity has developed through mission, translation, education, hospitals, aid and a range of other patterns of co-operation and sharing. Now global Christianity has come and we are entitled to ask what it looks like. It is not a pattern of conquest, though some earlier Christians made that mistake. It sadly has and does involve some persecution though really Christianity offers no threat. It is a worldview and faith within which people live, and the challenge today is expressing and understanding the scope of its significance in world history as well as within the lives of us ordinary Christians. This piece tries to paint the picture.

Understanding the Early Nazis

grosz

Around the world the Nazis are understood as the personification of evil, and rightly so. The Holocaust was the most evil act ever and the people who did it are beyond understanding, because entering in to understand them, let alone provide an excuse for them, is to give evil a rationale it cannot have and to grieve the Jewish people who mainly carried their arrogant hate. But this descent into hell had a backstory as they now say. It included the extreme forced labour of the War, the persecution of Jews from 1933 onwards, after earlier hostility and abuse. It included the failure of the Geneva Disarmament Conference and the impact of the Great Depression on Germany, the weaknesses of the Weimar Republic. It included the funding from Fritz Thyssen and other arms merchants and rich industrialists, and the funding of Thyssen by the Harriman Bank and Prescott Bush, the provision of weapons from the States, the early backing of Henry Ford, another anti-Semite, and of Ludendorff, who pretended that the Wehrmacht had been stabbed in the back. It also included a hardening against God and obedience to the Sixth Commandment. This history has been worked over by many historians and all these contributions show aspects of how evil develops. But there is one area, perhaps a crucial one, which has perhaps not been fully recognised.

Shell-shock, or PTSD, as it now tends to be called comes from traumas like being engaged in war, bombing, fighting, sexual violence, devastation and destruction. Estimates of the number of combatants effected run from 5-30%. Given the nature of the Great War, especially in the trenches, the numbers then are not likely to be below 20%. Given 50 million fighting, there were an estimated ten million shell-shocked soldiers. Some were just gibbering wrecks because shell explosions were in their brains. Others, the more gentle ones, retreated into silence and often suicide. We need to know how real this is. A BBC documentary last week said eleven US veterans a day commit suicide. In the UK it is about one a week. Fine loving men end their lives, because war has done it to them. Some stay with hate and aggression, for that is what war, and the Great War is about. Germany, attacking and attacked on all fronts, had some 13 million under arms, and 20% of these is at least two million suffering PTSD. Let us say that 10% of these take the aggressive form of this illness. This is some two hundred thousand who are available to the early Nazis.

Hitler, of course, was gassed and injured in the thigh in WW1. He was probably suffering PTSD, and hardened into hate and fixated self-belief in his Fight. He then gathered up the aggressive shell-shocked, those still locked in fighting. They wanted to march, to have weapons, to find the enemy, to attack, because that was the only sense available to them. Hitler gathered money from the rich, including Henry Ford until 1923 and others who wanted an army to fight revolutionary socialism, and gave these men a pittance every day so that they could survive. He gave them the Jews and Socialist to blame, and the same answer as was available during the War – to hate and kill. All of this occurred in a poverty ravaged country, with rampant inflation caused by the borrowing of war to finance the arms companies like Krupp and Thyssen, with limbs missing, sex suddenly predatory, young workers dead, a vast army disbanded and a nation in chaos through war defeat, famine and lethal flu.

We cannot see what it was like, except through the work of George Grosz, a great artist who shows us the horror of that time. We are remembering the Armistice of the Great War, the War to end all Wars. The emphasis is on the sacrifice. We are sentimental about the end of the war. But wars do not end war. Those who take the sword continue to die by it. One hundred years ago, inside the heads of tens and hundreds of thousands in Germany, France, Britain, Russia, Turkey, Italy and elsewhere the War went on, as PTSD or War Trauma, expressed in Fascism, funded by the Rich. This was the entrenched seat of the cancer of hate which could not be shifted. The tragedy, as I note in War or Peace, is this generation, the World War One PTSD people, would have been through the political system in a few years’ time, old men damaged by the Great War but now not shaping world events. Sadly, that did not happen because the great Geneva Disarmament Conference of 1932 was sabotaged by the arms companies. The frozen rage of WW1 PTSD erupted into the Second World War and the Holocaust.

The warning is that our bombing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen is repeating the same process.

St Peter’s Church, Coton: One Hundred Years’ Remembrance Sermon.

WW1

The text today is Jesus’ words. “Those who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

WE HONOUR THE WAR DEAD.
We are gathered here to remember and honour our dead and injured in the Great War, perhaps a million dead and 1.6 million wounded. We remember and honour them, in particular those on our Memorial. We think of their bravery, care for one another, selflessness, concern to protect us and sacrifice themselves, even unto death. As Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for his friends.” Many of these men and women sacrificed themselves all the way for us, and we honour them, and we are grateful to all the British Legion does for present veterans of the armed forces.

CAN WE ALSO CRITICIZE WAR?
Does honouring these people make it impossible to criticize War? Perhaps not, for five reasons.

1. THE MEN THEMSELVES DID. Volunteers had been told they would be home before Christmas; the real long war was very different. The Christmas Truce suggested by the Pope taught many that playing football across No Man’s Land with the Huns, was far more sensible than being dismembered in the rat-infested trenches by a thundering barrage of explosions. Many resented being cannon fodder and wanted out. Nothing justified the Somme, Verdun, Passchendaele and men going over the top to be ripped apart by machine guns. Patriotism was, as Wilfred Owen called it, “ The Old Lie”. Also, millions of mothers, sweethearts, children knew that the war was not honestly presented or worth it for those they mourned. It promised winning, but all sides lost.

2. THE SILENT ONES. We also owe it to two silent groups. First, those who died. After death, they had no voice, no votes. We have been silent, remembering them, for two minutes, but they were silenced for ever. They went to fight, not to die, and even those who faced death willingly for his country, like our neighbour, Rupert Brooke, might see things differently when the time came; he died on the way over to Gallipoli. These people are silent in our history.

So, too, were many of the shell-shocked, the PTSD, people. We do not see the scale of this problem. Now PTSD is identified in 5-30% of combatants in various studies. Say we look at a conservative figure of 10-15% of 50 million unkilled combatants – that is 5-7.5 million shell shocked or PTSD soldiers. WW1 was possibly the worst of all wars for this. Sometimes these people were gibbering wrecks or just silent. Sometimes they fumed into hate, like shell-shocked Hitler, who was injured and gassed. Last week a US veteran killed 12 people gratuitously. PTSD can be dangerous.

Indeed, we should recognize the contribution PTSD made to the NAZI Movement. Hitler gathered people like himself, made them a quasi-military movement, with weapons, gave them objects of hate and a pittance of daily pay that he received from the rich. My guesstimate is that Germany had one to two million PTSD soldiers and perhaps 100-200,000 with anger and aggression problems, an ample number of feed Hitler’s vicious movement. Look at the pictures and writing of George Grotz; it is recorded there. The Nazi stormtroopers institutionalised WW1 shell-shock anger and aggression and turned it on the Jews. War begets war. Those who take the sword continue to perish by the sword.

But often the shell-shocked remained in silence, covering the hell they had experienced, seeing murder, being ordered to murder and living on the edge of death. They too were and are unheard. Recent documentaries mentioned that one British ex- soldier a week commits suicide and eleven US veterans a day. We will remember them and their experience of war.

3. MILITARISM AND WAR IS THE BIGGEST FAILED EXPERIMENT ON THE PLANET.
Again, on most assessments, Militarism is the world’s greatest failed experiment. From the Great War there have been some two hundred million war dead and even more seriously injured, mainly the young. Some 10-20% of all economic activity has been wasted. Destruction, poverty, and tens of millions of refugees have been visited on the planet. We have committed to militarism because the arms companies have pushed it, but we have been destroyed by it. We have taken the sword and perished by the sword. WW1 was followed by a flu epidemic started among the troops and spread as they returned home across the world. It killed 50-100 million more people, tragedy upon tragedy. WW2 was worse, and we have only to remember George W. Bush’s stupid Mission Accomplished Speech about Iraq in 2003; the region is still in chaos. Contrary to what the arms companies say, wars do not work and they are devastating the world. Militarism is a lie, as real soldiers and the bombed know. It pollutes the planet with 10% of our CO2 and disperses poverty, famine and death. It is the Four Horses of the Apocalypse – Conqueror, War, Famine and Death.

4. WARS NEED NOT HAPPEN. Wars are not fought for territory since the end of empires. They are fought over weapons. “Those who take the sword perish by the sword.” The First World War was preceded by four arms races pushed by the arms companies; one of them sparked and the War blew up. The role of the arms companies in WW1 has been suppressed almost completely in our remembrances. We and the French armed Russia, so that Germany faced hostility from both sides, as Lloyd George recognised. Our arms companies repeatedly lied about German rearmament to increase their own contracts. Hear Lord Edward Grey, possibly the best authority on why the war started. “The enormous growth of armaments in Europe, the sense of insecurity and fear caused by them – it was these that made war inevitable. This is the warning to be handed on.” Hear Lloyd George, “Thus great armaments made war.” Dozens of great people, including Gladstone, Campbell Bannerman and Keir Hardie identified the problem of the arms and naval companies pushing people towards war. The false Dreadnought scare “We want eight and we won’t wait” became a public frenzy.

Ah, you say, “What about World War Two?”. There were more than a hundred American companies in Berlin selling weapons too the Nazis in 1935 and the Americans were even paying for Hitler’s arms with vast loans. And that was after the arms companies had strangled the Great Disarmament Conference of 1932 when it was moving towards success and would have prevented Hitler coming to power. Hitler was supported by Fritz Thyssen part of the German arms machine, as the Kaiser had been supported by Krupp. Arms companies need wars, but they can be prevented. We armed Saddam and he went to War. We disarmed Saddam and we went to war because the arms companies wanted it. So, these vast millions need not have died. The arms companies, militarists and politicians pretend not, but wars can be stopped. We have convinced ourselves that individual murder is a crime, but been brainwashed to accept mass murder is OK. We are taught that militarism is realistic and peace is idealistic, but actually the opposite is true. No weapons: no War. Peace works in Coton without us each having guns under our pillows. Stopping war requires closing down weapons, and it can be done.

5. OUR MEMORY OF THE WAR IS ROMANTICIZED. Finally, we remember our dead. There were 888,246 poppies outside the Tower of London. But we do not remember or add up those we killed, probably a similar number or more; in all the memories of today they will be hardly mentioned. Soldiers are trained to kill; it is practised on the firing range up the road. Thankfully there are standards and principles of warfare, but the enterprise is organised murder. Usually soldiers do not want to kill, but they are following orders – our orders. Britain has been an aggressor in most of the countries of the world and has killed there on a vast scale.

So, the whole world-wide enterprise of militarism, fermented by the arms companies and the militarists, is a vast destructive failure. We have been brainwashed by them into buying this $5-10 trillion a year tragedy across the globe. We gloss the reality with nostalgia, and bury the truth. Out of respect for the dead, the Great War and all our wars, cannot be sanctified. More than that militarism must be fully ended. The planet requires that it is.

The prophet, Isaiah, already saw the problem and solution two and a half thousand years ago. It requires swords into ploughshares and that people do not learn war any more. It requires unconditional respect for God’s commandment, “Thou shalt not kill”. The tools of killing, armaments, are similarly evil, always destructive and never capable of good. But it is to Jesus that we must look, far beyond the warning that those who take the sword are destroyed by it.

SO WE LISTEN TO JESUS FOR THE FULL PICTURE. For Christian peace is a whole worldview. It dethrones power as control, domination and the threat of attack. Right at the beginning Jesus resisted the temptation to go for control and power over the kingdoms of this world and charted a different way.

We are to love our enemies and try to understand what the other side is on about; perhaps they are terrorists because we have bombed their countries to bits.
We are to settle quarrels early as the Sermon on the Mount teaches us.
We are to make peace; it is an active, blessing process.
We are to allow our peace to rest on others, to establish relationships of peace. We will never threaten, the common currency of today’s politics. Giving peace and being trusted costs nothing and can go round the world.
We are not to fear those who kill our bodies, but only fear God. This disarms the hold the militarists try to have on us through fear. “Do not fear.” insists Jesus.
We are to put away weapons, disarm, turn swords into ploughshares, refuse conflict, reconcile with one another. As Paul added, The armour we put on is justice, peace, truthfulness and faith.
We are to live law-abiding lives, as Bush and Blair failed to do when they invaded Iraq.
We are to understand that power is the power to do good and serve rather than control. Worldwide, we dismiss superpower self-importance and the military games they play, and recognize that the gentle Lamb is on the Throne, a threat to no-one.

Over two billion Christians world-wide implicitly understand this. Now we must be explicit for world multilateral disarmament.

World Disarmament is far easier than our present World Armament. It saves death, trillions, cuts poverty, restores economies, cuts CO2. It is God’s way for us. We all agree to cut military expenditure by 10% a year for a decade until it is all gone, policed by the UN. We all quit weapons. It nearly happened in 1932. It can happen now. There are 2.3 billion Christians around the world and we could do it. Faith can move mountains. We need the gentle rule of Christ to replace the aggressive superpowers and arms interests who run world politics. We little people must do it, because the arms companies and the military are inside most governments. Supreme Allied Commander and then President Eisenhower, a Christian, said it. “I believe that the people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than any governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days, governments had better get out of their way and let them have it.”

Those who pay lip-service to Christianity but do not do it in world affairs need to be held to account. We owe it to the dead we now remember. We need to mobilize Christians for disarmament across the globe. “My peace I leave with you”, said Jesus. Already we are two thousand years late.

HOW THE CHURCHES HAVE LEARNED NOT TO DO PEACE, BUT CAN START WORLD DISARMAMENT IF THEY WAKE UP.

1932peacepetition

THE CHURCHES CHOKE ON PEACE.

Nobody can doubt that Christianity and the Bible major on Peace – peace with God, peace with yourself, with your neighbour, and nation shall speak peace unto nation. Christians follow the Prince of Peace. They are called to be peacemakers, pass peace on one to another, love enemies and get rid of weapons. But the Church has lost its voice for peace, especially peace between nations and disarmament. Why is this so? There seem to be four inadequate reasons and we consider each of them in turn.

(a) FOR COUNTRY AND MAYBE GOD.
The first is Patriotism. Nationalism has dominated much of the history of Europe for five hundred years, and frequently it has asked people to put the State first, before God, before what is right, and before the Christian faith – my Country, right or wrong. When wars have come, bishops, archbishops and churches have trimmed their sails to the patriotic cause. For god and Country becomes a loyalty call and god is on our side. The God of the whole earth is presented as pro-British or pro-American. God and My Right, says the motto, as if god was My Left. There have been fights over patriotism, but usually the churches have toed the line, siding with the nation, accepting arms, war and even going along with the conquest of empire and strategic interest. A line of Christians have been courageous in opposing patriotic nationalism and its evils, but often even “nonconformist” churches have concurred when their loyalty to the State is questioned. The Church of England and other national and established churches all too easily compromise into the national agenda, providing (good) chaplains to the forces and accepting the fear and aggression of modern military policy as necessary statecraft. Overall the christian faith has been subdued into patriotism as its greater loyalty rather than to the teaching and ways of Christ. We put aside the Gospel evidence showing Jesus as an unpatriotic Jew who demanded the deeper loyalty to God, himself and to people of every race and nation.

(b) THE CHURCH IN A BOX.
Second, christianity has been pushed into a church ghetto by Secularism. Christians do worship, prayers and stuff in church services, but the christian faith is to be kept in the building. Peace is peace in your hearts and a peck or handshake for the Christian sitting next to you, not PEACE out there in the big wide world. Theology becomes individual theology of conversion, atonement and sanctification, and God becomes a private thought. Everywhere else Christians must be secular. We have been put in a box and have closed the lid ourselves. Especially, “religion” and politics don’t mix. So, defence, weapons, war and politics are not the explicit concern of Christianity, but just in some outpost called ethics or staecraft. The Church of England is allowed to do some public rituals, but should keep out of everything else.

This position has emerged over a long period. It has been done to us. Politicians have often needed to cut out public issues of conscience, sin, evil, pride, judgement, fairness, guilt, repentance, confession, restitution and forgiveness. The Church represented these and had to be pushed from the public square. Autocratic rulers – hating accountability before God – have sought to silence the Church, and by and large they have succeeded. Judgement has still happened in war after war, but at least they have avoided facing it before God for a while. Or rather, since judgement is often what we do to ourselves despite the warnings of God, the rulers have been able to justify failures time and again without recognising what was wrong, and history has become one damned war after another. Prophets were not popular in the Old Testament holding rulers to account, and the Church has been similarly banished and pushed from the public political arena. We should not be surprised. But we have acquiesced and become timid and polite. We willingly call a spade a large flattened teaspoon. We think ourselves daring when we remember casualties (that bogus word) on all sides, not just our own. So, gradually the churches have learned to be irrelevant, light candles and argue about styles of worship.

(c) WE REMEMBER THEM IN SILENCE.
Third, there is Remembrance Day. The Church of England does Remembrance Day, though, as bishops complained at the time, there was no cross on the Cenotaph. All over the country We Remember Them in their tens and hundreds on war memorials in churches and churchyards throughout the land. The British Legion, rightly concerned with the honour of the dead and the needs of injured and needy soldiers, poppifies the event. Remembering the dead is difficult. Especially the loved ones need to believe their dying was a valid sacrifice, otherwise they might rail in madness. We quickly put the label sacrifice over all deaths in war, with an echo of Christ, and the churches maintain this sacred ritual.

Silently, “We Remember Them”, wrapping their loss in reverent Anglican rituals. Two minutes of inarticulate silence wraps up the War Dead of a hundred years in unqualified respect and national honour. This year we re- remember the 994,138 British dead of The First World War, perhaps the further sixteen million who also died and the twenty two million seriously injured. We think of the fifty million, minimum, who died of flu induced and spread by the poverty and famine of War and perhaps include the shell-shocked survivors. We are numbed into silence, seemingly for a good reason. You cannot honour soldiers and rubbish war. The Church of England chooses to do the former with dignity and restraint and not the latter.

Except millions of those who fought did do both. They were brave, but not unto death. They hated war and industrial murder. They knew their “enemies”, were also trapped in the War; for they had shaken hands in the Christmas truce. For almost all the millions of dead, nothing was worth the dying; it was forced on them by orders, often senseless, and by shells, gas, mud, rats, bayonets and bullets, the tools of death promoted by the merchants of death. The boundless optimism and patriotism of 1914 and Rupert Brooke had bittered into “When this bloody War is over.” Our sacred Remembrance is not theirs.

But it was more than this. Millions knew the Great War was unnecessary and should not have happened. The list includes Lloyd George, Keir Hardie, Lord Grey, Pope Benedict XV, Woodrow Wilson and many more. They knew that the escalation of arms, scares and the work of the munitions people with politicians had generated the confrontation. They knew the War, every War, was blindingly stupid and therefore built disarmament for all into the Treaty of Versailles. The horror of war, the waste of people, families, homes, infrastructure, work and living caused by war meant it should be banished from human affairs. Often, of course, those who knew war was pointless lost their voice because they were dead or shell-shocked. The Post War Wise know the truth. But the bishops and churches remain stuck on “We Will Remember Them” with a reverential silence and do not engage with militarism, disarmament and weapon capitalism, now a world-wide epidemic.

(d) PACIFISM OR JUST WAR THEORY?
Fourth, there is church thinking. For a century and more church thinkers have discussed Pacifism and Just War Theory. Either you reject war, weapons, and fighting and become a Conscientious Objector, or you support Just War Theory, accepting war is sometimes necessary when it is justified by the aggression of others. Most Anglicans are the latter, and pacifists become those who do not pull their weight and leave others to fight. And so, the two groups trade ethical points at the corner of a field while the action is elsewhere.

But notice what has happened. The powerful have learned to ignore both positions. War can always be justified in one way or another, and the just war theorists are pushed aside. Much of the problem is Just War Theory thinks only about War when it is an immediate issue and not about the Militarism which is going on all the time. Do you really think all the militaries around the world can be practicing war all the time, and war not happen? Would millions practice football without sometimes playing football? To carry on the analogy, Just War Theorists are like someone turning up at a football match a minute before the start, saying a linesman is missing, and ignoring the match practice, the travel, the league and the rivalry; the match will go on.

And it is not as though the Church is clear. When Tony Blair was invading Iraq in a war which was illegal under international law against an unarmed foe based on a lie, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, spoke up, but the rest of the Anglican establishment was as a wet rag. Just War theory is only wheeled out after the vast Military Industrial Complexes across the world are ready, a cart among tanks, and the War is starting anyway. Perhaps just one more war will sort it out…

At the same time, pacifism has become an individual protest, an act of conscience, of withdrawal from the scene. Pacifists are merely a gnat which needs swatting. They can easily be dismissed as the wet ones who will not pull their weight, who run away from the fighting, who ignore the realities of the situation. Compared with the realities of armed forces, missiles, espionage, terrorism, superpowers and war itself, pacifists are flies on the windscreen, distractions which need wiping away. Thus, the Church can be easily ignored; we debate two bankrupt positions seemingly of no influence.
So, the Church of England and others churches – too ponderous, it seems, to act decisively in any area of public policy – have been pulled into ineffectiveness on peace and disarmament by these and other factors. It is a severe indictment, yet the more so because militarism and war is steadily engulfing the world. We need to wake up, think strategically, recover the full Gospel understanding of peace and mobilise for what peace fully means.

THE REAL PACIFIST WARFARE AND CHRIST.
I still remember the shock of meeting real Pacifism. Tolstoy is the world’s greatest novelist, but he did not care. It was as nothing to the teaching of Christ on peace. He ripped into the stupidity of the military system – teaching mass murder as a great virtue – while individual murder was the greatest sin. He paraded the military vanity of the Kaiser claiming the loyalty of his troops to kill even their families, because he commanded them. He held the waste of war and arming up like shit on a pitchfork, and he wrote about the obscenities of the Crimean War as they were and the emptiness of military prowess. A man looks down and, lo, his leg is gone. Well done, War. We spend billions injuring one another and then billions more patching people up and giving them war pensions. He honoured the Doukabours who had a party and bonfire to burn the Tsar’s rifles and turn down being conscripted, and wrote his greatest novel, Resurrection, to rescue them. Tolstoy and other great Pacifists addressed the frenzy of madness which is war and the venality of those who promoted it – the arms companies, the merchants of death. How do we fall for it – marching out to get shot and have a cheap posthumous medal? Pacifism is not an individual withdrawal, but addresses the stupidity and destruction of the whole military enterprise.

Then we realise that Pacifism, as Christ taught it, similarly demolishes the whole military system into the heap of garbage it is. Jesus puts an earthquake under militarism. Right at the beginning he turns down the gain of any Kingdom based on doing evil – the greatest political temptation of all. He nails the consequences of going for violence: “Those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” The Romans are put in their place – “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s (a small coin) and render unto God what is God’s – everything.” He requires his followers to take up the cross, the instrument of Roman domination, and carry it. He negates the militarists’ central power. “Do not fear those who can kill the body.” He requires us to love our enemies, cutting out the silly and disastrous national enmities out of which wars grow and let peace be with us.

Jesus was deliberate; he replaced the Roman warhorse conqueror coming into Jerusalem with a parody – himself with his feet scarcely off the ground on an immature donkey, but it was more than that. The deliberate reference was to Zechariah 9: 9-10
See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the and from the River to the ends of the earth.
This was no local change but a world-wide transformation aimed at empires and conquest. Jesus addressed not just aggression, but the anger out of which aggression comes. He set up a model of peace – replacing marauding soldiers collecting taxes. The disciples were to go out passing out peace to households. If they were willing peace was to rest on them. Peace was to spread – simple, costless, one by one. Only the way of peace makes sense. Peace can be made, passed on and the whole world can put the LAMB on the throne. Peace, the peace of Jesus, can be with us, spread, and our sins, real as they are, can be addressed without the further evil of weapons. It is not even very complicated. The Gospel of peace for all is inescapably part of the Christian message and it is big.

But it also involves conflict. Matthew 10 describes the character of it. Christians go out as sheep among wolves, innocent as doves, but wise as serpents. The fight is about the principle of power. Is it the great false principle of control, intimidation, military conquest, slavery and accumulating wealth or the gentle power of God’s spirit of love, peace, service, meekness and wisdom? Are leaders servants or those who demand service and subordination? So, Christ fights, not with a sharp two-edged sword, but with the words which come from his mouth. We see this conflict escalate in the Gospels where the Roman, Herodian and Temple rulers, relying on killing and violence, decide they have to kill this Man of Peace, and so they do. The cross of military power is defeated in the Resurrection of Christ and the coming of the gentle Kingdom of God – no domination, but the handshake kingdom where nation speaks peace unto nation. Peace is not an ideal, but the only sensible way to live, and the way in which all good communities do live. Peace can spread to every tribe and nation, we just deliberately pass it on and do it. Now more than two billion people trust and follow this man. Unlike the F35 fighter, peace does not cost $1 trillion a throw – peace, law, making friends and sorting out quarrels without threats just works. Of course, the militarists will portray peacemakers as a danger, but we are called to stick with it as sheep among wolves and end this blot on humanity. Pacifism is out to close down the whole militaristic show and that is why it is feared; obviously being nice to one another is more dangerous than competitive nuclear threats.

CLOSING DOWN DISARMAMENT TALK WORLDWIDE.
Extraordinarily, this pacifism, the true pacifism, has been slowly chased off the scene. It begins with Jean Jaures being assassinated to allow WW1 to proceed, continues with the intimidation of Conchies, with Pope Benedict being ostracized and vilified for suggesting the Great War might be a tragedy and proposing the Christmas Truce. We see it after the Great 1932 Geneva Disarmament Conference had been sabotaged by the militarists. We see it after Hitler had been plied with American loans to help him arm, after the Reds Under the Bed scare guaranteed we continued to have an enemy after 1945 and Paul Robeson and many others were seen as a danger to the United States for being friendly with Russia. We see it with Churchill, the great militarist, naming appeasement as the ultimate sin in all modern history. We see the Cold War talked up, and lied up, by the militarists. We see it after the militarists have done everything to make pacifism unthinkable to ordinary people, because it could kill their business dead. They talk complex military languages and arm themselves to the teeth in and talk in a sophisticated way about weapons in the understanding that they are safer when everybody is armed, while the silly ol’ people of Norwich walk about the city thinking they are safer without guns. Real Pacifism has been scrubbed off the map, and the churches have colluded in this. Christ’s great Good News of peace blessing ordinary people everywhere has been closed down by the military-industrial complex, fat cats making vast profits everywhere, and employing every sales move in the book from bribery to fear. Every war is a public relations triumph: “See you need more weapons.” Not, “Weapons inevitably precipitate wars.” Real Pacifism must not be talked about.

Yet, in reality we now live in an interdependent world where wars of conquest and occupation are mainly unthinkable. The global warming caused by militarism and war damages the planet. The waste of militarism runs into many trillions each year, but we must not think about disarmament and peace, because the arms people have sewn up world politics. But, really, their way is precarious and dangerous, and it need not be like this.

THE CHURCH CAN BE STRATEGIC.
Most church people are nice. They aim not to offend, confess their sins once a week or more and try to live a good life, to be innocent as doves, as Jesus asked them to. But Jesus also invited them to be as shrewd as snakes, to be aware and ready, to read the times. Often we nice Christians ignore this emphasis – a very strong one in Jesus’ teaching – to be strategic. I’ve spent fifteen years studying this area and am going to suggest a strategic overview, so that we know where we are going and can act fast. The points are not particularly original or difficult to agree with, but taken together they point to the strategic conclusion we might be seeking..

1. MILITARISM IS GROWING. World military spending is now some 70% higher than at the end of the Cold War and looks to increase further. Sophisticated arms industries in the US, UK, Russia, France, China, Japan and other states are expanding and supplying most countries with lethal arrays of weapons. Companies push their wares avidly and expansion has come mainly through creating chaos in the Middle East and resuming the Cold War.

2. THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX IS INSIDE GOVERNMENT. The military and arms companies are (undemocratically) inside most governments, especially the heavily armed members of the UN Security Council. The military-industrial complex is in political and media control, and shapes most of the public reporting with scares, distrust, nationalist themes and rumours of wars.

3. ARMS ARE THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SOLUTION. THEY CAUSE MOST WARS. Arms, not territorial gain, cause most wars. WW1 was precipitated by four arms races. Arms pressure in the 1920s and 30s opened the way for Hitler. The Cold War was about arms. The flooding of the Middle East with arms (for oil) has made much of it into an area of failed, war-ridden states. Both Iraq Wars were caused by arms. ISIS was founded on looted western arms. More arms mean more danger. If nothing is done, arms sales and macho politics will cause more wars, deaths and devastation. Refugees (50-70M now) and dire poverty will be even more serious and insoluble. Big power confrontations could destroy much of the world. Buying and selling the problem (arms) just causes a bigger problem.

4. MILITARISM IS THE BIGGEST FAILED EXPERIMENT ON THE PLANET. Yet this direction is an obvious catastrophic failure. It has caused 200 million deaths this last century and wasted perhaps 10-20% of all economic activity on the planet. Most people, given space to reflect, know wars and arming do not work especially if they have direct experience of war. All sides lose wars. All States waste vast resources through militarism; military expenditure brought down the USSR. The power to destroy is no power at all to thinking people. All countries, except the US, have a policy of internal disarmament because it is safer; the same policy can apply internationally. In an inter-dependent world, militarism is tragically stupid; weapons have shot their bolt.

5. MILITARISM IS NOT AS STRONG AS IT SEEMS. Militarism seems very successful – new weapons, new technologies of war, scares about terrorism, wars which last decades, the military inside governments, but it is not as powerful as it seems. First, its products can only destroy and have to be sold through scares, hype, bribery and intrigue. Second, the bogus hype around the Iraq War means some/most people have some distrust of the system and see the manipulation on which the arms system runs. Third, everyone now through television can see the damage of weapons and war, and fourth any halt in arms purchasing stalls the business strongly; it is prone to periodic recession. Like Dagon gods fall, and the blind god of military might is due a toppling.

5. MOST OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION IS, OR COULD BE, FOR PEACE AND DISARMAMENT, were they not frightened by the militarists and told peace is not practical. Vast industries of fear, east and west, keep this fragile militarism in place, while the old nationalist and patriotic idea of enemy is merely a myth for the military while the races mingle. In November 2018 the World’s population will reflect on the War to End all Wars and the possibility of peace. Football across no man’s land is now much more sensible than going back to the trenches.

6. FULL WORLD MULTILATERAL DISARMAMENT – ARMING DOWN – IS EASIER AND MORE PRACTICAL THAN ARMING UP. If all nations disarm together, threats, dangers, costs and damage fall for all, and no-one needs “defence”. A clear proposal for DECREASING MILITARY SPENDING IN ALL STATES BY 10% A YEAR FOR A DECADE UNTIL IT IS ALL GONE creates the framework. It makes eminent sense for all, except the militarists. It needs backing by open and required inspection, a (decreasing) UN police force and a subsidized end to arms production. Immediately, the peace bonus kicks in for all countries, and threats diminish. Evaders can be punished. Deliberate world-wide disarmament is not difficult if the major powers back it together and work with the United Nations.

7. THE MILITARY MUST NOT BE IN CHARGE. Disarmament was proposed seriously in 1899, 1907, 1918, 1932 and the 1960s, but never actually tried, because the military-industrial complex sabotaged it and dominated political leadership. Especially in the 1932 Geneva Disarmament Conference the military establishment and arms company agents stopped President Hoover’s radical disarmament plan. Turkeys do not vote for Christmas. The military-industrial complex will try every which way to stop disarmament. Disarmament will be a fight against them, but not to kill and maim. Similarly, the militarists cannot be in charge of implementing it; They will create problems to break it down, though they owe it to their soldiers not to. Reliable political control of the military is a necessity.

8. THE ROUTE TO WORLD MULTILATERAL DISARMAMENT, SIDE-STEPPING MILITARY CONTROL, IS POPULAR WORLD-WIDE DEMOCRATIC PETITIONS.
Nobody can really disagree with world multilateral disarmament. It is a commitment to disarm if everybody else does, and does not involve the “danger” of unilateralism. The closest the world came to multilateral disarmament was in January 1932 at the great Geneva Disarmament Conference when petitions of tens of millions were collected. It was thwarted by the arms companies and military interests, despite a very strong and popular proposal from President Hoover to cut world arms immediately by a third. If the disarmament proposal had passed, Hitler would probably not have come to power in 1933. This time we can do better.

Petitions are the strategic route, gathering democratic opinion. Not “petitions” in the sense, “we beg you”, but petitions in the sense, “We the undersigned insist this should happen.” We go round military control of the system. These petitions can grow in every nation, east and west, and we, the little people, can say, “This is where we stand – disarmament for everybody.” Democracy has often become a passive preordained choice every four or five years. With military establishments in charge no normal change will bring disarmament. Petitions, representing voting intentions and solid policy conclusions, can become majority viewpoints and move world-wide. They are solid levers for change and fit the Christian position of standing by faith, rather than “attacking”. When they gain traction, there will be problems with military dictators, superpowers, fearmongers and terrorists, but these problems are far smaller than weapons and war, and can be handled under the rule of law. President Eisenhower stated the possibility in 1958. “I like to believe that people, in the long run, are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”

The Churches must do this thing before it can become a common thought, calling congregations to sign up and creating a solid backing for action. Church structures need to act fast, mobilise ordinary people, make quick decisions and have bold aims to get this on the national and world agenda. There will quickly be allies. The precise action is a request for the UK Government to initiate worldwide multilateral disarmament proceedings at the United Nations. Then, with other initiatives, Christians in Europe, Asia, Africa, South and North America can make worldwide multilateral disarmament hum. Peace must be made, as Jesus said, and we can make it. Faith can move mountains, even the one of world militarism.

9. NOVEMBER 2019 IS A CRUCIAL TIME. The First World War was to be the War to End All Wars, and Disarmament for All was built into the Treaty of Versailles. It was frozen out by the military-industrial establishments and not tried, opening the way for Hitler. Now is the time to plant again, one hundred years late, the deep lesson of this Pointless War and disarm the nations. We, little people, have to do it and you, in your own way, with your friends and contacts, are invited to take it on by word and action. Each person counts for peace. This petition may be the start. You are invited to sign this proposal to the UK Government, multiply signatures to 1,000, 10,000, 100,000, a million until it cannot be ignored and set the ball rolling. Here’s the petition:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/226728

It’s time for Christ’s churches to make peace and to allow the two billion plus Christians worldwide to begin the disarming of the world.

HOW WORLD DISARMAMENT MUST HAPPEN

1932peacepetition

This is a request you sign a petition, but more, it shares a strategy and understanding you may want to own. The points are not new, but putting them on the table together points the way ahead. It’s about addressing the world-wide military situation, something we rarely dare think about, but should. If a thousand or so of us share this strategic understanding and articulate it well before 11/11/2018, things might change quite radically. The points are not original or difficult to agree with.

1. MILITARISM IS GROWING. World military spending is now some 70% higher than at the end of the Cold War and looks to increase further. Sophisticated arms industries in the US, UK, Russia, France, China, Japan and other states are expanding and supplying most countries with lethal arrays of weapons. Companies push their wares avidly.

2. THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX IS INSIDE GOVERNMENT. The military and arms companies are (undemocratically) inside most governments, especially the heavily armed members of the UN Security Council. The military-industrial complex is in political control, and shapes most of the media with scares, distrust, nationalist themes and rumours of wars.

3. ARMS ARE THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SOLUTION. THEY CAUSE MOST WARS. Arms, not territorial gain, cause most wars. WW1 was precipitated by four arms races. Arms pressure in the 1920s and 30s opened the way for Hitler. The flooding of the Middle East with arms (for oil) has made much of it into an area of failed, war-ridden states. Both Iraq Wars were caused by arms. ISIS was founded on looted western arms. If nothing is done, arms sales and macho politics will cause more wars, deaths and devastation. Refugees (50-70M now) and dire poverty will be even more serious and insoluble. Big power confrontations would destroy much of the world.

4. MILITARISM IS THE BIGGEST FAILED EXPERIMENT ON THE PLANET. It has caused 200 million deaths this last century and wasted perhaps 10-20% of all economic activity on the planet. Most people, given space to reflect, know wars and arming do not work especially if they have direct experience of war. All sides lose wars. All States waste through militarism. The power to destroy is no power at all to thinking people. All countries, except the US, have a policy of internal disarmament because it is safer. In an inter-dependent world, militarism is tragically stupid. Weapons have shot their bolt.

5. MOST OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION IS FOR PEACE AND DISARMAMENT, were they not frightened by the militarists and told peace is not practical. Vast industries of fear, east and west, keep this fragile militarism in place, when the old nationalist and patriotic idea of enemy is merely a myth for the military. In November 2018 they will reflect on the War to End all Wars and the possibility of peace. Football across no man’s land is now much more sensible than going back to the trenches.

6. FULL WORLD MULTILATERAL DISARMAMENT – ARMING DOWN – IS EASIER AND MORE PRACTICAL THAN ARMING UP. If all nations disarm together, threats, dangers, costs and damage fall for all, and no-one needs “defence”. A clear proposal for decreasing military spending accepted by all states makes eminent sense for all, except the militarists. It needs backing by open and required inspection, a (decreasing) UN police force and a subsidized end to arms production. War and destruction are impractical, and most of the defence arguments are myths, hiding the fact that aggression does not work. The idea that wars are won is idealised. Deliberate world-wide disarmament is not difficult if the major powers back it together and work with the United Nations.

7. THE MILITARY MUST NOT BE IN CHARGE. Disarmament was proposed seriously in 1899, 1907, 1918, 1932 and the 1960s, but never actually tried, because the military-industrial complex sabotaged it and dominated political leadership. Especially in the 1932 Geneva Disarmament Conference the military establishment and arms company agents stopped President Hoover’s radical disarmament plan. Turkeys do not vote for Christmas. The military-industrial complex will try every which way to stop disarmament. Disarmament will be a fight against them, but not to kill and maim. Similarly, the militarists cannot be in charge of implementing it; They will create problems to break it down, though they owe it to their soldiers not to. Reliable political control of the military is a necessity.

8. THE ROUTE TO WORLD MULTILATERAL DISARMAMENT, SIDE-STEPPING MILITARY CONTROL, IS POPULAR WORLD-WIDE DEMOCRATIC PETITIONS. Look at the picture above. In 1932 they collected tens of millions of signatures for world disarmament and the Geneva Conference met. The arms companies defeated the World Disarmament Proposal by President Hoover and the Conference stalled. Hitler came to power. This time the little people must wise up and win. “We the undersigned insists this should happen.” We go round military control of the system. These petitions can grow in every nation, east and west, and we, the little people, can say, “This is where we stand – disarmament for everybody.” There will be problems with military dictators, superpowers, fearmongers and terrorists, but these problems are far smaller than weapons and war, and can be handled under the rule of law. So world multilateral disarmament and peace must be made, and we can make it, as Jesus suggested. Faith can move mountains, even the one of world militarism.

NOVEMBER 2019 IS A CRUCIAL TIME. The First World War was to be the War To End All Wars, and Disarmament for All was built into the Treaty of Versailles. It was frozen out by the military-industrial establishments and not tried, opening the way for Hitler. Now is the time to learn the deep lesson of this Pointless War and disarm the nations. We, little people, have to do it and you, in your own way, with your friends and contacts, are invited to take it on by word and action. You are invited to sign this proposal to the UK Government, pass it on and undertake your own initiatives. It needs to be 10,000 or 100,000 by the beginning of November to start the process with some élan. We can, one by one, help disarm the world.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/226728

Militarism – The Biggest Failure of Value-Free Economics

warcosts

There is a long critique of economics that looks at the value-free way it totals product, expenditure and income. If I buy, it is expenditure, but if I do unpaid (make a cup of coffee, build a house or help a child grow up) it is economically invisible in most analyses.

More than this we buy “goods”, but lots of them are bads or indifferents for those consumers and perhaps for all consumers – foods, drugs, addictive goods and activities, damaging or dangerous products and activities which spoil relationships or lifestyles. They add to GDP, but really reduce our standard of living. It is not difficult to come up with a list comprising perhaps a fifth of all expenditure of things which are bad, or not good for, the people who buy them.Clearly, this is vastly important to real economics.

We look at, perhaps, the biggest failure of see straight of all value-free economics – the world military system. Let us look at its “value-free” size. Something like $1.7 trillion is directly spent on the military world-wide each year.

But, more than this, perhaps 10% of all government expenditure is gathered around security, espionage, defence, international tensions and the business related to the military. So, for example, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Nuclear Research Agencies, etc are not in the US military budget, and other military budgets must be similarly understated around the world. If world GDP is £83 trillion and Government Expenditure Worldwide is 17%, this extra is $1.4 trillion.

Next we take into account the damage caused by wars and attacks in any year through killing, injury, damage to property, infrastructure, resources and other economic valuables. It is difficult even to guess this. During the World Wars it might have been as high as 20-30% as vast areas were destroyed and dragged back in economic development. Other periods have higher and lower levels of damage and destruction. If we bear in mind that killing a young person takes out perhaps a $1 million of work earnings, these calculations are vast. At a very conservative estimate we could say this figure is 3-5% of GDP.

There are other less tangible figures, like the trading and economic development loss vcaused by militarism and wars, the costs of military and war generation of CO2, perhaps 5% of all CO2 generation, but we exclude these. Overall the costs of these bads are some 6.5% of World GDP, or $5.4 trillion a year – more than the economies of the UK and India together each year.

World disarmament, getting rid of all these costs, and the chronic negative impacts on people’s lives and lands, would be the biggest conceivable benefit to the world economy. We could spend the economies of India and the UK on all kinds of good things. This shows the stupidity of militarism, banging our collective heads against exploding devices, and the eminently sensible route of multilateral world disarmament, MWD.

Of course, those who sell weapons want to hide this reality, so that we can continue attacking and frightening one another, but soon the victims will see through the crack in their visors and start shaking hands with their putative enemies, because spending $1.7 trillion annually on destruction, even if it adds to GDP, is dumb in any language.

A STRATEGY FOR WORLD MULTILATERAL DISARMAMENT

wargrave

This is a request you sign a petition, but more, it shares a strategy and understanding you may want to own. The points are not new, but putting them on the table together points the way ahead. It’s about addressing the world-wide military situation, something we rarely dare think about, but should. If a thousand or so of us share this strategic understanding and articulate it well before 11/11/2018, things might change quite radically. The points are not original or difficult to agree with.

1. MILITARISM IS GROWING. World military spending is now some 70% higher than at the end of the Cold War and looks to increase further. Sophisticated arms industries in the US, UK, Russia, France, China, Japan and other states are expanding and supplying most countries with lethal arrays of weapons. Companies push their wares avidly.

2. THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX IS INSIDE GOVERNMENT. The military and arms companies are (undemocratically) inside most governments, especially the heavily armed members of the UN Security Council. The military-industrial complex is in political control, and shapes most of the media with scares, distrust, nationalist themes and rumours of wars.

3. ARMS ARE THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SOLUTION. THEY CAUSE MOST WARS. Arms, not territorial gain, cause most wars. WW1 was precipitated by four arms races. Arms pressure in the 1920s and 30s opened the way for Hitler. The flooding of the Middle East with arms (for oil) has made much of it into an area of failed, war-ridden states. Both Iraq Wars were caused by arms. ISIS was founded on looted western arms. If nothing is done, arms sales and macho politics will cause more wars, deaths and devastation. Refugees (50-70M now) and dire poverty will be even more serious and insoluble. Big power confrontations would destroy much of the world.

4. MILITARISM IS THE BIGGEST FAILED EXPERIMENT ON THE PLANET. It has caused 200 million deaths this last century and wasted perhaps 10-20% of all economic activity on the planet. Most people, given space to reflect, know wars and arming do not work especially if they have direct experience of war. All sides lose wars. All States waste through militarism. The power to destroy is no power at all to thinking people. All countries, except the US, have a policy of internal disarmament because it is safer. In an inter-dependent world, militarism is tragically stupid. Weapons have shot their bolt.

5. MOST OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION IS FOR PEACE AND DISARMAMENT, were they not frightened by the militarists and told peace is not practical. Vast industries of fear, east and west, keep this fragile militarism in place, when the old nationalist and patriotic idea of enemy is merely a myth for the military. In November 2018 they will reflect on the War to End all Wars and the possibility of peace. Football across no man’s land is now much more sensible than going back to the trenches.

6. FULL WORLD MULTILATERAL DISARMAMENT – ARMING DOWN – IS EASIER AND MORE PRACTICAL THAN ARMING UP. If all nations disarm together, threats, dangers, costs and damage fall for all, and no-one needs “defence”. A clear proposal for decreasing military spending accepted by all states makes eminent sense for all, except the militarists. It needs backing by open and required inspection, a (decreasing) UN police force and a subsidized end to arms production. War and destruction are impractical, and most of the defence arguments are myths, hiding the fact that aggression does not work. The idea that wars are won is idealised. Deliberate world-wide disarmament is not difficult if the major powers back it together and work with the United Nations.

7. THE MILITARY MUST NOT BE IN CHARGE. Disarmament was proposed seriously in 1899, 1907, 1918, 1932 and the 1960s, but never actually tried, because the military-industrial complex sabotaged it and dominated political leadership. Especially in the 1932 Geneva Disarmament Conference the military establishment and arms company agents stopped President Hoover’s radical disarmament plan. Turkeys do not vote for Christmas. The military-industrial complex will try every which way to stop disarmament. Disarmament will be a fight against them, but not to kill and maim. Similarly, the militarists cannot be in charge of implementing it; They will create problems to break it down, though they owe it to their soldiers not to. Reliable political control of the military is a necessity.

8. THE ROUTE TO WORLD MULTILATERAL DISARMAMENT, SIDE-STEPPING MILITARY CONTROL, IS POPULAR WORLD-WIDE DEMOCRATIC PETITIONS. Not “petitions” in the sense, “we beg you”, but petitions in the sense, “We the undersigned insists this should happen.” We go round military control of the system. These petitions can grow in every nation, east and west, and we, the little people, can say, “This is where we stand – disarmament for everybody.” There will be problems with military dictators, superpowers, fearmongers and terrorists, but these problems are far smaller than weapons and war, and can be handled under the rule of law. So world multilateral disarmament and peace must be made, and we can make it, as Jesus suggested. Faith can move mountains, even the one of world militarism.

9. NOVEMBER 2019 IS A CRUCIAL TIME. The First World War was to be the War To End All Wars, and Disarmament for All was built into the Treaty of Versailles. It was frozen out by the military-industrial establishments and not tried, opening the way for Hitler. Now is the time to learn the deep lesson of this Pointless War and disarm the nations. We, little people, have to do it and you, in your own way, with your friends and contacts, are invited to take it on by word and action. You are invited to sign this proposal to the UK Government, pass it on and undertake your own initiatives.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/226728

It needs to be 10,000 or 100,000 by the beginning of November to start the process with some élan. We can, one by one, help disarm the world and make peace.

World War One’s Great Buried Conclusion – World Multilateral Disarmament

lloydgeorgeWW1end

In November this year – the centenary of the end of the Great War – much of the world’s population will be wondering why WW1 was not the “War to end all Wars”. They will probably not hear an answer. Many will be cynical of the very idea. Actually, the policy understood in 1918 by most of the people and world’s statesmen has been pushed off the road of human history, trashed and buried without trace in the national consciousness. It was Multilateral Disarmament and built into the Treaty of Versailles. Germany immediately, but then all nations, were to disarm to secure the end of war and worldwide peace.

Hear some of the world’s leaders on the problem. Here is Lord Grey of Fallodon, British Foreign Secretary for the decade leading into the War, and at the centre of all that was going on. ”The moral is obvious; it is that great armaments lead inevitably to war. There are armaments on one side, there must be armaments on other sides…” He carries on, “But although all this be true, it is not in my opinion the real and final account of the origin of the Great War. The enormous growth in armaments in Europe, the sense of insecurity and fear caused by them – it was these that made war inevitable. This, it seems to me, is the truest reading of history, and the lesson that the present should be learning from the past in the interests of future peace, the waring to be handed on to those who come after us.” Lloyd George came to a similar conclusion.

Even the leading military staff saw the problem and the answer. Field Marshall Sir William Robertson, or Wully to his friends… “I prefer to believe that the majority of people in the world in these days think that war hurts everybody, benefits nobody – except the profiteers – and settles nothing…. As one who has passed pretty well half a century in the study and practice of war, I suggest to you that you should give your support to Disarmament and so do your best to ensure the promotion of peace.” Admiral Lord Wymess: “The evil is intensified by the existence of international armaments rings, the members of which notoriously play into each others’ hands. So long as this subterranean conspiracy against peace is allowed to continue the possibility of any serious concerted reduction of armaments will be remote.” Lord Trenchard, Chief of Air Staff 1919-29 while in post, talking about Multilateral Disarmament: “if I had the casting vote, I would say abolish the Air. I feel that it is an infinitely more harmful weapon of war than any other.” These military men obviously saw World Disarmament as the necessary way ahead.

There were others who had already seen the tragedy that the Great War would bring. With almost prophetic insight, Gladstone saw the way British naval aggrandisement would lead to a great European War. Keir Hardie led the Labour Party with a keen sense of how militarism was pushing Europe to the edge and over it. He desperately trying to prevent the War. Pope Benedict clearly signalled in 1914 the catastrophe the War would bring. Leo Tolstoy railed at the stupidity of spending millions on fighting, as if mass murder was more justified than a single murder. Then those who fought saw war as it was, and poets, artists or ordinary injured soldiers vowed that war should end and those who made the instruments of war should be put out of work and profits.

The American President, Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points Speech was made early in 1918. (and largely ignored in the media in January). After the War, it was built into the Treaty of Versailles. It spoke against secret treaties, indeed the need for any treaties, and armed alliances. It was based on reducing arms to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety, effectively to a policing level. Lenin hoped for this outcome in the war-torn USSR. The people, from king to paupers, looked for Disarmament as the end to War.

They were not proved wrong, but the militarists and war people slipped this policy off the agenda. In the States vast profits had been made out of arms, and the Du Ponts and others made sure that the ailing Wilson’s policy of disarmament would not be tried and quit the League of Nations. Military distrust and hanging on to weapons defeated the disarmament move, not by argument, but by burying the issue in vagueness until 1932 when it was defeated, again through private cabals and, as Noel-Baker who witnessed it argues, the arms companies’ agents. Multilateral Disarmament has been buried, because it is too dangerous for the military-industrial establishments in charge from the late 19th century until now. It brings world peace but the horrific possibility that the merchants of death will sell nothing. It is time now to try swords into ploughshares properly, without the military in charge.