Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Day Two. Book Two.

As used on the famous Nelson Mandela – Underground adventures in the arms and torture trade.
Mark Thomas 2006
Chapter 1 – An answer waiting to happen.

I'd like to thank Hayley for lending me this book. She's probably forgotten I have it and the evidence shows that I've only just opened its pages. I'm glad I have, here is what I have learnt;

Mark Thomas is a very angry man, I knew this already, though only through hearsay, I've never read one of his books or seen one of his shows. The only contact I have had with him is through following him on twitter and an amnesty international podcast where he is interviewed by Robin Ince (it's very informative and amusing, you should listen to it.) I have now resolved to read his books and see his shows because he has a lot of important stuff to say and a very entertaining way of saying it.

This is a book about the arms trade and the first chapter sums up some of the facts in the form of a fictional angry rant on the Jeremy Vine show on bbc radio 2, here are some facts;
Someone is killed with a gun almost once every minute, three quarters of these people are civilians.
60 percent of small arms made by legitimate companies end up in the hands of criminal gangs, rebel groups and civilians. There are 1153 of these companies worldwide, these companies have doubled in the past 40 years.
The UK is the 2nd largest arms dealer in the world, I assume after the US.
I usually hate big lists of statistics but when they're as fucked up as that it's pretty hard to skew them so that they look good.
I never really thought about the other factors that aren't even included in the death count attributed to the arms trade, the women raped at gun point, the millions of people who get caught up in these wars and die of starvation after not being able to earn money to live and the people who die on the way to refugee camps or after they have arrived. Or the 300,000 children forced to fight as soldiers. These people may not be dying or suffering as a result of being shot but it is certainly as a result of guns.
I used to really like David Miliband, mostly because of his Johnny Depp good looks, but now I just want to write him an angry letter. This book was written in 2006 and I haven't seen any enormous stories on the news saying that this has all been reformed so I can only assume that it is still just as bad if not worse.
The main point in setting this chapter in a fictional interview seems to be illustrating the fact that the media as well as the government want to cover all this up, in reality Mark Thomas was ushered out of there before he realised he hadn't made any of the points he wanted to make.
But he has been let to write this book, which is available to buy by any member of the public to read, and yet I'm sure a ridiculous percentage of the population are ignorant to it all. I think informative films about global economy, the arms trade, political prisoners, mass hunger and an infinite list of other important issues should be broadcast in the middle of x-factor instead of a shiny display of products that we couldn't possibly be happy without. We need more people to be educated and to understand the truth of what's out there before they are given the option to form the opinion that Mark Thomas does not have the right to say that British Companies should not be funding the arms trade and therefore not funding half a million deaths a year. It's all so disheartening but I am glad that there are people out there making the effort to air these issues, write these books and organise events to raise awareness and try to do something about it. The key is to reach the masses, not just the tiny left-wing, geeky minority.
Sorry this has turned into some sort of political rant, it has hit a nerve, please go and read it, and whilst you're at visit;
Amensty International
and read about some of the shit that's going on in the world, I know it's depressing and harrowing and awful but it's worse to ignore it.
Sorry for preaching. I think that the most important thing to get from all this aside from the statistics is the fact that it is possible to convey this knoweldge in a funny and entertaining way instead of some harrowing images set to a Coldplay song. Can we please give Mark Thomas his own prime time slot on a Saturday night? It won't solve the world issues but it will be a start to educate Britain.

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