I've seen things you people wouldn't believe

Year: 1990 - ongoing

A collection of over 300 'by night' postcards from around the world.

I've been collecting 'by night' postcards ever since my then childhood friend, James Burgess, sent me one from Frankfurt in Germany in 1990. Back then I simply enjoyed the crap joke for what it was yet from there on in whenever I travelled to a new city or country I would religiously try to find these postcards which are printed completely black and state the name of the place as being depicted by night.

In reality, these depictions are hardly likely to ever be. There is a certain absurdity in knowing that all of the various towns and cities collected will never actually appear to be this dark due to the advent of the electric lightbulb to which we have, as a work force, become prisoner. The only time this might happen now is in a time of catastrophic power failure. To be vulnerable to such darkness presents a terrifying prospect to a global populous now so reliant upon electricity. What these postcards depict, if ever it were a reality, is a power failure akin to an Apocalypse. Every card becomes symbolic of a blackout. As each card from each town and city gets added and the wider the global reach it gathers, the more sinister the collection becomes. In cinema we often see this depicted as a disastrous global phenomenon with city after city going off line indicating each one has succumbed to a catastrophic power failure (no doubt caused by alien invasion rather than the reality of a more nefarious man made scenario it is most likely to be).

The Austrian philosopher - Ivan illich - in his 1978 book 'The right to useful unemployment' deftly articulates that we have, it would seem, allowed ourselves to become beholden to the faceless corporations that supply our electricity; our reliance upon which is at the mercy of market forces and price increases we have absolutely no influence over, all further undermining our own autonomy. The primary way we can have electricity is now by paying for it with money and in so doing ensnare ourselves further to a system that requires us to work in order to accrue money into order to pay for the things that we need.

Nearly two decades have passed since Enron - an American commodities and energy supplier - manipulated the supply of electricity to half of the West Coast of California by getting power stations to switch off at peak times resulting in an 800% price increase and a multi billion pound fraud which we have all but forgotten.

Enron was one of the many favoured corporations that was a member of ALEC (The American Legislative Exchange Council). A conservative led organisation identifying as a non-profit drafting legislative propositions for state and federal distribution that solely act in their member's interests yet has considerable power in influencing the state and federal laws being enacted in one of the biggest capitalist systems in the world - The United States of America. ALEC has recently been hit by rapid exit of its members yet unsurprisingly its remaining members include the NRA (National Rifle Association), EXXON, Glaxo Smith Kline, DuPont and the American Bail Coalition. Both ALEC and The American Bail Coalition have come under the spotlight recently due to their legislative and corporate agendas perpetuating the criminalisation of black people and people of colour and arguably enabling a 21st slavery through mass incarceration (the 2016 film '13th' directed by Ava DuVernay expertly explores this dark underbelly of racial inequality in America).

ALEC remains fully active lobbying hard for its big pharma, big energy and big business members. Their actions reverberate around the world as we, the un/witting consumers, become ever more beholden to the policies they invent as our own legislative and government bodies follow suit enabling the ever increasing power shift from government to big tech and those that operate in Moneyland[1].

With Amazon's Jeff Bezos having recently accrued a staggering 178 billion dollars in personal wealth the division between the poorest and the richest, the most vulnerable to the least and those with privilege and those without, has never been more stark.

The crap joke really is a crap joke.

[1] Moneyland is the financial world created by the super wealthy that enbles the hiding of money whether it be the proceeds of corruption, looted assets or legitimate business and using select laws from whichever country serves their best interests.

The 2019 book 'Moneyland' by Oliver Bullough is described here by the venerated author John Le Carré:'If you want to know why international crooks and their eminently respectable financial advisors walk tall and only the little people pay taxes, this is the ideal book for you. Every politician and moneyman on the planet should read it, but they won't because it's actually about them.'