Sunday, 31 October 2010


I once wrote to Neil Ascherson, out of the blue, commending an essay he had published in the Guardian - A New Century  of Fear, I think;  almost by return of post and unexpectedly came a warm,  personal postcard, gracious and kindly. This is from today's Sunday (Glasgow) Herald. 

So Babylonian is the US-owned Daily Herald that for some years its cyber commenting has been disabled,  the readers were insufficiently respectful of free speech;  who need so rudely query the status quo, it enquired, when we, here, proper skymadeupnewsandfilth journalists and mediabarons,  are happy to question our drinking, dining and holidaying chums in parliament, on behalf of all - don't we play football with them, don't we give each other awards? The Herald titles are crammed to the rafters with gabshites, most of them called Ian.  Ascherson's is the first intelligent piece to illuminate  these dire pages since the Yanks took over. Surely some mistake.


Return to Babylon

Published on 31 Oct 2010
Sometimes a train rolls backwards.
Could be the wrong snow up ahead, or brake failure on a gradient. But you wake out of your doze and suddenly recognise the stations passing the window. Hey, how did we get back here?
Politics has that feeling now. Bankers’ economics – didn’t we pull out of there 80 years ago? Mass unemployment the best way to balance budgets – how did we get back here? Charity so much healthier than public funding – see that fellow on the platform with his lum hat and mutton-chop whiskers, tipping a beggar to carry his bag? He’s to become the national role model once more, as he and the “local enterprise” he is supposed to represent take over the funding of new schools, old theatres, rural bus services and research laboratories. His modern name is “the active citizen”.
Those shrieking, guffawing Tory cheers, after Chancellor George Osborne proclaimed his spending cuts! Out of their train window, they could see approaching the dim old vaults of Babylon Central, where taxes were low, scroungers ate bread and marge, and a working-class mother told her son: “Don’t get ideas. Folk like us are just here to make up the numbers.”
When somebody says that “Britain steps back from the brink”, you know that we are being backed over another brink. When a politician talks about “the Big Society”, you know that something is about to get smaller. And in this case, it is the state. The Tory MPs were not cheering the Government’s Spending Review because the deficit was being tackled. They were rejoicing because the state – that enormous, damaged machine once invented to protect the weak against the strong and bring a much-tried people towards security and equality – was being mutilated before their eyes.
This is a worse blood-letting than anything undertaken by Margaret Thatcher. At its height, in the early 1950s, the state had owned or supported the railways, the coal and steel industries, gas and electricity, telecommunications, water and inland waterways, road haulage and public housing – to name the most obvious. A few, including steel and road transport, had already been sold off well before Thatcher came to power in 1979. But she and her successor John Major privatised most of what was left of the public sector, axed countless subsidies and castrated the trade unions and local government, all in the name of reducing the state.
That was a programme designed to pull the state out of the economy. But the Cameron government is going for the very heart of the state, severing the financial arteries of social and cultural public provision and decimating the army of those who work directly or indirectly to maintain those services. Nearly half a million public-sector workers will have to seek new jobs or join the dole queues in the next few years. The cuts in housing benefit may drive hundreds of thousands of families – many of them in work rather than jobless – to leave the English inner cities and seek affordable shelter in their peripheries. Are they to live in camps? Who will be left to organise and care for this immense, helpless migration? Between Thatcher and Cameron, New Labour – captured by free-market, neo-liberal dogma – made its own contribution to weakening the state. Most of that contribution was negative. The calamitous privatisation of the railways was not reversed. Worst of all, it was during the Blair-Brown governments that “financial services” (the City of London) were able to fortify themselves into a contemptuous immunity that still – even after the great crash – defies state regulation. They say that “the bankers just don’t get it”. Ah, but they do. They know now that no British government will dare to reform them in the public interest, or in the name of public opinion. Mediaeval kings knew how to set about a warlord or religious order who fancied themselves as a “state within the state”. But British governments have accepted defeat by the City. It’s not just financially that the British state is bankrupt.
The state was once minimal. It raised one-off taxes for war and sent excisemen to seize smuggled brandy, but otherwise left its subjects mostly alone. Its sudden transition to a welfare state, recognising the right of all citizens to public assistance, taxing and restraining private greed, guiding a class-riven society towards some degree of equality, took less than a century. The motives for that expansion were many. Among them were upper-class terror of revolution, popular faith in the notion of human equality which had been treasured since the English Revolution and the Scottish Reformation, and the moral outrage of the liberal middle classes at the degradation spread by industrial capitalism.
The Welfare State that appeared after 1945 was precipitated by war. The millions who voted for the “Labour landslide” that year, amazing the world by dismissing Winston Churchill, were saying that six years of sacrifice and loyalty entitled them to say “never again” to the miseries of the 1930s. But something like the Welfare State would have emerged even if Labour had not won. Its vision of planned social security had been around for a long time; owing as much to Liberal reformers – Lloyd George, William Beveridge – as to the Labour movement. As a result, it was a top-down deal rather than a radical socialist one. The newly nationalised industries belonged to the state, not to their workers. In social security, its basic principle was universalism. Income tax was graduated according to means. But everyone was to receive the same level of care and benefit, irrespective of income or wealth.
This was an astonishing principle at the time. It still is. Its most famous expression remains the National Health Service, founded in 1948. The NHS is a proclamation about what it means to be human: we are all equal in the face of suffering and death. But for the economist and social reformer Lord Beveridge, architect of the Welfare State, it was also practical politics. “Universalism” guaranteed a decent standard of living to the working class. But it was also a cash gift to the middle classes, binding them into solidarity with the Welfare State; they could not complain that they were being penalised in order to support “less valuable” members of society. That’s why George Osborne’s suggestion that benefits should be means-tested is so lethal.
Once you destroy the universalism, society splits into two. Over here are the “worthy” taxpayers, who expect value for their money. Over there are the “unworthy” applicants for assistance. A Welfare State constructed to do its impartial best for all shrivels into a minimal life-support system. Food stamps and bog-standard healthcare are reserved for an “underclass” of losers increasingly excluded from mainstream society. Over here, we will live in gated precincts patrolled by private security. Over there, in gaunt housing schemes on the periphery, they will exist on the drugs trade and burglary. “Welfare” becomes, as it is in the US, a dirty word.
That’s an American pattern. Its callousness and inefficiency were horribly revealed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, which reduced tens of thousands of poor citizens to the status of homeless refugees supported by little more than charity. Yet one of the strangest sights in recent years has been our own politicians hugging the delusion that the British state and society can be “Americanised”.
Labour politicians have been, if anything, more deluded than Tories. Gordon Brown’s curious passion for the US led him to demand Union Jacks flying on every British lawn, and – disastrously – to handle City investment bankers with an almost Texan light touch. From Thatcher on, there has been an uncritical drive to involve private wealth and “top business” in public affairs, and to hand over financial responsibility for culture and higher education to benevolent billionaires.
That’s the system which is supposed to work in America. But here, in spite of the glitz and the bonuses, the amount of wealth in private hands is tiny compared with the countless personal fortunes which endow institutions all over the US. Outsourcing the duties of the state to the private sector cannot work in Europe, any more than the absurd Coalition assertion that Britain’s private sector can now replace the jobs lost from the public sector. The late, great historian, Tony Judt, remarked a few months ago, shortly before he died, that “Britain … mimics the very worst features of America while failing to open the UK to the social and educational mobility which characterised American progress at its best”.
The shattering collapse of global finance two years ago does not mean that “capitalism has failed”. What it does mean is that it cannot survive, not even in its American variety, without the state. Capitalism is a gigantically creative force but a blind one, which will eventually self-destruct unless it is restrained and guided by the state. This government’s big lie is that Labour’s profligate public spending brought about the deficit crisis. The truth is not just that “the banks got us into this”, but that state intervention – Gordon Brown’s desperate injection of billions to rescue the banks – saved Britain from total disaster: an “Argentinian” nightmare in which all credit dried up, currency became worthless and mobs battered on locked doors in vain efforts to withdraw their lost savings.
The “credit crunch” catastrophe happened because the state had interfered too little, not too much. Over the decades, its self-confidence had drained away. The generation dazzled to be provided with free healthcare and modern council houses with bathrooms had left the stage. Its successors – the “baby-boomers” – took this new security for granted and found its restrictions irksome. The dramatic spread of higher education which began in the 1960s, and even the 1968 rebellions against “repressive tolerance”, helped to breed a new individualism.
In the 1980s, and especially in Scotland, Thatcher’s destruction of nationalised industries and state subsidies for the private sector broke up the massive workforces which had been the sheet anchors of social democracy. From Conservative thinkers came appeals for “active citizens” who would combine to carry out social tasks once undertaken by central and local government: the “Big Society” mirage in embryo. But ironically, far the largest army of “active citizens” outwith government was organised labour. It was the trade union movement, which the Thatcher governments were so determined to cripple.
The ideology of the modern nation state took form in the French Revolution. For the first time, organised nationalism was used to mobilise whole populations to fight for a new society. This power was hideously misused in the 20th century, by Hitler and Stalin among others. But the French vision was committed to three great principles, liberty, equality and fraternity, which the post-1945 British state hoped to implant through its institutions. We still have a good measure of liberty. But the third principle, fraternity, is failing because the second principle has been abandoned. Equality, now the most incorrect word at Westminster, is silently bleeding to death in Britain. And when it dies, fraternity – the sense of community and common interest – dies too. And when fraternity is gone, liberty and democracy cannot long survive.
Equality does not mean levelling down. It means levelling up. It means that all citizens have an equal claim on the state’s encouragement, and that the social order is not an insult to their human dignity. It makes a reality of Robert Burns’s A Man’s A Man For A’ That, and of Colonel Thomas Rainborough’s “the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he”. It’s what Jimmy Reid meant when he looked up at the high-rise windows and wondered how many men and women in there could have been “top-class horse riders, Formula One drivers, champion yachtsmen” – but would never have the chance to realise their potential.
Outrage at that monstrous waste, determination to let human beings fulfil what’s in them, is the fundamental passion of democratic socialism. It’s what moved Gordon Brown into politics. And yet, when he was trying to make a list of “British values”, equality never got a mention. The “sense of fair play” came up instead. But “fair play” is just a boo at the ref. “Equality” is a battle cry, a call for the hammer of justice which only a state can wield.
Inequality in Britain diminished until the late 1970s, then began to increase again until today the gap – in health and living standards as well as wealth – is as wide as it was 90 years ago. But all research shows that societies which feel they are reasonably equal are happier and more successful. We are travelling backwards, and the current assault on “the public sector” only makes the slide faster.
Scotland never wanted or needed this. It’s not just that nearly a third of employment is in the public sector. It’s that the mania for privatising never made sense here, in a country whose tradition is communitarian rather than individualist, deeply suspicious of its own and everyone else’s elites, obsessive about equality.
In “Britain of the cuts”, the present Scottish Government has become the last bastion of faith in a public-service state. It upholds beliefs which were once shared all over the UK: that health and prescriptions, school meals and university education, care and public transport for the old, should all be free, the state’s honouring of the contract between citizen and ruler.
But the Scottish bastion is now isolated, and the waters are rising around its walls. The huge cuts in Westminster’s block grant may force the Holyrood government to abandon these pledges. Scotland is a nation with half a state. If that half-state is prevented from doing its duty, then some will conclude that 11 years of devolution have been a waste of time. And others, looking ahead in anger, will demand a whole state for the future. 
About the author
Described by the historian Eric Hobsbawm as “perhaps the most brilliant student I ever had”, Neal Ascherson is a distinguished journalist and author as well as a visiting professor at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. His books include Black Sea: The Birthplace Of Civilisation And Barbarism (Vintage, £9.99) and Stone Voices: The Search For Scotland (Granta, £9.99).


Dick the Prick said...

That, Sir, is a fucking decent commentary. Will think about that one for a bit. Cheers.

Dick the Prick said...

Andrew Gobsley has done a less interesting column today which could potentially have vague consequences - but, err...hmm..maybe not.

call me ishmael said...

Yes, Gobsley, always less interesting. Today is no exception - suggesting that the Coalition may break their election pledges is the sort of tripe which only he could conjure. Surely time he had another big book of shite to promote, fat wanker, all suited-up like a burghermeister, aren't I clever-ing. Filth.

Dick the Prick said...

I harbour some vague affection for the chap because he & Vincent Hanna used to do a Saturday evening programme called, I think, 'a week in politics' at about 7pm. I was only a kid at the time but it was a great antidote to crappy Saturday evening telly and afternoon's filled with crappy sport.

I'm still quite pissed off that 'what the paper's say' has fucked off to Radio 4 at 10.45pm tonight rather than the Saturday 6.30 BBC2 spot where it should fucking live.

It's all very well the BeeBeeCee whinging about 'savage cuts' but when they can't even chuck a hack infront of a guy with a camera for 15 fucking minutes then they can go screw themselves.

jgm2 said...

There is so much utter horseshit in that article that it will take me a while to get over my jet-lag and errr executive lunch to disentangle it all.

But to kick off the first obvious barrow-load of horse shit is this:

'This government’s big lie is that Labour’s profligate public spending brought about the deficit crisis. The truth is not just that “the banks got us into this”, but that state intervention – Gordon Brown’s desperate injection of billions to rescue the banks – saved Britain from total disaster:'

Utter shite. Demonstrable shite. Self-evident shite to anybody with an IQ greater than a fish.

Brown made a conscious decision to 'create' a million public sector jobs. Voters who would be grateful for their jobs and vote Labour. He created those jobs almost overnight in political and job-creation terms in 2001/2002. Two nano-seconds (in job-creation timescales) after he'd been freed from the self imposed 'I'll follow Tory spending plans' commitment he made after voters had fucked Labour off for a full 18 years thanks to their prior financial incompetence.

An utter boon to the graduate class of 2001/2002 who will forever vote Labour as they were plucked from the anonymity of pointless degree courses nation-wide and awarded a public sector salary. 'Education, education and education' eh? They weren't fucking kidding. Look at me!!! IQ of a fish and now a diversity officer.

With special reference to Fucking Scotland, as favoured by the original article, I draw your attention to the tolls on the Forth Road Bridge. Finally abolished by that spiteful fucking Pict, Alex Salmond.

I was still lving in Fucking Scotland when that hppened. The only bit of legislation, apart from a national 'fuck you' to Labour that I could agree with. But what made me really burst my heart laughing was some gob-shite from some fucking union or other wailing about what would happen to his members 'jobs'. The men and women who operated the toll booths..

Oh - let me see. I don't give a shit pal.

Those one million public sector jobs created by Brown? The vast majority of them were merely toll booth jobs. Better paid mind you. Much better paid in many cases. But serving the same purpose. Non-jobs holding people up in pointless fucking queues as they try to get around and enjoy themselves/do business. Utterly fucking meaningless, unnecessary pointless fucking 'jobs'.

And it was the injection of one million unnecessary, pretend jobs on practically unsackable conditions that begat the whole consumer and house price boom.

Brown wasn't merely an incompetent, passive observer of the borrowing and squandering bonanza. He fucking well instigated it.

What you (Mr Ishmael) term a Zombie economy I would characterise as a state created 'toll-booth' economy.

mongoose said...

Hobsbawm would say that. He is as mad a Marxist as was ever born, even, fuck him, approving of the putting down of the Hungarian uprising. Hang the old bastard now, drag him out of his aged bed and string the fucker up. Though he wrote a few good ones in his heyday. I've got a few of them somewhere.

The point of the liberty, equality and fraternity gig is that if you undermine one, you undermine the other two. It's as inevitable as, well, Neil Kinnock turning out to be an idle, corrupt, grasping, little weasel. One man's noble redistribution of wealth is another man's pissing my tax money up the wall. Free tertiary education in Scotland is either wonderful and sensible or an affront to fraternity, a racist, po-faced fuck you to the English from the multi-salaried knobhead, doubtless now shovelling fois gras into his fat face. These things have to be balanced, the one against the other two, and it is the imbalances that cause the tears. Maggie and McDoom - sisters under the skin in their inability to understand this.

Three controls on our little motor. Clumsy on the brake, the wheel or the right boot and you'll be in the ditch before you can say "No more boom and bust".

jgm2 said...

more utter horseshite from the article...

The shattering collapse of global finance two years ago does not mean that “capitalism has failed”. What it does mean is that it cannot survive, not even in its American variety, without the state. Capitalism is a gigantically creative force but a blind one, which will eventually self-destruct unless it is restrained and guided by the state.

Oh? Really? Well of course he is half right. Prior to 2007 we hadn't had a UK bank go bust for 150 years. It did take special conditions for things to get so utterly out of control.

Specially engineered conditions.

Conditions whereby the system that had worked for 150 years was declared unnecessary and obsolete. Their role reduced to targetting some 'inflation' target by an 'independent' committee of four government appointed treasury member's, four 'independent' members and one government appointed BoE governor. Keep your gob shut and the 'K's in the bag.

Independently you understand. An inbuilt 5 - 4 advantage to whatever the (Brown) sub-goverment decided.

An independent inflation target which was, in its turn , determined by whatever the 'independent' ONS (Head man quit due to Labour/Brown sub-government interference in early 2000's) decided to include in their inflation target. But certainly not 15% annual house prices. For years. After fucking years. Fuck no. Utterly irrelevant. Perfectly normal. Nothing to see here. Move along please. No more boom and bust. We will not allow house prices....

New inflation figure needed? Swap RPI for CPI? Yes Sir, no Sir, Three bags full Sir.

Interest rates cut in 2004 before the election to keep house prices from collapsing even though CPI is outside the limits? Not a fucking problem sir. 'K's in the bag Sir?

jgm2 said...

Sorry. My point- which I didn't completely finish in Comment 7 was that since anarchy isn't a wholly self-sustaining system unless you're seven foot tall with an atom bomb in each pocket, is that although it makes the bile rise to admit it we do need 'the state'. The collective muscle to temper the individual bully.

What we had with Brown was the state Bully. Happy to exercise his imbecile will via the suborned state (40% of votes = 100% legislative power) to create a toll-booth economy.

One million toll-booth jobs. One million votes (plus those of their immediate family). All paid for with annual 20/30/40 billion pound deficits. All deficits proclaimed as 'investment' even while all the school building and hospital building was in off-sheet PFI's. One million marginal purchasers pushing up the price of available accommodation. 20/30/40bn quid a year of government borrowing spawning 100/150/200bn quid a year of private borrowing as the Great British Public suddenly had to compete with 1 million newly minted toll-booth operators for the (state-restricted) available accommodation.

Oh aye. And when the rug gets pulled it's the banks who are to blame for lending money to the Great British Public to compete with Brown's public sector 'workers'?

call me ishmael said...

All this talk, then, mr jgm2, about ponzi schemes, about sub-primesters, shorting and wideboys betting against their own products, it's all a bum rap, all got up to slander honest, decent, hardworking bankers, then. And all these other governments, unable to balance their books, all down to Gordon Brown, his nailbitten, snotty fingers reaching into every exchequer on the planet and fucking things up. Or were Greece and Ireland and Portugal also creating jobs for holders of pointles degrees - what, exactly, is one of those, by the way, ancient languages? Is there any point, other than its teaching, to English Literature or Comparative Religions; is there any point to any Arts subject, other than its teaching? Humanities, is there any point? Is the point of a degree its relevance, its use to some fat fuck getting hold of more money - survival tickets - than he will ever need. And what is the point of the State? Why bother with it? How dare there be state jobs? Other than for the reasons set out by Ascherson, humanity, one to another and equality.

It is a malign universe you posit, mr jgm2, in which there is room only for some of necessity crooked balance sheet; your ironic use of the term workers vis a vis public employees is ill-informed and offensive; that some public sector workers are not as ruthlessly exploited as are many private sector workers should be a cause of national pride, not of short-sighted, apoplectic Gradgrindism.

Oh, and Torybastards giving massive taxbreaks to ruthless, braying fuckpigs, this is somehow more noble, infinitely more in the national interest than Brown et al bunging their constituency the minimum wage.

Snotty Brown certainly had the characteristics of a politician, he was/is a lying, thieving, bullying, hypocritical, warmongering, delusional monster but they are all like that, each occupant of number ten or the White House or the Elysee Palace worse than his or her predecessor but it is a long way from there to unequivocally damning those who voted for them and trashing their lives; let's face it, Money does not permit us much choice at election time, two cheeks of the same arse.

There is simply no way for sixty million people to live together in the absence of what we call a state, and that state cannot stand without regard for liberty, fraternity and equality, bad enough as the schools have become, we are too educated a nation for it to be otherwise.

You will find no longer-standing, more determined critic of Brown than I, mr jgm2, I was writing in complaint of him and his loony policies before 1997. The people whose jobs you now so carelessly mock, however, deserve better than that, better than being damned contemptibly as Brown's creatures, that ordinary people be so gleefully punished for the failures of an entire political caste is, well, you know, unfair. That so many of their fellows join in the Bearbaiting Nouvelle is not only repellent but an act of national stupidity equivalent to the election, twice and thrice, of NewLabour.

the noblest prospect said...

Always respected Ascherson's writing and the final paragraph is perhaps the most revealing.

"If that half-state is prevented from doing its duty, then some will conclude that 11 years of devolution have been a waste of time. And others, looking ahead in anger, will demand a whole state for the future."

Two cheeks of the same arse, Mr Ishmael? That would make fat Eck the arsehole in the middle, then?

How he negotiates the next six months will be worth watching.

Never mind the Ian's, it's the fucking Alasdairs you need to look out for.

jgm2 said...

Mr Ishmael,

My principle problem with the fuckwittery at large since 1997 is the utter needlessness of it. What we were promised at the time was a 'third-way'. An end to the devisive left-right, ideology/dogma-driven fuckwittery. An end to boom-and-bust, an end to property-driven economics, an end to the measure of public investment being defined as how much money was spent... blah fucking blah.

An entirely sensible fucking proposition. An agenda couched in reality and not ideology. Fuck yeah. Lets have some of that.

Maybe it was just me. Delighted to have the Thatcher years behind us. Yeah, finally, the hardship is over - the poison is drawn. Jackasses like Scargill put in their place. President for Life like some Ruritanian Hastings Banga plus flat-in-perpuity at the Barbican. The utter self-aggrondising cunt finally with no say in when I'll be fucking freezing my arse off. Yeah, lets kick the pants out of life.

To sit there and watch the cunt Brown, Machiaveli-like fucking everything up for personal political advantage - Oh, Aye you can all have this right now and it'll cost you nothing at all ever, aye and more, like some Dr Suess-ian Character;

'Oh that is not all I can do, I can fuck up this I can fuck up all that I can fuck it all up said the Twat in the Hat..'

Och Aye. I'll not be rocking the boat on Iraq on account of my constituency of apple-sauce sucking fuck-pigs being 99.999% white Jock fuckwits and so I won't lose a single vote if I agree to nuke everything south of Morocco.

And allowed to do so by the largest majority in Christendom. Nobody spoke out. Not Blair who could have sacked the cunt the minute he started burning all the momey. Not a Blair Babe, not a maverick Labour MP. Not a fucking one of 'em breaking ranks except for the manifest imbecility of Iraq. And even then not because they necessarily thought it was a heap of shit. Only if they had an 'ethnic' constituency.

jgm2 said...

... continued...

Parliamentary majority of, what was it?, 200? Could do anything they liked but decided that the thing to do was to boost the entire UK economy with one million toll-booth operators. Jesus Holy God. At least when Arthur Scargill allowed the miners to do a days work you had some fucking coal you could burn at the end of it. Albeit at twice the price our Polish fruit-picker, bartenders, chambermaids and Starbucks employees could do it for.

With this one million jobsworths you can only burn their clip-boards and tick-sheets.

When I deride these fuckers Mr Ishmael it is necessarily a broad brush. There may be the occasional cancer specialist in that one million but we both know that the vast majority are now in their tenth year of government employmen. 2001/2 graduates of idiocy. Assidiously enforcing anti-smoking legislation or cultural diversity legislation or some other toll-booth idiocy conjured up by the Maximum Imbecile or Harriet-Fucking-Harman or profiling you and me for threats we may or may not have made against the useless cunts to balance their profiling of Islamist nutters.

Brown's (or 'New Labours) gift to early 21st century politics is (obviously) not his economic or social legacy. It is their ability to destroy the economy and then divide rational people on not only who was responsible but who will 'fix' it.

To the point where Ned Fucking Miliband is championing the idea that you and me should be paying higher taxes just so that folk with no job in London can afford 20K a year to pay their fucking landlord. Well, you know, because if you don't then they won't be able to live where they've always lived (for free at taxpayer's expense. For several generations)

S'cuse me?

As to that liberal Arts degree shit then in the jgm2 universe it would be available as a subscription-only degree. Anybody who wanted one could buy one. Just like Lord Byron.

The maths and physics and engineering degrees would be sponsored by a grateful nation to those who achieved the best scores at 'A' Level. Because the one common denominator of idiocy in politics is the Oxford PPE. A degree where no rational understanding of maths appears to have sullied the doors for 100 years.

Fuck 'em Mr Ishamel. These are cunts who, as previously discussed, revel in their ignorance of Mazlov's heirarchy. Despite the cunts allegedly being liberal arts graduates and me a mere fucking scientist.

call me ishmael said...

Thanks butsSorry, I will have to return to this tomorrow, mr jgm2, with further consideration; dark the night, now, and long til day, I must to bed, reflecting that I only know about Mazlov's Pyramid of Need via an Arts degree.

I think that no matter what he does, mr tnp - and it can only be trifling - over the next few months, the fat man is toast, so to speak. And that if not for the LibDem seats up here, Cameron and Spunkface would lay us waste.

There is some night-time music up ahead.

Twisted Root said...

'that some public sector workers are not as ruthlessly exploited as are many private sector workers should be a cause of national pride'

Balkanisation? A source of pride? Seeds of ruin surely.

Dick the Prick said...

Sure we can pick holes in it but the tenor of the piece, the abrogation of rights, the curtailment of honest discourse, the cock up the arse of the populus; well, I thought the lad had a point.

mongoose said...

The spending and the banks crisis are separate but, happening on the same watch, they have combined to provide us with our shit-storm.

Every labour government there has ever been has crashed and burned in a financial meltdown. It is what they are for - redistributing wealth, spending money on relatively poor people. Agree or disagree but do not be confused. This is what they do. That they have spent next time's money too this time is unfortunate for us all and for our children. McDoom did this and there is not a gallows tree high enough for the deluded bastard.

The banks however took to playing gambling games that were too complicated to understand. As soon as a risk is remote enough from the financing of it, you are guessing and guessing is dangerous. In the old days, if one wanted to buy a house one went to the bank and the manager knew you, your salary, your financial management skills. He could lend you an appropriate amount of money on appropriate terms. He knew his risk and his reward. He might even have been wise enough to understand that the Luvvies were currently spewing money about the place to such an extent that the property market was inflated beyond reality and that next year might be different. 1991-92, anyone? As soon as the future profits from that investment, that risk, that mortgage are sold on to someone else - securitised, otherwise pooled, made into a financial instrument, a derivative, swapped, optioned - whatever the parlance, the risk is being removed from the risk-taker's ability to measure it. Around the houses a couple of times too many and you have a shitload of paper worth who knows the fuck what, the profit whisked away and just the risk standing there waiting to bite some poor bastard when the sub-prime music stops.

The banks' shareholders took those gambles and they should have been left to hang. That is the game they chose to play. Now an argument can be made that retail banking - the wealth of normal people - should be separated from the gambling and so-called financial wizardry of investment banking - so that a widow's savings are not squandered by red-braced lunatic, that banks maybe should be made to hold such and such proportions of their various types of assets and liabilities in cash, gold, government paper etc. All this happens, and is wise and sensible - though it looks as if we should have required even more caution - but we speak of mere billions. The banks didn't get us into a trillion pound sized hole, McDoom did, the mad bastard.

call me ishmael said...

More succinct than I could manage, mr mongoose, although missing one vital observation which makes sense of the whole and that is that it wasn't actually your bank manager who determined your repayability but your - often local- building society, an entirely different thing from a bank. Banks have only been in the mortgage business since the blessed days of Whisky Maggie, her determination to undermine anything remotely of the Left allowed the demutualisation of the homne lending business, with all the consequences of unchecked usury which you outline. Yes?

As for billions versus trillions, I don't know. But I do know that everywhere govaments are fetishising defecit reduction, invoking austerity - the revesal of civilisation - as the only game in town, when in fact that is just a matter of opinion and that poor mad Snotty had no hand in their affairs, their public spending. You, yourself, in any event, have remarked that It's Only Money. But all this frantic moralising about national debts, why not just reschedule both the interest and the repayment period, shoot a few bankers, to encourage them into the ways of civic responsibility? Are we to be beggared by speculators and invisible conspirators?

And as for the million toll-booth jobs of mr jgm2. The demographic time bomb has already gone off and we need at least a million extra public workers to care for our elderly, us. No good bleating, outraged, that the family should do it, wife and hubby have to work to fuel this fucking imbecile addiction to unlimited growth in a limited environment, the economics of the madhouse, zombie economics, reality stood on its head so's not to upset some cartel of gangster fuckpigs threatening national currencies. Fuck 'em, bastards.

I don't know what mr twisted root is on about, pension comparisons between low paid public workers and low paid private sector workers are only deemed as goldplated - average four grand a year - because the private sector, at that level, simply does not operate employer-contributory pension schemes, yet the average director's pay has risen by sixty per cent in ten years, regardless of success or failure, no extra duties, no enhanced productivity, don't even have to balance the fucking books.

This is not a place where we laud the idle rich, the exploitative, the incompetent and the criminal, awestruck at their chutzpah, their impertinence. I am not interested, for fucks sake, in kicking dinner ladies up and down the street, or binmen or teaching assistants, as though such Nazi behaviour will restore a nation battered by generations of shit politicians and corrupt media, all the time fawning over Money's Big Brother Housemates, the worthless, repulsive, shit in our faces. pinstripe thugs. Sorry if I misled anyone.

Dick the Prick said...

Completely agree about the dinner ladies and stuff but shit like this seems a fucking joke. When in doubt, call for a fucking lawyer? Bollox.

I did notice when I used to work with the cops that the more 'professionals' that existed the more mutual was the ducking of responsibility. Turning coppers into social workers, social workers into teachers, teachers into parents, parents into customers et fucking cetera.

Big society - hmm...waatyou anabaaat?

mongoose said...

You are spot on about the building societies. I had even forgotten that they had existed.

It has all happened the same day, that's the problem. And the UK is uniquely exposed to the ups and downs of the financial world, usurers that we are. A vast amount of dosh flows through this country and we snip a corner off every note. After a while we get used to this and we have spent it before the notes arrive to be snipped. This is where we are. Uniquely fucked. It could be worse, I suppose, we could be Iceland.

It used not to matter that the financial world was mad. One banker made ten quid and another lost it - a zero sum game, in the jargon. Ordinary people went about their business. Who cared? No longer.

The scale of the deficit is staggering, Mr Ishmael. We spend far more on servicing it through interest than we spend on anything else. It is made up of mind-bending numbers. It'll be fifty years in the paying off. The repeal of civilisation will have little impact though that little cunt Millitwat had better shut his gob about growth being the only way out or he will not breath to Christmas.

call me ishmael said...

When we have needed money in the past we have stolen it - from the Spanish, especially, but also from the French and the Portugeezers, such were the beginnings of capitalism, of joint stock, of shareholding of insurable risk, of credit; international trade is based, historically, on piracy and brigandage, although we called it privateering and colonisation and, of course, labour supply, or the slave trade.

I say again, for the umpteenth time, why don't we revert to type and tell foreign bankers to either wait for their money or go fuck themselves, maybe discreetly have MI5, 6 or howevermany bump a few of them off? We don't have to say it in so many words but, you know, quid pro quo, wasn't it the banking industry, the mad usurers club, which we have just rescued to the Nth degree, are we now to be impoverished further merely to satisfy their demands for interest. Are we men or mice?

The annointment of Ed Moribund and his craven appointment of the worthless prick, wotsisname, Johnson as shadow Shylock puts the paliamentary labour party into shifty irrelevance, sidestepping and hoping to ambush its way back to power, sometime, and to Hell with everyone whose lives, meantime, will be trashed. Nobody should vote Labour again.

richard said...

I feel like David approaching Goliath with a frayed sling loaded with a squash ball after 5 minutes practice, but here goes; you're wrong. Why? What is the State, other than a bunch of people raiding my - MY - wage packet and spending it on whatever they see fit without my consent? Who has people flung into jail? Who sends young people abroad to blast the wogs, to return crippled? Who imposes fees, fines and penalties upon us all, forces smokers to stand outside pubs in the pouring rain, thrown our rights to the four winds, so that we can (for example) be exported without trial to face "justice" abroad, and above all, has taken the wealth of the people present and future and given it away to fuck knows where, under pain of imprisonment? The State is a small group of people with a lot of firepower, and they do what they want. Your own delightful descriptions of various political figures shows that the State is a catch-all for psychopathic incompetents, who care less for the people than a bee-keeper cares for his individual bees. There is no State in physical reality; what there is, is men with guns who help themselves. We don't need them. They all collapse in the end, taking their citizenry with them into misery, and they (States) have killed (in untimely fashion) more of their own citizens in the last 100 years than any other cause.
Any arguments about the merits of a a particular State or method of Statism is merely arguing whether free-range is better than intensive, and excusing it by pointing out the right to appeal the case to Col. Sanders once every 5 years with an X in a box.
Equality doesn't derive from the state. Deprived areas have more welfare, social workers, benefits, police etc etc than elsewhere; they are in fact the State made manifest. The more State the worse the area, the more State schooling the more ill-informed, illiterate, and uncritical are the students. This is the State. There is nothing it hasn't wrecked, and nothing beneficial that hasn't flourished when the State has been at it's smallest, unless I'm wrong, and I may well be. I would be happy to be corrected if this is the case.

call me ishmael said...

No wish to correct you, mr richard, anarchy is my own favourite position - find some authority and question it. It's just that for national and planetary survival there needs to be some overarching organisation, some constructive management of available resources and implicitly you posit a free-for-all.

We have always made rules and laws, there is no other way, is there? We have necessarily given law enforcement and justice into the hands of Elders or formal law enforcers and jurists, the alternative is a state of constsnt internicine war; where large numders of people congregate there is a need for public services, publicly funded - at the very least transport, sewage and border defence systems and with that level of organisation comes the need for public health, safety and education, some sort of state is unavoidable; it is the regulation of the state and the self-selecting awfulness of its personnel to which, I suggest, you object, as do we all, here.

I have a large selection, here, of hand-written correspondence from the trenches of WW1 - the large copperplate scripts are all well-written and grammatically correct, their authors just ordinary kids, mainly, from farms and villages and towns, probably learned to write on slates, with chalk and yet they are vastly more literate than today's texting Afghan warriors - schooled by a different state, but a state nevertheless, albeit one happy to see its children slaughtered; it is a bittersweet contradiction. Learn your letters lad, before being gassed or bayonetted.

It is the revolting career politician and his attendant stooges in civil service, military, judiciary and media who are the target, as far as I am concerned and I have no idea whether the state should be large and relatively intrusive or shrunken and laissez faire, different times may require either; i suspect, for now, that the former is better at least until the ravages of the past fifty years are undone, if they can be, (I think it is fine, incidentally, right and proper that the state actively discourages people from smoking themselves to a horrible death, to the benefit of hypocrite fuckpigs like Queer Kenneth Clarke ecently of British and American Tobacco Products, now Justice Minister) but that for that to happen the idea of party and career, in connection with public service, must be seen as what they are, contradictory, inimical to the public good. That's what we do, here.

Electoral roll selection, for fixed periods, a repesentative Senate, overseeing a properly neutral civil service, average salaries and necessary expenses; that's the sort of state legislature we need and from which a less incompetent, wasteful and corrupt public sector should emerge. We do not need the organised criminals whom you so rightly condemn.

richard said...

Thanks for the reply, Sir. The question is, if anarchy is to be considered a feasable mechanism to obtain a just society, not "can a Stateless society work?" but rather "does the Statist society work?" I don't think it does, mainly because taxation is unethical and the recipients are disinclined to be careful with other people's money; nevertheless I will consider your arguments as I stand outside a pub in the rain to smoke, unlike the bastards who smoke in the Commons bar, drinking tax-subsidised beer whilst they try to stop supermarkets selling it cheap to us serfs. I will try not to let this minor inconvenience cloud my thinking, as some of your points require further consideration. Regards to Buster!

call me ishmael said...

Yes, the commons' rackets, they are, as the young people say, awesome.

The statist society - and that's, to all intents and purposes, a tautologism - works in many ways to the benefit of many, it is just that the processes are hijacked by those who, without the spurious legitimisation of office, would be considered common criminals, not just Tony and Imelda, all of them; they all sit on the Latrine of State, shitting in our faces.

It does not follow from that, however, that we should reject the decent, the nobler, the essential-for-survival aspirations in Mr Ascherson's piece.

Don't catch cold. Buster is surprisingly well, thanks, an Indian Summer.