My father’s first job was as a bookie’s runner at 13. Then the war, some piss poor but quick teacher training and eventually he was headmaster of a secondary school. I was largely educated by such people, though not Dad who was academically as thick as mud. I still have as copy of a radical text one of his socialist mates gave me. it’s Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire. There’s a brilliant analysis of the reactionary behaviour of the French peasantry during the Bourbon and July monarchies in it. The 1789 Revolution and Napoleon had liberated the peasants from their landlords, but the next generation of peasants was left to confront the agricultural market from small private holdings that could not sustain them. They no longer had to pay their feudal dues, but instead had to pay their mortgages and taxes to a state that did sweet FA for them. Under Napoleon III they got imperial spectacle. Marx noted that in and through the army the peasants were ‘transformed into heroes, defending their new possessions against the outer world, glorifying their recently won nationality, plundering and revolutionising the world. The uniform was their own state dress; war was their poetry.’ This Marx called ‘the imperialism of the peasant class’. My dad and his mates viewed war as a con in cruder terms of ‘press gangs’, marching bands and their discovery of just how well off the rich were and just how dangerously stupid the officer class was.
In Marx’s analysis we see the populist underbelly of the debt crisis in America. Essentially, 40 years of right-wing tax revolt, from Howard Jarvis’s Proposition 13 of 1978, which destroyed California’s finances by putting strict limits on property tax increases, to the Tea Party. In the UK we might see this as the ‘Thatcherism’ since 1967 of IMF bail out we didn’t need, the hard-hat, often ex-pat management that destroyed our industrial base and the over-individual crap of the Iron Lady herself. Social democrats in the US don’t see how little the American state directly provides to its citizens, relative to their economic circumstances. In the UK it’s more likely they miss how demeaning the benefits system is. Since the early 1970s, with a few brief exceptions, workers’ wages have stagnated. What has the state offered in response? Even with Obama’s reforms, the US does not provide healthcare or insurance to most people. Outside wealthy communities, state schools often fail to deliver a real education here and there. In such circumstances, is it any wonder ordinary citizens want their taxes cut? That at least is change they can believe in.
To change this, we need to change attitudes ground in, soaked up and propagandized by the rich machine. The way this plays our emotions is as sickening as that of any call to imperialist war. We learn to hate our ‘evil poor’, to consider ourselves as superior through our ‘hard work’ (often farcically in mundane, useless jobs) and imagining ‘our soldiers, police and emergency services’ do the fine job politicians always tell us they do. We have no idea what our troops really do in Iraq or Afghanistan or did in more secret wars in Indonesia (28,000 of them dead – our losses 128). Whilst we have been thinking in these dumb terms, the rich have had it off with nearly all the money we used to have. Not a bunch of poor scumbags – the idle do as they care on whim rich.
I people were numerate, they could see at a glance that it’s the rich who’ve had the money that made our societies tick. They gave it and much of our advantage in management and technology to the Chinese, Indians, Malaysians, Indonesians and anyone where they saw a buck. They put Leslie Ames and the Cambridge spies to shame in treason. Make no mistake they did this with our money and organisational learning, the latter advantage lost forever. They even conned us into borrowing the money they used.
If you could wake up and smell the coffee and learn to count you’d find that what’s happened in our countries is that the rich gave up on our societies for their own gain – effectively as agents for another government of their invention.They are traitors against democracy. In the process they have armed potential enemies with the means to manufacture war against us. The banksters, CEOs and others drawing huge pay are the real scum. The answer is international solidarity against them and a demand for reparation. But seriously, remember I’m leaving. I don’t believe in you. It’s your mindless beliefs, against your own interests, that prevent international democracy. Some of you still justify the Royals, as clear a bunch of posing slackers as one could imagine. You have no honour and would happily spend your 30 pieces of silver rather than hang yourself from a tree in shame. That’s how you were broken – they taught you to displace your shame on to others actually too dumb to know any. You are the new imperialist peasantry, Our world is so surreal we vote for no government in a world so broken we should put it down and start again. No one fails A levels anymore, despite thicker people taking them in droves, and employers find people don’t have the skills they need, which always was their finding. We have unprecedented riots with so many precedents I’d need a page to list books and papers I know about them.
In 1883, London police were armed for the first time amid fears of a crimewave by armed burglars, a step seen as “un-English” by the press. The great “garotting” panic of 1862 centred on lurid reports of a new form of mugging involving strangulation, and led to the restoration of flogging as a punishment, shortly after it had been abolished. The Times sadly concluded that England now resembled a foreign land:
Our streets are actually not as safe as they were in the days of our grandfathers. We have slipped back to a state of affairs that would be intolerable even in Naples
In London, 1815 sees the foundation of the Society for Investigating the Causes of the Alarming Increase in Juvenile Delinquency in the Metropolis. 1751 sees Henry Fielding’s “Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers” (Fielding fingered “too frequent and expensive diversions among the lower kind of people”). The seventeenth century saw moral panics about violent and rowdy apprentices, as well as about organised fighting among gangs (wearing coloured ribbons to identify their troops). Professor Pearson ends with the sixteenth century and puritan fears about, if not gangsta rap, popular songs that treated criminals as heroes.
“Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears” is Pearson’s out of print book. Such riotous assembly has been taking place forever – the rich turn it to their advantage in covering up their quieter yet more destructive crimes. You are being mugged because they know you have no memory of real history.
Many of our media-wallahs studied useless subjects like history. They forget more readily than a part-timer like me and repeat horrific glorification of our warring nobles and imperialism so tame you can listen and come out believing the Royal Navy was on prevention duty in the Opium Wars!
The riots are our bloody stupid conservatives’ fault. We let the rich steal our countries from underneath our children. We don’t know history and we can’t take argument that we should allow to win in reason – we backfire like the worst old fart gone senile and hate anyone delivering the real evidence. Our madness shows in sending some dork just out of Strangeways back there for 16 months for eating a stolen doughnut (my vile ex-neighbour got 8 months for arson with intent and affray - nearly killing a whole family – in non-riot times). Yet there is no demand to lock up the rich and their thieving lackeys for the massive theft of 14% of the nation’s cash that once lay with the poorest 50% and is now in their hoards. We are barking.
Historically, debt crises resulting from wars have catalysed politically progressive advances and even precipitated revolutions. Both Charles I and Louis XVI found themselves entangled in military conflicts their tax systems couldn’t fund. Debts eventually forced both into fatal confrontations: Charles with Parliament in 1640 and Louis with the Estates General in 1789. Beyond financial exigency, the revolutions that overthrew these sovereigns drew on arguments the kings themselves had to make in order to raise taxes and fund their wars. As Richard Tuck has suggested, it may have been Charles himself who opened the door to democracy in England. Levying an ancient tax on coastal towns (ship money) to fund a naval expedition against the Dutch, the Crown made the claim that the people’s safety was the highest ground for political action – an axiom of republicans through the ages – superseding any law or constitution. Though used to justify absolutism, Charles’s rhetoric about the ‘interests of the people’ carried a subversive democratic implication: these are not my wars, they’re yours, and you ought to do everything you can to see that they are won.
How do we get from thisd radical bent from the mouth of a king to the current piss poor business of not being able to do anything constructive for most of our population because the rich will ‘take their ball home’ if we try and recover what they have stolen. No one surely believes any of the trickle down crap anymore – unless it’s all been trickling into the begging bowl of the rich (because it all ends up there stupid).
Rooney isn’t worth what he gets paid and there are obvious ways to control wages (everyone else’s other than the rich is subject to control). Salary caps are not rocket science and so-called whizz-kids are not rocket scientists either – even Rooney and his mates rely on very flat track pitches, drainage and tough referees to stay ahead of the best amateurs. There is no known link between the vast payments and any moral ground or innovation – and rather a lot to suggest what there is may be negative. I know of no reason for any person not to have a decent life that has anything to do with an economic system per se, but i do know of many techniques in nature through which plants and animals restrain others – this is even true of bacteria and humans. I believe we are stuck in a history that will repeat itself if we continue to act more or less without substantial memory and knowledge. The ignorant spontaneity of the riots this country has seen regularly for hundreds of years may tell us we the ‘good’ have been educated too much and been tranced by it all to the extent we can’t see what is really going on despite obvious results on what has happened to the money. The daft old lag with a cream doughnut in his gob gets 16 months, but the hedge fund maestro making money from selling African land on which tenant farmers have been killed to clear it for profit is lauded. Much as we can’t have riots, my sense is the moral wuckfits were tucked up safe and not on the streets.
We have as much reason to be on our streets as any country. Protest needs to be across nations. But in England we don’t give a damn and leave it to hapless youth, thieves, arsonists and chancers. We have no soul – or rather you have no soul – I’m off. I read Marx under the dim interior light of my Panda car. I got little from this, but noticed many dismiss the bloke with no clue on what he said. It took me a long time to realise this is what people do on nearly everything and that all my years at school had been wasted. In the irony of life, it was at this point I was disabled and had to find work in academe!
To discover that the most insidious Politburo was working away in western capitalism, perhaps run by a shadow group of oligarchs has not really surprised me. It’s you. You don’t know what our GDP is and certainly not what shares anyone gets – utterly simple information, widely available, and yet you have opinion of all sorts that must be useless without the basic facts. What motivates you to live blind when you could see without those bandages over your eyes? Not that ‘you’ will be reading this.