That bit of me that was a biologist fails to distinguish much between people and animals. The police dog that came bounding to my rescue one winter’s night was worth more than most of the scum I arrested, certainly the ones I was after that night. My sense of duty might have made me think of saving our previous scum neighbours ahead of our last dog, but this would have been only a brief excursion in thought before tossing them out of the balloon. The dog, with his superior IQ, would have sensed what was going on and chased them out anyway, probably regarding me as better eating if push came to shove. Many social animals treat many of the ”pack’ very badly, keeping them ‘poor’, hungry, vulnerable to disease and well down the pecking order. These impoverished animals can usually be taught to rise up and take over, sadly never quite creating a new form of society. We are surely just like this and the WB Yeats poem, where beggars merely change places in bloody revolution. Species of mice are the classic example.
I watched Obama yesterday and for the first time thought he isn’t just another mouthpiece and may give some tad of a shit about others, maybe the first US president since FDR to do so. The rest have been vile egoists. Obama described the current Republican message as failed old crap, and I do believe we are too easily conned by right-wing economics that stresses self-help and self-punishment. I want no scroungers charter, but see little point in human existence if we remain as biologically driven as mice, chimpanzees or dolphins. I suspect what sickens many of us about benefit cultures is the lack of easier dignity in human affairs. It is almost as though ‘economics’ drives us back to the animal-biological we need to both admit and escape. This has always been the main role of religion, and some religions may actually have been less damaging.
The madness at the heart of ‘economics’ is the drive towards an ejaculation point in GDP masturbation. We are doing well as long as some body of fools is buying plastic and cotton tat from points abroad on our own bloated high-street. It’s all the same crap, differentiated by adverts that are now remarkably undifferent. Left and right politics now give the same choice as ‘death’ or ‘bongo’ in the old joke. Bongo means being rogered by the whole tribe. Two missionaries choose this, but the last chooses death to save his pride. The Chief smiles and announces ‘death … by bongo’. We have simply become the voting fodder of interest groups who play to our ignorance. We need to express our politics differently. I hear and see no difference in human and primate political noise.
What I felt Obama got right when I was watching him is the fact that austerity, private sector cavalry approaches have failed. I even doubt they were ever successful. The issue is why we keep falling for this particular blow-hard. Part of the answer is that government spending always seems to go wrong and be so wasteful. In Britain, we have often ended-up nationalising industry sectors of big projects because the private sector has already screwed up. De-nationalisations don’t seem to work either. My guess has long been we merely have choice between patent medicines, bottled in the same place, with different labels. China should not even be able to survive, let alone out-compete us with its vile Party government and ‘red phone’ corruption, but does so easily.
There is talk, even in traditionally right wing spots like The Economist, that we have to re-assess and recognise both whatever has gone wrong in economic basics, and what a more rational, sensitive approach might be – at the very least to stop hounding anyone critical as ‘Marxist’ and worse. My own view has long been that we sucker ourselves through rationalist fantasies that we can make decisions on economic basics any more securely than we can beat the agnostic position on the existence of god. We end up primarily with internal, subjective accounts, not mutual agreements on evidence. Hence persuasion gives way to coercion and even, at our fascist worst (which would include Sino-Soviet experiments) to a violence first (anyone not with us is the enemy – typically from rich spivs like Bush who will never be in the front line with any of us) lack of perspective.
I watched, in part, a Nazi attempt to produce ‘glorious paradise’ propaganda from the Warsaw Ghetto, wondering how far we have sunk. What history tells us is that we never recognise just how far until it is too late.
Free market economics has little truth attached to it – we might look to the Boxer Revolution for some key points, with Britain, Germany, Japan, France, Russia and others with vast military presence, cooperating to rip trade out of China, before lapsing into wars with each other. Once we paid in heroin.
In any of this we behave as animals, often confused as to our status by bending knees, incense breathing, men in pretty silks and silly hats and music with vinegar stroke beat. We imagine this is the playing out of some essential human nature; it is merely a death beat of a species not up to much.