Radical Bent

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.

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New Deal Money

There is a crisis in capitalism.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that slogan from some Marxist posturing with no clue why.  We can be pretty sure we know what the problem is now.  It’s about debt rising about 4% faster than GDP since the 1960’s and a service burden of debt in our economies of above 12% – this is all worse than in previous depressions.  This has been happening whatever shade of government we’ve had, across all OECD nations.  France may be an exception, but I’m looking into that.

What we have been resisting is letting crooked banks and speculators take the hits and forming a democratic alternative to casino capitalism.  Strangely, the very system we once thought could save us from the road to serfdom is trying to force us down it now.  The rich have accumulated nearly all the money and now want to buy up our public sectors on the cheap in fire-sales as economies crash. In trying to do this, they have replaced the Politburo as public enemy number one, though we are too dumb to see this yet.

What we should do is let the banks fail and start over with a new system of economics and a new world currency replacing the USD.  This would be a big change and bring about the end of American military supremacy, so it would require some thinking through.  The most obvious thing we need is to promote a more innovative economy and stop believing that is all about vast riches and super-brains.  It’s really much more ordinary.

My own belief is the crisis is ideological in the sense we can cure it if we change our thinking.  We can grow food, find new energy sources, find ways to stop bandits and mad, religious people doing terrorism, build decent housing and get on with fairly idle lives and stop ourselves breeding too much.  Only ignorance prevents us now.  So how can we get round to believing this?  You don’t need much brainpower to work it out.

What many of us have not worked out has little to do with advanced economics theories.  It’s to do with how little work has to be done to provide the things many of us struggled to “achieve” – a roof over our head, food, clean water and a family.  I’m guessing, but I’m pretty convinced 10 -20% of the work we do between 20 and 50 is needed to provide that for all in the absence of corruption. It’s amazing we don’t know this, assuming it is true.

My contention is first that we don’t know.  I’ve asked a lot of people and no one can tell me just how much work would provide a good basic standard for all. On reflection most people can tell me that much of the time they have spent at work has not been very productive.  We do not develop facts on these matters, let alone teach them.  Agriculture, which is basically what we live on is 4% of world GDP.  What we soak up is ideology.

We are told hard work leads to rewards and somewhere down the line this turns to justification of sports star wages and bankster bonuses as an inevitable part of meritocracy.  It’s more likely they are part of the widespread prevention of democracies that can turn capital on where it is needed.

We have been lied to wholesale.  Much of the rhetoric continues – the need to get highly skilled as a worker in the new knowledge economy sounds convincing, but we have poured money into education only for students not to do science and maths and “qualify” in equine management.  The education industry burgeoned yet employers sound the same now as they did 30 years ago when moaning about the skills kids leaving schools and universities don’t have.

I would still recruit for management on the basis of fairly simple maths and English tests rather than on ‘graduate status’ and the size of that pool has not increased because intelligence hasn’t.  Many people need to be in work to learn, not classrooms – and in education we gave up on non-bookish teaching because it was too expensive in our business model and many teachers and lecturers couldn’t hack other methods.  People we teach after work experience are way ahead of most leaving school – because work and growing up has taught them.  They may well find people teaching them from books that make no sense after work experience, full of drivel written 60 years ago on personal development, excellence, kwality and human resource management that all failed in practice.  They have all been written in new colours, but smell exactly the same.  These lecturers completely discount mature students’ experience and often don’t know the ‘excellence’ they teach was discounted 30 years ago, within 6 months of the publication of ‘In Search of Excellence’.

Courses are now organised to provide as little class contact as possible and assessments are entirely dubious.  An HNC from 20 years back is probably worth more than a degree now.  We have a serious problem because so many of our organisations are now run by hierarchies that learned to lie about what was going on.  The model is widespread and based on false-accounting that gives CEOs fat salaries and bonuses throughout the system.  Often the false-accounting provides well-paid work for armies of bureaucrats from the ratings agencies grading junk at AAA+, through the performance management teams creating beacon councils, drops in crime, increases in schooling excellence, favourable audits of Enrons and banks hiding massive losses and the rest.

All this is the ‘reason’ we have no money to create the jobs that people need to grow as far as they can as workers.  It’s so endemic I doubt we can get to a cure unless there is public disorder.  The people who need to listen to the real arguments are the ones with the interests in not admitting what has been going on.  These are the ‘Screwtape bureaucrats’ in an England gone to the Devil.

The answer is political and therefore impossible in England.  It’s to go ‘New Deal’ on money by cancelling debt, returning to primitive banking and bringing in modern National-International Service across the EU funded by a transaction tax and new taxes across society with an understanding we are building a new social contract.

This won’t happen, so my guess is this is a good time to re-brand yourself if you are a cop or invest in protective gear if your force won’t and prepare for overtime and more riots.  The good news is that European peasantry has more often been quiescent than revolutionary, but the bad is that it is more aware on the Continent of what has been happening to it than here – this news may start to spread.

We grew up not wanting to be consumed by the Sino-Soviet experiments and it’s weird that capitalism is what has sold us down a river not far from that.  The Chinese have been very astute in the deals that took our money into its enterprise zones, gave it manufacturing capacity and techniques, and leaves us with austerity and an underclass.  The debt is not of money we took and pissed up the wall, but of a speculative system that allowed big time looting.  That we have not set our criminal justice system into punishing these looters may seep through to our ‘lower orders’ and make them restless again.  Would that they march on Parliament instead of JD Sports!

Leftbanker’s alternative to the current economic clowning is:

A collective agreement by global governments on a debt default programme that minimises the damage done to the financial and economic system; Rather than own the banks but not control them and give them vast amounts of money to cover losses and lend to speculators (quantitative easing), take control of them and make direct investment through them to finance huge social projects that would benefit the public and private sectors creating jobs;Taxing the world’s wealthy who have seen a huge transfer of wealth to them over the last 30 years from the bottom 50% of society; and Collectively as society provide for people’s retirement instated of letting public pension funds and individuals bear the risk and cost of failing stock markets. This is the rationale alternative to the boom, bust, crash and burn that currently lies in store for all of us.

I think we have to do more on the behavioural side too and find ways to be more transparent in our organisational dealings.  Our Screwtapes are as bad as the nomenclatura in the Warsaw Pact countries and we need to do something to undo the damage they have caused and will continue to inflict.  We somehow need to leave them behind.  It’s not for nothing that Bratton insisted on getting rid of the whole NYPD hierarchy when he took over.

We hear much on Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal – but in terms of overall debt Japan and the UK are first and second at more than 460% of GDP.  Russia is very low in comparison at 71%.  Sleep tight!

So Vince Cable Is A Pinko After All?

Vince Cable, the man more of us would have wanted as Prime Minister than any other current public figure before the ConDemned Alliance now supposedly running the country crept into government while we were sleeping, is announcing ‘capitalism is bad for us’.  Well done Vince.  I’ve just switched off some rabid clown on Sky News claiming this is the politics of the 6th Form. ‘What do we get that isn’t?’, I thought.

Vince will probably tell his LibDem audience that massive bonuses are wrong, drop the ‘b’ from bwankers and say a number of platitudinous stuff about unfairness, the need for regulation and the creation of a stimulating business environment not based on greed.  All fair and all useless.  He is already being called a Marxist and no doubt knows a base from a superstructure.

We are so dumb as a public we don’t know what Marxism is, probably thinking someone wearing M & S underpants who laughs at Groucho’s jokes qualifies.  I expect we could find what Vince will say in Adam Smith.  Capitalism has never had free markets since its modern invention by the Dutch around 1300.  The basic idea has always been about monopoly, or variations on that tune in terms of market share and stealing commodities using forced or dismally paid workers.  Wars have usually been about trade.

If Vince is a modern Pinko (like Zizek) he will talk about the way we are being taxed by Microsoft, and discuss high salaries and bonuses as taxation without representation.  He won’t.  We’d be too stupid to know what he was on about. Instead, he will talk about the need for a new business culture and morality (we like morality).  Vince Cable will prove today that he is a likeable old codger on the make, with an eye on his memoir sales.  Better than Blair or Adair Turner, he is constrained by our ignorance and the lack of interest we have in politics and knowledge generally.  We should look at him today thinking this is the best of English politics, knowing like our soccer team that any outfit permed from the supposedly lower divisions has as good a chance of beating Germany.

Capitalism is both the problem and not the problem.  It is the problem because it is what we have, and not the problem because it has never had any opposition.  Everything beyond Stone Age economics is capitalism.  We are just so dumb we can’t see the capitalist-communist ‘argument’ is a fiction.  All regimes are capitalist, the questions we need answers to hidden in their propaganda which commodifies our lives and governs our souls.  Our lives and souls are so worthless they are bought with trinkets and the fine words of idiots ‘leading’ us on cavalry charges into the centre of volcanoes on their day off.

What we need is a radical change in employment relationships away from employer domination and forced need to work.  The problems are about getting us to work in such a new relationship and preventing people stealing a living, whether as ‘evil poor’ or ‘evil rich’.  Part of understanding this requires us to know how much work has to be done and what a fair share of it is. Instead of something we can understand, we have ‘economics’.  That this doesn’t work is plain.  Sports and film stars make fortunes along with bwankers, we are always at war, the spread of wealth is in the same ratio in China as the USA, IQ correlates with endemic diseases and your chances in a legal system depend on wealth.  Our education systems are so unfair, people pay to get their children out of any placement by lot and into the most favourable schools and universities.  Everywhere, ‘standards’ are rising as nothing works.

What we need is true alternatives to international money.  Vince may touch on this, though probably not on his government’s sly and unheralded part-removal of mortgage interest payments to the unemployed, a measure that will save nothing and force some poor people into rented accommodation to get housing benefit in full.  Pinko?  Nah!  Stinko!

I offer no solutions here.  We need around 5 million new jobs in my country – more we if admitted the full extent of under-employment.  Plenty needs doing, but we can afford none of it under economics, a religion as vile as any other.  The Swedes have elected anti-immigration people to their parliament.  We would have double or triple the number in a fairer election system, or at least one more proportional to public opinion.  I don’t see such stuff as a solution, just writing on the wall.  At some level we know there are no real jobs for around half our working-age population, but don’t know why.  Old ‘faiths’ crop up as answers, including a ‘thrusting private sector’, charities and not-for-profits and protectionism.  It is only because we are uneducated through ‘education, education, education’ that we put up with the dross we get.  Only a couple of a million of us watch Newsnight, my last excuse as an oldie being to do with fancying upper crust, fading crumpet who would stereotype my belly as beer moulded.  I suspect the vapid self-interest of this programme is a microcosm of the country’s practical problems, fiddling while Rome burns to an audience that is its mirror image.  Vince will be no different at party conference, worming into the cosy souls of aspirant councillors on the make.  Good job you’re a married man Vince.  I found knickers came down rather easily at the last one I attended, and I’m nowhere near as smooth a criminal as you.  You could change your name to Pinko Redthunder and still be to the right of Blair.