Hats Off To The Libyan People

The Arab Spring may yet turn out to be just a shifting of power elites, but who knows?  Those of us who have ‘taught’ in security and other roles tend to have little faith in the peoples of the Middle East – it’s not that long since the Greeks had the vile rule of the colonels.  Whilst I’ve had to dodge mobs in the area, they show remarkable courage getting on the street against the dictators, and we should remember that we aren’t managing to do the same or really even spot who the tyrants are.  My hat’s off in recognition of the courage.

What’s behind the ‘revolution’ it is impossible to be sure.  Friends and colleagues across the area say things about the tyrants like ‘they are eating us from the inside-out – soon even to our skins’ – this from ordinary blokes and women.  Others say of the tyrants, ‘at least they keep the mullahs off our backs’ and everyone has some notion of the ‘wasta’ system of influence, much as of the Mafias in some parts of Italy.  Some would welcome moves to more modern, western society, but all share distaste for it in some measure – a distaste many of us share.

The rebels have had unusual support in terms of air supremacy that has broken the main superiority in arms of the governments and in Libya in particular it looks as though we are repeating old tactics – much as if the Mayfair Group is back in business.  Television reporting is crude, with images of ‘war reporters’ in hard hats and body-armour but never under fire and familiar scenes of locals shooting in the air.  ‘Men in pink shirts’ are spotted as former Special Forces, but the action is always ‘nearby’ – something that makes little sense to anyone who has seen street fighting (where about the last place you want to be is on the open street – which is where you die).  Little we get to see could not be staged on a film set and the actually unarrested favoured son pops up with his own claque to prove the point.

The vile dictators of the Middle East are falling – one has to hope Saudi, other Gulf Cooperation countries and Syria will not miss out.  We presumably planned to do this back in 1956 through the Suez Crisis, in collusion with France.  One can re-write 20th century history quite convincingly with the British invasion of Iraq in 1913 as the start of WW1.  The big question is whether malign western interests want the current destabilization in order to find new groups to put in power and exploit at higher percentages than possible under the old regimes.  We have shown no interest in supporting previously elected governments in the area

To the Libyan crying freedom I tilt my hat (not that I own one), but I suspect a western financial system looking to hide massive fraud is looking for cash cow assets to milk, bought at fire-sale prices.  Greece has been broken to this without any military intervention.  My guess is the Arab Spring has nowhere to go because we need spring cleaning in our own ‘democracy’.  Our own GDP figures show we have been eaten from the inside-out too.  Our regime is better hidden than Qaddafi.  Do you remember voting for a transfer of money from poor to rich, for investment in India and China instead of in jobs here or for the influx of migrant labour?

The manifestos of our political parties remind me of bank balance sheets – written to avoid telling the truth and look like something they are not – a way for an outsider or voter to work out the true state of what is being said.  I can point to all the gimmicks used in either, but it all comes down to false claims that detailed investigation and leg-work can reveal as meaningless guff.  We have legitimated the kind of lying crooks do as our cultural norm.

The Libyans will forget how Qaddafi was received as a savior 42 years ago and will thus be prone to the next.  I suspect our rituals are the same without the shooting in the air.

In Support of Strike Action?

We are probably seeing only the start of public sector protests today.  Strikes are generally not much use, and the back of supposed union power has been broken everywhere other than the public sector.  The arguments we hear in the media will all be nonsense and biased and factional.

The key underlying factor is that wages are no longer fair anywhere and massive inflation is in the system.  Housing is unaffordable and about to become even more so as interest rates go up.  Food is going through the roof, as are energy prices and something none of us seem to understand lurking in the system – this is the ‘debt problem’ and the ‘demographic time bomb’.

The ‘debt issue’ is not being presented properly.  This has arisen through collusion between governments and banks to create a false economy in which money was supposed to make money.  In fact this is no more than the creation of a parasite financial services sector and a wider form of professional leeching and organised criminality.  The underlying story is one of the Emperor’s New Clothes and a massive Ponzi scheme – so much of a ‘Baldrick cunning plan’ that many didn’t spot that Sooty’s Magic Wand has replaced real accounting.  The story of the pig in a poke is involved with losses hidden in the same sacks as profit.

The essential problem is we have no way of addressing any of this in available forms of public dialogue other than blogging – and this remains largely disempowered.  Talk on the economy is constrained by metaphors that link to our experience of household budgeting.  The idea in most prominence is that we can somehow recover by tightening belts and waiting for the private sector cavalry.  This is so dumb.

Soon, I guess, our cops are going to be pitted against rioters.  If we took the cost cutting seriously, then our officers would also be exposed to global matters as surely as manufacturing workers and unskilled labour.  Cops would be imported as surely as plumbers, waiters and so on and paid these ‘immigrant rates’.  This is clear nonsense, yet is also clear in the government line in general on cuts and the snide way public sector workers are being vilified as a ‘burden’ on the rest of us.

While the farce plays itself either out or to Greek crescendo, the rich get richer.  One suggestion made today is to cut the EU – (calm down Dickiebo!) – and the argument is very attractive.  Thanks to the ludicrous Human Rights Act we can’t evict lousy, tribal criminals and see our soldiers unable to claim compensation for being sent into dud wars with inadequate equipment.  Who would miss the droves of highly paid lawyers and others giving us this pseudo-legislation.  Why not just cut this crap out for 3, 5 or 10 years?  Personally, I’d like to see these duckeggs get gaol time, but it isn’t the answer.

Remember the ‘three-day week’?  We lost only about 4% of production.  The problem is we use jobs to spread resources around and they are associated with power and influence.  Most jobs are not connected with real production of anything.  In the Middle East and Greece, public sector jobs are doled out in a ‘wasta’ system – and who can say the same does not happen here when you look at QUANGOs and characters like Louise Casey?  Japan was once heralded here as the kind of super-efficient model to follow.  I was sent to discover their secrets – and found a dire, hidebound system of bureaucracy, notably in banks and big companies.

I teach many methods of productivity improvement, but all of these rely on a massive fiction – that we can achieve the gains other than in the company restructuring.  You can see this when you consider agriculture – it’s 4% of world GDP.  In fact agriculture and manufacturing have a burden of three times their GDP in “services” and “government”.  It is only by not having this burden on their balance sheets that allows anyone to trade real things.  If the better ways of doing such real work translated into more people being available for more real work we would have a different world – but there is no evidence this is what happens.

Half the UK population own less than 5% of the stuff we can put monetary value on – this is standard material in Human Geography (e.g. Danny Dorling).  Get any notion of this from BBC coverage?  This hardly suggests a fair return for the hard day’s work.  And this situation has been getting worse.  Massive increases in productivity have only led to falling wages and the rich taking more of the cake.

Our wages in the public sector are paid in relation to the job market.  A cop’s or teacher’s wage is linked to what they could otherwise get washing-up or fobbing some punter off in a customer service function or digging turf, minding a lathe and so on.  There are currently no real jobs to change to and we are all leveling down to whatever a transported Chinese peasant can ‘command’.  If we applied real efficiency in the public sector, we could reduce it by over 50%.

The real issue concerns how we should be investing resources and how we make money do the investment we want.  This is almost totally out of control and the ‘banks’ have failed as surely as the Soviet Politburo.  For banks we could substitute ‘rich’. The subsidies are not to public sector pensions.

The strikes are really about the abuse of power and lack of any sensible public dialogue that always hides the ‘rich problem’ – just look at the highly paid media tossers putting questions to people aid much less than them as though they are the ‘drain’ with no consideration of their own situation.

The answer is not some dire Communist Paradise but a new view on competition.  The model (creaky though it is) to follow is competition that encourages competition along the lines of rugby league.  It needs to be global and needs salary caps and transparency.  I don’t propose this as a solution but as a simple question on why we are allowing such a massively unfair situation to continue.

Greeks are already trashing their own town centres and it’s likely our current strikes will descend to brutal disorder as the poor find it difficult to get food, stay warm and so on.  The answer to our problems is work, but we seem to have no resources to build homes people can afford to live in, tap energy sources under our feet and around our coast, grow our own, produce our own entertainment – this is clearly rubbish as the real resources needed concern our commitment and work.

The strikes evade the real questions, but show that we do not have means to negotiate properly.  What are our teachers doing teaching if they are so ‘stupid’? Our cops don’t like the cuts and like everyone else see themselves as somehow ‘deserving’.  The good news for them is the Government is going to need them and will make them a special case.  The morality of this is dire, but what’s new in this.

My own view is that the crash and the killing fields are coming.  I don’t think this on the basis of inevitable economics, but on the general levels of ignorance on what is really going on.  The strikes are on because there is no fair public dialogue – but this itself hides the real issues.

Government is involved in all kinds of blunder.  We are importing crime, failing to impose the same law and conditions in migrant communities of all kinds, can’t treat our soldiers properly, waste vast amounts of money and all kinds of stuff the ‘right’ hate – but we aren’t looking at the ultimate problem of political relationships with the rich and banks and seeing this as the actual governance that is letting us down (I suspect fearing the only alternative is even bigger government).  Democracy has died and we haven’t spotted it.

Strikes are obviously irrational – not least because strikers never get their money back.  I prefer this irrationality to belief that the rich are necessary and good for us.  As for the teachers, they must know this is a token strike and that if they are to be effective they will have to really hurt parents after the summer break to change any of this idiot government of the rich, for the rich.  They will realise they are fighting our battle long before that and give in.  Poetic justice in some senses – they have failed to teach what matters for over 30 years!  The last hope is that it has sunk into our collective unconscious.

If we have seen massive productivity rises (and they are huge), shouldn’t we expect to be able to work proportionately less – this equation should mean earlier retirements even given longer lifespans.  Agricultural and manufacturing has achieved massive productivity increase – we have clearly wasted this on “services” and counter-productive accumulations in few hands.  We should be taking on the ‘power’ responsible for this – but we clearly have no democratic means.  It’s an old story and previous versions end in war.

There’s a parallel between the lies of official police statistics – with ‘crime’ allegedly contained and on the way down – the truth being massive increases in anti-social behaviour and crime in areas not recorded – and ‘the economy’ – both using similar accounting techniques similar to those in banks – hiding losses behind a dam about to break.

Twice as many cops with much better equipment and vastly more civilian support seem to be doing less well than those in the much smaller force in which people like me, Hogday and Dickiebo served along with an array of decent people and blundering buffoons,  It could be that we were drawn from a better pool and worked in a cleaner ocean.  Yet the average cop is now better ejukated than our peers and when I meet them seem not much other than chips off the same block and mostly decent souls.

What I suspect is that not much has changed and this is the problem.  We lied about crime rates, detection rates and exposed officers to hopeless situations without the right laws and equipment then and it continues now.  Many of the problem people we dealt with are the same now – what’s changed is there is no economy to suck them away from crime – and particularly no factories or easy places to find work lifting things or digging holes at a rate of pay well above benefit levels.

IQ has perhaps budged up a fraction, but the intelligence pool has not, despite all the qualifications people think they have ‘earned’.  A degree is worth about 2 ‘O’ levels in old currency – tell me what the ‘efficiency gain’ is here!  Ejukation has replaced the old training grounds in big and small companies, the merchant marine and the armed services.  It does none of the old job for people who don’t ‘get’ school.  GCSEs look remarkably similar to CSEs, the old qualification for kids who couldn’t hack school.  Many of the eastern Europeans who nipped over to ‘take our jobs’ were educated in the old Soviet system.

The pit and factory were almost certainly better alternatives than yet more pointless school for those not suited to school ejukation than further incarceration as bricks in the wall and we should have done much more to ensure well paid jobs at the bottom.  Instead, we have failed totally to protect this group of people and pretended they could be educated.  In my view this is an example of the intense cruelty forced on this group who have also been the biggest victims of immigration.

There were no strikes in the USSR (there were really), and though we had adverts from Japan about imagining factories that had never had strikes they didn’t tell us these had been brutally suppressed by US Armed Forces.  The Germans do much better than we do, but we pay no attention to what is different in their system.  It’s better, more democratic and more successful – not bad for a bunch of failed nazis.

I support the strikes on the basis they show just how backward, undemocratic and stuck in the same mud we are.  I suspect we haven’t realised we lost two wars to the USA and are mimicking what we see as their success instead or working out how well we were doing before their ‘help’.  HRM coming from the States these days is fascist.  We should throw in with the Germans and start selling them comedy!

Sending in the Apaches

In 1956 we had a sound grasp of Middle East politics.  Send in  the Israelis, then invade the whole shebang with the French in a policing action and steal the oil.  We’d left an 80,000 strong army over there since WW2 on the off-chance.

There was something more honest about this depravity than current aspersions about spreading democracy.  The Apaches were inevitable.  What we seem short of is any public dialogue about what we are up to and how we can afford this, but not 20,000 needed police officers.

Our politics and media deserted the price of fish long ago.  It was ‘news’ yesterday that Americans can’t understand Cheryl Cole.  Human communication is mostly noise – it’s my belief we need a control theory algorithm to understand anything in it.  The situation in world affairs seems reported a bit like a joke with no punchline – the beer in here reminds me of making love in the bottom of a punt – which only makes sense when  you add ‘fucking close to water’.  Afghanistan, Iraq  and the Arab Spring make as little sense as yet.

Science’s grasp of what it is to be human, is that we are social animals and our thinking is predominantly unconscious, a bit like a blender whirring away with its lid off.  When people lack emotion, they don’t become like the Vulcan Spock, but psychopathic.  Perhaps this helps explain how we come to such ‘rational’ decisions to send in Apache engines of death to bring democracy and such general madness such as ‘foreign policy’?  The argument I envisage would take several books I can’t be bothered to write, which in turn would be written in a conscious form lacking the very stuff with which we’d need to engage to learn to change anything.  By then the Apaches will have done their work.

I don’t doubt we should send in the Apaches.  But I don’t doubt the unholy mess that requires this either.  What I find untenable is that we seem to accept and play our lives in such crap politics.  Our public-conscious form is almost entirely disgusting to me.  I might well care for Cheryl Cole the person, but cannot abide what the image does to me.  I can barely ‘see’ our politicians and media personages as people at all.  I ‘hear’ no public argument at all, witnessing just a drossed-out noise and a smell of air-freshener acting like that stuff that is supposed to direct my buying and drives me out of shops.

The Macht-Politik is a form of chimpanzee politics with words.  When Hollywood produces the definitive history of Apache success, Cheryl will be doing the flying.  Libya will be free of Gaddafis and oil bought through their successors at the right price.  Quite how free Libyans will be from the bread line will matter as little as now.

There is no news of any sustainable, human world that might justify our Apaches.  Just Dave, playing at being Bliar. who played at being Thatcher in drag, who played Churchill in drag, who was half-American and played such an important role in ensuring world wars only the United States could win, long before the CIA could plot its sleepers into Number Ten  … in the absence of facts my mind wanders to conspiracy.  So why are the Americans letting us share Libya’s oil with France after all this time!  Perhaps they hope the cheese-eating surrender monkeys will turn on us and they can turn up, late as usual, to pick up the spoils and technology to save the dollar!  Pan to Cheryl’s face and it’s a wrap …

Bin Laden’s Death Brings No Peace

Who was the greater war criminal – Bin Laden, Bush, Blair and so on?  We do not generally consider Moses a war criminal, but he clearly is in Numbers 31.  Wars, of course, often progressed through killing the men and taking the women and ‘other’ livestock.  Later Western conquests have often been through disease.  We seem broadly incapable, across the globe, of accurate history.  I know of no country teaching such a syllabus.

It takes an idiot to make glory of the past and want to be a medieval warrior.  I suspect they were shits to a man, outside of fiction and myth.  Terrorists fade into heroic freedom fighters.  More will die as misguided souls pay tribute to  Bin Laden the martyr.  I shed tears in advance for the victims.

‘Saudi Arabia’ (a fairly recent invention) has been the ideological base for ‘Muslim terrorism’ for a century and a half.  British suppression of this in India was brutal and involved the hanging of whole families of men.  We have a sorry colonial record along with many other countries.  Ours is more recent than Mogul, Russian, Indian, Mogul, Shaka Zulu and so on.  The current empire is American, and not short on squalor (the Philippine War and so on).  One might ask what the world would look like now, had British, French and Russian forces bundled into the US in 1861, as intended.  We probably owe a considerable amount of the progress in what democracy we have to the USA.

It was an alliance of nations made up of Austria-HungaryFranceGermanyItalyJapanRussia, the United Kingdom, and the United States that invaded China around 1900 for imperialist trade purposes.  These countries were soon fighting each other in largely imperialist world wars.  My guess is we have as little clue now of what is brewing up.  I suspect Bin Laden and ‘international terrorism’ is a convenient cover-up of what we should really be discussing in public scrutiny.

The key question is what is between us and world peace.  This question is mostly dismissed as only for idealistic fools who know nothing of ‘real world politics’.  Some of the ‘answers’, of course, fit this bill.  Pulling down all our institutions in the hope of ‘truth lying in the main destruction’ (anarchist sloganising), and people being thus freed to live good, natural lives.  Those so crudely ‘natural’ should watch Japanese hornets beheading thousand upon thousand bees, like ancient warriors using short swords on the losers of mass battles.  Marxist ideology can be quite beautiful in its emancipatory form (see Terry Eagleton), but we have seen it only corrupted in the hands of power.  Even to think of society as the free individual writ large soon collapses to an exemplar of the ‘tragedy of the commons’, or if a team on bandits form.  The Athenian Democracy was almost always at war, imperialist, not for slaves and committed genocides – only escaping this fate itself on account of Spartan tolerance.

That we should be looking for real world peace, rather than Western dominance arises as much in technical progress as anything spiritual.  The potential for mass destruction may be becoming stronger, perhaps to the level of very few people and resources being needed to produce something like nuclear weaponry in destructive power.  The madmen may as well be Texan as Iranian or members of the Scottish Liberation Army.  Being at the top of a power hegemony may no longer be enough, something those of us living under the American umbrella should ponder on.  It is common in the Middle East to think of suicide bombers as ‘our F-16s’.  Much worse could be dreamed into practice.  Bin Laden pales against ‘Dr. No’.

We have to suspect we are being lined-up for a big war and who may be doing this and why.  We have to think why clowns like Bin Laden are revered, and why so many of us unwittingly rejoice at his death, through chants at Ground Zero to idiot newspaper headlines on his ‘cowardice’.  I am quite sure we want a world without Bin Ladens; yet we also need one without corrupt banking, money almost unrelated to work value and effort and so on.

To kill an old man

Bin Laden was on T-shirts across the developing world much as we once sported Che Guevara.  Probably killed by the same kind of people, if we can be bothered to think about it.  Che was a boyhood hero, but one grows up.  I have no time for Islam or other religions, though believe the spiritual has place in thought, sadly swamped by religious rot and gullibility exploitation.  In this space I have no room to rejoice at the death of a crippled old man by highly trained killers.  This does not prevent admiration of the skill and bravery of the men involved in the strike.  There is nothing to celebrate – or at least I thought this until I realised the alternative would have been more coverage of the ghastly Royal Wedding.

Bin Laden was never important, in much the same as Bill and Katie are not.  Questions as to whether this is a small part of raising the Middle East to a fever pitch and venue for a war to satisfy demands of super rich bankers, are the ones we should be asking, hopefully devoid of the old left and right squabbles that will doom the space from the Syrian Mediterranean to the Iranian Gulf, with Pakistan and Afghanistan left to a new version of the old Indian Empire.

Now, who’s up for a quick mission to get that old Nazi Ratsinger?

What is our problem as people?

We’ve seen people around the world protesting about rotten governments around the world for a lot of the last twenty years.  The Berlin Wall and Warsaw Pact fell and hopefully we will see and end to the worst Middle Eastern tyrannies and barking-mad Burmese military fascism.  How nice if simple democracies arose, or if there were any to copy in history. There is no hope on this.  Some of my friends will have been on the streets in Bahrain, no doubt wondering what ‘liberty’ might bring, as much as calling for it.  Even the relatively peaceful revolutions of recent years have generally lead to blood-lettings.  Bahrain is only the size of Bolton and Bury put together, yet potentially has enough feuds to destroy itself.

I find myself wondering what it is peaceful people need rid of everywhere, and how we might do this without creating the kind of vacuum that just sucks in the same old problems we had before.  How do we get institutions without corruption?  Even Plato devoted a book on corruption as the eventual doom of his own Republik.

Global Grumpy?

James Howard Kunstler is a good example of some very sceptical American thinking – http://kunstler.com/blog/2011/01/forecast-2011—gird-your-loins-for-lower-living-standards.html#more

The basics are that most of what we call banking is a scam, any recovery is just a re-elaboration of the scam, most of what we call ‘the economy’ is about pointless crap and we’d be better off having lives rather than globalism.  Scary reading, a bit like Banksidebabble or the better ‘evil poor – police farce’ stories on Gadget writ large in the idiot global economy.  Britain is cast as a European and Middle Eastern banking centre with little other economic activity.  China is probably being screwed by an even more corrupt banking system than ours – one without even minimal scrutiny, building empty cities that may put Ireland’s ‘Ghost Towns’ in minimalist perspective.

Kunstler is worth a bit of a read.  The question is what might make us wake up to reality.  We have a legitimation crisis, something done to death in academe as ‘postmodernism’ for 30 years.  He suggests the moment may come through an Indian war against Pakistan.

Reflections

Coppers (C4) finally fizzled out with cops trying to keep two sets of clowns apart  whilst protesting in Bolton.  The series was ‘Gadget with pictures’ and just made me wonder what a hopeless plight we put them into.  One could bicker over some of the police behaviour, but the key thing surely is we need to put society right, and its failures in that that lead to so much police time being wasted.  The BBC’s ‘Accused’ series is making more telling comments on the legal system through drama.

WikiLeaks has been of some interest.  The MadDinnerjacket has proclaimed it a CIA plot.  One declines alignment with him, but it is deeply suspicious that the emerging gossip tells such obvious stuff as China wanting to get rid of North Korea and various juntas in the Middle East want Iran bombed back into the Stone Age – all somewhat in line with US foreign policy.  We surely know already that diplomatic language has little to do with what the power-interests involved think and say behind the scenes.

A mate in the States tells me the only thing keeping the US going is the ability to buy Chinese crap in WalMart, and they have made serious acquisitions here since ASDA .  How lucky we may be!  I no longer buy much in shops and get what we need via Internet people, other than petrol for the car.  My business comes that way too, and in a couple of years expect to have enough to live in a warm country as an ex-pat away from whatever happens here.  I’d stay if I found more than a few bloggers interested in real change.

We’ve done the Dunkirk thing in the cricket.  Pity the Aussie Dollar is so strong.  I’d like to go and fly the flag.  I can watch it on my laptop on deserted Portuguese beaches or bars, laughing at memories of politicians claiming to be pulling off economic miracles, before it all goes belly-up. ‘Think not what your country can do for you’ seems good advice, especially when it’s broken.

ConDoomed looks as bad as the last lot, and it must be clear they all sing from the same economic spreadsheet.  Hang on for the private sector cavalry if you must.  I’m private-sectoring my way out.  With luck, England will get the World Cup and I’ll not have to pay extra tax.  The Dutch have worked out it will be a net cost, not gain, and they always were better at commerce than us.

I wonder if the fact there is no proportional politics in Britain leads to lunacy like protesters being put into corrals a few yards apart in a Northern ghost town for a couple of hours, with 72 arrests and apparently few convictions.  The town was shut to denizens for 24 hours.  Even the Swedes have anti-immigration party representatives in their parliament.  I guess you have to have suppression before protest on the street is ‘necessary’?  And we have to ask where the public dialogue is and note how farcical it is to have to deploy massed police because we can’t manage a peaceful public forum.

I’d guess our public dialogue has reached the point Wittgenstein found in philosophy.  The same old problems are defined and they are not solved.  Maybe it’s time to dissolve them and try to find out what really needs doing?  I feel ashamed we have to ask police officers to do the drunken mile and protests like this one.  It was rarely part of the job 30 years ago and now seems routine.

The reason I want to go is to do with feeling no one really wants to change anything, just get into positions to control money, power and influence.  FIFA may be a good metaphor.  The questions on their corruption are put to those likely to be corrupt.  I thought they looked like ‘The Sopranos’.  The expenses scandal revealed more crooks per capita in Parliament than the general population.  We have the technology for wide, public scrutiny and transparency, but instead allow secrecy, self-regulation and authorities so arrogant they dismiss criticism and don’t even deign to respond.  Instead, we are abusing our police, putting them in a line of fire politicians should be taking and answering.  The correct answer on corruption from FIFA would be, ‘here are our transparent accounts’, something Enron actually got away with because it’s so easy to produce bent ones that look OK.  If we demand transparent accounting, firms just move to where none is needed, like FIFA.

Everywhere, of course, most of us are given no share in control of the means of production, or the investigation that could lead to fair evidence. This isn’t good.

Mugged By Words – you bet ya!

I’ve just been over at Banksie’s place (no – not the tedious house-wall-painter, the much more civilised MrG’s).  He was pondering on managerial bullshit.  I’ve just had a couple of months too ill to continue with my book and have satisfied myself with a bit of blogging to learn the ropes.  Time to finish the book.

I don’t really enjoy the blogosphere.  There’s plenty good around and most stuff is free.  My enjoyment is curtailed because I’d rather be doing something effective.  I feel much the same about education – maybe we could shorthand it as ‘pissing in the wind syndrome’?  Saul Bellow wrote something on the frustrations years back – ‘The Dean’s December‘ – never could stand his prose, but the idea of a college Dean finding the same corruption in Chicago as Soviet Bucharest fitted well with my own life – I even found myself in Bucharest doing what I could for some friends wanting to escape west.  Brilliant plans involving a Turkish steamer and jobs in New York and London; but just as the wall was falling amidst all expert opinion it would not!  Bellow’s book as seen as subversive in the Romania of that time, though it could be seen as a critique of what was happening in our alleged democracies.

My time in the Eastern Block before and after the fall was undoubtedly tolerated by the authorities, though I had a few narrow squeaks.  As in the Middle East, there was a reality to the terror different to experience here.  Most of my colleagues and the people in my unofficial sessions asked if I really felt we had genuine democracy.  My broad answer was ‘no’.  We had a different regime of truth was all – and had somehow got to a point at which it was unlikely that dissenters could be locked up and tortured, disappeared and so on – though we had the ‘Irish problem’ , internment and miscarriages of justice.  There was no ‘box of tricks’ I could offer against abuse of power.

There is a box of tricks, of course.  A free vote, free-markets and so on.  There were plenty around evangelising on this stuff.  The key thing for me was to create something not about bullyboy cops or bandits ruling the roost.  The key building block was a fair legal system and people in armies, police and legal roles being honest and straight.  You had to pluralise the power, build representation for interests and accept people act in their own interests and build systems that mediate this.  The big mistake was believing we had a science of any of this, or taking Marxism or whatever as such.  It was an even bigger mistake to think counties that had established some civil rights we operating a political science themselves.

MrG produces an example of a decent sergeant who gets promoted inspector in some HQ cubby-hole, turning into a managerial bullshitter and losing all respect.  In the transitional Warsaw Pact, one would find similar examples of former Marxist apparatchiks becoming entrepreneurchiks.  This sort of Pauline conversion is very common – the bullshit changes and reveals only that the individual was probably always a worthless bullshitter.  Political correctness is a particularly malevolent example.  There are many examples in sociology of how ‘mannered societies’ are formed (Norbert Elias is a classic from pre-WW2 Germany – you can get most of him free on the Net).

Managerial bullshit (management does not require any) is dire.  I still get students who read Tom Peters (a font of much bull) and think they have found something new (main book 1982).  They don’t find the material that exposes the whole shebang – most published within a couple of years of the publication.  His excellence concept was shown to fail in all his selected companies within 6 months.  It was in none of the best 100 companies to work for in the USA.  Yet some vapid turd foisted on academic management teachers will still be found spouting it now.  The book, in any case, was no more than an application of the method in a UK education report on ’10 good secondary schools’.  MrG’s inspector is everywhere – from policing through to the vapid tramps running education and other services into the ground as they build nothing other than bank balances and property portfolios abroad to retire to (I know some who spend 6 months in their villas whilst still drawing full pay).

There has long been a production of simple to learn fairy stories from business.  These fashions have been well-exposed by academics.  They start in ‘success stories’ that are always positive and retrospective, are written up into ‘patent medicine’ and one can follow their spread into companies and the public and third sector like a plague.  Management By Objectives in the 1950s USA via various to Policing By Objectives at a police promotion board in 1976.  One can see similar route for idiot forensics (Nico Bento, Frank Scuse) and clown material like ‘ritual abuse’ – once exposed as frauds in one place, the wagon moves on.

What we need to know is how we fall for any of it.  My stories on this would start with helium.  This gas is essential in such items as MRI scanners.  We can’t really make it and hence can’t replace natural stocks.  Currently, we piss it out of our atmosphere via kids’ balloons.  Free market balloony!  At least managerial hot-air seems a bottomless pit!

Missing out several books (already written but not read across our society because we like dumb entertainment), how does this managerial dross get into our public sector?  The answer is fashion.  We might as well ask how some vile dress gets on the back of a woman.  She buys it in a shop run by a successful gawk the government hires to say he could save billions in public sector procurement, paying £20 – £200.  It started life on the back of a tall heroin addict strutting a cat-walk and looked vile then.  A claque applauded and media worthies wrote it up as chic.  Someone took photos and a machine stamped it out in some shrink after 4 washes textile, in various sizes.  This material went to various UK sweat shops to be sewed together by illegal immigrants and dole-blodgers on half minimum wages, using dangerous machines in some dire cellar.  Then the finished product gets to Gawko’s shop chain via white van man.  The man who can save the public sector billions by putting his buying strategies into place has no idea about the sweat shops.  He pisses out a book on ‘retail excellence’.  Before long, we re teaching this excellence to classes of coppers, wearing these dresses.  There is no mention of the sweat shops in the excellence material.  You can catch the drift of this on the latest Dispatches at 4OD.

I have no time for fashion, throw-away or otherwise.  We used to use the term ‘planned obsolescence’ as a pejorative – now it’s a ‘secret’ excellence pillar.  I would rather buy all my clothes and shoes from a supplier who could guarantee I could still wear them 4 years from now.  I’d pay twice the price they leave the sweat shop at plus reasonable delivery.  I can come up with a viable business plan for the business.  Klein’s ‘No Logo’ would do, though I’d wear ‘FuckFasion’.

The main “reason” there is so much management fashion is that no one is really interested in efficiency or rationality.  They want only profit.  The bullshit rationalises a pathological system.  We are too scared to change the mad system, fearing we won’t be able to pay our mortgage or rent.  The vile people bullshitting their way to benefit paradise over the deaths of Baby P, the Cochranes (could we really list 1000s?), our politicians and so on (current answers about making poor people poorer on the backs of our hatred of the public sector) are no more than sweat shop managers.  Their bullshit is no different to the fashionable sweat shop frock.

One might argue, by-the-by, that academics follow fashion – it’s just more haute-couture  to fart about with Habermas, Foucault, Lyotard, Derrida and postmodernism than wear frocks – though some artist is doing the latter.

I set a class an essay on the sweat shops this morning.  They mostly noticed it is wrong to get people working illegally in crap conditions.  Quite a few noticed all the participants were Asian.  None have yet come up with the business analysis, which is about speed to market (otherwise the work would go abroad – the delay and cost of the shipping are important) and changes at the ‘cut end’ of cut and sew.  I once taught how this could be done legally and helped two coops to do it successfully.  They won’t let me run criminal business practices 101, but how long before key financing like not paying workers for three months take on here?

The use of sweat shops in the UK relies in part on them being cheap.  We could stop them without losing all the work to sweat shops abroad, which have the advantage of being further from the prying eyes of the dozen or some of our journos who give a damn, who aren’t pisseur de copie on some Cheryl Cole-like bandwagon.  This would mean getting supply chain contracts out of the power of men like Gawpo.  The government appears to want to hand over the country to the likes of him, a truly excellent man.  He looks Jewish – a bit balder and I could pass as him.  I’d take offence if anyone thought I was anything like him beyond some genetic pedigree.  I’d rather die poor.  We have entirely forgotten the virtues.  I’m more likely to be accused of anti-Semitism than he of really wrecking people’s lives.

We have known about managerial bullshit for centuries.  It’s us that buys the dresses, feels the need to wear the crap.  The answers lie in us.  We need our own words, but are too lazy, even to invent our own lives.  Our cops can’t even keep utter scum from blighting the rest of us.  We still know this is true when some brassed-over turkey is rolled out to give the ‘learning lessons’ speech or some IPCC scummo tells us the deaths could not have been foreseen.  The truth, like the sweat shops, is swept under this carpet of bull.  Why can’t we stand up to it all?  What ‘terror’ do they exert and how?  Will the sweat shops close because Dispatches has found them?  I know of more than a dozen in Burnley and plenty in Portugal still using child labour.

We ought to notice that most business is such bullshit all managers can do is seek to depress wages.  Cops and miners found themselves on half-pay after strikes around 1920 – these are very old management techniques.  Do we need such imbalance of power?  We have been told (i.e. bullshitted) for many years that we need to let the old industries go to cheaper parts of the world and that new, better jobs would replace them.  This sounds pretty good to selfish bastards like us – let  others do the hard and scut work while we make more money doing financial services, selling guns and so on.  Did anyone ever work out how many people this would leave with no jobs, because they can’t do the new jobs?  Is there now a flourishing financial services industry across the South Wales valleys?  Are we about to find bullshit butters no parsnips?

The bullshit is partly so obvious because they want us to protest it as part of not being able to make positive changes.  I look at the BBC godspot occasionally to see how short Susanna Reid’s skirt is.  There’s a Muslim guy and an Xtian one I couldn’t argue with on any basics – decent guys.  There’s also a homophobic Xtian and Jewess I’d rather not give the time of day to.  Vile creatures who would turn away queers from a guest house – but no doubt prosecute me for saying queer.  I give tea and sympathy to Jehovahs if I have time – and I usually make it for the poor souls.  Why do we have a godspot when there is much important to discuss?  Why is 90% of the business curriculum taught 5 years too late and irrelevant to business practices?  Why is the religious dross not concerned with sweat shops and ensuring some decent work for people who need it?  Why are we still in trance to foundation scrolls that say much the same things about hospitality and peace, knowing we kill each other in droves over them?  We are easily bullshitted.