Work Ethic

In memory, a Goon Show starts with the sound of matches being lit and tossed into water.  Neddy Seagoon is trying to set fire to the English Channel, in order to cash in on the insurance policy Moriarty has ‘foolishly’ sold him to protect against this contingency.  I forget how it all turned out.  Neddy is, of course, tossing lighted matches into rocket fuel, which is what water is before electrolysis to hydrogen and oxygen.

These were my confused thoughts listening to El Cameroon’s podcast on turning Britain into an entrepreneurial nightmare of spivs selling aircraft carriers with no planes on them to India.  I had to make something up to tolerate the ghastly dross he was speaking.  He is as crazy as Blair poncing on about frog-marching drunks to cash machines, or pretending he was capable of making more sensible decisions on foreign wars.  I’m fairly convinced our politics is run by the CIA.  There is nothing for me to vote for.  What I believe in is never on the agenda beyond the blogosphere.

Satellite view of the English Channel

Image via Wikipedia

My view is a bit like Gadget’s in that I see a welfare dependency, ghastly moral corruption and farce.  I just can’t pin it on a brainless evil poor, or even a vile and corrupt nexus of politics and management – though I see these in action daily.  We have to see our own roles in the decadence too.  Policing is just one place to  focus on the wider demise.  We are all part of the decadence and the welfare dependency.  This is not to say, as Dr. Heinz Kiosk was apt in ‘Way of the World’, ‘we are all guilty’.

‘Money’ (whatever it is now) is detached from labour value, and its useful purpose in exchange.  This argument dates back at least to Aristotle, as does ‘retailing’ as a contempt word in Plato.  I have no doubt we need fairness, spirits of adventure, cops who protect the peace, invention and some way of being together creatively – a positive response to our plight.  Yet we seem to want to manage this without staring the world in the face to get a grip on what is going on so we can fix it.

Napoleon once derided us as a ‘Nation of shopkeepers‘, though we were, in fact, the nation of ‘balance of power’ foreign policy.  Sometime after the failure of the Corsican’s own military ventures, successful only in reducing the average height of Frenchmen, imperial powers met in Berlin (1861) to arrange to cut up the world’s resources.  The French, British and Russians intended to invade the USA on the pretext of supporting The Confederacy.  A little more determination there might have saved the world from canned laughter and the US foreign policy that out-imperialised us all.  Instead, more important matters such as Belgian dominance in the unspeakable rubber trade were sorted.  Britain now resembles the gruesome Athenian Democracy at its end, unable to build ships, organise its armies, and perhaps hoping those we have been fighting in long wars will take pity and remember some of the good we have done.

The radical change that might help us now, would be to really go down the freedom route and stop the production of docile bodies as wage and mortgage slaves scared to lose livelihoods (the microcosm here is IG‘s ‘I can’t come forward, I’d not be able to pay my mortgage’ – though it’s more complex than this).  Cameron is suggesting ‘entrepreneurial millennialism’ – a very old and dull cry.  We need a much deeper change in employment and wealth sharing relations than this.  I take some comfort from the failure of vapid Sino-Soviet terror-communism, but we should remember both these massive countries have been successful in military ventures, space technology and so on, as well as abject bastards to their own people.  At least our thinking can be free of marxist thought-licensing.

My own preferred places to start thinking involve humour.  Douglas Adams‘ notion of a planet ridding itself of its middlemen only to die out because there was no one to clean the phones is the classic.  Revolted as we should be to discover via Gadget or the Daily Mail of ‘evil poor rich bastards’ living it up on dole they never contributed for, the real welfare dependency in the UK is the vast horde of those with acquired wealth or paying themselves fortunes for abilities to prod leather-wrapped pigs’ bladders in the right direction with their meta-tarsals  or to suck on chocolate dipped strawberries whilst planning to fuck the typing pool.

No communist fantasy need ensue from such thinking on reality.  We just need work and fair pay back along with some idea that the old work ethics are not appropriate now.  You need an image of workers breathing cyanide, tossing bars of sodium as skilfully into a furnace pot as Bond was with his trilby to hat-stand, and one of a modern factory with robots singing opera top get some idea we are half-way to Robot Heaven and should not return to worker hell.  We need a new work ethic.  More than 30 years ago the notion of Quality of Work Life was suggested and abandoned.  This would do.

Without Robot Heaven, we can’t all sit  around on our arses all day but sweet sod all.  This doesn’t mean we need a system in which some turd gets rich off the backs of Pakistani kids sewing soccer balls for a pittance either.  Nor does it mean the public should have to put up with some untrained newbie just out of training school as a response officer because cops with more sense got themselves onto 9 – 5 squads or into chocolate-strawberry eating training – in other words onto benefits while some poor sod does the real work.

We need to take some real risks in the belief we can organise a country worth having.  We have brave people, mostly boys to someone of my age, dying and being traumatised for memories as unimportant as mine of a Goon Show.  We should recognise our history and build a better future.  Cameron is talking populist crap only fit only for the toilet.  Is it surprising a Cabinet stuff with millionaires is talking up their own interests and doing nothing about offshore tax havens and money laundering centres?  We’ve been conned.

The problem with our politics and society is our inability to think in argument.  We just take sides, without thinking that all the arguments may be piss.  I am not likely to care whether anyone is Tory, Labour or Liberal.  I just want to know, in principle, whether they would help to keep the street clean, the neighbourhood free of crime and help to kids with crap parents.  Hopefully, I’ll never need to know, but in practice I know we can’t even rely on most people to do their jobs, let alone muck in.  Strong positions on free markets and socialism are frankly barmy.  Neither get anywhere near being theories that might help us live better together, or get on with lives that might be radically different.

Entrepreneurs mostly get their business ideas from the employers they rip off when they form their own businesses.  Often, the only reason workers can’t do this is either finance or restricted practice.  Other entrepreneurs hang around waiting for the next fad like coffee shops.  Yet more reverse-engineer their entrepreneurial, self-made images, having been left only a few houses by an aunt.  Cameron is hardly entrepreneur material is he?  Can’t see him down the market selling the silver spoons his mouth was full of at birth.

What we need to know is how much work we should have to do as our fair proportion of what needs doing, before we get into political argument.  In full Robot Heaven, the answer to this would be ‘none at all’, at least in terms of what we now term work.  Bastards in the past have come to this conclusion by making people robots (slaves), and I suspect we still live under this govern-mentality.  We need new ideas that are free from millennia of idiot history in which groups kill each other and we piss such a vital resource as helium off into space via children’s balloons, most not even knowing why it is vital and irreplaceable.  The market trader is fine, but not writ large as society.

Political debate and the alleged consultation of changing policing share much in common.  There is no essential deconstruction to see if differences between interests are real or just rhetorical, and no scenario building to see what we would need, working back from what we hope to have.  There is nothing new in any of it all.  Magic solutions like making us all work longer whilst raising unemployment, should really make us worry.  We would probably lose a war with the French now.  Thank goodness they are too civilised and educated to be bothered.