DEAD MEN'S SHOES ON TRANSYLVANIA AVENUE.
Dr De Ath. 7th March 2005.
Revolution Or Reform?
The names Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud are unavoidable if considering the most influential thinkers of the last couple of hundred years. Two of the four, Marx and Einstein, were eminent standard bearers of the Socialist movement. Today, after the fall of the U.S.S.R. and as the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.)sashays towards Fascist dictatorship, the Capitalist would have us believe that Socialism was some kind of aberration or historical cul de sac. Well, what would you expect the Capitalist to say? Our friend is now rampant, the press and media are almost entirely privately owned, countries that once prided themselves on their welfare states are running Dutch auctions for their education and health services, and repealing everything that was ever set up to protect the community against the ravages of the unrestrained individual within us. Could any of these suits and their corporations survive without treasury bailouts? You must be joking! Which, of course, is precisely why the U.K's., railways were nationalised in the late forties. Prudence Brown and the gang have been stuffing Britain's hard earned into the wallets of the disgustingly rich for years, just as any embedded Capitalist Chancellor of the Exchequer would. Blair has also got the gall to turn round and slap his people in the face with the accusation of apathy because electoral turnouts are dwindling! However hard won our so called democracy, it has become a pitiful charade. One could not even fit a piece of paper between the right wing Capitalist policies of any of the three major parties on U.K. ballot cards today; all of them are dependent on and thereby firmly in the pockets of private interests. The great and the good of our economic and political system have always viewed the electorate as cattle to be used and abused wherever possible, do they really think that the public is so crassly dense that it cannot see the connections between party donations and government contracts? The fact is that legislatures exist to sustain the economic zeitgeist and always have. Human beings are dualistic, made up not only of their societal urge but also the urges of the individual, and within every individual there is at least the potential to understand the greed impulse if not actually put it into force. Frankly, in such circumstances, why should anyone vote? If one agrees with the Capitalist hegemony, it does not matter which party one votes for since the dominance of the individual will continue to prevail in our legislatures. And, if one does not agree, one would be far better employed in taking the discourse on to the streets. As the front men in Westminster cherrypick their own judges and lay down the parameters within which their bloodstained hands may be washed clean, for how long do these 'worthies' think those who foot their bills will remain on the blind side of the parliamentary two way mirror? If they succeed, the road ahead looks fraught. If they do not, perhaps the hammer and sickle may not be simply the fashion icon that they hope it has become. As a devoted practitioner of absolutely no organized religion whatsoever, I feel that to castigate Socialism for the sins of Lenin, Mao and Stalin is not entirely dissimilar to suggesting that there is nothing of worth in the teachings of Christianity because of its association with the Spanish Inquisition.
To say that Socialism is dead is like saying society is dead, it is to conveniently gloss over the reasons that drove Spartacus, the Peasants' Revolt, the Levellers, 1848 and the Communist revolutions in Russia, China and other lands. The world has not 'moved on', as the Quislings in the Blair gang would have us believe, it has simply become worse. Human beings behave as they ever have done, Capitalism has certainly not changed and Socialism is far from dead.
In a similar way to that employed by the Zionists who attempted to recruit the image of Einstein to bolster their cause, some of Capitalism's leading Wall Street lights would have us believe that Marx must have been a Capitalist on the grounds that only a Capitalist could have been capable of such an accurate analysis (Das Capital) of the system. The most cursory glance at his life and work make it perfectly obvious that his affiliations lay elsewhere entirely. Even though his teachings were adopted by the revolutionaries in Russia, it is very much open to question as to how much he would have approved of his name being used to endorse such an authoritarian application of Socialism. Poor old Karl, all these suitors, Communist and Capitalist, and he can't stand any of them! It is clear from the enthusiastic communications of Vera Zasulich that association with Marx would lend great credibility to the Bolshevik cause. Marx himself was rather more circumspect about the notion of Socialism growing successfully out of a largely feudal/peasant culture that was surrounded by burgeoning Capitalist economies. His central contention was that Socialism would, for various economic and political reasons, be a product of the advanced Capitalism of the industrialised world, not of cultures stuck in the middle-ages. Given his support for the Paris Commune of 1871, it seems probable that instead of setting his store on the top down and intellectually arrogant Bolshevik style, where the community was expected to accept dictats on tablets of stone from on high, he would have leaned towards a much more bottom up style of government and structural revolution, much akin to the course of action advocated by revolutionary stalwarts such as Rosa Luxemburg for example. One in which the playing field is level, the rules are drawn up by all the participants, suffrage and power is universal and constantly active, and one in which public servants are actually that, public servants, not individuals who can claim carte blanche on the grounds of some mediaeval cross placed on a ballot paper once every four years or so whilst at the same time holding down consultancies and chairmanships in the private sector. With the stabilising effect of the ex-Socialist powers of the U.S.S.R. and P.R.C. now gone, our current approach to democracy has demonstrated itself as being no more effective at reining in Capitalism than standing in front of a speeding express train will bring it to a halt. Legislation to protect society against the greed impulse, whether it is in the context of labour, trade or international relations, is anathema to the Capitalist mentality, and just at a time when the need for the strengthening of such laws is becoming increasingly apparent, our representatives are casting them aside like clothes off a nightclub stripper. Reformist Socialism, such as that espoused by the U.K. Labour Party, has now been comprehensively exposed for the fraud that it, to varying degrees, always has been. Such an approach simply seeks to put a glove on the hand that wields the punch, it fails to change its trajectory. To imagine that one can change the beast from within, via modification of the structures it itself has established, is like letting it eat you in the hope that you will poison it. The parents of a Spanish friend of mine once attempted to justify the dead hand of Francisco Franco's regime to me on the grounds that during his tenure, the Spanish people were availed of such modern miracles as colour television. How stupid of me not to realise that the Roman inventions of concrete and the arch came about as the result of classical slavery! It is an entirely fallacious logic to reason that because we create and produce under a particular economic regime, we would be unable to do so under another. On reflection though, perhaps I am wrong, particularly if one attempts to measure how far we have progressed along the road of socio-economic development from slavery, taking into account the plight of the impoverished masses on our planet today who subsist at the bottom of the Capitalist pecking order. Those silver-tongued suits who profit from the iniquities of Capitalism frequently employ the excuse that people do not work under Socialist structures. The message then is that the mass of people will only buckle down when deprived of egality and have to live under the threat of hunger if they do not support the right of the Capitalist to exploit their labour and resources. It is additionally maintained that since we now live in the opportunistic lands of the free, anyone can rise to the top; just like scum. However, Capitalism still depends on the penury of the masses to extract profit. This after all is the essence of the system. Put simply, people still remain a cheaper source of income than machines. Capitalism has never invented anything, composed not a single musical note nor been responsible for any of the wonders of science and technology that we have dreamed up. The only thing that Capitalism has invented is the million and one evasive answers given by its advocates, usually the product of business, management and marketing courses, to disguise the fact that the only thing that interests them is money and lubricating their bank accounts off the backs of their hard working victims. Why do such people find it so hard to come clean and admit to their ruthless vocation? Perhaps their consciences are pricked after all when they see the degree of blood and filth on their hands. Economic systems simply provide environments within which people can exercise their creativity. Whilst threat may act to speed invention, "War is the mother of invention."…..etc., threat, however, is hardly an environment conducive to a healthy and happy workforce, as the multitude of studies relating to the effect that the Capitalist bully has had and continues increasingly to have, on not only the health, lifespan and morale of the worker but also the productivity, clearly prove. One may think that the implications for productivity would appeal to our friend, but no. Social policies dent the possibility to squeeze even more immediate profit margins from employees, and since people are expendable and the legislators are onside, it is easier to simply grind employees into the ground because there will always be plenty more desperate enough to fill their shoes. Consider what has happened to average working hours and union representation in the U.K. over the last twenty odd years and it should not be too much of a stretch to imagine what life must be like in less wealthy parts of the globe. In the dimension of economic efficiency, the human is expendable; a cog that is simple to replace. Additionally, while Capitalism, blessed by the sanction of the W.T.O. et cetera, spreads its transnational shadow over the poverty stricken masses of the 'developing world' on our twenty-four hour factory planet, the duplicitous politicians of the 'developed world' on the one hand, stir up racist sentiment against economic migrants by suggesting that these victims of corporate migration should be denied the same rights to benefit from the system via their own free movement, and on the other hand, our reptilian representatives advocate the import of foreign labour in selected skill areas. The attitude of the British towards newcomers to their shores is hard to fathom, particularly when one takes into account the racial make-up of the country; ranging from Celts, Saxons, Vikings, Normans and Jews et cetera through to Huguenots, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, West Indians and many more, most (normally dependant upon complexion) successfully assimilated, hard working tax payers, not to mention the many ways in which they have enriched British culture, particularly the language. Nevertheless, it is now par for the course for U.K. Home Secretaries to prove their mettle and enhance their electoral credibility, via their shameless media sound bite manipulation of public sentiment, by castigating the victims of Capitalism's conduct as potential terrorists and locking them up indefinitely without charge in the full knowledge that their actions will eventually fall foul of European human rights legislation. Ultimately, when their scams are brought to book, they know that they can always save face by pointing the finger at the lily-livered E.U. for emasculating them in their efforts to protect the great British public from such swarthy foreign suspects. Ex-U.K. Home Secretary D. Blunkett, and his replacement C. Clark, appear to see it as appropriate to encourage racism with, in the case of Blunkett, references to our being "swamped" by economic migrants but have few such qualms when it comes to the import of cheap foreign teaching and medical staff supplied by private firms with different, self-serving standards and salary scale regimes to the deliberately under-funded state institutions which these privateer gangmasters are progressively taking over. This New Labour policy of course allows for the downward adjustment of salaries and standards to be made within the teaching and medical professions viz: the maths once taught in the last year of secondary education now being taught in the first year of tertiary and the increase in infections acquired upon admission to hospital. Both of these abovementioned state institutions are being cynically manipulated to starvation point by those charged with managing them and opening yet further the already gaping doorway to the robber barons of private industry thus enabling them to get their payback for funding Tony and Gordon's election campaigns. Never mind though, if they privatise piecemeal and stealthily enough, as they are doing, probably no one will remember that there was a health or education service in the first place, or any other service for that matter. Given the current standards of journalism, doubtless the gracious service accorded to the privateers by the public via the treasury, in the form of state bailouts, will also go unnoticed. Naturally, our most crucial of all public services, that great pillar of probity, the legislature, will remain untouched. The institution where, on the one hand, the great and the good vote in their own pay rises and become millionaires whilst, on the other, it emits arcane economic mantras to explain why its members' paymasters, the electorate, should not have salaries sufficient to allow them (nurses, teachers, fire-fighters and et cetera) even to live within the areas of the U.K. where they work.
Entirely undeterred by the Robber Barons of the late 19th century, the twenty-ninth President of the United States of America, Warren Harding (elected in 1921), died in 1923 immersed in corruption scandals and left behind possibly the only quote that he will likely ever be remembered for, " Less government in business and more business in government.". Or, to lend a more contemporary Euro jingle to it: "Corruption lubricates the wheels of government to prevent them from screeching.", Filipe Gonzalez, disgraced 'Socialist' Ex-Prime Minister of Spain. The libertarian creed of the sacred individual is the philosophy of extinction. Those who believe so strongly in the right of the individual to take precedence over the community of individuals should perhaps spend some individual quality time caged in the company of a Siberian tiger, and whilst there, ponder how it is that the human ape has managed to overrun the planet and become its most dangerous predator whereas such beauties of the animal kingdom as our tiger have been relegated to the status of an endangered species. The fact is that we are inspired and give rein to our imagination and invention from and within a context that gives meaning to our existence, the development of language being a prime example. That context is society, and if society dies, we all die. In our current climate and with our current prospects, particularly on the energy and ecology fronts, it is imperative that action is taken to change the economic and social structures we employ to relate to each other. The downtrodden 'developing world' victims of our monstrous system have neither the resources nor the energy to resist the suicidal onslaught of those whose societal instincts extend no further than viewing the community as an object of abuse. It is the duty of those closer to the top of the food chain to set an example in leading the way to turning this self-destructive edifice on its head. One major benefit to have accrued from rampant post 89 Capitalism is that we now live in an environment where the global factory has given rise to corporations that are carrying more clout than nation states. Whilst this development has eroded the powers of state to soften the blows of our economic creed, it has also cleared the clutter of centuries, opened out the field of play and in many respects simplified the task of structural revolution. In this respect and despite the pain that has been endured to arrive at this point in our economic relations, I somehow do not think that luminaries like Karl Marx would have found globalisation entirely disagreeable. After all, he developed his credo from and within the global commercial context of his day. Globalisation is far from being a modern issue despite its trendy image, let us not forget why the British state went on its Indian adventure in the 18th century. A retired Scottish banker recently said to me, upon the coalition's invasion of Iraq, "Well, we all know who the enemy is now, don't we? America.". More accurately, I would say Capitalism itself. For myself, I would not blame one country or its people but our stagnant psyche. Despite our claims to civilisation, we have yet to demonstrate that we have emerged from the jungle. Our hunger for power has taken us far, but, greed is surely our basest urge. Where might we be now with humanity in its place? Particularly at a time when we have never been better placed to so easily cure the ills that we have generated in the course of our voyage. War or Capitalism, wherein lies the difference? It is simply a question of approach and the devices employed. To extend upon Thomas Jefferson: the object is the same, to draw to oneself the power, the wealth and the resources of others. Either we subordinate our economic policy to our social aims, or, we carry on allowing the economic policy of the few to provide the social circumstances of the many.
"If We Don't Stand For Something, We May Fall For Anything", Malcolm X.
With U.N. treaties, the Geneva Convention and Habeas Corpus being openly flouted by our so called representatives, accompanied by indefinite detentions without trial or even charge, accusations of torture, and our democratic system rendered little more than a charade that our leaders pay only lip-service to, action is urgently required to provide for:
This will probably suffice to start the ball rolling. Okay, call it old hat, call it a naïve pipedream, but it is perfectly clear that we can not expect or trust our elected representatives to act in our interests, ballot papers are worth little more than the paper they are printed on, but, democracy manifests itself in more ways than simply signing off every four years or so by placing a cross in the box. We are now dependent on the public spirit of socially and politically aware consumers, non-governmental organisations, unions, politically motivated internet hackers and scammers and crusading investigative journalists, but above all we, the ordinary citizen, must drag ourselves away from the latest in mobile phones, 1,400 calorie hamburgers and trainer haute couture, forget about the architecture of David Beckam's foot, tear up the ballot papers and get out more. Do not expect the victims of human and natural disasters to create a better world out of what we have denied them. It is down to us. If we do nothing, what is visiting them may well one day soon visit us. To borrow from another Blair, Eric (A.K.A. George Orwell), "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past." 'Nineteen Eighty-four'. It is high time power was wrested from those who control our present that we may tear down the veil that obscures our view of the past, only then may we stand a chance of defining a future worthy of our children.
In the city of Glasgow, it can sometimes be a challenge to get from one end of a street to the other without being sidelined in a conversation with a complete stranger. A few months ago, a Glasgow taxi driver switched of his meter at my destination and engaged me in a political discussion lasting half an hour. This only came to a close because I became concerned that our musings may have a detrimental effect on his earnings. During the course of our mutual rant, he put it to me that whilst he was a supporter of the Socialist cause, he felt it was hamstrung by utopian ideals. Right now, frankly, utopia looks like a very attractive place to aim one's sights on. The alternative is looking increasingly like Fascism. "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever." (Orwell; 'Nineteen Eighty-four').
Hey Mister, Lookin For A Special Relationship?
I hear much talk these days of Britain's 'special relationship' with Uncle Sam. Would that be the same special relationship that obliged the U.K. to pay the United States for supporting us in our fight against Fascist Germany in the 1940s? Cash, folks, yes, lucre lovely lucre (for details on the deal, check out: House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 28th February 2002 (pt 4), War Debts: Bob Spink M.P. to Ruth Kelly M.P.). Would that be the same 'special relationship' that is still obliging us to pay Washington for its support during the Second World War? Would that be the same 'special relationship' that will continue to oblige us to pay until December 2006 for American support during our struggle with Hitler? So, wearing Jackboots gets you the Marshall Plan and fighting Nazis gets you the 'special relationship'. Tough call.
So, as we wax lyrical at the altars of freedom and democracy, dwell awhile upon the cynical wisdom of the past. "Is there a man, is there a woman, let me say any child here that does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?", Woodrow Wilson. U.S. President 1913-1921. With in excess of 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians caused by commercial rivalry, how apposite the thoughts of Donald Rumsfeld: "Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war.".
Anyway, must dash or I'll miss the 'West Wing'. Have a nice day.