I’ve been trying to find the time to write this piece for a few weeks now. Well it’s partly lack of time – and partly getting the argument into some kind of shape.
The only reason the terms ‘Left’ (Hooray!) and ‘Right’ (Booo!) are retained in the UK any more is because it suits the New Labour cause admirably. Note I do not call the Opposition ‘The Left’: they are about as socialist as their hero Bill Clinton.
There’s no rational place in tomorrow’s world for either word. Socialist command economics are – even after the Karno’s Circus of the last three years – utterly discredited. And once the next part of the deregulated Crash gets going properly on its way to an unpleasant end, so too will the free market insanity of Milt Friedman be dumped forever.
No, the ‘Left’ title the Leabour Ladyship attaches dishonestly to itself is a flag of convenience: “we is like well radical man, like we is the protectors of yer workin’ class”. Nobody outside the TUC believes any of it: not the SWP, not the Shadow Cabinet, and most certainly not a single voter under 50. Ed Balls may be trying to snatch the Standard all for himself, but he doesn’t believe in any of it: he doesn’t understand enough about it to believe in it, even if he wanted to.
So too is ‘Right’ a term cherished by Nude Labour. This operates at several levels of mindless bigotry.
Lord Barsteward loves to spit “the Toreeez” as if to give himself credentials as a fighting, bruising working class hero….as opposed to the corrupt, toilet-seat breaking fatty he is. The better-educated but infinitely more deluded Peter Hain focuses instead on ‘fascists’ and ‘nazis’, the threat of whom exists only in the dormitory dreams of his privileged Rhodesian private-school childhood.
The collective total vote of the UK Right (ie,real fascists) has failed to reach double figures in any General Election, and not been above 7% since the Mosleyites of the 1930s. It is a tribute to the black propaganda of Britain’s liberal Establishment that a mass-supported and intolerant Opposition Party supported by censorious newspapers – and run by controlling anti-libertarians – is given pretty much of a free ride; and yet somehow, a few shaven and tattooed nutters in Millwall are presented as a serious threat to our democracy.
By contrast, the Coalition – about which I retain mortal reservations, but which has to be infinitely preferable to Dark Lords, Mad Hatties and Hoons for Hire – is, whether consciously or otherwise, inviting people to think twice about about Right, Left, progressive and reactionary. I’d argue that this is healthy, were it not for the fact that their survival as terms demonstrates a tertiary sclerosis of socio-political thinking in the first place.
There is a degree of broken record about this next bit, for which I apologise. If there was any evidence that anyone in power or beyond a small minority of clear thinkers was taking the observation on board, I and thousands of others would stop writing about it; but as that’s not happening, one must keep plugging away. If you don’t want to know the score, look away now.
The epoch we’re entering isn’t just more of the same. It isn’t Armageddon either, but it sure as hell isn’t ‘major recession, a tad nasty, bit of austerity, back to normal, Bob’s yer uncle’ either. For the only time in my life so far, we are passing from one period of history into another, entirely different, future.
I do think that great individuals often master (and exploit) the tactics of history; but invention, social upheaval and economic changes drive strategic change.
Lots of things may try to hold this strategic process back. Treasuries can sell stimuli, and bankers can sell dud bonds. Wannabe superstates can sell stress tests, and former Communists can sell crap that breaks after a week at best. But none of them are in control. Only ego-pumped Homo sapiens thinks he’s in control of his own species: one day he might be – but not yet, not by a long chalk.
The qualitative leap taking place now was started by micro-electronics, confirmed by the internet, and accelerated by the failure of Maoist economics in China. Ironically, the short-term catalyst for change was the craven 2004 decision by America’s Alan Greenspan to let growth just keep powering ahead, and consumers just keep on beating off with their plastic. But the long-term moves were always going to triumph anyway: Greenspan, Brown, Bernanke and their ilk merely ensured a painful mutation for everyone along the way.
Probably the most important of the underlying factors was the media explosion: once the laptop/cellphone/Blackberry-based information Minotaur had made news not just mobile but interactive, neither paywalls nor censors were going to change its two biggest effects – the ability to construct lies in a crowded media environment, and the means to expose them given access to vast comparative sources.
History shows us that increasingly sophisticated info-transmission (and mass reception of it) always, in the long run, narrows down Lincoln’s famous adage about how many folks one can fool for how long a period of time. The overall effect of this since around 1995 has been an exponential acceleration of discovery. At the bottom line, what this means is that nobody – not Beijing, not Goldman Sachs, not Putin, and most emphatically not the Labour Party – will be able to cling onto ex cathedra belief and present it as fact.
And in the context of this piece, the inevitable outcome will be the demolition of anything called ‘The Left’ as a serious political force. It will also in time mean a rational backlash against the worst excesses of feminism, political correctness, and many other pernicious aspects of contemporary soi-disant ‘liberal’ thinking . The same fate awaits the Right, and its attempt to con the rest of us into acceptance of wishful thinking like trickle-down wealth, too big to fail, remote shareholders, globalism and $80 million bonuses in return for producing nothing of any value to society at large.
So if Left and Right must go, what will replace them? And is it really just about replacing the names? I think not. What I believe we need is a new kind of Opposition. A more positive Resistance, if you will.
One might also ask, who has the depth these days to even think about this kind of thing? The idiocy put about by the likes of Alistair Campbell – “political philosophy is dead” – was nothing more than an attempt to use absence to cover up inadequacy: it was never going to wash, but it did act as some kind of anti-philosophy for New Labour. It produced – among many other banalities – ‘Forward not Back’ and ‘nothing has changed except that everything’s getting better’.
But that question is far too pessimistic: no matter how bad educational standards get, the really independent minds will always come through. I’m thankful that my daughters’ boyfriends at various times taught me this: the triumph of individual balance in a free mind over the State madness of stagnant minds is one of the things that keeps me going.
To give just one example: while the long-term contract between employee and large corporate entity is rapidly disappearing, so too is any belief in those companies – or loyalty to them. Huge numbers of the young are not turning to the couch and the telly for comfort at all: they’re deciding to go without the big employer who won’t give them a job, or laid them off without batting an eyelid. In the light of recent greed revelations, this attitude is spreading rapidly up the age demographic. It shows up as the growth in casual labour, and enterpreneurship among people in their late twenties and early thirties. As Crash 2 unfolds, it will breed more radicalism in some – and more desperate determination in others. It must also too, I’m convinced, produce a much bigger cash economy paying no tax.
What this new personal independence won’t do is attach itself to any of the existing Parties. The Youth ‘surge’ we saw at the General Election either didn’t turn up on the day, or has since become disillusioned with what it sees as the Clegg sellout. For those being left out in the cold before they’re forty, the system is a crock. Cloth caps and coronets are meaningless for them: they will be attracted to something offering a better future, following genuine change.
To a lesser extent (but it’s there in the comment threads and the phone-ins and the recent attitude surveys) this is happening in the US as well. The obvious infestation of the US Establishment by banking cockroaches is part of it; but so too is big business pollution and tax avoidance.
Everywhere in the West in fact, the following conclusions are being reached:
Come what may, the poor taxpayer will have to cough up
There’s a money conspiracy leaving me out
Global banking and business are merciless, deaf, and greedy
The politicians care only about the powerful and the media – not me
I’m entitled to better treatment than this
But the first five can be seen in Greece following the austerity cuts – as well as throughout the US in the light of taxpayer-bailed banks foreclosing on the very folks who paid for that rescue operation. And there is one thing above all which, I think, ties all this formative belief system together: the Establishment – that is, big business, big media and the Government – is an uncaring and incompetent collusion of fatcats.
I’ve posted before about dealing with the current deficit crisis without government involvement – see the link above. I’ve also pled on several occasions for online syndicates to get together and oppose the Murdoch/Beijing model of what they want the internet’s future to be. And last year, I made brief reference to the growing trend towards ‘bridging’ by concerned private citizens in the UK – that is, doing local restoration, ecological, artistic and conservation stuff which government is being too slow about – and now looks increasingly unlikely to do at all.
All these are different facets of the same thing – that is, a sort of attitude which reasons that the government will screw things up, do it far too expensively, do it too late…..and then leave us with a £3 trillion pension liability for the privilege of their help. ‘Not only do we not need them’ this argument runs, ‘we’ll do it quicker, better and cheaper’. (If they stop paying tax as casual labour, governments will have no money to do it anyway).
My increasing conviction, in fact, is that while a lot of problems could come with this, they’re probable soluble – and hugely outweighed by the direct and indirect effects: taking personal responsibility, group achievement and bonding, entrepreneurial ideas on method, commercial discipline, rendering the privileged increasingly irrelevant, and removing a great deal of power from the central Westminster silo to local private and non-profit community groups.
Doing this obviates the need to have any kind of violence or even revolutionary movement – which, if I’m honest, is only possible any more in Eastern Europe and Russia. Rather, one simply treats the ‘powers that be’ as a Maginot line to walk around – and leave forever behind us.
But it also accepts (which I think we all must) that the Opposition no longer becomes Labour, Tory, Democrat or Republican – it becomes the citizens left out of the game by the Establishment. But it needs to be a syndicate to inspire international citizenry, without being yet another Party attracting the policy wonks, political keenies, hairies, fluffies and power-freaks who always wind up getting everything back to where it started – and insisting that violence is the only answer.
This site has had bollocks deconstruction as its primary raison d’etre from Day One. But in my head and heart I think what I would call the macro-bollocks is doubted by a rapidly growing number of people outside the power axis. In no particular order, these especially large info-gonads would be:
Mass production is better than craftsmanship
Globalism is the future
Only the Left can be progressive and moral
Everything must wash its face
Debt-fuelled productivity and growth is the only way forward
Equality is a better goal than meritocracy
Personal privacy must be sacrificed to marketing goals and security considerations
High intelligence is closely correlated with competence
If you have process, you don’t need ideas
Most big business and government administrators are honest
The Establishment knows best
The market must decide
You can reason with fanatics, after which they’ll go away
The main reason we need it right now is because precisely the bollocks list above is being fed to the population in an incessant daily stream of bad science, wishful thinking and mendacity; and it has got us into the mess which – we must hope – will this time precede a more free, sane and fair world.
The old dimensions were about Left and Right. The new ones will be about State power versus Individual resistance. Establishment might versus Community resistance. And rule from the Capital versus citizen Independence.
What the internet offers us is the chance to peacefully destroy the ignorant centres of power – and replace them with the enlightened power of one.