The Devil finds things for idle hands to do. And British idleness is about to increase.
Of all the organisations questioning the status quo in today’s economic world, perhaps the two most influential (after the Beijing Politburo) are Wikileaks and the Tea Party. I find it worrying that both seem to be the creation of folks with – at most – one foot on the planet. (In Britain, UKIP has just re-elected a loud-mouthed clown as its leader).
I think this to be a great shame, given that there is much – say, 97% – to question in the current precepts about how we do business as a species. But both organisations merely add to the ease with which the Hobgoblins at Goldman Sachs are able to dismiss every opponent as a tree-hugging, braindead, cultist, Davy Crockett obsessed retard mad person. If the cap fits, as they say, wear it.
Why are the volubly bonkers consistently able to vamp the debate on what Homo sapiens should do next? Julian Assange is not entirely of this galaxy, many of the Warmists stand rightly accused of execrable Doomwatch mendacity, the Tea Party is full to bursting with women who think wanking might collapse the Universe, and the G20 demonstrator tendency carry placards suggesting they are time-travellers from1973.
The answer is easy when you think about it: as Lenin said, “History is made by the people who turn up”. Activists must be (by their very obsessionalism) a bit deluded, but they’re good at transport, organising and yelling. They enjoy pushing at police barriers, they write articles for a variety of mad Leftist magazines, and above all they don’t have much of a life to get in the way of all this.
Baroness Thatcher understood this issue better than most. She reasoned that nothing dilutes activism more quickly than property ownership and babies: and the huge numbers of former Tariq Alis become blokes catching the 7.31 from Woking to Waterloo today bear witness to the accuracy of her instincts.
Think about it: Sarah Palin doesn’t have enough to occupy her uncomfortably narrow mind. Julian Assange has – according to his intimates – nothing beyond a rucksack to his name. Most G20 hairies squat or rent. The current regime of disordered plutocrats, deranged bankers and world leaders, however, are by contrast busy. Not only do they fill their days with meetings, they fill their bank accounts with money. And thus they have a lot to lose by awarding any kind of balanced audience to the Opposition.
Yet despite this interpretation of contemporary debate – in which two sets of headcases lob shells at each other over the heads of the other 98% – as the Buddhists say, “Everything is in transition”. Over the next two years, a lot of highly intelligent people are going to find themselves with too much time on their hands. So there is some chance that the arguments about What To Do will become ever more realistic…and thus far more difficult for the media to dismiss as eccentric bigotry.
However, not everyone with dashed hopes goes off to join a discussion group at the local Community Centre. The British working class (however it may not call itself that any more) has been given Great Expectations by one duplicitous government after another. Rather than turn to Bentham biographies, they’re more likely to turn nasty…or to Establishment figures pretending to be against the System. Just like Nick Clegg, for example.
As usual, I find it interesting to try and put figures on this possibility. We tend to see things in terms of jobs and unemployment, but the consequences of social selfishness are far more profound than that. We have a demographically ageing population. We have an undisciplined Underclass. We have a police force which has effectively given up. Hundreds of thousands have private pensions which will shrink – perhaps disappear. Put the economically inactive and the retired together, and you have 2 people in 5 living on a fixed income. We have over a million students who graduated in recent years: so we have given them false expectations, but no jobs. We have the spectre of inflation and spiking energy prices.
According to the OFT, there were over 400,000 old people in nursing homes in 2005. The costs of care in the private sector have more than doubled since that time, and the post-war baby boomers now have a higher number of parents alive than at any previous time in history. The DSS estimates that only 5% of them have the means to keep on paying the inflation rate as it stands.
Sources concur that some 20% of the working population is ‘economically inactive’. This is 8.2 million people above and beyond those who haven’t yet given up (the ‘unemployed’) at 2.45 million. Some are already moving off the sofa to find work (over 300,000 since the Coalition came to power) but at a conservative estimate we can say that 1 in 6 young, able-bodied and potentially violent people have nothing to do.
Last June, the Manchester Business School, estimated that a 25% cut in the Home Office budget would involve the loss of 35,000 police officers, 4,000 community officers and nearly 20,000 police administration staff. Lest anyone might think otherwise, criminals read the papers too.
Quite a few of them read the Financial Times. As the Slog wrote in August, the numbers and skills of the anti-fraud units being set up to deal with City scams are farcically inadequate to deal with this burgeoning area of crime. The MPs on the Commons treasury committee were dismayed with the evidence they heard from officers at Britain’s senior fraud force last month, as they struggled to explain their efforts to tackle a rising tide of cybercrime. One told the FT, “It’s like sending Mr Plod to catch Moriarty”.
As for action by the Government against City sociopathy, the Tories have shot themselves in the foot by watering down everything Vince Cable wants to do. One by one, measures on transparency, bonusing and investment activities via the infamous dark liquidity pools have been quietly shelved. The Cameroons may think themselves savvy for having done this, but they have made a terrible mistake.
Finally – and crucially – there is inflation. Ex-factory prices (a reflection of rising raw material costs) are on the rise again: they rose 4.7% in the year to August. Transportation costs of consumer goods also tend to rise with the oil price. Brent crude rose $2.06 to $85.21, as Saudi Arabia pushed up the price of oil futures last month. We have had the coldest start to a winter since 1973.
The point I’m making here is that we have a confluence of circumstances dead ahead: consequences that we can see coming down the road more clearly than we could at the start of the year. The summary list I would enumerate like this:
*The emergence of powerful forces hell-bent on making life difficult for the Establishment.
*Post-election regard for politicians even lower than it was before.
* A financier class clearly able to do what it wants without fear of retribution.
* Very few very rich, far more poor.
* Rising taxes and a rising cost of government services.
* Huge rises in local government taxes….for less service.
* Perhaps 70% of people over 50 having to fork out for an elderly relative’s care.
* Zero rates cutting their income.
* Higher energy costs adding to those pressures.
*Falling demand cutting ‘working class’ income.
* 1 in 6 citizens with nothing to do.
* An already useless police force unable to cope with either crime or demonstrations.
* Fringe organisations peopled by some very odd types with little real mass appeal.
* A continuing inability of many UK Muslims to disassociate themselves from terrorists – and an increasing likelihood of another major incident in the UK at some point over the next year.
The last time these exact circumstances came together was in 1927 Weimar Germany. A social group to demonise, a fat banker class in cahoots with a spineless political set, a lot of people with nothing to do, and a middle class facing ruination via the twin horrors of mortgage default and eroded savings.
The result was the Nazi Party. During the three years after their minority presence in power, they created an authoritarian State dedicated to genocide without breaking a single constitutional law. History doesn’t repeat, but it sure as hell rhymes. I stick to my oft-repeated theme on this one: don’t assume such a Party would be of the Right – the Nazis were the National Socialists – anti-banking as well as anti-Communist; don’t assume it’ll come from outside the parliamentary political spectrum – Harriet Harman, Boris Johnson, Jack Dromey, the UNITE Union and Charlie Whelan are none of them respecters of people’s liberties; don’t assume you’ll be able to spot them via jackboots and uniforms – this is just an odd fantasy indulged by Peter Hain; and above all, don’t assume it couldn’t happen here. A dumbed-down proletariat, a controlling Home Office, a fear of external enemies – and thirteen years of diluting such Rule of Law as we have – have produced the perfect soil for a UK ‘Tea Party’ with an agenda that doesn’t include respect for any flag beyond theirs.
I first presented this scenario six years ago, and received a predictable tidal wave of abusive dismissal in return. No doubt many will feel the same today. But my conviction is firmer than ever. What I’ve tried to show in this piece is that the resentments of the majority have little or no credible outlet, that passive resistance could turn to violence very quickly, that our econo-political system is riddled with rot, and there are highly ambitious mainstream politicians ready and able to use their support base to inflict a telling blow on liberal democracy.
Unfair, offensively radical minorities are very easy for bombasts to target and turn into a mass movement. Yet again, I say we need an organised e-Resistance that will galvanise the realists; the last thing we need is more Assanges giving every Government the excuse it wants to clamp down on transparency. And roughly equal last as an outcome is Murdoch and his cronies running the world behind closed doors, while the grockles chill out by watching live shark wrestling.
I think the window available in which to do this is now almost shut. But I will keep on insisting we do it anyway.