The confluence of social, trade, media and fiscal disaster is a serious threat to our freedoms.
When things get this serious, there is no satisfaction at all in watching your most dire predictions come to pass. Today has been one of those days – and part of the reason why I haven’t posted until now: it is very important, I think, to take note of the whole spectrum of elite responses to what’s going on in the world…..and then try to make sense of it, rather than making hay out of it.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy this morning ‘demanded a quick reduction’ in the rapidly exploding French deficit. What’s to demand? He’s the President: who else has been in charge over the last three years? His best mate Pristine Lagarde has moved, yet again, at just the right time – but this is her doing: I said fifteen months ago that her pompous lethargy would end in disaster. I’ve blogged endlessly about the incontinent State spending in France. Who is this ridiculous ego-on-a-stick to now demand anything?
Similarly, US President Barack Obama calls the Republican Tea-Party wing ‘childish’ over debt-reduction brinkmanship. Of course they were, and of course deep down the TPs are superficial. But who was it who introduced universal healthcare at the one time when it made no economic sense at all? Who was he then to ring up Merkel and give her a ticking off about “sorting out your debt problems in Europe”?
One commenter in the UK press this morning described the US and UK leaders as ‘paralysed by a range of crises’. I’ve been trying to think of a good analogy to the idea that Cameron and Obama are paralysed by crises their own class had a very big hand in causing. I suppose quite a good one would be that of a bloke who tucks into that risky Japanese delicacy – poisonous blowfish – and then lo and behold, finds he can’t move any more.
Empty promises, spin, putting off pain for the sake of reelection, superficial strategies, economic illiteracy, and playing political football with education, crime management and the Law: this was the poison they willingly imbibed to get into office. Why is anyone surprised that they’re now paralysed? Yes We Can have a Big Society, with a Third Way and No More Taxes. We can be tough on the causes of crime and get back to basics and cut prices at a stroke and forge the future from the white heat of technology and plug the missile gap. We can tackle all these problems if (a) they exist in the first place and (b) we actually do something of substance, rather than make a gesture. The American and British citizenry have had just over half a century of this empty bollocks; but when reality rears up like a garden rake and smacks them in the face, none of them have an answer beyond deflection of the blame onto somebody else.
It’s the parents, it’s the GOP, it’s the cuts, it’s the teachers, it’s the Mandarins, it’s the banks, it’s the ratings agencies, it’s the Unions, it’s the morons, it’s the Trots, it’s the police, it’s the drugs, it’s the ClubMeds, it’s the Central Bank, it’s the media, it’s the pits. Only one class in society has allowed these groups, professions, behaviours and organisations to manipulate and exploit the culture to the point where it is close to collapse: and that is the political class. They and they alone are the sovereign power in the land…that’s what being a sovereign is about, because it’s where the tattered and frayed buck stops.
There is another forecast I’ve been making since 2005: that once the morons got out of control – and the honest but screwed workforce realised just how badly they’ve been led up the garden path by Treasuries and financial wheeler-dealers – then the forces of repression would come clamping down.
By Day Two of the UK riots, sorry, looting, the Dacre Mail wanted the army in there with plastic bullets. By Day Three, many politicians right across the political spectrum were as one demanding curfews. Today it’s a close-down of the social networks. Their incompetence, our loss of liberties.
When a hubris-driven and illegal decision to go to war in Iraq was made, it brought the mad bombers to our country. This led GCHQ to demand (and get) a £13 billion national communication monitoring programme. Their incompetence, our loss of liberties.
When Harriet Harman refused to reform social services and the Family Courts, the road to Tottenham was effectively turned into a motorway. Their incompetence, our loss of public safety.
When the Brownshirt regime led to banking insanity, £780 billion was coughed up by us to put it right. Their incompetence, our loss of services.
When Camerlot made an absolute Horlicks of the May 2010 strategy (and drew an election that was theirs for the taking) we wound up with a Coalition that has meandered all over the place, and made compromises to damage our policing, our armed forces, and our national solvency. Their incompetence, our loss of control over our destiny.
On its way to a form of heavily diluted power, Camerlot behaved for all the world as if it was eurosceptic. From Day One, Cameron, Hague and Osborne ignored the EU, soon admitting in private they had no intention of leaving it. This too was a terrible mistake: having a trading partner with whom we have an £80 billion negative trade gap is bad enough – but to wind up with that partner imploding (and demanding bailout monies from us along the way) was a grave error for which, I suspect, the British people will never forgive them. Their incompetence, our national debt getting worse by the day.
There will be more of this, because having the brains in the feet problem, the Westminster knees will continue jerking away like the manic onanists their owners are. The mindless, terrifyingly ignorant violence and criminality we’re seeing at the moment is not a serious threat to our way of life; but when real unrest starts – as the cuts begin to bite, the Unions start to strike, the economy goes badly backwards in the context of global slump, and the EU turns into a bitter economic civil war – then you will see our freedoms attacked faster than you can say mobile phone hacking.
Security Service budgets will go through the roof, Court cases will be heard in camera, the 60-day Rule for imprisonment without trial will become the norm….and within three years, we are going to see massive controls over what can and can’t be said in all forms of media. If you’re looking to buy some shares at the moment, you could do a lot worse than invest in medium-sized, well-run companies offering visual surveillance of all outdoor urban and suburban spaces….purely for our own protection, of course.
Two things could, however, stop what has so far been a drift towards autocracy in Britain from accelerating alarmingly.
First, G20 leaders could decide now – rather than when it’s much too late – to bring in a global programme of negotiated, measured, and mediated debt forgiveness. The US would be by far the biggest beneficiary of that process, and the Chinese People’s Republic by far the biggest loser. But rattling sabres in Beijing or not (and the first round of it last week had an ominously arrogant air) the Chinese know the realities as well as anyone: this is a poker game in which nobody has a winning hand. We need a new deck – and China needs that every bit as much as America, Europe, Australia – and even Russia and South America.
The effect of this – if done well – would be to reconfigure ‘money’, and thus ensure that no nation moved from insolvency to anarchy. By ‘done well’, though, I mean that some draconian measures would be required to beat the investment banking sector into submission. I’m talking forced deleveraging, global control over the size of derivatives sectors, massive international investment in low-risk mutual institutions, and perhaps even giving an expanded IMF/World Bank type of organisation the power to set the ratio of central government expenditure and taxes to gdp size and growth rates for any nation it saw as in danger.
Libertarians will, I know, be horrified by that last suggestion. But bear in mind, I’m talking about a planetary bank on the side of ordinary citizens and genuine entrepreneurial job/wealth creators on the one hand, versus the banking/multinational/corrupt government/remote shareholder axis on the other. One thing such a bank would do, for example, is ensure the multinational corporations at last paid their way in paying real social taxes.
That said, I think the chances of any of the above happening quickly enough are roughly on a par with a nuclear winter in Hell.
The second brake-pedal is by contrast one still open (just) to all of us, and that is the ability to influence government via concerted use of the Web in general, and the e-petitions scheme in particular. The latter of these worries me greatly, because it can so easily be hijacked by rabble-rousers like the odiously two-faced Guido Fawkes. His current campaign for the restoration of the death penalty, for example, can be seen (at least by me) as the beginnings of mob rule. It could quickly be followed by a sort of techno-amphitheatre in which the knuckle-draggers pressed a button, and somebody was topped.
Although ignoring the immigration problem was an excellent example of the electorate having a far better grasp of good governance than the elite, reestablishing the death penalty would be the triumph of barbarian revenge over civilised recognition of the facts: seven out of ten murders are committed by people who know the victim – often in a fit of temper. Of the remaining three, one is committed by gun-crime ‘soldiers’. The death penalty is not a deterrent for either of these groups. Nor will it deter religious extremists, who not only welcome death: their ‘matyrdom’ would be the trigger for even worse atrocities.
But if we can avoid using futuristic technology to simply feed the wishes of Sun-reading morons – that is, if we can direct it towards positive reform – then experience to date shows us just how quickly political and multinational senior officers run scared from a mass movement that threatens their privilege. (If social networks had not just proved themselves to be an effective means of coordinating resistance, nobody in the Establishment would be talking about closing them down).
I have written this so many times now, regular and loyal Sloggers deserve an apology – but the point still needs to be hammered home: if the media’s workers/users cannot behave responsibly, their powers will be severely restricted by the State. After just three days of violence, the control of Twitter is already under serious discussion. In the light of the phone hacking scandal – with a major inquiry coming up – the tabloids have also shot themselves in the foot. All such behaviour provides the very excuses the spooks need to demand more powers and bigger budgets. The quicker the excuses arrive, the smaller will be the window available to the rest of us to use these media for the social good.
Nobody knows what lies immediately ahead. But I remain fairly confident that media scandal, economic deterioration, fiscal crisis, and just sheer anger will ultimately force a change in the configuration of our Government here in the UK. We can all use coordinated internet pressure to bring this about…..preferably, in my view, without the need for a time-wasting election.
How great it would be if we could engineer the formation of a National Government of All the Talents: one in which Camerlot was largely eclipsed…but whose stars included Frank Field, Tom Watson, David Davies, Malcolm Brady, Michael Gove, Iain Duncan-Smith, Vince Cable, Chris Bryant and all others in the Commons with a track-record of putting community before self.
But please…no comment-thread bombardment of what you have against all these people. That’s what got us to where we are. Much better would be additional suggestions, with reasons.
The Slog must declare an interest here, in that he still has a £100 bet with Paddy Power at 50-1 for the formation of a UK National Government before the end of 2012.