If you have the time before your first meeting, I’d be grateful if you made the effort to read this analysis. And if you agree, then please pass it on. This is my second shot at posting it without being c****red.
There are far too many of us.
I must’ve written the assertion here a hundred times over the last seven years, and every month the problems of that reality become more and more obvious.
To be clear about it, this is not some scientific equation point I’m trying to make. It’s not about land and air and population expansion: that’s a pointless debate that goes round in circles: I do think water is a vital resource and will become a key geopolitical factor in the future unless governments wake up, but this isn’t an eco-conservation wonk plea. It’s about pack-size and complexity – about the fundamentals of social anthropology.
The sheer size and population of contemporary western Sovereign States today means that individual choice and freedom are shrinking, literally, day by day. It leads to, among other things, a dilution of the sense of personal responsibility and worth, a one-size-fits-all attitude to medical diagnosis and treatment, education, welfare and manufacturing, and a self-serving élite following its own agendas rather than observing and then fulfilling citizen needs.
The ‘mass and class’ structure of the ‘modern’ State model in turn forces the need for mass communication – of news, products and services – and a profitability of the media set thus nurtured that leads to inordinate power for the owners of those media. More recently, the explosion of the internet and expansion of “24/7 news” has led to less and less analysis of what’s going on, and a much more crowded information environment in which it is frighteningly easy to obfuscate, mislead, and lie about reality. A classic example of this is the myth of ‘choice’ – more channels on TV, more internet content, product segmentation, more political Parties, more ways to buy stuff online – where, on cool assessment, very clearly the real quality of what’s on offer has been reduced to almost zero: everything is formulaic and derivative, and even in hitech there’s no real leap…just more apps and constant updates.
Most significant of all is that the very complexity of the State model has led to the rise of neoliberal socio-economic policies, within which the need to address expensive complexity is removed but the fundamentals of State structure remain. This is the worst of all worlds: one where reduced welfare and wages lead to increased time starvation, community involvement falls, the time available for parenting declines, and government becomes increasingly inaccessible. All these combine to nurture a sense of bitter, alienated resentment among the populace. Communitarianism, ironically, is replaced by systemic tribalism. Debate deteriorates into slanging matches. Society lacks a coherent set of shared values.
And in a purely economic sense, the system based on permanent consumption implodes because not enough citizens can afford to consume.
With 24/7 news, hundreds of TV channels, millions of websites and portable access to information has come a further stage in personal isolation. Families no longer eat together, or even watch telly together: they stare at screens, tap keyboards, send texts, take calls, Skype distant contacts and emit often inane tweets.
Far from realising the dysfunctional nature of this construct, those whom governmental complexity has attracted (for it is a wonderful place to hide) bring engorged egos with them. These in turn develop multiple supermarketing, out-of-town shopping, lowest-price manufacturing, one Europe, one dominant petrodollar currency, one brand name of soft drink worldwide, and – by force majeur as much as anything else – one system of globalist mercantilism alongside interconnected banking “to which there is no alternative because it is the future”.
Those of us who are awake know what’s coming. Those in charge either don’t (a surprisingly large number don’t) or do – and are ensuring the door closes on their helicopter once they’re in it. (There is an entire echelon in China ready to leave at a moment’s notice once the corruption show-trials start.) Either way, more thinking, intelligent people need to step back and take an essentially apolitically cold look at what the Nation State and its supra-State ambitions have brought us to.
In summary, they have delivered an arts sector devoid of genuinely creative and challenging work. A lifestyle that a majority of people, for myriad reasons, find profoundly unfulfilling. A lack of investment in energy research that locks us all into the dangerous geopolitics of oil. The near-collapse of over twenty major economies. Astronomical debt. A perverted set of banking practices and ethics. A Europe that has returned to the unstable squabbling of the past. Widespread – and growing – limits to freedom of speech. And divisive cynicism about aims and motives.
At times, the loss of plot by ruling élites seems almost epidemiological. Dangerous confrontations in the Middle East and Ukraine. Anarchy and potential civil war in south eastern Europe. Education systems that turn out robotic acceptors rather than sceptical analysts. And – due to the insidious influence of privileged money on the political process – an Establishment that serves multinational tax-evaders, crooked bankers, shady oligarchs, tribal minority interests, media moguls and the grand designs of paranoid snoopers long before it gives any thought at all to those millions and millions of faceless individuals who are supposed to be represented through the democratic system.
And the more of us there are to ‘serve’, the easier it will be to govern – because the complexity and confusion I examine above leads to the resentment, fear, divisive politics and tribalism that remove effective opposition. But the security services deliberately offer the opposing view: that sixty million people are bound to harbour secret groups with secret plans to destabilise the State to which there is no alternative. So they must expand GCHQ, and spend £15bn every year to watch, listen to and read everything we say, write or broadcast. The internet ISPs already offering marketing the chance to sell by individual and aperture with hour by hour changes to the mix are keen to cooperate with Intelligence services. And risibly named ‘social networks’ fill in any gaps that are left.
The social networks and the blogosphere seem to me increasingly there to serve perhaps the most obvious symptom of a mentally ill culture: the desire to talk about oneself and, by one means or another, create a certain sort of fame – vicariously through others, or perhaps in a niche.
What has narcissistic celebrity obsession got to do with too large a pack size? Put simply, if you turn every citizen into a small frogspawn in a gigantic lake too cold for it to hatch, every frogspawn will want to be a frustrated not-frog. And if they can’t be a frog, they’ll fantasise about being the most famous frog in the lake. Only in the small, warm pond can he or she develop naturally to become a responsible adult with a balanced sense of scale.
A key word in that paragraph is naturally. So utterly have we been removed from a natural environment over the last fifty years – with an acceleration after 1980 – I sense that the only way some citizens can deal with it is by vigorous, almost autistic, assertion over and over again that unnatural is better than natural. From this desire to feel ‘normal’ in a culture of increasingly abnormal lives – crowded trains, long hours, endless traffic jams, casual affairs, binge drinking, lack of communal intercourse, incessant litigation – comes support for political correctness, swopped gender responsibilities, extreme feminism…and above all, denial.
It is denial that has given us an enormous and expanding Underclass, the desire to pillory opportunist men as rapists and paedophiles, 24/7 drink laws, huge imported cells of Islamist jihadism where no GCHQ at all is required to see them, ludicrous targeting in education and welfare, the belief that the private sector can be trusted when working for government, multiculturalism, endlessly repeated (but groundless) accusations of systemic racism and/or misogyny, reclassification of asking for a date as sexual harassment, and an island so overpopulated yet ideologically blinkered, the only solution on offer is to build even more domiciles to house them.
In a culture of ‘settled social science’, there are no new ideas. In an economic system that values only share prices and short term ROI, there are no risks that lead to innovation. After an education where only one question is asked by the student – “Is it on the syllabus?”, there is no search for The Better Way – and ultimately, no exercise for the voyager gene. A political environment in which the Left and Right duopoly continues to dominate merely reflects the culture it has helped create: but of course, the culture it helped create protects it in almost every way. Checkmate.
Pretty much every major European city now has ‘villages’….and in those villages live tribes: stockbrokers, gays, liberals, media executives, MPs – even activists. These reflect the natural human desire to be among those with whom we feel an affinity. The most enduring south east English trend of the last fifty years has been the desire to leave London’s mass-race to be King Rat, and spend more time among green things where the horizon is visible. Study after study shows:
* lower levels of crime in smaller communities
* stronger cultures in smaller companies
* the growth of mutualism as the preferred business start-up
* higher achievements in smaller class sizes
* improved educational diligence among stable families
* cynicism towards central government
* the rejection of Supra-State solutions
* growing gaps between rich and poor in large, neoliberally run societies.
But now comes the core problem: perhaps somewhere in the region of 3% of the population would reject all or most of the observations I’ve made in this piece….and wilfully ignore the research mentioned above.
Sadly, they run everything.
Yet the only alternative to the scaled-down, communitarian and more localised mutual entrepreneuralism we need is a mass cull. Because central government trying to employ, look after, listen to and police the sick, mass culture we’ve inherited is hugely expensive.
What the current top tier seem to conclude in that context is, “OK then, we won’t bother”. Which is a solution, I suppose. Under that solution, orders of water-cannon and portable crowd-control railings do well. But what England, ClubMed, 11 States in America and dozens of other overblown human units have discovered is that doing everything on the one hand or far too little on the other simply fails – in different ways, but the failure is equally cataclysmic: debt that enslaves the State, or social unrest that lets in the fascists.
There are far too many of us.
There are far too many of us to put into one unit and hope it will be homogenous: those days are long-gone. Even in Greece (where the population is under 10 million) hundreds of thousands of young people are leaving to find something better elsewhere.
But there are not far too many of us to the extent that we need a planetary cull. Not at all: what we need is massively scaled down central government from which all unelected, monied influence has been removed…and power devolved to interlinked communities where people can build self-esteem by having a say…or (if they want to do other stuff, as most do) being a name with responsibilities…not a number with an unquenchable thirst for license.
License in the end leads to a top-down system in which everyone needs a licence before they can do anything. Not for nothing are we now being told that, on top of the Birth and Death certificate, we must (six times repeated on the form) have a Life Certificate.
There is so much more to this issue than liberty and democracy. One can’t any longer sloganise the need for the duo, because the minorities taking them away don’t care if we do. It is every bit as much about self-esteem, neighbourly camaraderie, taking responsibility, gaining fulfillment from work and family, developing scepticism where there is now only cynicism…and earning the right to be left alone by those who have no business snooping into your business.
If there’s a vacuum where self-discipline used to be, untrammeled power will fill it very quickly. We can blame ‘Them’ until the cows come home. The answer lies in our hands.
And no, it’s not my job to tell you how to get there. It’s your job to think about it.
Thank you for persevering with this longer-than-usual piece.