Monday, 29 August 2011

The "Scourge" of Single-Mums.

I am one of the generation deemed scum by so many newspapers and reactionary fuck-pigs. It is a generation raised by women without the hand of a man to slap them around and all the while these women - designated simply as 'single mums' - are faced with a torrent of misogyny and bad faith from a narrative of the gutters. Incidentally the attitude of many single-mothers is not one of entitlement, but of guilt, shame and self-loathing. The narrative of the right-wing media has been that the person on benefits is a parasite on the successful and hard-working, that the families which survive on the crumbs of the state are the froth of the scum which has been amassed at the very bottom of society. These people choose not to work in order to get a free ride on the backs of 'real' workers. Notice there is no mention of the severe lack of jobs in our society, the lack of opportunities, the pervasive inequality and the absence of any policy to create jobs.

One major cultural change which has been accomplished by the Feminist movement of the 1970s is the sense that women have a lot to be angry about and should be angry. We live in a time of the 'token woman' and the widespread dissemination of feminist ideas, at least at the level of a kind of Barbie Doll feminism, whilst the conditions of women's lives worsen and everywhere there seems to be a backlash against the steps forward made in the past. The women who have to raise children on benefits are often treated with scorn and even from working-class people, who are jeered on by middle-class journalists and newspaper editors. The explicit attitude of the gutter press to women is anti-feminist, it is almost as if woman is the guilt of man realised and only if he can cleanse himself of his "dirty desires" can woman cease to exist. We have only to glance at these papers to catch the orgy of misogyny in full motion, where a life on benefits is a 'choice' undertaken by the exploding numbers of women who don't think being a housewife is "rewarding".

The fact that the media is a business for which the aim is to maximise profit by driving down costs and stimulating advertising revenue. Let alone that the media is dominated by middle-class white men and has been for decades. The superfluous population are a cost to be minimised. So the press run endless stories about women living in houses worth millions on housing benefit and child-benefit, as if these crumbs are equal to a house in London that they don't even own. Incidentally housing prices have been inflated in London as council housing has been decimated and the economy has been finance-driven. The average age of the single-mum is 37 and 55% of single-mums had their children within marriage. 33% suffer from disabilities and illnesses while 34% of their children are disabled. No wonder there are working-class people cheering on the government as job centres are set a minimum target of chucking three people a week off of benefits. The disabled are a prime target because they won't kick up a fuss. But neither would most single-mums, the attitude pervasive amongst the superfluous population is apathetic parody of the stiff-upper lip.

As David Cameron rants about "runaway dads" he supports policies which make it more costly for women to pursue them for financial support. The blame is still fundamentally pinned on the woman for opening her legs and seducing the man who just can't help himself. Naturally Melanie Phillips responded by fanning the flames of misogyny and tells us that it is not the father who is the problem it is the single-mum who is just trying get by. Even though it will be single-mums who will be hit the hardest by benefit cuts, losing a month's income every year and three times as much as a childless couple. At the same time, single women will lose a little less than a single-parent on benefits due to the tax and welfare changes. Even though around a quarter of children live in single-parent households, and a high number of them do so below the poverty-line. The statistics will tell you that these children will go onto do badly in school, suffer poor health and may even fall into long-term unemployment themselves.
There is an irony in the obscene lies of the Right against single-mothers on benefits. The term "proletariat" is derived from the Latin for "offspring" which refers to those who were too poor to serve the state with anything other than their wombs. Too deprived to contribute to economic life in any other way, these women produced labour power in the form of children. What society demanded from them was not production but reproduction. The proletariat started life among those outside the labour process and not from within it. Though the labour these women endured was a lot more painful than breaking boulders. We live in a world in which the typical proletarian is a woman, as we can see in sweatshops and agricultural labour. After the decline of heavy industry it was women who staffed the huge expansion in shop and clerical work. Even when Britain was the workshop of the world the industrial working-class were outnumbered by domestic servants and agricultural labourers. In other words the majority of the workforce was female in the 19th Century.

The picture we all carry in our heads of the working-class is of the blue-collar brawny male off to toil away in a factory with lunchbox in hand. But the working-class is not defined by manual labour. The working-class includes anyone who is forced to rent their labour power to capital, languishes under its oppressive disciplines and have little control over the means of production. Thus Karl Marx ranked commercial workers along with industrial workers and refused to identify the proletariat with just "productive" workers, in the sense of those workers who churn out commodities in exchange for a wage. The unemployed are not part of a so-called "under-class" but are actually central to the working-class. The way unemployed women in particular are regularly singled out by the reactionary media along the usual misogynistic lines is the essence of class warfare. This is how the important role of child benefit has been jettisoned over the years, it is not even seen as an investment anymore by the elites and the commentariat.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Myth of the Beautiful Soul.

A persistent characteristic of liberalism is a kind of irresponsibility, liberal leftism may appeal to grand projects of social justice and freedom but shirk from the harsh price to be paid for an ideal such as solidarity. The anti-capitalism of liberals might be just a concern over the excesses of capitalism, but the liberals shrink and avoid the consequences of applying their principles. So we can watch Vince Cable "attack" capitalism as he jumps in bed with the Conservative Party along with all the other gutless liberals. It would seem we have reached the point that the liberals are incapable of defending even their own ideas. It is true today that the liberals will talk about justice and rely on the conservatives to do the necessary dirty work for them. So we find the Democrats essentially colluding with the Republican Party on fiscal policy to attack the base of voters who elected Obama. But still Obama hangs onto his 'Beautiful Soul' even though the disagreement over the debt-ceiling was only over a difference in proposals of 2%. This is the shame of the self-described 'moderate' Left, the dirty secret of liberals and progressives everywhere.

It was this that drew the disdain of Rudyard Kipling for the liberals of his day, who relied on conservatives to do the dirty work for them. The same attitude of utter contempt is befitting for the liberal Simon Hughes who abstains from voting on tuition fees whilst quietly relying on his Tory cohorts to do the work for him. The liberal Left might even want a true revolution to bring down capitalism, but the liberal shrivels in the face of chaos and avoids the costs that need to be paid for a revolution. The liberal favours, at best, a revolution without a revolution. Even at the level of activism and civil disobedience the liberal prefers to stand back where he can maintain his convictions. The consequences of the application of such convictions don't have to be acknowledged and the liberal can remain in safe illusions. This is what we saw with the student protests in the UK, the liberal Left effectively took the side of the Right in order to oppose "violence" and "extremism". In that case the liberals sought to maintain the purity of their principles - their 'Beautiful Soul' - but in the end effectively took the side of the common enemy. 

The name Vladimir Lenin is not often mentioned in the same tones as Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln, for obvious reasons, but the common ground between the three of them is significant. It is the difference between the politics of responsibility and the politics of conviction. We find Lenin can be located alongside Churchill and Lincoln as each of these men assumed the full responsibility for the consequences of his decisions. Neither of them had any illusions about power, when it was necessary to exert it and what it really took to handle it. This was true as Lenin led the fight against the encroaching forces of imperialism and fascism in Russia as it is when he pulled back from War Communism and implemented the New Economic Policy in 1921. It was a pragmatic move necessary for the times. The New Economic Policy opened up a space for market relations, as well as private industry and services at a small level whilst the peasants received a fair price for their products. War Communism had done its job and was abandoned after the Civil War, as the transition to a minimal functioning of society was achieved, then it was time for the NEP to be imposed.

Perhaps we should think of Abraham Lincoln, certainly the greatest of American Presidents as well as the most tragic. Abraham Lincoln loved the work of Shakespeare, particularly those work focused on powerful men. Above all he adored Macbeth which is significant given that the Scottish play is about the guilt of the King who has murdered his predecessor. This is symptomatic of the awareness Lincoln had for what it meant to lead the US in such times and what the enormity of his decisions amounted to. The tragedy of Lincoln was that he had brought on the American Civil War, it could have been avoided, 3 million would not have had to fight and the lives of over 630,000 people would have been spared. The savagery unleashed to fight and win the war should not be forgotten, we should not forget that Abraham Lincoln was a syphilitic racist who suspended habeas corpus. But to do so is not to dampen the greatness we attribute to Lincoln with urine. Part of the greatness is down to the kind of man he was and we shouldn't revert to a crude hagiography.

Before the official abolition of slavery there was a conflict between the gradualism of liberals and the radical abolitionism of John Brown, which almost functioned to introduce the Jacobin logic to the US. These are the radicals possessed by what Badiou calls the passion of the Real: if you say A - equality, human rights and freedoms - you should not shirk from its consequences and gather the courage to say B - the violence required to really defend and assert A. The attempts to incite an armed insurrection to abolish slavery certainly acted as one of the sparks that set the nation ablaze and the Civil War began. Notably the last written words of Brown were "I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land can never be purged away but with blood. I had as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed, it might be done." John Brown considered himself a complete egalitarian, it was vital for him to practice egalitarianism on every level and he made it clear that he saw no difference between white and black - not by saying it, but by what he did. Brown embraced the cause in an unparalleled manner.

We ought not forget it was Winston Churchill who flirted with eugenics, harboured racist views, disliked the poor and held the British Empire in the highest of esteem. It was not an angel who bombed Dresden and defended Stalin in cabinet meetings. This is the same Churchill who assumed the responsibilities of Prime Minister at a time when Britain faced war and the possibility of German invasion. The man stood out as a maverick in his opposition to the appeasement of Fascism in the Parliament of the 1930s. He did so in full awareness of what the situation demanded of him. As the war raged in 1940, and it looked like the Third Reich might actually invade, Churchill suspended habeas corpus in order to detain fascists and sympathisers without charge. It was a necessary evil which he described as the "foundation to all totalitarian government". Once it became clear that the Germans would not invade the power was repealed. Recall the words of Winston Churchill in September 1943 "To achieve the extirpation of Nazi tyranny there are no lengths of violence to which we will not go."

Bare in mind, it was Lenin who fought a vicious civil war against the White Armies that had been mobilised to crush the Russian Revolution and the Entente Powers who came to the rescue of the old ruling class. If the White Army had been victorious the word 'fascist' would be Russian and not Italian, thus the labels with which we pin to the chests of both Hitler and Mussolini would be entirely different had the Red Army lost the Civil War. Besides that, if the White Army had been able to forge Fascism in Russia there would have been an unprecedented slaughter of Jews in the country. This would also mean that Moscow would have stood behind National Socialism all the way for ideological reasons and not just out of pragmatism as seen under Stalin. The pact between Russia and Germany may not have come to an end, or at least not to the benefit of the Allies in WW2. We should take this very seriously given that the Third Reich could have won WW2 had Germany waited to invade Poland until 1942.

For all the talk of the backward conditions in Russia it was the fifth industrial state in the world before the orgiastic slaughter of the First World War. The country had an enormous peasantry and as the country was devastated by war it was left on the brink of social collapse. It is feasible that the process of industrialisation could have been achieved without a revolutionary event at all. But that is not a sufficient case for Tsardom and it seems absurd to hold that this process would have been accomplished in a "humanitarian manner" under the Tsar. The tragic loss for Russia is that the revolution of 1905 failed, which is what Lenin and Trotsky had worked for so hard, had it succeeded it is possible that it could have forestalled the First World War and consequently political change in Russia might have been achieved without carnage.

It is symptomatic of the liberal Left, and infantile leftisms in general, that there is a desperate need to cling to the vestiges of a powerless status in order to maintain a "pure" adversarial position to power itself. The push for change is restricted in this way as the liberals revert to a passivity as demonstrations turn violent. When the need for unity is most dire the liberals are the first to call on the Left to point the guns inwards and open fire. It is better to be a noble loser with a Beautiful Soul than a radical who went too far. Note the person who gets his hands dirty has always gone too far. This stance is unsustainable and impractical, it is one of comfortable resistance when the very nature of resistance is uncomfortable by definition. It was true of the British liberals whom Kipling despised as it is of the student representatives who distanced themselves from 'violence' only to lose their authority in doing so. It is just as we drink decaff coffee, we want coffee without caffeine which is just coffee without coffee essentially. We can't always avoid the harshness of our choices. In the words of Bayard Rustin "The proof that one truly believes is in action."

Get Cheney!

Behold the unremitting and unrepentant Dick Cheney, who is about to publish his memoirs. The book is yet another attempt to festoon the Bush legacy with a little more than the long list of disasters, outright megalomania, disregard for human life and all assorted fuck-ups. This is the man who ran the White House for at least 5 years as the Vice President to George W Bush. The man who ordered torture with such ice-cold ease, only Henry Kissinger topped him in the monstrous tasks he delegated. Dick Cheney lives and breathes war, he's a ultra-nationalist driven by an obscene desire to defend the ceaseless expansion of the American empire. The reign of Cheney and Bush shocked the world in its blunt arrogance and shameless embodiment of everything wrong with the United States. No doubt Cheney would remind us that we all 'owe' our freedom to the Americans for fighting Fascism and Communism to the bitter end. The jingo is blind even when confronted with a wall of mirrors.

 It was the Bushites who rammed the USA Patriot act through Congress. The act gave the state the power to monitor phone-calls, emails, medical records, credit card bills, bank records and even library records. The NSA are currently building a national database the size of a city to house the data raked in. The preference for the NSA over the CIA goes back to the struggle within the Nixon administration between Kissingerian realists and what we might deem 'idealists'. The CIA adhere to a realist vision of foreign policy which is ruthlessly pragmatic in the defence of American interests. Where Henry Kissinger wanted detente with the Soviet Union the guys like Cheney wanted to continue the Cold War no matter what. Perpetual war for perpetual peace is the name of the game for Cheney and friends. The point for the interests that Cheney served is not victory over 'good' or 'evil', but the endless accumulation of capital secured through the military-industrial complex. Cheney and Rumsfeld are joined at the hip, the two of them are ruthless in their goals and managed to strip Henry Kissinger of his position in government back in the 70s.

Since 1949 the US has spent over $7.1 trillion on its military budget, today it accounts for 50% of military spending in the world and over roughly the same period of time the US has "intervened" in over 70 countries around the world. In the service of this war machine which also props up a large share of the American economy, Cheney was willing to go to extraordinary lengths. Cheney and Rumsfeld pushed for a way to recreate a new Cold War with China as the major 'enemy' to be defeated. Of course the military-industrial complex and the energy industry approved of this proposal, but it would have significantly lowered the American standard of living if it had been pursued and "Corporate America" was well aware of that. So the plan of a new Cold War was not followed through, Colin Powell was quick to nudge George Bush in that direction and see it would not materialise. Sadly the entire administration was complicit in the re-declaration of the "War on Terrorism" which has seen more than a million people slaughtered in Iraq for oil.

It was in 2007 that Dick Cheney urged President Bush to bomb Syria as he learned the country could possess a nuclear reactor. It was other advisers who thwarted this plot, as in the other cases. Note the hold Cheney had over the Oval Office was weakened considerably as Donald Rumsfeld and a lot of the neoconservatives were booted out in 2006. The second Bush term was comparatively moderate as a result. The President is only as good and wise as the advisers who surround him. For years Cheney managed to spoon-feed Bush information which he "cherry-picked" without the consultation of the CIA and gathered directly from raw data. This brings us back to Cheney's pernicious relationship with the CIA. The supply-side economics prescription which Cheney has backed for decades in government posts, as well as in Congress and as a capitalist, led to financial crisis and the current stagnancy the global economy has experienced. It was the process of deregulation that Cheney accelerated which led to the BP disaster.

Now it turns out Dick Cheney kept a preemptive signed resignation letter in a locked safe for all the years he served in the Bush administration. Only the President and a single member of Cheney's personal staff knew of the letter's existence. He claimed the letter might have been necessary due to his history of health problems, which is a reference to the heart which runs on pure radical evil to the extent that it almost destroys itself on a regular basis. I find it more likely that Cheney was fully aware of the depravity in which he indulged in as a fitting expression of who he is and what he believes. The resignation letter was drawn-up early on because he expected an enormous backlash against the administration. Sadly the widespread opposition and outrage over his government did not suffice for him to step down at any point. The ongoing freedom of this wretched creature is itself a vindication for Anacharsis, who saw laws as cobwebs capable of keeping the weak entangled but flimsy when confronted with the strong. When he finally does die of an enormous heart attack all we can say is that it would've been better had he never lived at all, but it would be better if we just take a silent and steamy piss on his grave.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Zeitgeist of '68.

Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights — or very early mornings — when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder's jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Interlude: The above excerpt is the 'Wave Speech' from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas written by Hunter S Thompson in 1971 just as the zeitgeist of the 60s came crashing down to earth. The cultural revolution of '68 was assimilated into the dominant ideology where sexual liberation, free-speech, equal rights for black people and women became secondary parts in the system as a whole. The individualism of the 60s burst through the old hierarchies of power and prissy conventions to establish itself as the status quo. The rise of a ferocious turbo-charged capitalism came a decade later after the stagnancy and disappointment of the 1970s. Fear and Loathing is about the collapse of the zeitgeist in the early 70s as Hippie spiritualism is subsumed in hedonist despair. The 60s left to us a lesson about power which was summed up by Thompson as "the essential old mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody - or at least some force - is tending the Light at the end of the tunnel."

Friday, 19 August 2011

A few words about Dr No.

The Principles of Harm.

Once again we find Ron Paul is running for the Presidency as a Republican. The planks in his platform are libertarian in content and populist in form, with a strong isolationist stance on foreign policy which is attractive to less hawk-ish Americans. In the debates between Republican candidates, Ron Paul stood out as a maverick politician as usual and came second to Michele Bachmann in the Iowa poll. Even as the majority of the Republican candidates agreed that there should be a constitutional ban on gay marriage, Paul maintained that the government has no role to play in marriage at all. On foreign policy Paul maintained that the US had no role to play in Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya, whilst he called for significant cuts to the US military. As Ron Paul is appropriately dubbed "Dr No" because of his voting record to oppose any legislation which is opposed to the principles of the US Constitution. At a deeper level this is significant of the brand of libertarianism to which Ron Paul subscribes for it rejects some of the most basic aspects of government and society which we take for granted.

The libertarians who say "No!" to paternalism will reject any legislation which is meant to protect the individual from harming themselves. So the laws which obligate individuals to wear seat-belts in cars and helmets when driving motorcycles can be burned. The people hurt must also pay for their own medical bills, the government has no right to dictate what risks a person can take with their bodies and lives. We might think that it is reckless to ride a motorcycle without a helmet and we know that a helmet law would prevent devastating injuries, we should oppose such laws anyway. We should do so on the grounds that it is a violation of the right of the individual to decide what risks to assume. It might be that a law on this issue is a slippery slope to totalitarianism. Of course, a libertarian may concede such laws from the position that these laws will prevent the harm of others from reckless decisions made by others. But that would presuppose a certain utilitarian leaning which is not always the case for free-market libertarians.

The opposition to paternalism leaves room for Ron Paul to stand in opposition to gay marriage and abortion in that the removal of legislation against such behaviour would in itself function as a form of paternalism - just as the imposition of legislation to ban gay marriage would be a form of paternalism. This is the same reasoning behind much of the libertarian opposition to civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Conveniently Paul can rely on this platform to bring in a portion of the homophobic vote. Effectively the same social constraints which are necessary for an unbridled marketplace emerge in the Ron Paul 'revolution' just as it does in mainstream American conservatism. Opposition to abortion might be justified along libertarian lines by taking the side of the baby over the woman, as in the Harm Principle limits the freedom of the individual to decisions which do not harm other people. This is a contentious issue as it is disputable whether or not a fetus constitutes a person in the same sense as an adult woman does. One of the implications of such an opposition to abortion is that the stance of isolationism may be broken.

The Politics of "No!"

A libertarian of this kind can also say "No!" to morality legislation in that the coercive force of law should not be used to promote any values at all. Just because the moral convictions expressed are majoritarian in nature does not mean it is automatically right to impose such convictions on everyone. We might object to prostitution morally, but that does not justify legislation which prohibit consenting adults from engaging in it. The same can be said of homosexuality and abortion. Of course, we find that these libertarians had no problem with opposing legislation which might strengthen or defend the rights of minorities. Both Reagan and Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights act on the grounds it violated the rights of the individual and gave too much power to the government. Here we find the liberal framework of rights and freedoms which is parasitic on the beliefs of individuals provides a space for racism to be expressed. The same goes for homophobia, misogyny and anti-Semitism. So we should not be surprised by Ron Paul's meandering racial populism.

The libertarian subscribes to a theory of rights which rules out any law that requires some people to help others, especially taxation for redistribution of income or wealth. The benefits that can be derived from welfare state measures to provide health-care, education and housing come at a cost to the individual. It should not be the role of government to mandate that cost. Charity is the name of the game for libertarians. Progressive taxation is a form of coercion and even theft to some. The state has no right to force affluent tax-payers to support social programmes for the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. The slogan "Tax is theft!" is often bandied about by this crowd. Of course, the suggestion that the sudden removal of welfare provisions in health-care is a form of theft escapes them. A free-market libertarian has no time for needs, wants and merits matter much more. So even though a patient on dialysis could do with one of my healthy kidneys it doesn't mean that they are entitled to my kidney. It's my kidney! The needs of another person cannot be allowed to trump my right to do what I want with my body and what I own.

You may notice a pattern here, these self-proclaimed libertarians are not on the side of a lot of people in society and certainly never on the side of the under-dog. The closest a free-marketeer like Ron Paul can get to the common man is to appeal to the prejudices of the American working-classes. There is no serious attempt to represent the interests of working-people at all. That's probably because it is up to working-class people to pursue their own interests as obedient atoms of consumption and the cogs kept turning for the extraction of surplus value. This is not the time for market liberalism, when BP has ruined an entire ocean and Wall Street has tore the US apart at the joints like a chicken.  Ron Paul's America would be one in which federal power is decentralised for the benefit of business while blacks sit at segregated tables in canteens, women die in back-alley abortions and poor people drop like flies from curable diseases on street corners. Meanwhile the state would be there to function only as a security apparatus in the defence of the borders and the incarceration of the population superfluous to the economy.

Monday, 15 August 2011

"Weather Cock" Cameron.

What's in the Blue Bag?

Stewart Lee once called David Cameron the "Weather Cock" because, first of all, Cameron spins in the prevailing wind of public opinion and secondly it's not clear whether David Cameron has a cock or not. Perhaps we might describe the political era, in which we are held hostage, as Thatcherism without the penis.

Appropriately in this case, the Prime Minister has taken to pandering to the moral panic that surrounds the riots and has listed the underlying 'causes' of the moral collapse of British society:
* Irresponsibility.
* Selfishness.
* Behaving as if your choices have no consequences.
* Absent fathers.
* A lack of discipline.
* Reward without effort.
* Crime without punishment.
* Rights without responsibilities.
* Communities without control.

And yet we find the economy exhibits the following characteristics:
* Irresponsibility and Recklessness.
* Self-interest and Greed.
* Externalities (behaving as if your choices have no consequences).
* The absence of power for working-class people.
* A lack of regulation combined with incentives to take unnecessary risks.
* Bank bonuses and a sense of entitlement among the business class (reward without effort).
* An epidemic of 'white-collar' crime unpunished.
* Rights without responsibilities.
* Capital flow without control.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

David Starkey, Black Culture & the Riots.

Wiggers with Attitude?

In the aftermath of the riots David Starkey decided it was wise to bring up Enoch Powell and argue that a specific point made in the 'Rivers of Blood' speech was "absolutely right". He was keen to reassure the audience that Powell was wrong in that it was not "inter-communal violence" and that it is cultural rather than racial. It would be generous to David Starkey to designate him as a cultural chauvinist, which is perfectly consistent with the monarchism and nationalism to which he subscribes. David Starkey is a provocateur in the tradition of an insolent dinner guest crowing just to offend and shock. In this instance the bespectacled historian was at dinner with an Oxbridge liberal, a leftist and a crime novelist. The outrage was over comments such as "The Tiber did not foam with blood but flames lambent, they wrapped around Tottenham and wrapped around Clapham." As if that were not bad enough Starkey went on to claim the problem is that "the whites have become black" and that the black politician David Lammy sounds "white" when you close your eyes.

At first he pinned the riots as an "extension of commercialism" and the exuberant consumerism of British society, though he is intelligent enough to understand that the consumer boom was born out of the implosion of social democracy and the emergence of Thatcherism in it's wake. Therefore to manage the contradiction between rapacious individualism and the moral opposition to senseless violence Starkey wheels in racially charged rhetoric which will scandalise the liberal intelligentsia and split the commentariat down the middle. At which point the working-classes can make a cameo appearance in the guise of the angry crowd yelling "Enoch was right!" It is now highly unlikely that there will be any debate over the issues behind the riots as the media discusses whether or not David Starkey is a racist. Notice David Starkey asks of Owen Jones "You glorify Rap?" and then backs off as Dreda Say Mitchell points out that the rappers only reflect the materialism of the world. Brian Cox was right to call Starkey "utterly corrupt" last year.

It could have been a conscious effort to further derail the political discourse away from any meaningful discussion of inequality and police brutality. It could just be a simple case of racism masquerading as cultural conservatism. Time will tell if David Starkey distances himself in the future from such remarks. The insinuation of a respectable historian that this is somehow related to an imported "black culture" of crime is just false. In the halcyon days of vanilla Britain, at the finest hour of our country, back in 1940 juvenile crime accounted for 48% of all arrests and there were over 4,500 cases of looting from then until 1941. There were even cases of firemen looting burned-out shops, teenagers stripped the clothes off of corpses to sell and some even cut-off the fingers of the dead to get at their rings. These could not have just been the "wiggers" who had watched too much MTV and absorbed an awful lot of 50 Cent's anger before going out to spit it out into society. As a result of this level of bullshiting we're unlikely to see any real solutions in Britain, just a right-ward shift that will lead us down the road to more riots in the future.

Cultural Blackness?

Originally the issue of race was raised on Newsnight before Starkey crawled out from his hole, it was Gavin Esler who wondered if the riots had anything to do with "black culture" or even MTV. We should bare in mind the relations of base and superstructure when we're talking about culture in this way, that the superstructure is generated by the base in order to justify and defend itself. Simultaneously the superstructure has the potential to undermine the base in spite of the interdependent relations between them. Take Rap music, usually it defends the status quo in it's portrayal of a anti-political and anti-intellectual form of underground capitalism in which collective organisations (e.g. gangs) can still function meaningfully. It at once embodies society's institutional corruption and it's opposite with an emphasis on a warped set of codes and rituals. The misogyny and homophobia found rampant in the music videos and lyrics is born out of a thoroughly impotent masculinity.

It is not coincidental that Rap music becomes incredibly popular and influential in the late 1980s onwards at the peak of Reaganism. Look at the socio-economic situation for young black men in particular, especially in the US where there was a brief opening for black people in the 70s as civil rights were gained through harsh struggle. But with the financialisation of the economy millions of African-Americans became part of a superfluous population. The black economy of drugs provides an alternative to the business system which has excluded black people for decades. Not only is it an alternative to financial capitalism, where the wasps of Harvard still thrive, it provides a welfare system that has been completely destroyed in the US. It is also an expression of rage against the police for the murder and persecution of black people, NWA captured the anger bubbling beneath the surface just before the battering of Rodney King sparked the LA riots in 1992. Ultimately, mainstream rappers are only looking to establish a black aristocracy which stands as a reflection of the white elites.

Rap music is not the source of riots and crime, rather it is linked to it through economic circumstances. The riots were not a coherent and organised expression of political dissent. It was mass-rage against the police along with elements of the same consumerism we have all indulged in. Where does this anger come from? In 1997 and 1998 there were around 8,000 stop-and-searches, by 2008 to 2009 that had risen to 150,000. The use of Section 60 between 2005 and 2010 has increased by 300%, originally Section 60 was introduced to combat football hooliganism; over the same time period the stop-and-searches of black people increased by 650%. From 1998 to 2010 over 330 people have died mysteriously in police custody, surprisingly 75% of the people who died were white and not so surprisingly 90% were male aged between 25 and 44. Let alone the level of unemployment and economic stagnation in this country which has plagued the poor for years. The decisions undertaken by the rioters were not justified, but the grievances are legitimate and real.

Friday, 12 August 2011

The Media Diagnoses of the Riots.

The commentariat have peddled a variety of theories around the recent riots we have seen in Britain. The common characteristic across the mainstream media, with a few exceptions here and there, specifically The Guardian and The Independent, is that there are no excuses for the violence. Inequality and police brutality are not excuses for this kind of behaviour. But generally the media have been scrambling around in search of answers for the explosion of rage onto the streets of Britain. These are just some of the bizarre theories that the press are running to prop up the easy answers of the political class, as well as some of the views popular on the internet these days about every issue and this issue is no different.

Living on Benefits, Why not loot JD Sports? A culture of dependency and entitlement has been engineered to secure votes for the Labour Party. The end result has led to a significant number of the British population scrounging and lying idle with impunity. Then these pampered scum decide to get up off of the sofa and raid JD Sports even though they're loaded from all the generous benefits they've been showered with for years and years. Why shop at Ted Baker when you've been thousands of pounds to piss away in tax-payer's money? Why not trash JD Sports even though you can afford better? Perhaps these people would grow better values rather than ganja if we cut off all state-benefits. While we're at it we might as well sell-off the schools and the NHS for these ungrateful yobs.

It's all them Bloody Foreigners! The riots are the result of uncontrolled mass-immigration and the state-doctrine of multiculturalism. The participants are black and this is not just a coincidence. It has gone on for long enough, the problem is "feral black gangstas and Islamist fast-breeding sex pests are the problem." Multiculturalism has failed, we need to return to British values and start with shooting rubber bullets and firing water cannons at the mob just as we have done in Northern Ireland for so long - and with sexy results! The time has come to send these people back and sort our country out! Because isn't that what we really defeated Hitler for? If only it wasn't for the international left-wing conspiracy to subdue the unremitting greatness of the White Man by telling not to use the n-word and reminding him about the suffering of black people.

It's not Blacks, it's Black Culture. On Newsnight Gavin Esler turned the debate about causes to the "black culture" of short hair, bling, guns, drugs, gangs, bitches and Rap music. So these young people have been riled up by the sounds and sights of "black culture", Paul Routledge identified rap music as "the pernicious culture of hatred around rap music, which glorifies violence and loathing of authority." These youths have been watching far too much MTV which has led them to leave bookshops intact only to steal immodium on mass from Boots. We better tell 50 Cent to tone down the violent anti-police and pro-crack rhetoric because it's gone too far. Better yet for the country, shoot rubber bullets at anyone who can say "innit" and bring back Showaddywaddy!

It's the Blairite Bullshit! The Labour Party has been soft on crime for years but never so much as it was when Tony Blair led it in government from 1997 to 2007. David Hughes informs us in a minuscule article, almost as minuscule as his Johnson, that it is Tony Blair who led Britain down the road towards bleeding-heart liberalism. "A year before he became Prime Minister he delivered a speech on law and order that came close to condoning shop theft. Blair said that "hard-pressed" single mothers or pensioners pocketing "treats" were not a serious concern. He told a meeting of retailers that the real threat came from organised gangs." Before you could say tiny Johnson the Labourites were giving jacuzzis and X-Box 360s to hard-core criminals.

There's just too much Fucking! The breakdown of family values, which in turn led to the collapse of moral values, was inevitable as the liberal elite has instigated a cultural revolution of permissiveness. The "chickens have well and truly come home to roost" for the liberal experiment of letting people fuck around led to the shameful rise of the Single Mum! No wonder the kids of today are running amok in the street and burning cars, if only their parents had sexual ethics then they wouldn't have even been born! Melanie Phillips claims the Labourites introduced "the sexual free-for-all of ‘lifestyle choice’" and "told girls that they could, and should, go it alone as mothers." The rest is history, from single-parent family to stealing a carpet.

Bring Back Sir Paul and I don't mean McCartney! At The Daily Mail James Slack (an appropriate name for such a fopdoodle) wondered if the departure of Sir Paul Stephenson from the Met over the phone hacking scandal contributed to the riots in any way. After all the "vast experience" of Sir Paul could have come in handy against these bastards. The carnage had to be stopped and only Sir Paul could help them, he was a 'good copper' with an "iron will" by all accounts but then the political class ripped him from the heart of the Met in a fit of "lust for media blood" in the midst of the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed The News of the World along with the whole of News International, the Conservatives and the Met. The left-wing establishment is determined to undermine the police and let off these rent-a-mob rioters.

This is Generation GTA! An unnamed police officer, speaking to The Evening Standard, blamed the riots on the ultra-violent game series Grand Theft Auto in which players are encouraged to commit mass-murder. The officer told the paper that these "Kids out of control. When I was young it was all Pacman and board games. Now they're playing Grand Theft Auto and want to live it for themselves." The entire GTA series has taught the adults of tomorrow that it is proper to go for a good looting just for fun, even if it means shooting innocent bystanders and killing hookers after you've banged them in your Volkswagen GTI. It has turned them into philistines! Where's the decency of Pacman gone? Shoot the Houser brothers! Life would be so much simpler if we were all colourful round objects bouncing around in a maze...

These people are lacking in... intelligence, aspiration and responsibility. This is what led to the looting of stores! It is what has made them unemployable, so they languish on the dole or get involved in dealing drugs. A "stunted feral view of the world" is behind the violence and looting, which was nurtured by a rampant entitlement culture that rewards the undeserving "vermin" that make up the under-class in Britain. There was no police to stop it, so the irresponsibility and stupidity of these people was allowed to run amok. The lowest of the low do not deserve the houses they've been given by the state and we should seize them back. That's the way to combat homelessness before the Olympics! The rights of these fucking muppets outweigh the responsibilities they endure and the only way to deal with these animals is to restore consequences to their actions. There are literally thousands of undeserving pricks in our society and we shouldn't tolerate them stepping out of line.

I blame Wayne Rooney. The former editor of The Telegraph Max Hastings blamed the poor role-model that Wayne Rooney has been for kids today and wrote in The Daily Heil, he said: "How do you inculcate values in a child whose only role model is footballer Wayne Rooney -- a man who is bereft of the most meagre human graces?" Sure they can learn a good ork impression, master the language of the Scouser and maybe kick a few through a window or two... but where are the morals going to come from?! The "wild beasts" in the streets are no better than the polar bear that had the audacity to eat an Etonian called Horatio, it was only the natural instincts that were being followed and no one will shoot them for it "unlike the bear". Oh if only Diana were here!

A Lesson in Right-Wing Sociology.

For the press the riots of recent days were a spontaneous, random and unfathomably violent explosion with no connection to any substantial events or issues in British society. It is true that the mass-looting of shops is hardly a form of political activism. But the moral panic around the riots has the potential to drown out the social context in which these riots irrupted. The riot in Tottenham was connected to the death of Mark Duggan because it was a peaceful protest against what had happened that degenerated into violence. The shooting caused the Tottenham protests, which in turn led to the current situation as the protest descended violent. You're not going to convince me that if Mark Duggan were alive and there was no issue of police brutality historically there would still be looting going on. The commentariat are ignorant of the legitimate grievances behind the riots and refuse to even address them except to deride them as "excuses" for criminality. The urgency for change in our society is clear, we can't prevent future riots without addressing the issues which have festered for years.

On Newsnight Gavin Esler asked Kelvin MacKenzie "Should we try to understand this?" and the former editor of The Sun responded "No, I don't think we should..." That response is the example of everything wrong with the right-wing commentary on the riots. With that MacKenzie proceeded to call for shooting the rioters, at first he's less clear on that and then stresses "rubber bullets"; then he calls for legal punishments to make them "weep" because they won't "weep" at home or at school. It's clear that MacKenzie pins the blame on a lack of discipline at home and at school, no doubt beatings and canings are in order in those places. Of course the rioters should be arrested and prosecuted, but if we turned schools and homes into prisons for children would that prevent future riots? I think not. There are often references in the press to the "excuses" peddled by the Left in the form of sociological claptrap about 'social exclusion' and 'deprivation'. But the Right has it's sociology on this. In the case of Melanie Phillips it's the "chickens coming home to roost" for the liberal intelligenstia who have undermined British society in the last 30 years.

The line which Kelvin MacKenzie took falls back on assumptions which focus on the development of social problems, it's all about a serious lack of discipline in the home and in schools. So if daddy hadn't beaten the ever-living-shit out of Kelvin MacKenzie he would've been in on the mass-plot to raid JD Sports across the country with the help of a Volkswagen GTI no doubt. It is a severe lack of domestic violence and child abuse in schools which has led to thousands of people looting and attacking police. If only daddy had beaten them then they might have grown up to be a journalist who can write lies for Rupert Murdoch and smear the dead after outbursts of football violence, just like Kelvin MacKenzie. This line of thought is just as absurd as when Peter Hitchens claims that these are not 'riots' because riots have an origin in deprivation and then notes that the participants, who have been arrested, are "losers". Apparently the "criminal masterminds" of this spontaneous looting spree have all gotten away, so it only appears that the looters are from "pockets of deprivation". None of these gutless twerps can admit that if you are from a more stable and secure background then you are probably less likely to go around torching buildings.

 We've heard a lot of things said about the riots, e.g. that it is being perpetrated by "feral animals" who need to be put down and that the mob are just "mindless" thugs who should be shot. For Pat Condell the root cause is "stupidity" and a lack of "imagination", a "feral view of the world" which is a product of a rampant entitlement culture. So when you're 'pampered scum' by the state you just have to go out and raid JD Sports even though you can afford to shop at Ted Baker with those 'generous hand-outs' from the state. The rioters are drug-addled "vermin" running amok because the police don't have access to water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas. Condell went on to call for the repeal of benefits for life to anyone who participated in the riots as well as the demolition of their homes. At the same time there is the claim that these people are "opportunists" with no excuses and have been in waiting for a moment to go out on a spree of looting. Oh and these people express the violent tendencies of the Left, especially groups like UK Uncut.

Note 'order' has to be maintained no matter what people are going through in society, the grievances will never be resolved and the poor should just put up with it so the facade of 'order' can carry on. Beneath the 'order' that the police are defending there is disorder on a huge scale and occasionally it ruptures the appearance of peace. The riots are subjective violence in the same sense that terrorism is subjective, just like terrorism it is the product of a history of imperialism and political stagnancy in the Middle East. That is not a justification for terrorism, it is an explanation which is better than the right-wing line that it is simply the result of a barbaric culture which needs to be dealt with. In reaction to the attacks on the Twin Towers the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq which has exacerbated the threat of terrorism even more. The Coalition are about to slash public services to the bone and will no doubt increase the power of police, which will only lead to a situation where there is greater social deprivation and a higher chance of police violence to the urban poor.

The only excuse for violence to be found in the press is when it's police violence. If the cops shot a black man then there must be a good reason. It must've been self-defence, he shot at them and then they shot him - he got what was coming to him! There is always an excuse for these officers, even when the bullet fired at officers was found to be 'police issue' then Mark Duggan must've had the same ammunition as the police. When it turns out Mark Duggan never fired his gun then the line is he must've gone for his gun and they shot him. Thus, we should just unleash the water cannons, rubber bullets and even the military on the rioters. But then it gets uglier as the line turns to the ethnicity of the rioters. In the words of Nick Griffin "Feral black gangstas and Islamist fast-breeding sex pests are the problem." Why is it the people cleaning up after these people are all white? Consistently the Right are taking advantage of the riots to further pursue an agenda of social cleansing. The political class is flocking above to peddle easy answers which have failed and will continue to fail.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Liberal Violence.

Barbarians of Civilisation.

We might see John Locke as the father of liberalism today as the Two Treatises of Government were the earliest of liberal ideas. Though it is important to note that at the time John Locke was embedded in the English ruling class and was close to Lord Shaftesbury, the founder of the Whigs. So Locke was one of the elite when England was taken hold by a political crisis in the 1680s as the reign of King Charles II came to an end and the Duke of York succeeded him as James II. The new monarch had ambitions to restore Royal absolutism and Catholicism to England, which would have meant another war of religious sectarianism. The succession was inevitable as Charles II had plenty of illegitimate children, but no legitimate heirs, so when he died in 1685 it fell to his brother. There was a campaign to prevent the succession throughout the 1680s and just as James II stepped up to the throne. The King was successful in crushing all rebels, whether they be Archibald Campbell or the Duke of Monmouth (one of the illegitimate sons of Charles II).

Finally in 1688 the Whig nobles were successful in their treason and found a way for Prince William of Orange to invade England from Holland and seize the crown. This was the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Unsurprisingly, as he was involved in the plot, John Locke set out to provide a retrospective justification for instigating the downfall of King James II. If the Whigs had failed, Locke would not be the father of liberalism and 1688 would just be another year of another failed rebellion. The grand narrative of liberalism is accepted because it has been successful in achieving hegemony. These same writings went on to influence the American Revolution and directly influence the US Constitution. As opposed to the pursuit of happiness guaranteed by the US Constitution Locke advocated property along with life and liberty. The French Revolution was influenced in a more indirect fashion by Lockean philosophy, it was Rousseau and Montesquieu who had a greater influence over the French revolutionaries.

Despite the fact that the French Revolution smashed a lingering feudal order into pieces, which could only then be reconstituted as the liberal order for the sake of capital accumulation, the likes of Niall Ferguson and Simon Schama are not so happy with the "excessive violence" of Jacobinism. The American Revolution is commonly put forward as a favourable alternative of a bloodless revolutionary shift from colony to republic. The only blood that had to be spilled was from the millions of Native Americans and countless African slaves who were butchered and terrorised into subservience. Slavery destroyed the cultural heritage of African-Americans, the religions native to Africa were supplanted by Islam and Christianity. The hands of the East and the West are responsible for the destruction of Africa, but in particular without the material preconditions established in slavery the US would not exist as it is. Not only without slavery but without warfare and genocide, the United States would not exist as the vast concentration of a political and economic power today.

The American Dream.

In the US slavery would drag on for centuries and was officially abolished after the Civil War. During the war between states which raged from 1861 to 1865 at least 630,000 people (equivalent to 2% of the population) were killed out of the 3 million who fought in the war. Around 50,000 were slaughtered in the three-day battle of Gettysburg, close to the number of American soldiers who died in the Vietnam war. Without the bloodbath at Gettysburg the abolition of slavery may have come much later in the history of the United States. This great advance came under Abraham Lincoln, who had suspended habeas corpus, it brought emancipation as well as barbarism in even more advanced forms. After Reconstruction slavery was in effect re-established in the United States through an alliance between the corporations and state-authorities with the courts and prisons. It would last in a covert form through the prison system until the 1940s and slave labour was vital to the process of industrialisation.

As a colony of the British Empire, the American economy was prosperous, none of which would have been possible without slavery and ethnic cleansing, the revolution was a push for independence from which the process could be completed. The inspirational documents of the revolution, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution itself, were based on the ideas of John Locke and provided a retrospective justification for insurgent militias who had killed Crown troops. The white people who had settled in America and had done very well out of it's prosperity did not want to pay taxes, but they did want 'Indian' land and a lot more slaves. Some even wanted to seize Mexican and Canadian soil, which they would go onto attempt and succeed in the theft of half of Mexico. Though these tendencies were real in the colony, the prospect of American independence was not a popular one, it was the revolutionary leadership which had to win over the masses who were heavily armed.

New England had done particularly well out of the colonial experience, specifically out of shipbuilding, whaling and warfare. Out of the booming economy a merchant class emerged with such prominent figures as John Hancock, whose firm had done very well out of supplying the British army and Royal Navy. The idea that the American colonies should gain independence from Britain was held by very few in the Americas until the British began to impose further taxes on the colonies in a period of economic decline. The Treasury was heavily in debt and was looking for a way to shift the tax burden off of the British tax-payer in order to maintain the Empire. Prime Minister Grenville decided that the prosperous colonies should take on more of the burden. So new taxes were imposed on the Americans, the merchant class that had developed around shipbuilding, whaling and war resorted to tax-evasion and smuggling. Even while encouraging the British to smash Louis XV the Americans refused to pay their way.

Revolutionary Terror.

The accepted reading of the French Revolution functions to restore the counter-revolutionary doctrine, in that the cynical liberal wisdom cuts to the 'truth' that all revolutions fail and furthermore "anti-totalitarianism" is preferable to avoid the gulag. Naturally this involves avoidance of any historical analysis of the circumstances under which the Revolution emerged. The obscene situation in pre-revolutionary France is commonly ignored and even glossed over by liberal historians. The country had been devastated by crises of finance and food, which led to the repudiation of the national debt and the bread riots. It was a social order in which there was a huge gulf between the rich and the poor, the latter of whom were the only people who paid taxes in pre-revolutionary France. There was a great explosion in a French society which was inevitable because of the pressures that had mounted up in the stagnant order.

It ultimately led to the rise of the Committee of Public Safety, which initiated a slaughter that was only rivaled by the orgy of violence which would follow after its end. Thousands were slaughtered in reaction to the military assault launched against France by powers such as the Holy Roman Empire, Britain and Russia. Contrary to common sense, order and disorder are not opposites rather the imposition of a contingent order onto a chaotic situation is the highest level of disorder. In the words of Walter Benjamin "There is no document of civilization that is not at the same time a document of barbarism." This is the reason that if the Declaration of Independence of US was re-declared by a newly independent society today, we would rightly condemn them as Nazi-ish for the Declaration identifies black people as "subhuman". This is true regardless of the inspirational nature of the Declaration, which is based on the ideas expressed by John Locke and the Putney Debates at the time of the English Revolution.

Just as the unconscious is the founding act of repression upon which consciousness is established, the Act onto which a new political order is predicated are often unjustifiable at the time before the act. Only when looking backwards we might wonder whether or not it was justifiable for an Irishman to shoot a police officer in the head. The Act can lack a justification in preceding standards of justice, politics or even ethics. But violence is not just sequential, it is not just a necessary evil for the establishment of liberal society, it is synchronous to the development of civilisations and the US is no different. The debt owed by liberalism to feudalism and the institution of slavery is hardly, if ever, recognised. Especially by liberals and conservatives, for whom only seductive dreams of egalitarianism might lead to mass-murder. For them any revolution which doesn't fit the idealised vision of the Tea Party is a step too far. The truth is that if we the British had crushed the Americans then we would probably celebrate hanging Jefferson and Franklin as 'traitors'.