Trigger Warning for politics and fucking swearing.
Good comedy has a way of holding a warped mirror up to reality in order to expose the utter absurdities of our lives. Satire is especially good for this and so comics like Frankie Boyle and websites like The Onion in the USA and The Daily Mash here in the UK can at times hit the nail right on the head. This morning I came across this article from The Daily Mash entitled ‘March all you f***ing like, says Osborne’.
GEORGE Osborne has told anti-austerity protestors to knock themselves out when it comes to marching.
The chancellor said: “I was in my office on Saturday, putting the finishing touches to my £12bn welfare cuts Excel spreadsheet, when I looked up to see 250,000 people stomping about outside.
“Call me old fashioned, but I can’t see the point of walking around in the rain to try and stop someone – in this case, me – doing something they’re definitely going to do anyway. However, if people are into it, then who am I to stand in their way?
Osborne added: “For future reference, the one thing about marching that I am bang into is the humourous placards. I’m an absolute sod for a funny sign, so I specifically waited till Sunday to announce the cuts, just in case I spotted a cracker on Saturday, and decided to change my mind.
“Unfortunately, the best on offer was one of me as Leonardo DiCaprio with the slogan, ‘The Wolf of Downing Street’. That’s just shit.
“But the main reason I’m doing this is to make Charlotte Church unhappy. She knows why.”
Which pretty much sums up the attitude of the powers that be towards protest marches and demonstrations. A bunch of people going for a walk around central London, or anywhere else for that matter, on a Saturday afternoon before spending a couple of hours in Hyde Park listening to the great and good of the ostensible left wittering on from a stage is something that gives the ruling class little pause. Protest marches pose no real threat to that which truly matters -the economy- and so they will be allowed and facilitated. They also act as a social pressure valve; allowing people to feel that they have ‘done their part’ by partaking in an activity that has all the trappings of political action despite not contributing towards effecting actual social change. Going on a march or demo is, realistically speaking, not that far removed from clicking ‘like’ on Facebook or retweeting some angry looking picture on Twitter.
The only way to force change, and it has to be forced, is for workers to flex our collective muscle and hit the ruling class where it hurts -metaphorically speaking but I wouldn’t be against kicking Iain Duncan Smith in the bollocks- by collectively withdrawing our labour -by striking.
When I say striking I don’t mean the sort of strikes that are occasionally called by the toothless trade unions but an all out general strike. Such a thing can’t be facilitated by the current trade unions as they are bound by decades of anti-union legislation and are often snug in their role as facilitators of the relationship between employer and employee. They may be able to help with grievances at work and struggling for better pay and conditions but they are ill suited to effecting meaningful change. We need a different way of approaching the struggle to both resist the attacks of the ruling class and to improve our lives.
Some people may think that talk of a general strike, of forcing the rich to hand over what is rightfully ours, is extreme. I personally think that this is a rather measured and restrained proposal. For every hungry child and for every poverty fuelled suicide there should be a fucking politician or member of the ruling class hanging from a fucking lamp post. Now that would be something that would effect change pretty fucking sharpish. Not that I’m suggesting that people go out and start stringing up politicians… but they totally should.
The future is going to be really fucking bleak unless we can collectively get our shit together and break with mere expressions of anger or discontent and take meaningful action towards building a future that will make our kids proud of us.
God damn, I’m fucking angry today. I’ll probably still be angry tomorrow.
So, the votes are in and it’s a victory for the Conservative Party. Which doesn’t really surprise me to be honest as there is nothing, aside from tie colour, to differentiate the two major political parties. They both offer the same ‘solutions’ to the economic crisis -class warfare dressed up in the rhetoric of austerity and fiscal cut backs. Many of my friends on Facebook today have been wailing and gnashing their teeth over the results of the election as they seem to believe that had the Labour Party won enough seats to form a government then they would have mitigated the onslaught of attacks on the quality of life that we have at the moment. The truth is that had Labour won the election, either with a majority or through forming a coalition with the smaller parties, then they would have continued on the path laid out by the Tories.
When Labour were last in office, 1997-2009, they slashed benefits, introduced private testing for the sick and disabled (because apparently GPs don’t know enough about their own patients to be able to tell if they’re fit for work or not), introduced the much hated ‘Bedroom Tax’ in the form of Local Housing Allowance for private tenants, and they did not repeal a single piece of anti-union legislation brought in by the Conservative Party under Thatcher and Major. How can a party that calls itself ‘The Labour Party’ not have repealed laws preventing flying pickets/secondary picketing? By having absolutely nothing to do with the interests of the working class, that’s how.
It seems that many people have very short memories.
I have to admit that the Scottish National Party landslide up here in Scotland did make me smile. Not because I support the SNP -far, far from it in fact- but because I absolutely detest and abhor the racist, war mongering, anti-worker, Labour Party with a hatred that knots my stomach. I worked with asylum seekers through the last Labour administration and the horrendous policies they brought in, that saw children being incarcerated for the crime of having been born in the wrong place, caused unthinkable suffering to people I knew and deeply cared about. That and the millions dead in Afghanistan and Iraq means that I can never forgive the party that has the cheek to claim a socialist heritage.
The SNP victory here in Scotland does however serve as a nice illustration of one of the problems with bourgeois, sorry, “representative” democracy. The people in Scotland, those who engaged with the election anyway, have chosen the SNP as they feel, I’m sure, that the SNP will best represent the interests of those who live in Scotland. However the power to make decisions over what happens in Scotland still lies firmly in the hands of political parties that have absolutely no interest in the wishes of the people who live in Scotland. The decisions that affect the lives of people from Ardrossan to Aberdeen and beyond are still being made hundreds of miles away by people who are not affected by the outcomes of those decisions.
If we take this to a more local level then in Scotland where, for the most part, people are represented by SNP members. Now these individuals, whatever their intentions, are expected to represent the interests and wishes of the tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, of people within their constituencies. It’s plainly and simply impossible. Add to this the fact that the vast majority of politicians, of all parties, tend towards being business people, solicitors, or professional politicians -having joined the party straight of university, which is hardly representative of the population at large. These people aren’t the ones affected by changes and cuts made to the benefit system, they aren’t the ones working all the hours they can and still needing to claim benefits to make ends meet, they aren’t stuck on zero hours contracts, or having to feed their children from the charity of strangers via food banks. In fact it is often these same people, and their friends, who benefit from these decisions. It is utterly absurd.
To have a properly democratic society we need to do away with the antiquated notion of representative democracy and find something that is more suitable for a growing technological society. We need decisions that affect communities to be made by those within those communities and not by a class of wealthy politicians who, understandably, only look out for them and theirs. We need to be able to have a proper say over how our communities are organised, how our resources are utilised so that we have what we need and what we want in our communities.
We will never be able to have a truly democratic society however whilst people are having to spend a third of their lives working for fear of being made destitute. How can you spend time as part of a proper community, taking part in making decisions that affect your community when you are working 40+ hours a week just for the privilege of being alive? For that reason we need to change the way that work.. well, the way that work works. We need to stop producing things for the profits of a tiny minority and start producing things that benefit everyone. Sure I want to have the latest gaming tech and a snazzy smart phone in my pocket, I want nice clothes and a nice house. I want everyone that wants them to have these things -and for those that don’t to have access to them should they so desire.
And you know what? We *can* have all these things. We can have these things without the need to work 40+ hours a week, without the need to destroy the environment that our kids will inherit, without the need to sell our lives to a parasite so that we can just about afford some of these things.
To achieve this we need, to put it bluntly, communism.
Not the communism of the USSR, China, or Cuba. No. We need to work towards the stateless and classless society which Marx described thus in The German Ideology:
in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.
A society where we organise our work and our lives ourselves, where our concept of work has changed so much that it would be unrecognisable to us today. A world where a person can engage in useful activities without being explicitly defined by those activities. Thus I may spend the morning writing and the afternoon working on a local farm. Doing the things that need to be done to improve my life and the lives of those in my community.
Of course those who presently hold all the wealth and the power will not allow change like this to be implemented as they have a vested interest in maintaining their positions of power and influence. These are the same people who are friends with politicians, who fund the political parties, who control the various media outlets we turn to for news and entertainment. It is these people who have done such a good job over the last hundred years that many of us now see the placing of a tick in a box every five years as political activity. That we see the theatrics of Parliament as the be all and end all of politics.
I don’t consider either voting in Parliamentary elections nor the charade of the House of Commons to be politics. Real politics happens where we live and work. Real politics is when you get together with your neighbours and fight to get the council to fix the local play park or to prevent them closing down your local library or sports facility. Politics is when you and your workmates go on work to rule or walk out on strike. Politics happens all the time all around us.
It would be foolish to believe that the rich and powerful would allow us to merely vote for meaningful social change. instead we are given the illusion of choice and pretty sounding yet empty promises. For this reason we have to force change, we have to collectively change the way our society works so that the work done benefits us all.
In order to force change we need to be organised. Traditionally the way that the working class has organised has been through the trade union movement with workers in a given trade bandying together to support one another in their common interest. This works well when you are in a trade that has high union density and when you are specifically struggling for something that affects those within that trade. Many modern workplaces however have people from a variety of trades working within them and so the workers within a given place of work are divided with some having greater bargaining power than others. A good example of this is the rail industry where if the drivers go out on strike then they are bargaining with the bosses from a very powerful position -without them the entire rail network shuts down. The people who clean the trains however do not have such a strong position from which to struggle.
For the modern workplace it is far better that workers are all organised into the same union rather than being spread across a variety of different unions with varying levels of militancy -and when it comes to unions militancy is extremely important. For that reason I shall, later on today, be renewing my red card and rejoining the union who say:
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.
Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.
We find that the centring of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.
These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.
Instead of the conservative motto, “A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,” we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, “Abolition of the wage system.”
It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.
I didn’t vote in the election. I have never voted in an election and I never will. What I have done is fight; I have fought for a better world for us to live in in the here and now and for a better world for our children to inherit. If you voted in this General Election and are feeling disheartened by the results, don’t be. The game was rigged from the outset. Choose instead to get organised, actually engage in proper politics, and to fight for a better world.
I’m reminded of the introduction to Alan Moore’s masterful analysis of the Thatcher regime, V for Vendetta, in which Moore says:
Naivete can be detected in my supposition that it would take something as melodramatic as a near-miss nuclear conflict to edge England towards fascism. … “It’s 1988 now. Margaret Thatcher is entering her third term of office and talking confidently of an unbroken Conservative leadership well into the next century. My youngest daughter is seven and the tabloid press are circulating the idea of concentration camps for persons with AIDS. The new riot police wear black visors, as do their horses, and their vans have rotating video cameras mounted on top. The government have expressed a desire to eradicate homosexuality, even as an abstract concept, and one can only speculate as to which minority will be next legislated against. I’m thinking of taking my family and getting out of this country soon, sometime over the next couple of years. Its cold and its mean spirited and I don’t like it here any more.
Goodnight England. Goodnight Home Service and V for Victory.
Hello the Voice of Fate and V for Vendetta
It is cold here. It is cold and mean spirited. I’ve never been the biggest fan of what passes for ‘British culture’ but now it seems that all the bitterness and spite that sits quietly poisoning our society is coming to the fore. We’re luckier than some, the Family Strange, as C and I both have, hard won, university educations and so have at least the potential of finding jobs that will allow us to escape these small minded tiny islands. Is it right to consider jumping ship merely because we can? Are we rats deserting a sinking ship? Should we not stay and try to fight alongside our fellow islanders? Our class? But that means that we likely condemn Little Ms X through our choices. At least if we flee then we allow her the potential to grow and live somewhere that isn’t being dragged so rapidly into a Neo-Victorian age of misery and dread. The choice seems made.
Here’s an impassioned statement from Denis Curran of Loaves and Fishes in East Kilbride on the horror that is facing many, many families in Scotland and throughout the UK as a result of austerity measures and benefit cuts brought in over the last 5 years. That we live in the twenty first century in a supposedly developed country and have people going days without food so that they can feed their children and walking miles in the hope of getting a food parcel is an utter disgrace. That these people are then targeted by the media and government as scroungers and thieves is, to put it bluntly, sickening.
I’ve said it before but it is worth repeating: this present government in Whitehall seems intent on dragging us back to the age of debtors prisons and work houses.
Prisoners are no longer allowed to be sent books in the UK. There is absolutely no reason for these new rules, brought in recently by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling(the gilt clad ponce pictured below), that I can conceive of. Normally when the government passes such rules aimed at attacking parts of society they try and dress it up with claims of cutting costs or protecting vulnerable parts of society. In this case it is pure vindictiveness.
The whole notion of punishment for crimes is both flawed and barbaric. If we want to live in a civilised society, and I most certainly do, then we need to focus on creating the social conditions that prevent crime. Punishing a person who has committed a crime, and remember – most crimes are economically motivated and violent crime is in the minority, makes absolutely no sense unless you think that vengeance should be the motivating factor of a justice system. I, personally, think that the concept of vengeance is barbaric and serves absolutely no positive social function. It appeals to our most base selves and pandering to it turns us into little more than plebs baying for blood in the arena(e.g. see this brilliant piece of satire on the paedophile frenzy that swept the UK in the early 00s).
We need to find a way to move our society in a more egalitarian direction. To move towards a society where all have equal access to the benefits of an advanced technological society. As well as making society a more pleasant place to live this may actually help fend off the wholesale collapse of our civilisation. As much as I love a good post apocalyptic dystopia, and let’s be honest – who doesn’t? I would rather that such scenarios remain purely fictional. The Conservative Party, on the other hand, seem intent on modelling society on some fucked up Steampunk nightmare. As if they read The Diamond Age and thought that sounded “just spiffy old bean”.
Whilst the banning of books being sent into prisoners may not seem like an important issue, sympathy for the incarcerated is not something that is widely encouraged in our society, it is, I feel, illustrative of a general regression in our society. A back slide into the barbarism of the 19th Century and the Victorian and Edwardian ages. Grayling and his ilk seem intent upon dragging us back to the days of work houses and debtors prisons. A Victoriana for the 21st Century with prisoners forced to labour for a pittance so that they can afford supposed luxuries like books or clean clothes(prisoners are also now barred from receiving items of clothing from the outside meaning that in women’s prisons some are forced to wear the same underwear for the duration of their incarceration).
For most of the last fifty years or so the prison system has been touted as having a focus on ‘reforming’ those within its walls. On education and training to allow prisoners, upon release, to enter back into ‘civil’ society. This ban on books being sent in shows that this pretence is being let slip and the viciousness of the powers that be is revealed. They don’t seek to improve society, they seek only a captive labour force that can be exploited in order that someone may turn a profit.
I do believe that this viciousness is quite particular to the Conservative Party. I don’t doubt, not for a second, that either the Liberal Democrats or the Labour Party would be doing anything differently when it comes to the outright attacks upon the fabric of society that the Conservatives are engaging in. They would just have the common decency to not guffaw and jeer at us whilst they were kicking us from pillar to post. That is the main difference between the parties. Not their economic or social policies but the level of glee they display at the effects of their actions upon the people of this island. As a wag once put it: “The only difference between Labour and the Tories is that Labour will give you a cuddle after they’ve fucked you”.
Well, what to say. East Midlands Conservative MEP Roger Helmer is standing down and is to be replaced with this affable looking chap Rupert Mathews.
His website looks like pretty much any other middle of the road back bencher’s website. Nothing especially controversial unlike some of his fellow Tories. however when we look under the Books section of his page we are greeted with a rather lulzy sight.
Rupert, you see, describes himself thus
“I am a freelance historian who has written over 200 books, many of which have been published across the World in a variety of languages. I have appeared on regional radio and on national television.”
Wow, 200 books? That’s quite a prolific output. Especially the sheer creativity that must have been involved in some of his works. Rupert’s books include
Alien Encounters : True-Life Stories of Aliens, UFOs and Other Extra-Terrestrial Phenomena
Bigfoot: True-Life Encounters with Legendary Ape-Men
Haunted HerefordshireHaunted London
Actually I don’t really mind these sorts of books. they’re a good giggle and everyone loves a good yarn or a good scare with a ghost story. Just file under fiction. Rupert however seriously believes this stuff and unfortunately on his business website the nonsense is mixed right in with factual historic books. I know nothing of the quality of these books, most seem to be aimed at kids, but given the nonsense he also writes I would seriously doubt the accuracy of the more down to Earth works. Which is a shame as he may be a thorough scholar in regards his other work and a great communicator for young people.
He also lectures for the ‘Metaphysical University”….
Which looks like a world of fun and, if any money changes hands, a massive con. Mind you, he IS a Tory so what do you expect? 😀 Representative democracy, dn’t you just love it?
Also if anyone can identify the music used on the above video please let me know in the comments.
I’ve just been made aware of the poster campaign to remind us what makes Britain ‘great’. Seriously? First off Britain has the lowest quality of life in Europe. Secondly? WTF??? This is a poster campaign designed to stir feelings of national pride with regards the fact that we have, through mere happenstance(and our parents doing the nasty), been born on a largish island off the north coast of Europe.
Which is pretty daft at best.
But to have a campaign that has as its central premise a misunderstanding of what the country you are supposed to be feeling proud in is called is the height of insanity!
Can’t these people even be bothered to check wiki-sodding-pedia before spreading their pish?