THE SUNDAY ESSAY: trying to make sense of it all
Some blogpost titles can sound like a hostage to fortune before you’ve even read a word beyond the headline. The late Stephen Hawking said he would one day understand Time completely….but then ran out of time. The comic science fiction writer Douglas Adams decided, by contrast, that the secret of the Universe was ’42’. But in this essay, I will work on a smaller stage: a tiny speck of dust, to be more accurate, called Earth – and the current situation of one of its more successful and intelligent species, Homo sapiens. Believe me, once you get into things even at this level, it’s a dauntingly complicated landscape. The trick is to reduce our multi-faceted existence to something everyone can grasp, and then decide what our future might be along the road ahead….rather than looking in the rear-view mirror of ideological faith. There is no other route left open to the Decency Segment beyond civil disobedience.
Let’s start by looking at what we have on Earth that wouldn’t be there without Man. Once again here, I’m following a self-taught mantra developed during a decade of doing marketing communications research: ‘Ignore what they say – look at what they do’. Humans talk a good game: have they walked the walk?
Without Man, there would be no:
Chemico-electrical energy use
This potted history of what we alone can do (and other species can’t) is of course the result of the sapiens suffix we so modestly awarded ourselves many years ago: we have big brains – probably developed as a by-product of needing long-running consciousness to escape predators when we finally got bored with nuts and berries in the tress, and came down to earth.
What it also (quite intentionally on my part) represents is an unfortunate progression from being a smart tool-maker in search of food, shelter and nooky to being the neurotic loopy-loos we are today. Our senses of reality and what’s natural have been beaten to a pulp by manic output, long hours, obsessive trade, robotisation, artificial intelligence, media escapism and consequent unemployment. The result being that we consume a staggering amount of calm-down-and-be-happy pills.
Three years ago, the OECD recorded a clear trend for massively increased use of antidepressants across the “developed” world, putting Britain fourth in the world’s usage level, the US top, and Germany the fastest-growing at 46% since 2012. The correlation between those three countries and very high material wealth levels is difficult to ignore….and the average usage time is creeping up such that 14% have now been on the pills for over a decade. (Myself included)
Despite their obviously addictive nature, tranquilisers are prescribed to sixty million Americans a year – one in five. And sixteen million Americans are defined as clinically depressed.
Sometimes, the proposed answer to this pretty obvious descent into doing what’s bad for us is “we should all return to a state of nature”. But I have never been one for putting genies back in bottles: it’s fairly easy until you get to their feet. For me, the question to ask is this: “Is it possible to persuade more genies to behave in a way that is far more fulfilling for far more people than the mess we have today?”
Some genies are, let’s get real here, complete arseholes. But I would contend that the problem is not that they exist, the problem is that they are far too widely and easily believed. And it is a myth that all genies are bad guys. On the one hand you have Boris Johnson, and on the other Albert Einstein.
The bad guys are too credible because we have moved too far away from the natural. But resetting the balance does not mean going back to Adam and Eve.
We will never stop determined sociopaths from trying to run things. The key action we require is to render them much less successful at it. And that requires more of us to think, and more of us broadcasting our ability to see the gargoyles coming.
The incidence of obstinate belief in daft ideas really took off in the 1960s, when an awful lot of people spouted an awful lot of tosh after over-indulgence in weed and LSD. Sex, drugs, rock n roll, if it feels good do it, turn on and drop out….none of those are viable bases for a culture that’s happy with itself, because they all involve altered reality and selfish, anti-social behaviour.
But alongside levitating the Albert Hall and Bag-Ins for Peace (Man) we also saw the decline of eclectic Renaissance education for its own good – and technically practical education – in favour of targets, dumbed down marking systems and silly University courses ranging from media studies to Pop Music 1962-67.
Gradually, over almost two generations, forced equality in one-size-fits-all education and healthcare have produced an electorate that is less inquisitive in general and less questioning in particular. Add to this the concentration of “agendered” media ownership alongside an explosion of digital media, and the younger end of our Western demography lacks the skills, time or objective information to form an independent opinion.
Without personal opinion to the contrary, there is no criticism – and just as important, no discernment. And without discerning criticism and doubt about shibboleths, there is no progress.
What happens in that context is the triumph of faith-based ideology….and the rise and rise of tartan paint salespeople.
The First World in 2018 is, at a socio-media-governmental level, a small shoal of sharks devouring doubt in a gigantic, stagnant ocean of fish-brained gullibility. The sharks insist (and the fish say “Yes, yes, he’s right”) that, variously:
There is no alternative, wealth trickles down, wanting independence is racist, only white people are racist, this nerve agent has a Russian name so the Russians are guilty, Communism has never been given a proper chance, recoveries can be jobless, property is theft, work makes free, guns reduce violence, we bombed a chemical weapons factory disguised as an airfield, big companies owe no debt to society, Britain is institutionally racist, airhead actresses can fix a democracy within 12 months, affirmative action does not dilute merit and quality, the Pound in your pocket is not worth any less, deflation is good, Greece deserved what it got, growth is eternal under global capitalism, and the European Union is an exemplary model of social democracy.
Geopolitics today appear on the surface to be horrendously complicated, but in fact they couldn’t be more simple.
There are four elements in play: energy resources, economics, controlling ideology, and fanatical religious belief.
Vested Saudi and Texan oil interests have squashed every attempt to get past oil in particular, and the internal combustion engine in general. They have also crushed liberty, democracy and independent thought wherever and whenever it threatens them….by sharing power, in unelected ‘Alt States’, with the media technologists, bankers and intelligence agencies. These neocon mercantile monopolists pursue foreign policies that demand their hegemony.
Specifically, the goals are dominant access to oil, favoured nation trade status, and an eternal monopoly for the PetroDollar.
The only threat to that as of now is the PetroYuan, to be formed in conjunction with Russia, China, and other developing nations.
So American geopolitics aim to demonise Russia, get control of Iraqi pipeline access, force the collapse of Iran, and create global fear about the expansion of China.
They shoot US Presidents in public, they kill rebel civil servants who oppose war, they buy legislators everywhere, they get stooges from nowhere elected President, they use banking allies to put their people in every central bank they can find….and they use media control to create risible narratives.
As I proposed earlier, the problem is not the narratives, it’s the fact that so many people are convinced by them.
On the basis of ‘If you can’t beat em, join ’em’, the LibLeft – itself another species of shark keen to eat any dissenters – has adopted the neocon-neolib ‘media narrative’ techniques. The battlegrounds are different – race, gender, social minorities, green energy, gullible youth, facists under every bed and so forth – but the aim is precisely the same: control of the citizenry by censorship, shouting down, articles of discredited faith, media hype and cynical opportunism.
Like the Alt State they’d like to be, self-styled “liberals” are very happy to sanctify anti-social elements – Antifa, Momentum, Islamists etc – if that helps them on the road to power. I fail, for instance, to see any moral difference at all between John McCain arming ISIS against Assad, and the Left dismissing British Islamism as Islamophobia. Here too, there is another idiotic assertion: “Islam is the religion of peace”. Mohammed was a murderous General in a religious army, and his recruitment advice to the faithful was indeed many-headed, but not remotely peaceful. Mainly, it involved removing heads.
Sometimes, this is hard to follow. Why, one asks, is the UK Conservative Party’s agenda also to be in denial about Islamic violence and creeping influence? But the answer again is OIL – the UK simply cannot afford to offend the Saudis, because we need them to buy our weapons…..and send us oil if things get hairy elsewhere.
The $64 quadrillion question remains, of course, how can we stop this slide into the mire of anti-empirical faith as represented by the three belief systems – neoliberal economics, intolerant socialism, and repressive Islam?
I think what decent seekers of responsible liberty require is two things.
Overall, the deconstruction of erroneous belief across a broad spectrum of it by using the anthropological, social, economic, commercial and diplomatic facts available to us.
And as a specific starting point, a radical change in our education systems with the aim of reducing State power through the medium of healthy citizen doubt.
Even this is far more easily said than done. But I continue to believe that it can be achieved, and that violence is not necessary in order to do it. As I hope to demonstrate in this final segment, those who claim to be in charge have already (unwittingly) laid some of the groundwork for us….and their data collection is, in many cases, incompetent – to the advantage of the citizen.
Anthropology. Homo sapiens is a pack species, and packs are hierarchical in nature. It is wrong to state, “All men are created equal’. Palpably, they are not. Forced equality will always destroy a genuine meritocracy. Equally, however, it is not ‘the natural order of things’ for an élite of selfish Alphas to dominate the mass. In the wild, pack alphas are there to ensure there is enough food for all. If they fail in this endeavour, Alpha females will mate with Beta males – and their progeny will overthrow the ineffective tyrants.
In a species like ours, both aristocratic oligarchies and forced-equality ideologies are doomed to become dysfunctional. Neoliberal and Socialist ideological cultures are unnatural, and in the end they produce rebellion.
Homo sapiens thrives on the principles of mutual benefit and personal responsibility.
Sociology: there is a connection between these first two fields of study, and that is social anthropology. I have been unable to find any data for the figures in the USA or European countries, but in the UK it is a fact that, in 2016, not a single British MP had a degree in social anthropology. When it comes to producing policy initiatives that come naturally to humans, we are governed by rank amateurs.
Both sets of amateurs set out belief systemics (based on an injudicious combination of self-serving and backward-looking claptrap) designed to keep them in control, and the ordinary citizen frozen out of either engagement or responsibility.
The natural pack dictate – the best survival rate of the pack as a whole – starts with the pack member as the unit of currency, not the top-down ideology.
Both Britain and the US had this “mixed mutuality” outlook between (roughly) 1950 and 1964. No period before or since has shown such high levels of productivity and social contentment in the West. It did not produce the gdp growth of the last forty years….but gdp growth is a misleading measure that hides the dual cancers of wealth inequity and social instability.
Again, I do not present a case for going back to the 1950s; rather, I point out that the balance between private competition and social cooperation – the ‘social weal’ – was much healthier then. More generally, I also question growth as a criterion per se: without personal greed at an unnatural level, there is less need for unnaturally high consumption of the limited resources on this, our only planet.
Economics. Economics is a pseudo-science at the best of times. A lot of the time, it is snake-oil hokum. During the worst of times, it becomes not the servant of humanity and our ecosystem, but the untutored master. Soviet economics in the USSR and the PRC – and neoliberal rationales for fracking we see today – are equally classic examples of the perversion of economic activity at the expense of the human environment. So too are Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Systemic ideology cares not a fig for individuals, families, communities and the species balance on our planet. Thoughtful philosophy, on the other hand, looks for ways to progress based on new ideas emerging from science – real science tested in the field, and then judged based on human (rather than dialectical or solely financial) criteria.
By their very nature as the sum of a ‘trial and error’ philosophy, Jeremy Bentham’s ideas have developed even after his death….because his belief in “the greatest fulfilment of the greatest number” is quintessentially humanitarian, developmental and warm – not systemically rigid and clinical.
Commerce. It is perfectly natural for an intelligent toolmaker, gatherer and hunter to trade with other tribes: it promotes mutual respect and intercourse, and potentially swaps one glut for another. One of the key secrets of our success as a reproductive species is that we compete within the pack, but also cooperate with other packs.
But it is totally unnatural for one tribe’s survival to be dependent on another pack…or even just a few packs. It is a natural instinct for many Alpha humans to seek to dominate a weak neighbour – one sees this still today in often soured relations between suburban humans; one also observes it in the behaviour of the European Commission towards its smaller members, and the foreign policies of the United States….and such bullying tendencies were clear throughout the history of the USSR and its satellite States.
Because very few on the Left – very few politicians today at all, in fact – have ever had a career in a competitive private sector, they don’t understand the concept of mercantile overdependence. As a senior manager in the advertising business during the last two decades of the Twentieth century, the biggest headache I had was ensuring no one client accounted for too much of our profit. Not only did it make the people I employed to service such clients impertinently difficult to manage, the clients themselves saw it as open season to squeeze our margins at every opportunity.
It’s the same with a sovereign trading entity. Germany has stayed out of the Syrian conflict because it is overdependent on Russian oil. Great Britain turns a blind eye to jihadist excess because it dare not offend the Saudis. Greece has debased itself before the EU because its professional and political classes are convinced they cannot live without the customs union. For obvious reasons, it is easy for the US to bully Mexico and Puerto Rico; but the Americans themselves yield to nobody, because their economy is effectively self-sufficient thanks to its enormous wealth of natural resources. Russia, by contrast, dare not let its Syrian influence weaken, because its economy is overdependent on oil exports.
Although the UK was in denial about it for three decades, even a moderately bright twelve year old can see that our economy is hopelessly dependent on selling financial and banking services in Europe, the US and Asia. To go back to my advertising agency analogy, the City of London bourse is by miles the Government Exchequer’s biggest ‘client’. When the City says “jump”, Westminster pole-vaults as if it might be working in zero gravity.
The power on Earth today lies with the rich nations. The Third World is in error when it assumes that the way to share in that wealth is to trade with those nations.
The aim of every nation aspiring to real independence from here on should be to achieve economic self-sufficiency
Japan failed to grasp this insight, and it is now paying the price. Having spent last winter in India, I am convinced that country is about to make the same mistake. But China is not playing that game….and neither are Russia and Iran.
Neocon globalists smear the concept of self-sufficiency with terms like “siege economy” – a classic example of what Orwell called “newspeak”. It is absolute rubbish: most of us would give our eye teeth to be as independent as the US….the world’s biggest “siege economy”.
But then, to keep the dying flame of globalist mercantile bollocks alive for as long as possible, US multinational business – along with the banking sector and the EU – has to keep persuading us that we cannot survive without The Global Village…..that potty concept invented by one of the greatest Twentieth Century conmen, Theodore Levitt.
The Global Village is and always was a myth promoted by Saatchi & Saatchi and other multinational executive idiots who spend their lives on aeroplanes, and then die young of deep vein thrombosis. Go to any continent you like – Africa, Australia, India or North America – and sure enough, there are “global” TV news stations dominating events information: but every last one of them runs news bulletins 90% devoted to national or regional news.
The evidence that we simply are not wired as a species to be ‘global’ is mountainous; but the best one I ever read was a Japanese study from some twenty years ago which showed that the average human cannot maintain a circle of social acquaintance beyond roughly 215 people….and has a maximum of five close friends beyond the family. It certainly puts the daft idea of having 809 “friends” on Facebook into some kind of perspective.
Gordon Brown when UK Chancellor was a great opponent of The Siege Economy. But then Gordoooom was a complex man and depressive Aspergers victim who used the word ‘Global’ – pronounced “Globbul” so many times, towards the end of his mercifully brief Premiership, he uttered the words “Globbul problems require globbul soloootions” so many times, he sounded like a Turkey careering around the farmyard:”Globbul Globbul Globbul Globbul Globbul” ad nauseam, until Farmer Giles the Voter finally put him out of his misery with a meat cleaver.
Successful nations in the future will achieve self-sufficiency and then export their excess. And such nations will, in turn, copy the Swiss canton model that gives power and accountability back to local and regional communities, thus reducing the horrendous cost (in salaries and pension liabilities) of national politicians and bureaucrats by more than enough to give deserving ordinary citizens a dignified old age.
Diplomacy. Through a combination of bad luck and travelling a lot, over the decades I have known a reasonable selection of diplomats. We do need diplomacy, but we only need it to put foreign minds at rest and clear up misunderstandings: war is not the “last resort” of diplomacy: diplomacy’s job is to avoid war at all costs. War solves nothing and produces a hierarchy of losers…but no winners, except bankers, munitions combines, and generals.
The best way to avoid war is never to allow commercial mercantile interests to create a perceived threat from another nation. Yet many diplomats are paid to develop global trade. This is not their job (very few have any commercial experience) and most of them are useless beyond going through the motions of process.
The old slogan in the 1960s used to be “Export or Die!”. The main “argument” used by EU Remoaners is that Britain will wither on the vine without the EU to export to. It’s a daft argument, in that we import far more from the EU than we export to it, and anyway there is no way Europe will slam the door on our exports purely because we’re not in a customs union. But it’s mainly daft because the insane willingness to let new immigrants in every year is a far bigger pressure on our resources than a lack of global trade.
We already have a pool of under (or un) employed citizens because successive governments have been clueless about looking for new manufacturing stimuli and markets. Immigration has screwed population control, and the financialisation of our economy by City bankers has screwed the entrepreneurial end of the manufacturing sector. “If I was you, I wouldn’t start from here,” springs to mind.
The other thing diplomacy is supposed to do is find effective military allies. This actually increases the likelihood of war. Look at Switzerland. It doesn’t get involved in Unions or alliances or ententes: it stays out.
But the biggest problem of all at the Foreign Office (and the US State Department) is that they are both – as are all diplomatic services – dominated and infiltrated by the intelligence community.
It’s not called military intelligence for nothing. Diplomacy is supposed to avert war, but in reality it either bullies – or appeases the other side, thus kicking the problem down the road for another year. Military Intelligence has not been about ‘defence of the Realm’ since the 18th century: it promotes mercantile aggression by the host country, and if that doesn’t work, it seeks the rationale to effect régime change by military means.
The CIA is part and parcel of the State Department, and directly connected to the Pentagon and Texas oil. We are supposed to have a “Special Relationship” with the US. It has caused us nothing but trouble, money and death.
By now you must be thinking, ‘Thank God for that’. I’m sorry this is a long essay today: but there is no soundbite-quick fix available to cure Britain, and there never could be.
We will never get our liberal, direct democracy back until we stop immigration, get out of all alliances, export only our surpluses, return to added-value manufacturing to soak up the underemployment of our People, get the security forces under control, make self-sufficiency our goal, dump rigid economic ideologies in favour of opening our minds, face the reality of internal threats to our culture, get real about how social humans are wired, and develop a more civically eclectic education system that encourages our kids to think, analyse and question, not just passively accept.
Now the more sharp-eyed among your number will have spotted the tiny problem in doing all those things, namely, the Establishments and Alt State élites don’t want to do any of them, as such.
But far too many Brits have got themselves into a mindset in recent years that goes, “I don’t know where to start, so I won’t”. Cynicism is the new naivety: it hands victory to the other side. As I hinted earlier, the self-styled 3% have left many strands of wool dangling off their knitting. The thing to do is pretend we’re nice, cute cuddly kittens, and pull at the strands.
Let me offer some examples.
The HMRC is government’s tax collector. It is run by pragmatic thieves who favour multinational business at the top, but they have hired a workforce which would be better employed swinging from tree to tree in search of stray washing machines. It would not take a lot of work to create total havoc in the UK’s tax system.
The political class is beholden to money from large donors. Most of them are Bourse institutions, banks, large multinationals and easily identifiable ‘cover’ organisations of a “cultural” nature. A great deal of these contributions are dodgy in one way or another, and corporate entities are nearly always accountable to remote shareholders. You would be amazed how quickly all these groups will change their donatory behaviour if things get a little uncomfortable on the image/share price front.
Government relies heavily on surveillance technology. This strong weapon against us is only effective if it is analysed and executed creatively. As many events continue to show us (the latest being Windrush) it is also a severe weakness when used unimaginatively. No matter how hard they try, government élites are still hopelessly rubbish at knowing what’s going on, who’s where and what they’re up to. Sowing confusion really isn’t a difficult thing to achieve – and it doesn’t have to be illegal.
Our institutions don’t listen, but our legislators need votes. Without those votes, their gravy train dries up and comes to a halt. Over the coming weeks, some 500 MPs are going to be working very hard not just to ignore the Brexit we’ve asked for, but to reverse it. They need to be told via every medium available to us that if they do this, next time around their constituents will place their crosses elsewhere. This applies every bit as much to senior Cabinet members as it does to backbenchers.
Effective education reform starts from the bottom. Most of us at some point in our lives will become parents. Parent action is one of the strongest levers we have to make life intolerable for those who define passive-learning policies and practice them.
We all live in communities of one form or another. Westminster and Whitehall will never fall on their swords, but devolution on a broad scale is already under way….and I doubt that they can stop it now. Getting involved at local level offers us a huge advantage in that the numbers to persuade are smaller, and there is no whipping/overbearing central control at that level: it would be relatively easy to form a Devolution Society and stand in an independent capacity for that organisation. Making allies at that level is another way of nibbling away at Whiteminster power.
As a very amusing flag announced at the Roma v Liverpool match last week, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day – that was Birkenhead’.
Don’t give up. Do get involved. And enjoy your Sunday lunch.
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