Monday, 12 October 2009

Whatever happened to the heroes?


I'm not a student of politics, nor a political philosopher however I am an observer, and in common with all of the subjects of this 'Sceptic Isle', a victim of the risible lack of a coherent political philosophy behind successive Conservative and Labour governments.  In frustration I've now resorted to destroying my ballot papers by writing choice abuse on them, but at least I turn up to vote - the vast majority of the population have given up on that, and who can blame them?

International perpetual revolution, United Front, Fourth Internationalist, Clause Four, the emancipation of the proletariat - if any of these terms mean anything to you, positive or negative, then you are probably a student, or follower, of socialist politics - and definitely not a member of the New Labour party.  In contrast to now, the cusp of the 19th and 20th century was a time of impassioned political discussion.  All around there was debate that engaged everybody - from the aristocracy to the proletariat; and love or loathe it, the new socialism forced all to engage in politics, because it mattered - and through universal suffrage everybody felt they now had a say.

Kier Hardie helped create and led a British 'United Front', built upon a burgeoning need for the representation of a recently franchised urban proletariat.  The general election of 1895 saw the first candidates for this newly formed front under the banner of the Labour party; a party that brought together trade unions, the socialist bourgeoise, Social Democrats, the Scottish Labour Party and disparate socialist groups.  By 1923/24 Labour had consolidated its place in British politics, by winning their first general election and remarkably exiling a longstanding Whig/Liberal tradition to the basement of 20th century politics.

All well and good you might say; Labour was popular and fighting the corner of the working man and woman.  The first policy of the first Labour government, one that defined them, was to build 500,000 rental homes for inner city workers who were living in nothing much more than hovels being exploited by landlords such as Peter Rachman and his ilk.

New Labour will lose the next election to a party devoid of any coherent political philosophy other than a tacit inclination to support big business and Rachmanite exploitation of the proletariat.  Bankers and financiers are the modern Rachmans, the inheritors of this tradition. We are in hock up to our eyeballs to these modern landlords, now lenders, not through inflated rents and shoddy houses but through over inflated mortgages, insurances and laughably over-valued land and buildings - not that different to Rachman when there is no rental sector to speak of is it?  In fact merely another version of the same scam.

It is a fact that this depression is a direct result of internationally traded bundles of worthless debt, secured on over-valued land and buildings, owed by ordinary people throughout western capitalist democracies.  Families who simply wanted to put a roof over their head and were convinced to stretch their borrowing to the limits, reassured by the plethora of worthy financial institutions willing to assist them in doing so.

The New Labour response? Bail out the Rachmans - now that is hardly in keeping with their founding traditions, is it?

David Cameron tells us that we will have to tighten our belts, that we are to blame for this recession, that we borrowed too much.  That particular piece of disingenuous etiology speaks volumes of their intent - I see no real prospect of change under the Conservatives, just more of the same. As they grandstand over New Labour's failure they should bear in mind which policies differentiate New Labour from old and where they came from.

New Labour is a failed experiment, one that bears no resemblance to the United Front of the original Labour party.  A warmongering, ineffective, bankrupt and corrupt centrist party who adopted failed Conservative policies.  A party guilty of defrauding their supporters by claiming a socialist tradition that is no longer theirs - now that truly deserves them being consigned to the Eighth Circle of the Inferno, doesn't it?

So do we cover them in excrement or consign them to a lake of boiling pitch?  I'll need to brush up on my Dante to answer that one.

In the meantime I guess I've no option but to set about working up another choice line of abuse with which to spoil my next ballot paper, and wait patiently for the new heroes...

11 comments:

  1. This is the most intelligent and clear sighted assessment of UK politics I've read. Politics in the UK became, after Margaret Thatcher, one dimensional. No one within the political elite now questions the sanctity of capitalism - it's the only game in town - and politicians are indentured to it.

    When teaching folks with developmental disabilities skills they find difficult to master we encourage them to "try another way". Seems to me this would be a useful lesson for political economists. Except - maybe they have mastered it and are producing the desired outcomes?

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  2. “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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  3. @ scunnert - thanks I am flattered. Another impassioned plea that unfortunately will fall on deaf ears I fear, but I live in hope. You are absolutely correct original thought is one thing that has been suppressed in modern politics and economics, as is real debate (what is the point of a political conference?).

    @ Mr M, that was F Scott Fitzgerald - a great story teller but never a thinker...

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  4. well i think

    You should always defeat your heroes it is the way of Zen

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  5. Mr M, I don't disagree - but to defeat a hero would require the existence of one in the first place - and that was all I was calling for.

    You forgot to include 'Grasshopper' in that 2nd sentence I think.

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  6. Ho! ho!..not... more in the way of fixing motor bikes.Grr!

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  7. Meanwhile back in the real world, market capitalism has been the main organising principle of human affairs since Urg traded two pointed sticks to Thrak in return for a flint axe-head.

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  8. Sm753, I don't know if that is a fair comparison to the pursuit of individual wealth beyond the dreams of avarice for a very small number of the tribe, supported by corrupt governments. Thrak has all the axes in the world, a monopoly and the government says you have to buy yours from him, and take axe insurance and the banks will offer you finance that will take 25 years to pay 1000 times the actual cost?!

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  9. "Thrak has all the axes in the world, a monopoly and the government says you have to buy yours from him"

    Sorry, what's the analogy here?

    Banking isn't a monopoly. In fact it wasn't so long ago that you could keep your money in Icelandic banks if you wanted to...

    "the banks will offer you finance"

    The key word is "offer". No-one was forced to borrow money. It's all very well to moan about bankers, but more people need to recognise their own personal responsibility for the mess.

    (If you do want the exercise your revolutionary fervour and put someone up against the wall, I would nominate the rating agencies like S&P, Moodys and Fitch. Now there is a tri-opoly, and they were either incompetent or criminally negligent. Andersens took the fall over Enron, and the raters deserve a good slapping at least.)

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  10. It is a fact that this depression is a direct result of internationally traded bundles of worthless debt, secured on over-valued land and buildings, owed by ordinary people throughout western capitalist democracies. Families who simply wanted to put a roof over their head and were convinced to stretch their borrowing to the limits, reassured by the plethora of worthy financial institutions willing to assist them in doing so.

    My point sm753, and I acknowledge that further stretching your analogy for capitalism was ill advised, was that once the publicly funded ('homes fit for heroes'), decent housing, was snapped up in Thatcher's fire sale at unrealistically low prices we were set on this course. There was no choice/offer to be refused. if you wanted a decent home you had to buy it, on finance and insure it. The issue was never where you put your savings, Iceland or the UK - most people had none. The majority of homebuyers overstretched themselves to buy over-priced very ordinary homes, and the conspiratorial encouragement of the financiers and subsequent governments encouraged this - no choice. The over-inflation of property and land values was further stoked through a lack of new rented homes being built. That, in my opinion, resulted directly in the catastrophe we find ourselves in. Worthless debt traded by greedy financiers not content with the mortgage income from the newly converted homeowners who could pay, started mortgaging those who could not afford to pay - and turned these debts into CDOs, just to wring that extra buck out of them.


    Simples?

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  11. You all might want to check out a new U.S. website www.lastingliberty.com. It's a politics site with a philosophy angle.

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