My review of Adam Curtis’ Hypernormalisation on the Culture Matters website.

My review of Adam Curtis’ Hypernormalisation on the Culture Matters website.

http://www.culturematters.org.uk/index.php/arts/films/item/2483-hypernormalisation

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The Lansman Momentum Constitutional Coup isn’t really about Lansman at all – its about Corbyn and McDonnell

I suggest that the ‘Lansman Constitutional Coup’ of Momentum, isn’t really about Lansman at all – its about Corbyn and McDonnell.

A grassroots movement was useful to them at the beginning but now in order to put up a credible fight in the next election they are going to have to come to an accommodation with the centre of the Labour Party. Not the Blairite, ultra-right of the party, they will never support Corbyn. But the soft-left, Guardian-reading, pragmatic, party loyalists who would like to see more left-wing policies if they could be convinced the voters do too (Owen Jones et al).

So in order to appease the soft-left of the party, Corbyn/McDonnell will have to compromise on some of the policy shibboleths of the left. Could be Trident or Palestine/Israel or a pullback on the rhetoric around Blair as a war criminal, or whatever. In order to pursue this strategy of ‘appeasement’ Corbyn/McDonnell could not countenance a grassroots Momentum that was further to the left than they are and unwilling to compromise on these policy shibboleths. Continue reading

Political Managerialism, Proceduralism, Electorialism and Legalism 

The suits rule the world!

They probably always did but briefly from the mid sixties to the early eighties the ‘suits’ were derided as boring bureaucrats. To be an accountant was just about the most laughable career choice anyone could make and banking was for dull old men.

During this period the rulers of the universe were rock stars and actors, film makers and playwrights. It was teachers, lecturers, doctors and lawyers who were the stars of their professions. And in politics it was iconic individualists like Tony Benn and Norman Tebbit who captured the public imagination.

But after 1979 the ‘suits’ mounted a counter-revolution and took back control of every aspect of our lives. But these weren’t Thatcher’s risk-taking ‘entrepreneurs’; these new ‘suits’ were the boring A-grade students who at school got all the prizes but completely lacked charisma or imagination and were about as risk-averse as you can get.

This has led to the sociopathic dead-hand of corporate managerialism taking over all our lives. The dreaded MBA has spread the myth that all organisations are the same and that ‘managing’ a bank, a supermarket or a button factory is the same as managing a hospital, a school or a theatre.

And worst of all this world-view has infected politics , and even the politics of the left. The labour party, the trade unions and the labour movement have been overtaken by a technocratic managerial proceduralism, electorialism and legalism that has rendered them almost apolitical.

Continue reading

Brexit is going to be the death of Corbyn

There is huge anger on social media and from the ‘liberal’ media about Corbyn imposing a three line whip on LP MP’s to vote to trigger Article 50.

Many middle class ‘liberal’ LP supporters are outraged that ‘their’ party is choosing not to reflect their core values. Well, hi folks, welcome to the world many of us have been living in for 30 years!

Lets face it by 1997 the Gang Of Four who split from the LP in the early eighties to form the SDLP, must have been sick to their stomachs because Blair’s New Labour was everything they have could have ever hoped for! And during New Labour the LP became an overwhelmingly middle-class party. Labour MP’s had always tended to be from the professional middle classes but in the Blair years the activists and bureaucrats all became middle-class. As a result the values and priorities of the party became increasingly middle-class. New Labour was the Libdems but having stolen the history, structures and electoral success of the LP.

Continue reading

Three Score Years And Ten

The average lifespan in the UK in 2016 is 81 years. Earth has existed for 4.53 billions of years, Homo Sapiens as a species have existed for only 200,000 years but in that time 108 billions of people have lived their “three score years and ten.” Time will go on infinitely after we are dead. Who knows how many more billions will be born, live and die?

Live is abundant. Human life is abundant. But paradoxically for each of us as individuals it is a time-limited resource that will inevitably come to an end. So our own lives are infinitely precious to us and those who love us. 

Even more so if like me you do not believe in any kind of ‘afterlife’. If there is no afterlife then before we were born our consciousness did not exist and after the spark of ‘life’ leaves our body our consciousness will once more cease to exist… for eternity. The universe has existed for 14 billion years. 1 year x 1 milion x 1 thousand x 14. For 14 billion years i did not exist and the universe seems to have coped quite well. And after my consciousness ceases the universe will continue on its path for billions and billions of years hence. The same applies to you, whoever you are, and however succesful you think you are.

All of us, however ‘great’ we think we are, whatever ‘success’ we achieve in our short lives, are almost entirely insignificant. In a billion years Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, Shakespeare, Ghandi, Henry VIII, the Egytian Pharoahs, the Inca Kings will all have disapeared into the mists of time. Even in ten thousand years almost everything we regard today as politically, economically, historically or culturally significant will be forgotten.  (Bear in mind that agriculture and the first cities developd ten thousand years ago. The ‘great and the good’ of today will have no more significance than the lowliest of the low. Time reduces us ALL to dust.

Any living creature has to constantly seek for food, water and shelter in order to survive. They also have to try and avoid becoming food or shelter for some other creature. So in that sense all living creatures have to ‘work’ to live – “life is struggle” as the Buddah so reassuringly put it.

For the vast majority of humanity currently living it is no longer possible to find food, water and shelter in the natural environment either because there is no productive natural environment to speak of, or it is all ‘owned’ by other homo sapiens who claim that only they are entitled to benefit from the resources of their patch of the natural environment and who will use brute force to protect their monopoly over those benefits.

So almost all of us have to sell our labour to other homo sapiens in order to ‘earn’ the right to access food, water and shelter. We have no choice in this. Work or die. This however is a very recent development. For 190,000 of the 200,000 years our species has existed we lived in small (150) egalitarian, nomadic bands who survived by collaborating and sharing the abundant natural resources around them.

But in the last three hundred years human ingenuity leading to mass production has coincided with a long brutal, political struggle leading to the temporary triumph of libetarian and egalitarian ideas, has led to many millions of us having access to a myriad of luxuries far beyond the necessities of food, water and shelter. 

This is of course to be welcomed and not many of us in the rich West would swap our comfortable desk jobs, our central heating and our smart phones for a strip of land and a peasants hut. But global neoliberal capitalism based on the self-defeating idea of infinte growth within finte resources, means that most of us alive today live out our few short decades of individual consciousness on a meaningless treadmill of consumerism. Working all day at boring or unpleasant tasks unrelated to our own dreams and interests in order to ‘earn’ the  credits that will enable us to buy more stuff, and when we have acquired that particular stuff, we will be convinced by advertising and peer pressure that it isn’t good enough stuff, so we will return to our ‘jobs’ and work even harder to get some ‘better’ stuff. 

Not only this, many of us have also been conned into believing that our ‘success’ in fulfilling these ‘jobs’ is what defines our worth and our status in society and for many it these ‘jobs’ that give a sense of purpose and meaning to our lives. Unsurprisingly then that these ‘jobs’ become incredibly important to many of us, they consume all our energy, creativity and dominate our emotional life. We spend most of the daylight hours doing them and indeed some of those who are ‘succesful’ at these ‘jobs’ are rewarded with extreme material wealth and extraordinary levels of social privilige. Conversely some of the ‘failures’ even kill themselves because they do not ‘succeed’ at these jobs. They end their three score years and ten prematurely and return to the eternity of non-existence that had preceeded their birth and the brief flicker of their consciousness that momentarily illuminated the cosmos, because they did not get the promotion they desired or because a particular legal system had declared them ‘bankrupt’.

To carry on like this we have to inflict a sort of mass self-deception, we have to avoid looking at our existential reality, at our almost total insignificance and we have to convince ourselves that our successes and our failures are meaningful, that they do genuinely say something about our moral worth, that we do matter, and not just to those who love us, but to the universe.

Ultimately as individuals we are ALL insignificant and individual achievement or failure is an illusion. ‘Success’ is as empty of meaning as ‘failure’ and the wealth and  privilige of the ‘succesful’ is as undeserved as the suffering of the ‘failed’.

Pity the purgers, their days are numbered

To people like me who joined the Labour Party (LP) in 2015 because of the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership, the subsequent behaviour of the LP bureaucracy and the PLP has been shocking and baffling. Instead of being welcomed into the LP as comrades-in-arms to build a popular LP that can defeat the Tories, we have been treated like skinhead gate-crashers at a middle-class wedding. It appears that the LP we joined would rather tear itself to pieces than accept us as legitimate members. What the hell is going on!!!?

In order for the anti-Corbyn elements in the Labour Party to behave as they have and still perceive of themselves as the ‘good guys’, which they clearly do, they must hold a really strong justifying narrative. From the arguments these folk make and the attitudes and postures they adopt, I extrapolate that this narrative goes something like this: Continue reading

Post truth politics is just invented, its not a reality

I wish people would stop using this idea of ‘post truth politics’ as an explanation for Brexit and Trump, and take responsibility for what really happened. For a start off when did politicians ever get the reputation of telling the truth?! For thousands of  years politicians have been renowned for being duplicitous, conniving, careerists who would say anything to get elected. All that is different in the Brexit and Trump campaigns is that the politicians are now so emboldened by the lack of resistance that they lied openly and blatantly. Secondly, people didn’t vote for Brexit because of the lies of the Brexiteers. Most people had adopted their voting positions long before the campaign began, same with Trump.

Politics is not a scientific activity based on objective fact, it is a cultural activity based on values. There is no way of objectively saying whether it is better to be in the EU or not! You can say unemployment will increase or decrease if we stay in or if we leave, or whatever, but even those figures are not ‘facts’ only predictions, and in any case such things will not ultimately convince most people one way or the other because most Remainers are driven by a cultural identification with middle-class ‘civilised’ Europe and most Brexiteers by the wish for national autonomy – neither of which have much to do with ‘objective facts’ but are based on values.

The post 1979 neoliberal consensus and the failure of the centre-left to protect the interests of their core voters is what has created this mess. Tony Blair claimed to be a post-ideology, pragmatist, responding to the reality of the real-world. But this is nonsense. Blair had accepted the TINA narrative and the ideological difference between him and Thatcher was paper thin. Ideologically Blair was a neoliberal capitalist and as such he carried out policies that made sense using the logic of neoliberal capitalism. This resulted in falling living standards for the many and obscene wealth for the few. Same with Clintonian Democrats in the USA. It is true that these New Labour capitalists were and still are, ‘liberal’ in the sense of ‘identity politics’ i.e. they believe in equal rights for minorities facing oppression based on race, creed or sexuality. BUT the identity politics agenda has resulted in a perception among the white majority that minorities (immigrants particularly) were/are being privileged over the indigenous population. Which in fact they are. The joke that to get access to public money these days you need to be a one-legged, black, muslim, transexual, lesbian, is based in reality. A reality that is justifiable in the sense that oppressed minorities have been and still are, genuinely oppressed and are entitled to public resources to overcome their oppression. But in terms of public resources oppressed minorities are perceived as being privileged while the ‘white’ majority  struggles endlessly to make a life while their real incomes fall and they are endlessly vilified in the media. And note I do not say the white working class majority because this sense of being sneered at and alienated in your own society applies equally to the middle-classes.

If you are a heterosexual economically struggling white man, especially a middle-aged struggling white man (regardless of class) it has become as if you are a pariah in your own country! You are under immense financial stress, the demands on you seem endless and you have no little or no autonomy, yet your own country treats you as if you have everything going for you and that you are the ‘bad guy’ oppressor of everyone else. It might make sense in a sociology text book to say that ‘middle-aged white men’ rule the world and are profoundly ‘priviliged’ but experientially for most of us living the lives of powerless, impoverished middle-aged white men it sounds pretty ludicrous!

And this is because economic ‘class’ has been omitted from the Clintonian/New Labour ‘liberal’ analysis. Blair claimed that ‘we are all middle-class now’. Yet a billionaire Asian lesbian has far more in common with a billionaire middle aged white man than she does with a poor Asian lesbian. Indeed they don’t live in the same world. And the billionaire Asian lesbian (or billionaire black gay guy, or disabled woman, or whatever) will exploit the poor Asian lesbian as soon as look at her and will have dinner on the white middle-aged billionaire’s yacht and discuss their new private jets over champagne and caviar.

So I would say to all those metropolitan, middle-class, liberals out there, stop whining about our supposed descent into post-truth politics and look at look at what is really happenning!