Once upon a time in a land not too far away…

Imagine this scenario… Once upon a time in a land not too far away a leader of a political party was elected by the biggest majority in the parties history and their election to the leadership attracted over 350,000 people to join that political party making it the biggest political in Europe. The reason this new leader was so incredibly popular was because he believed in policies that helped the many not the few. Continue reading

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Anti-Semitism, colonialism and the banality of evil.

I’m reading Hannah Arendt’s, Eichmann in Jerusalem, for the first time. This is her study of the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann the chief bureaucrat behind the Holocaust. When the book was first published Arendt was vilified as being a ‘self-hating Jew’ because she used the phrase ‘the banality of evil’ to describe the unexceptional, bureaucratic, corporate, ‘yes man’, that was Eichmann. Continue reading

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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

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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