by John Ward
In the coming months and years, there are three decisions for every thinking and able-bodied human on Earth to make: will I speak out or simply stay in my stockade, remaining in ideological denial mode? Will I accept the social need for civic compassion – or laugh at the idea and wind up on the list of those left behind? And will I work to devolve power back down to thriving communities and take responsibility in that social context? The Slog examines why those decisions will make a difference to our very survival.
This may seem like an unkind start, but I am glad that Owen Jones is highly unlikely to have children. I get this feeling whenever I hear the “thoughts” of people like Stephen Kinnock, Hilary Benn, Mark Thatcher and Lily Allen.
There are those who end up being proved wrong through ignorance, bad luck, force majeur and the ever-present curved ball from left-field. And there are those who are always wrong because they follow a catechism removed from reality.
The western Libleft has, during my lifetime, been wrong about total nationalisation and economic intervention, grammar schools, the USSR, Zimbabwe, South Africa, electing hard Left leaders, radical feminism, the rise of UK fascism, PC, the Special Relationship, sexual orientation, the EU (twice), transport strategy and Brexit. The NeolibconRight has over that same period been wrong about Suez, retail price maintenance, top-end tax cuts, the USSR, The Special Relationship, PC, energy policy, infrastructural investment, education strategy, transport strategy, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, total deregulation and denationalisation, City Big Bang, fracking and Brexit.
You’ve probably spotted that both sides of the political class have been wrong about several identical issues. On others they have disagreed by making different mistakes; of triumph in there, however, there is very little. The underlying reason for this is the pyrrhic victory of rear-mirror ideology over windscreen empiricism. But the more their belief systems are disproved, contradicted and demolished by events, the more the priesthood in each Church binds together in a nasty mix of intolerance and radical inquisition.
We have seen this in the Tory Party with the coronation of Theresa May, the promotion of Anne Soubry and Amber Rudd, and the isolation felt by David Davis, John Redwood and others. In Labour, it has seen the election of Jeremy Corbyn, the promotion of Diane Abbott and Emily Thornberry, and the ire poured upon Kate Hoey, Frank Field and even Denis Skinner.
In the media, airtime has been not so much given as liberally awarded to Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Amber Rudd. Ditto on the Labour side to Diane Abbott, John McDonnell, Baron Adonis and Owen Jones. At these extremes, the narratives are Get Russia, Love the EU, No Deal is Disaster, Dump May and Brexit is obscene.
In turn, both armies magnify the enemies they see – Russians and “Fascists” – because both frighten different people in different ways.
I do believe, however, that there is one serious dividing line: while the bulk of the Conservative Party (not including Theresa May herself, by the way) believes in political plurality, the great majority of Momentum Labour doesn’t. As always, we do well to forget what they say, and observe how they behave.
Owen Jones in particular talks a great deal about fascism. Like me, he has a history degree. We have but one other common link: he was born in 1984 (the year in which George Orwell’s pivotal novel was set) and I was born in 1948 (the year in which Orwell wrote it). I would be staggered if Jones hasn’t read Nineteen Eighty-Four, but I sense very strongly – from his every insouciant comment, and the inability he has in every interview to be contradicted – that he thinks the book to have been a Socialist blueprint rather than a black satire-cum-prophecy about where all inflexible ideology ends.
“The future,” Orwell wrote in 1950, “seems to me to be about a jackboot stamping on a human face”. Jones does a great deal of stamping. He also also talks a good game on the subject of smashing things. In the socio-cultural sense, the boy king is like a jobbing builder: he turns up on time to smash everything into sub-atomic particles, and then wanders off to another site in order to do the same thing there. Constructive alternatives and rebirth involving creative skills are not his shtick.
When he uses the words fascist, fascism, far Right and Nazi, Owen Jones is unconcerned with accuracy or 21st Century context. There is nothing physical, concrete or empirical about his visualisations and pen-pictures: they merely comprise nightmare figures incapable of grasping that he and he alone knows The Correct Path. As I have observed before, in his unconscious mind, Owen bach probably imagines himself as an auto-heroic and homoerotic figure: the Soviet Red Army tank Commander Ivan Jonesobitchadvancing towards a happy DDR, and casting all before him forever to the four winds.
In the real world – which Mr Jones inhabits more as an alien tourist than a human being – genuine 24-carat corporate fascists are everywhere, but he doesn’t recognise them: partly because they are representational rather than abstract, but also because Owen Jones neither knows nor understands anything about the sharp-end of corporatocracy. He truly cannot conceive of qualitative choice being a Good Thing. The fact that greedy neoliberal globalists feel the same way has to be the irony of this, our new but rapidly ageing century.
The point, in short, is that most of the political class miss the point.
Let me offer you a solid 3D example of corporate fascism.
Two nights, I fired up Skype with a view to phoning somebody in Hungary. A panel came up saying did I want Skype to alter my hard drive configuration. I said no.
So Skype disappeared.
I fired it up again. The same panel appeared.
The message was clear: do as we say, or your access to our paid-for service will be denied.
So I let them “update my Skype experience”, and guess what? The newly-minted version 7693.666/107/22119 was completely fucked up. I dialed Hungary, and got through to New Mexico. In fact, everywhere from Sydney via Chicago to Singapore and Joburg connected me to Athens, Quebec, Poland and Paris.
Utter incompetence and forced choice are the epitomous elements of the Corporate State – aka, fascism. Whether that be Italy under Mussolini or the USSR under Stalin, the process never changes.
You only have to read about contemporary EU infrastructural investments and banking, centralised Soviet intransigence in the 1950s and Silicone Valley binary-brain gobbeldygook forever to see what authors like Aleksander Solzhynetsin, Milan Kundera, Auberon Waugh and Andrew Joseph Galambos were on about. They may all have angered the 21st century Leftlib axis with their views on (respectively) dissent, maleness, defiantly anti-progressive small-c conservatism and private property; but their commonality lies in their ability to find and spread anthropological truths regardless of preconception.
Now of course, the corollary of comfort in the face of facts is a horror of them: an unwillingness to listen to what anyone else has to say – let alone change your mind on a subject. Unless we’re very careful, this brings us quickly back to Owen Jones, and so – rather than dwell any further on the boy king – I will present to you now something I came across yesterday down in the bearpit better known as Twitter:
Now, Simon Bruni (a name tailor-made for the Bear Pit) isn’t just an Ursa major of little brain, he is a tragic human victim of Totally Obsessional Serially Systemic Political Onanism Tantrums (TOSSPOT). In this especially extreme form of Tosspot, there are also clear overtones, undertones and demi-quavers of vengeful megalomania, normally referred to among Sorosite believers as ‘Love not Hate’; there is the threat of force; there is the accusation of endemic criminality among those who desire responsible liberty; and there is – as always – the assertion of No Surrender.
Or to put it more simply, Simon is a fellow happy to put an ideal of what the EU “is” before the desire of around 55 million people (now the decision has been taken) to just get on with leaving.
He is, in fact, a card-carrying One Party fascist. But to Owen and his fellow fluffies, he is a hero.
However, if by any chance you think Simon is overreacting marginally there, do try to remember that – despite being a tosspot – he is not quite at the very Hard End of the Brexit Remainer diehards just yet. Clinging on to the far side of the spectrum by his toenails is Baron Adonis:
You may (like me) have been wondering, during the year or so since his Lordship said this Live on the BBC, in what way exactly leaving a bunch of unelected and mendacious control freaks is an act of appeasement. But then, Andrew Adonis knows no fear as he stumbles onto the media at every possibility, armed only with tonto logic and a reality more contorted than a python who just swallowed a London bus.
However funny I might find such things – and I do have a history of mental illness – like it or not, we are dealing with something culturally deadly here on two dimensions:
- An unwillingness to accept pluralist liberty
- A determination to use any and all means to give succour to division.
What the Remainer diehards (especially the Left faction within their host) do is, in a nutshell, tolerate liberal democracy until the majority disagrees with them….at which point, all bets are off.
The same is, naturally, true of the Far Right….whose numbers (from a tiny base at present) will swell unless the British Establishment does its duty – viz, leaves the EU in the spirit of what the majority of Brits voted for.
I offer this as a statistically well-supported observation. While the Far Right element among Leavers is somewhere between 2 and 4% of those hardliners determined to get the Brexit “they want”, the Leftlib diehards who demand the process be stopped are now a staggering 19.7% of the entire electorate.
You must judge for yourselves where the main threat to direct democracy lies, what sort of behaviours might exacerbate that, and who needs to start taking some responsibility for their actions. What I am convinced of, nevertheless, is that just under 1 in 5 Brits would rather create a crypto guerrilla war in Britain than accept Brexit. No society with that number of ruthless saboteurs can maintain its stability without massive use of repression – which will only make things worse.
The attitude of Left Remainers is misconceived and, in some ways I think, delusional….but that’s merely my opinion, and Right economists are very similar in their makeup.
However, were Brexit to fail, while I would be angry, I wouldn’t go out chucking Molotov cocktails around, because I know – at base – how small the real importance of European Union membership will be in the future we are doomed to endure……and one thing that will not endure is the European Union itself.
Unlike most Remainers, I am a relatively well-connnected traveller with more time than most to indulge that inquisitive (aka nosey) nature; I also believe I have a far more profound understanding of anthropology in general, and the social dictates of our species within that broad field of study. And finally, experience has given me a commercial wisdom that I have never experienced among the Comrades.
That explains my confidence that the future is not global, is not one of distant rule by global bloc, and should if anything continue the process of devolution now appearing on all fronts.
Many of the Southern States of the US have no faith in Washington. 58% of all EU member State adults last November dismissed Brussels as ‘irrelevant’ to their lives, and 45% wanted ‘more direct democracy’. In Great Britain, if and when ‘none of the above’ is included on election ballot papers, it will represent by far the largest section of the popular vote. The Gilets Jaunes in France are rejecting the entire model of centralised taxation. In the Presidential election before that, neither main Party candidate got through to the second round. Here’s one prediction many will guffaw about: depending on how bad things get during Crash2, the Beijing gerontocracy is going to have a revolution on its hands in the light of widespread austerity, default incompetence and endemic corruption. Venezuela is already in meltdown: it’s just the end of the beginning – both Argentina and Brazil are in a perilous state.
On that canvas, reality-free Leftlib wishful thinking will only exacerbate the social frictions. We have seen this in the migrancy disaster (and make no mistake, it is already a cultural disaster). Such thinking will exacerbate friction along the two dimensions I pointed up a few paragraphs ago: inflexibility in the face of democratic defeat, and a gullible propensity to turn towards repression as means justified by ends.
Yet again, we are 360° back to Owen Jones, a born-again supporter of the ideas of Bertholt Brecht and his circle of sisters. But we are also back to the Milton Friedman, Ted Levitt, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt axis of neoliberals.
The congruence of all these media public figures is there for all to see: none of them ‘get’ community spirit. Their systemic outlook on life is like the landscape pictures of the ace mountain-to-desert photographer: stunningly impressive, but devoid of people.
In a nutshell, unfit for human habitation.
Community civics first, political ideology last, compassionate reality at all times. It’s not a bad rallying cry.