"Indeed, a minimum of life, an unchaining from all coarser desires, an independence in the middle of all kinds of outer nuisance; a bit of Cynicism, perhaps a bit of ‘tub’."
Friedrich Nietzsche

30 Jun 2012

David Cameron: Fascist Britain and Rule of the Mob

A sign of a civilsed society is the degree to which it protects the vulnerable and marginalised within that society. But what happens when politicians seek power by scapegoating a group in society when times are hard? 

At the beginning of the 20th century, Germany enjoyed an advanced civilisation second to none; boasting artists, writers, musicians, scientists and philosophers esteemed the world over. No need to be reminded what happened to Germany in the 1930s, but by the early 1940s many of the country's intellectuals had fled the country and thousands of it's citizenry (millions from neighbouring countries), notably jews, gypsies, homosexuals and the mentally infirm, were being exterminated in death camps across Europe. Those who believe we are living in a civilised world, and that such things could not happen today – beware. Science may advance (not always for our good) but human nature does not. Hitler's rise to power was an example of democracy in action. Whip up fear and hatred against one section of society, demonising and scapegoating minority groups for the failures of the ruling classes (in the case of Britain today, obscenely corrupt bankers and witlessalso corruptpoliticians), and get voted into power. 

This is clearly Cameron's strategy. By targeting the unemployed, single mothers and others claiming state benefit, he is pandering to, amongst other things, right-wing, 'working' class prejudice, feeding the myth that there are folk out their choosing to accept free hand outs from the State, and enjoy a better life style than those making an 'honest' buck and paying taxes. Well, as many have already commentated  just try living on benefits today and see how easy and fulfilling it is! Cameron's latest announcements this week included his plan to remove housing benefit from people under 25 and cut support to women who have more than 3 children. Instead of letting them scrounge off the State, force them into work. What Cameron seems to have forgotten is, there aren't jobs for the people he wants to drive back to work:
  • He has cut thousands of public sector jobs, adding armies of nurses, police, council workers and civil servants to the list of people already claiming benefits.
  • Not to mention increasing the catastrophic social effects of job losses such as people losing their homes, their social networks, even their marriages.
  • He is increasing the age of retirement, thereby further reducing available work to the young.
  • He is cutting back benefits to disabled people he feels are fit to work  ignoring the fact that they have to compete with the increasing numbers of people (with active CVs) recently made redundant, and for a diminishing pool of vacancies.
  • He turns a blind eye to employers who flaunt the minimum wage and run sweat shops  the reason he gets away with claiming some people are better off on benefits.
  • He is encouraging automation of the workplace, as those of us who have to deal with a robot instead of a human check-out assistant at the supermarket can testify.
  • And, how on earth are already hard pressed parents supposed to manage if they have to keep their kids at home until they reach their 25th birthdays, some of whom will have just finished university with £25,000 loans around their necks.
Having recently retired, with 20 and 21 year old boys still living at home, I feel for parents in similar situations if Cameron gets his way and in 3 years time cuts housing benefit to those under 25. Both my boys have struggled with dyslexia throughout their education, unsupported by teachers who don't understand it and brand them as lazy. A comment I also often hear is that, people use dyslexia as an excuse. Yet they've managed, with a lot of support from us and the rare person who does understand dyslexia, to get to university. They will both start life with huge loans and little prospect of work, having given up sending out hundreds of CVs with no offers of job interviews  not even from Greggs the Baker! So they are stuck at home for the time being with us, desperately wanting their independence  and we our retirement. I commented in my previous post on the Tory's other idiocy of giving prominence in education to spelling, grammar and learning poetry by heart. There are thousands of young people with dyslexia who are highly intelligent and have incredible creative skills, yet they are marginalised by an educational system that rewards swats and does not recognise that people communicate, perceive and contribute to the world in different ways. 

It's not surprising that many parents try so hard to get their kids to university  it's some protection against the current lack of opportunity facing those seeking non-academic careers. What's more, those going on to higher education get grants and maintenance loans which do make it possible to live away from home, even if they are only deferring the cost until later. But there is something very wrong about a society that privileges and pushes academic endeavour over other skills. Is it really necessary to go to university to study catering, hairdressing or floristry? The old 'technical colleges' have now also become universities. But why college at all? Why not return to investing equally in supporting young people into non-academic training such as apprenticeship schemes, where they can can learn invaluable skills on the job, gain qualifications if they want, and receive payment as well as training. The Country only needs so many graduates – as illustrated by the increasing numbers of them competing with the rest of the unemployed to stack supermarket shelves. Yet so long as the rest continue to be treated as second class citizens, university will remain the aspiration of choice.

But, goes out the cry, how can the Country afford to maintain the burgeoning cost of social welfare? Surely better to invest in creating jobs for people and stimulate the economy, than pay people not to work and scapegoat them for society's ills. At the same time that ordinary citizens are being told that they must make sacrifices to get the Country back on it's feet – even if this means losing their livelihoods, their homes, their relationships and their dignity  the super rich continue to party like never before:

BBC2 series The Secret History of our Streets, broadcast on Wednesday 27th June 2012,  featured Portland Road, London, a former slum now lined with  £3 to £10 million houses owned predominantly by bankers. One of the Street's former residents, Henry Mayhew (himself a descendant of the founders of Barclays Bank  found this week to have engaged in a massive international fraud) was very clear that public money paid to keep the banks afloat has found it's way into maintaining the extravagant lifestyles of these same corrupt bankers instead of being used to stimulate the economy. As Mayhew admitted:  "Since the taxpayer got involved in helping bankers out, the prices of these houses have rocketed. Where do you think that taxpayer money went? Into the bankers housing. Do you think they're lending it to small business? That's  not how it works."

No, human nature does not change. We are no more civilsed today than were the ancient Greeks 2,000 years ago – in some respects, less so. A fig for democracy! Rich and powerful interests are at stake. Even the British Labour opposition have gone silent on the latest demonising of 'welfare scroungers', sensing that to stand by their founding principals will not appease the baying mob  whose blood is already up  and jeopardise their chances of winning the next election. 

But then it was the Labour Government that started laying down the foundations of a police state in Britain. Implementing the Extradition Act 2003 in response to the hysteria and Islamophobia following 9/11,  they effectively removed the principal of Habeas Corpus, jailing British citizens – some have been in prison for several years now  without charge, trial or producing any evidence as to why they are being detained. Drifting ever closer to American style politics and legal system, we should fear for our future civil liberties. One of the questions asked of Occupy protesters during the recent Nato Sumit in Chicago, when dragged by police from their homes for interogation, was: Have you any books by Karl Marx? The absurd stupidity of such a question itself is frightening in contemporary society. For those, then, refusing to believe that we could witness a repeat of Nazi style thuggery and block headedness in the 21st century – it's already with us.
Legal protest during Nato Summit in Chicago, May 2012. 
Should Britain be emulating this model of society?

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