The Jink Gang

CHARGE! And they roar as they stampede towards the enemy. Suddenly they come to a halt at the moat, hurdle their abuse, stomp their rage, and make threats they cannot impose. Just then someone shouts – another fight! and off they run. Charge!

Meanwhile, the residents of the castle carry on; as do the folks on the bailey, little changed. In the distance if you strain your hearing there’s a faint echo of: charge! The stumbling, fumbling ‘Jink Gang’ push on.

Gradually some will tire as other commitments surface and the mantle is passed to the blood of youth. Others will stay for they wish to retain the notion of youth and have no ambition to accept responsibility. Love, marriage, home and kids take centre stage. Having a job and keeping it becomes a major priority.

HORROR! There is no remorse as they meld into the society they abhor to become castle dwellers or ambitious folk from the bailey. Gone is their naked rage to be replaced by a conscious awareness that needs change. It is not their war anymore. And the carousel continues to turn.

Such is the existence of the liberal left. With no clear plan, and little understanding of how to attack the castle stronghold or gain the support of the bailey folk, they tread on. Busily, they chase after every concept of injustice believing that they, are the acorns of change.

Taking sides is part of the ‘must plan’, embracing any group perceived to be downtrodden. Thus they have pigeon-holed minorities as the only true sufferers, all others are fakers. Unfortunately, there is no big picture for that would spoil the view and it takes time to draw such a picture. And haste is of the essence.

Fighting fascism is a pivotal rule of the ‘must plan’ but questioning the fascist tendencies of communism is so blasé. If you cannot abide by the rules don’t apply to join.

After the dinner party at the theatre the entourage, behind the canvas throw, demand a uniformity of approach to all injustice they identify. There are rules for a purpose: listen, learn, and adopt the new language, let us speak in neutral terms in all conversation.

Accept the new thinking, it would be boorish not to. Pay heed to the wisdom of our leadership and the world will achieve a new harmony where all will be at peace.  We shall build from the bottom up so that all benefit. Just follow our lead. You know we are right.

You cram these words into mine ears against

The stomach of my sense.” Alonso. The Tempest (11.i.)

Out of context but sharp and to the point on sentiment.

Excuse me Sir/Madam/ Neutral person, what about capitalism?

*Don’t trivialise our movement with unanswerable questions!

In our world the individual is supreme; their needs are paramount. We show our humanity by such actions.

Excuse me Sir/Madam/ Neutral person, which individuals?

*You are a peevish little sod!

Excuse me Sir/Madam/ Neutral person, where do I fit in? I’m a poor working class person and suffer from ego-depletion1 (42) which means I’m more likely just to give up. You see, most who live in poverty suffer from these symptoms and when you live in my world misfortune walks with you every day.

You may not know but I have a high U-index which means I spend a lot of time in an unpleasant state of mind. (393)Another thing Mr Kahneman2, points out when studying the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (396-397) is that:

“The objective of policy should be to reduce human suffering. We aim for a lower U-index in society. Dealing with depression and extreme poverty should be a priority.”

I may be wrong but Mr Kahneman’s view seems to be very broad and means everybody in those circumstances. And do you know what – everybody includes me!

1 & 2 Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow               Penguin Books

Excuse me Sir/Madam/Neutral person, can I ask a few questions?

  1. What makes you think your way is better than any other?
  2. How do you differ in approach from fascists?
  3. Will we still be living under the capitalist system?
  4. How do you plan to control the underbelly of sex and money?
  5. If you believe in a better world with decent welfare for all; why do you have a tax avoidance business arrangement?

*Nosy little shit!

 

Klein V Trump 2

It’s time to reflect.

Naomi Klein berates Trump for using the rage and despair of the people to get elected (27). The same can be said for almost any politician. If there is a flow in opinion they start to paddle in that direction to try to keep abreast of the current. Most politicians speak with a forked-tongue.

For decades the elite aided by their bovver boys have done whatever they deemed necessary to make a profit. This led to the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1999, which freed the money men to make honey in a desert. Thank you to the democrats!

The ‘left’ have either been acquiescent or asleep. Some were to be found hopping-mad at Davos screaming themselves hoarse. Anarchists wore their masks, not the superhero variety, to fight the class war. The poor, they struggled on trying to make ends meet.

A massive cash bonanza for the big boys was globalization. A nice big can of gloss was used to paint a picture of relieving poverty worldwide by taking jobs to the poorer regions. Yes, the number of recorded poor did drop but that was conditional on what a living wage was deemed to be: $1 or $2 a day. Workers in the west could not compete against cheap or slave labour.

Factories closed, tens of thousands were thrown out of work. Some districts began to look like ramshackle places and hope went whistling with the wind (27). However, the big boys made a killing. Globalization was neatly summed up by John J. Sweeney labour leader of the AFL-CIO 1955-2009:

“In the ‘Nike Economy’ there are no standards, no borders and no rules. Clearly, the global economy isn’t working for the workers in China and Indonesia and Burma anymore than it is for the workers here in the United States.”

www.azquotes.com/author/14360-John_J_Sweeney

The ‘left’? They were absorbed in their new quest; identity politics. The ‘left’/liberal’s had no reasoned argument to overcome the horrors of capitalism and so sought to stamp on the toes of the elite. Multiculturalism and Political Correctness were unleashed with some fanatical adherents rattling on every door locked or ajar. (91)

Note the words of Trevor Phillips, former head of the Commission for Racial Equality writing in the Daily Mail newspaper. (16/08/17)

My comrades on the Left flaunt their moral superiority. But many of them are the most racist and sexist of all.

 

Unfortunately, there was little consideration given to the bulk of the population in particular the poor. There are a horde of issues out there that directly affect millions of poor folks. To many people the sweeping changes of the liberal/left took on the role of a drill sergeant: Attention! About Turn! Forward – March! It proved a very divisive policy. Those who would not be regimented were castigated as bigots, Neanderthals and trash etc. The louder they were screamed at the more entrenched they became. Surprise!!!

‘Audite et alteram partem’.

Listen even to the other side

Cited by Ha-Joon Chang, Economics: the User’s Guide (458)

The poor were facing a barrage of economic woe: globalization, wage freezes, benefit cuts, the full bucket of austerity. On top of that they faced a tsunami of political dogma. Add to the mix their main source of information, the cheap tabloid press and you start to see where confusion nests.

Between a rock and a hard place ordinary Joe starts to shimmy towards the ones who seem to understand and who make good promises. It’s the WIIFM! What’s in it for me?

Throughout the world we have witnessed the movement of ordinary Joe, fed up to the back teeth with the establishment and hearing nothing but abuse from the liberal/left. America, France, the UK and in South America people are searching for direction.

Yes, people can regress at times of crisis (192) but what helps them get back some dignity is understanding and assistance. And yes, encouragement can be taken from ‘- explosions of utopian imagination’ (217) of the 60s and 70s, but.

The radicals of Chicago and Paris 1968 are silent now. The peaceniks and the make-love-not-war army of self-indulgence have all gone to the care home. Well, that’s how it seems. The huge movement in the UK, CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) failed. There are a whole tranche of organisations and committed folks willing to help but there is no unity of purpose. Initially (228)!

Let’s be clear, you cannot build a better society without the majority of the population in support. Crucially there has to be an acknowledgement of the significance of the WIIFM for ordinary Joe no matter his/her race. Anything that creates a barrier lessens the opportunity to advance change.

Trump surfed the waves like a seasoned pro (119) but what was the alternative? The Democratic Party snuffed that out! So it’s not about, “…being willing to engage in a battle of ideas-.” It is about proposing new alternatives, being open (243) and willing to discuss what makes some so angry. Perhaps you start from the basis that they are lost in a no-mans-land.

It was not the “…wealth-worshipping world view that created the backlash in the first place.” We have always had bling since the earliest of times. It was that most people were not engaged in political life. Many simply viewed it as distasteful. We need to reconnect!! Dogma is still dogma if you are being forced to accept it.

Therefore it is about the ‘injustice of it all’. (119) It’s about fairness and how it is perceived. My perception might be overshadowed by my politics.

Johnathan Wolff, Political Philosophy (85) in discussing Rousseau’s polity:

“…without rough equality of wealth, factions will form. This would not only cloud the judgement of the voters but perhaps create an obstacle to the existence of a general will; a policy equally in the interests of all voters.”                             

Naomi Klein V Trump 1

I saw the book title, ‘NO is not enough’ by Naomi Klein, read the blurb and thought this is my cup of tea. However, I was met with a cup of gloop. No doubt well-meaning and to some extent forward thinking. But! Then I hit the last pages and began nodding my head, yeah, I’ve hit hard core. Ooh! I was at last excited, Klein and I are on the same train heading to somewhere better. But!

The mention of dismay that Hillary Clinton failed and could not be, “…a role model…” (17) had me reaching for the megaphone to scream the title of the book. Clinton was and is an entrenched and fully paid up member of the establishment. Many in the Democratic Party did not support her and actively campaigned against Clinton as their candidate. The champion of the hour was Bernie Sanders.

In hindsight, perhaps, the ruling elite of the Democrats regret their decision to force Sanders off the ticket. He could have beaten Trump but the fat cats at the top did not want to wrestle with Sanders brand of politics.

Ms Klein to her credit supported the Sanders campaign but later found fault in his policy decisions. Notable was the decision on reparations for slavery. (125) Klein quotes Sanders that reparations would be ‘”divisive”’ and that that decision may have cost him a substantial black vote. Is she suggesting he play to the gallery just for votes? I disagree with her analysis and believe that Sanders showed more understanding of the big picture of what it takes to unite the people.

Opposition to Sanders on that issue points more towards a lack of understanding of the bigger picture, which has become characteristic of the ‘Left’ in politics. There are too many questions associated with the policy of reparations: would payments be generic or individual? How much overall? Who decides how to spend it? Spend on what? The whole episode could prove fractious in the extreme. Not to forget the rest of the poor looking on.

The ‘left’ get a policy idea and run with it without much, if any, debate. You are either with them or against them. It’s an assumption of righteousness. On the mild side it’s patronizing on the other it’s dictatorial. We know what’s best for you! They get so engrossed in pursuing their own agenda they don’t see the need to consult or feel the anxiety of the poor. It’s the Moses syndrome!

Isn’t ironic that Klein supports Sanders only to go nit picking when he fails. She should be having a go at the hierarchy of the Democratic Party for their lack of vision and courage, which she acknowledges (123). But then all the guys at the top think alike. They may sport different colour ties when they meet up at the country club but eat at the same table.

Going back to the possibility of Hillary Clinton as president would only have ensured a continuation of the same old policies. Gender has no bearing on what a leader does; it’s their politics, their belief system. A female leader does not ensure a more thoughtful or caring approach to policy.

My way or …

I’ll refer you back to 1979 in the UK and the premiership of Margaret Thatcher. Her policies battered the working class into submission and caused severe damage to the manufacturing base of the economy. Her approach involved the ‘shock’ attack of neoliberalism, economic thinking of the Chicago School.

And recently, we have the rule of

Better my way …

Angela Merkel, a so called centrist politician leading a left leaning coalition. Well!! If we are to believe Yanis Varoufakis, finance minister of the Greek government 2015 and no one has refuted his analysis of what took place.* The sting began with the bailout of €110bn to the Greek economy in 2010, the first of three. Varoufakis is adamant that as the money poured into Greece it was just as quickly siphoned off back to the German and French banks that were facing collapse.

*Yanis Varoufakis, Adults in the Room (34)

This blatant and shameless robbery of the people’s money to save the banks was one of the most audacious scams in our history. To pay the debt Europe was forced into austerity. Merkel used the clout of the troika* to impose the deal. A decade later the debt is still being paid. Europe has been put on a very strict diet while Germany feasts on its ill-gotten gains.

*European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Klein bemoans that Obama did not take the opportunity during the financial crisis (2008) to steer America in a different direction but no such condemnation of Merkel. Instead Merkel is commended for the creation of 400,000 green jobs (214) while coal still remains the basic energy provider for the nation. The decision to extend the green environment may have more to do with a dependency on Russian oil and gas.

Moreover, the ordinary people of Europe have paid an extreme price to bolster and maintain the German economy. Cracks are now appearing as the duration of the German plan continues to hurt. The EU is in deep trouble!

We must commend Ms Klein for accepting that Merkel’s raid on Europe was “merciless” (214). The actions of Merkel were a precursor to Trump’s campaign. Merkel put Germany first and had no concern for the needs of others. Trump has stated on numerous occasions that he will put America first come what may. Is he following Merkel’s lesson plan?

Merkel kicked democracy into the tall grass while she went about her business. Clear evidence can be found with the troika’s actions in Greece and Cyprus. Will Trump go that far?

Let’s leave the last word to Yanis Varoufakis:

I witnessed first hand what I can only describe as a naked class war that targeted the weak and scandalously favoured the ruling class.

The Great EU Swindle

I witnessed first hand what I can only describe as a naked class war that targeted the weak and scandalously favoured the ruling class. Yanis Varoufakis

Trust is a dead word! The EU political elite have sapped the hopes and aspirations of millions of ordinary people throughout Europe. Nearly a decade of austerity has cheated them out of €billions to save the French and German banks.

In a stampede to maximise their profit the European banks lead the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ into the cesspit of derivatives. They wanted their cut, to cash in in the quick buck world of finance. They stood to make €millions but, there is always a but, the 2008 financial crash squeezed their balls till they screamed.

Thoughtless in their pursuit of dosh (€/£/$) and fearing they might lose out and look like idiots to the rest of the financial mob, they galloped headlong into the fray. BOOM! BOOM! Their bonuses blowing in the wind they trundled back to beg governments to bail them out. Governments did at phenomenal cost and then passed the bill to the ordinary people. Austerity!

“I witnessed first-hand what I can only describe as a naked class war that targeted the weak and scandalously favoured the ruling class.”1

The Double Whammy

The people were bludgeoned twice. This was a heartless mugging; the subprime mortgage crisis left millions without homes, struggling to survive and then came a decade of austerity. Such is irony. Joseph Stiglitz shoots with both barrels when he states, “…U.S. subprime crisis meant exploiting the poorest and least-educated among us.”2

As the 2008 crisis hit the governments of the EU passed power over to the troika: the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). All decisions about bailing-out fell to them. The crisis appeared to suggest the collapse of the EU.

Angela Merkel berated the Americans for causing the debacle but soon had to eat her words as she handed over an initial €406 billion to German banks. She hadn’t realised they were burst too. Moreover, the German banks had previously loaned $477 billion to the weaker states of the EU.  Later, Merkel would hand over another huge amount.

The banks of France, Germany, Netherlands and UK had a $30 trillion exposure, which meant that if the slightest thing went wrong they would collapse. A massive bailout was needed and quick.3 The troika with their gang of technocrats were called to action.

The Sting

Five countries needed transfusions: Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Greece. In 2010 Greece received a €110bn loan from the troika. “As soon as the bailout loans gushed into the Greek finance ministry, ‘Operation Offload’ began: the process of immediately siphoning the money back to the French and German banks.”4

Of the money given over some 66% came from the EU taxpayer and 33% from taxpayers throughout the world. Thus the banks were salvaged at the expense of the people. Greece was left to cope. During the period 2010 – 2012 Greek government spending dropped by 15%. More bailouts required.5

A second then a third bailout was needed in 2012 and 2015. The Greeks got the blame for mishandling their finances as the people of Europe made snide remarks about the Greeks, not realising that it was Merkel and gang passing it on to the banks.

Little Cyprus suffered too at the hands of the troika. In 2013 Cyprus got a 10bn bailout but the strings attached were severe, the Popular Bank (Laiki Bank) was forced to close. Like other countries within the block Cyprus had to accept austerity. Wikipedia March 2013

Outside of the corridors of power the deal was condemned.

  1. Paul Mason, then a reporter for BBC Newsnight queried,

    “What is Germany doing? It triggered the Cyprus crisis and is playing hardball,…”

  2. Economist Richard D. Wolff described it as “blackmail”.
  3. Dr Jeffery Stacy believed “…it hurt Cyprus and Europe”.
  4. The economist magazine described the deal as, “…short-sighted and self-defeating.”

They were small, they were weak, they were used as a lesson plan to the rest; don’t step out of line! Democracy be damned – and it was! The BBC put the blame firmly in Merkel’s corner. While the Guardian newspaper warned that Cyprus would suffer.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18586532

www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2012/may/18/euro-crisis-cyprus-next

The bailout of Cyprus, “… raised profound questions about the democratic nature of EU decision-making.”

www.Ise.ac.uk/

The people had no say, democracy was ignored, the needs of the elite were met. Meanwhile the poor had to take the medicine without exhibiting any symptoms.

Anyone who reads Yanis Varoufakis book Adults in the Room and still believes in the EU need to see someone!!! But don’t take the word of Varoufakis. The German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble makes it as plain as daylight when speaking to Varoufakis:

“In the Eurogroup you are probably the one who understands that the eurozone is unsustainable. The eurozone is constructed wrongly.”6

The ‘powers’ may argue that they done what they did to save Europe for democracy. It was merely a temporary suspension and, strong arm tactics were necessary to achieve restitution. BUT!

  1. The cost was one-sided. Ordinary Joe paid in full.
  2. Banks were saved without consequential costs.
  3. Banks continue to make huge profits and top employees to make awesome bonuses.
  4. The ‘powers’ never explained their actions
  5. The ‘powers’ succeeded in smashing the concept of fairness.
  6. And succeeded in destroying trust.
  7. Political leaders could not think of an alternative plan.
  8. The elite went scot free!!!

Democracy was cast aside; kicked in the balls and dismissed as a troublesome kid. There can be no clearer evidence that the people were used as pawns to benefit the elite.

“It is unfair to accept benefits but refuse to pay.” The bankers did!!! Johnathan Wolff  7

  1. Yanis Varoufakis, Adults in the Room (481)
  2. Joseph Stiglitz, The price of Inequality (xlv11)
  3. Y V (38)
  4. YV (27)
  5. YV (19 + 499 note)
  6. YV (407)
  7. J. Wolff, Political Philosophy Third Edition (59)

 

 

Drawbridge Brothers 4

Banksy

Diversity is a weak glue. Its purpose is to placate today’s society. It is based on a vision that suggests that society will not change. The basic premise is that of equal opportunity and a general respect for the rights of the individual, inclusiveness. Unfortunately, this brings diversity into conflict on various aspects of its tenets.

You must admit it is a lovely picture, well drawn and you can see why many are attracted to it. But it was drawn in charcoal, posted on the outside and it rained. The jolly old rain!

We can all agree with Ha-Joon Chang1 that “Equality of opportunity is the starting point for a fair society.” But and it is a big but, “However, it is equally unjust and inefficient to introduce affirmative action and begin to admit students of lower quality simply because they are black or from a deprived background.” From any angle we come back to the obvious conclusion that we are dealing with discrimination.

Is it ok to discriminate against a rich kid because their family has money and therefore his/her life chances are so much better? To which group should we lend our support – an underprivileged female or an underprivileged black person? Michael Sandel2 deals with this question expertly.

Sandel prompts us with a proposition that affirmative action is acceptable because it fulfils a ‘socially worthy aim’. That still leaves us with the problem of discrimination. The real question is why society needs affirmative action or diversity, what is the root cause? We are always skipping over the big question as though it is too big to solve. Stay clear a political volcano is about to erupt!

Professor Johnathan Wolff3 opines that affirmative action can be ‘patronizing and degrading, and, in the long term, may do more harm than good’. America has had a form of affirmative action since the mid-1940s. While a number of black and Hispanic people have gained from the initiative the vast majority are still on the bottom rung of life chances.

As Wolff points out, ‘…equal political rights are worth fighting for, but they are of little value if you are still treated unequally in day to day life.’ So, even democracy may not solve the problem. Representative democracy is subject to corruption and nepotism to mention but a few distractions.

Tony Blair came to power in the UK 1997 with a sound bite of ‘education, education, education’. Later his left-wing credentials were left shattered on the ground as he became more Thatcherite than Maggie.  We have to take a serious look at the power of the market over our lives to find a solution?

In South Africa, apartheid was shown the way to …. Off. However, the ordinary people are no better off financially or socially; they are free, but free to live in poverty. The ANC has not delivered!

We are constantly told that a strong and growing economy is the best way to ease the burden of poverty. It seems to be one of Theresa May’s favourite sayings and guess what, she’s wrong. The 2008 financial crash is testament enough. The market ruled and the people lost – big time.

Therefore does ‘trickle-down economics work? According to J Stiglitz4 the nations that adopted the Washington Consensus – the American way – strong growth everyone wins “…the poor have benefitted less from growth.” This is supported by Ha-Joon Chang1 “Trickle down does happen, but its impact is meagre if we leave it to the market.” Poverty is as widespread today as ever.

Therefore, the concept of diversity sounds good looks good but is wishy-washy. It is all things to all people. I’m sorry but that cannot be the way forward. We cannot allow certain sections of society to spew their intolerance for others as a belief. We cannot allow a minority group to dictate policy for the nation.

If we are to build an understanding that will last then we must accept that that will take time. We must talk not push, we must listen not railroad, and we must argue not fight. Remember inclusiveness! Let’s put it to music

The road is long

With many a winding turn

That leads us to who knows where

Who knows where

But I’m strong

Strong enough to carry him

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

 

Songwriters

Bobby Scot, Bob Russell

Read more: Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

1.       Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About CAPITALISM (p210) (pp137-138)

2.       Michael Sandel, Justice (chap:7 pp167-183)

3.       Johnathan Wolff, Political Philosophy (p186 + p91)

4.       J Stiglitz, Globalization, (p79)

 

Drawbridge Brothers (2) Diversity

Banksy

Diversity ‘the great leap forward’ engineered by the Liberal elite was set to lead the whole population in a new and dynamic direction. But, they didn’t bother or merely forgot to invite the rest of us on their planned run. Now we have to be corralled. Little wonder therefore that there’s been a backlash.

Being intimidated to follow a diktat rubs most people up the wrong way. Especially so, when they have to consider every utterance they make for fear that someone will report them to the politically correct (PC) Stasi.

However, it’s more than just being PC:

  1. University of Edinburgh – “Diversity aims to recognize, respect and value people’s differences to contribute and realize their full potential by promoting an inclusive culture…”
  2. University of Oregon – “It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences”. E.g. race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs etc.

http://www.ed.ac.uk/equality-diversity/about/equality-diversity

http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~asuomca/diversityinit/definition.html

It would seem that the advocates of diversity do not fully comprehend their own philosophy as they find it difficult to talk of opponents without the use of abuse (racists, bigots and Neanderthals). In doing so they fail to:

  • Build an inclusive culture
  • Recognize individual differences.
  • Others political and religious beliefs.

A question arises as to, which ‘individual difference’ takes preference, e.g. if a Christian landlord refuses to have a homosexual guest; which has precedence? If a religious body cannot accept homosexuality as an ‘individual difference’, which has precedence?  If women in a certain section of society are downtrodden, which has precedence?

We fast move along to a political hierarchy! So, are we recognizing that the other ‘differences’ are more important than religious belief? In that case should we not have a prescribed list in order of importance? But wait, if we have a list of preference are we not moving away from an ‘inclusive culture’?

  1. So is religious tolerance in or out? Or must it conform to the ideological script to be allowed on board?

Let’s leave it to the courts and sneak further from democracy.

  1. Is it justified to put right yesterday’s wrongs by over indulgence of the present generation of minorities?
  • Justification?……….. Leave a reply!
  • What of equality before the law? Has it been kicked into the long grass temporarily or permanently?

Political belief is a hot potato and many on the right-wing do not like the concept of diversity and so, should be – disenfranchised – allow only Labour and Liberal and, maybe a smattering of Conservatives – but only if they denounce Thatcherism! That darn woman!

In America the concept is wrapped up in the political agenda of Affirmative Action (AA) which has been in force for over 50 years. Again the term ‘inclusive’ strikes a hypocritical chord with many because they feel excluded. Since the 1940s the U.S. government has issued executive orders to ensure that sub-contractors are employing workers on an equal opportunity basis. This has led to cries of ‘reverse discrimination’.

Others, such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggests it creates a “cult of victimization” because it implies that black people need a leg up. It has also met with political opposition with the states of: California, Washington, Michigan, and Nebraska refusing to implement AA.

A study by Thomas Espenshade and Chang Y. Chung (2005) found a bias against white and Asian students trying to enrol in ‘highly selective private research universities’. A further study carried out by T. Espenshade (2009) found a similar bias in college intake, with Asians at the bottom of the pile.

Such has been the build-up of resentment that a survey in 2007 found that 52% of whites thought that AA should be abolished. Of course this could be as a result of better right-wing propaganda or worryingly, a strong feeling of being left out. The latter is certainly the case among Asians as in 2015 a coalition of 60+ Asian-American groups filed legal battles to gain equal opportunities. Up to the present law cases are pending.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_action_in_the_United_States#Arguments_against_affirmative_action

It is true to say that AA has helped a lot of people and was perhaps, the best option at the time. This is the attitude of Noam Chomsky, but he also recognizes that, “… you find plenty of things to criticize”.

Noam Chomsky, How The World Works (pp211-212)

Some may argue that only the negative view has been expressed. However, if the intention of diversity is ‘inclusive’ then surely we must examine the voices of discord to ascertain where things are going wrong.

In the UK in recent times we have witnessed the Labour and Liberal parties institute an all-female panel for the election of prospective Members of Parliament (MP’s).

  • Is this justified?
  • Is it legal under equal opportunity?
  • Is it patronizing?
  • Will it cause any resentment?
  • Will the candidate have the respect of her fellows?
  • How will having more females in parliament make it more democratic or work better?
  • Is it all a cynical ploy to garner the female vote?

I suspect that many of the issues concerning women have more to do with the economic demands of the capitalist system than the backwardness of male MP’s. I could of course be wrong! It may be a combination of both.

The introduction of diversity was an attempt to dictate the thinking, acts and actions of the people. Which other regimes tried to dictate the thinking, acts and actions of their population? I’m thinking Germany and Russia, China etc.

It is a tough ask to change people’s thinking, acts and actions especially if it must be done now. There is nothing wrong with the concept, if we walk together. It’s just the terrible hash made of its introduction. It can only be considered thoughtless in the extreme. The Liberal elite and the political class have learned nothing from business that has long been aware that the top-down approach has serious drawbacks.

The political class have set back any hope of achieving diversity by their lack of vision and their childish rush. It may take two maybe three generations for it to take a hold on the psyche. Of course there’s always the possibility that it was a purposeful screw up!

A blanket approach to diversity as has been adopted is a severe weakness; pampering to every group and the individualist outlook is much too general. Individualism can only exist as long as the great majority are tolerant.

Moreover, a set agenda is a blind spot. Though it does lead to a piece of clarity from Karl Popper, “Who plans the planners”? Because, “…our actions in any case are likely to have unintended consequences”. Does this strike a chord??

Bryan Magee, Popper (p100)

Diversity was born of intolerance of others bias and grew in intolerance. Such was the zeal of improving the lot of many; it produced an army of zealots. That’s the nature of political emotion. The army of zealots and the patronizing attitude of the politicians played a major role in the advent of populism. Reap…..

The Rape of the Poor

 

Try not to live as a pretender,

But so try to manage your affairs

That you are loved by wide expanses,

And hear the call of future years.

Boris Pasternak – It is not Seemly to be Famous – stanza 3

It is now well documented that while the super rich have grown richer the poor have travelled in the opposite direction. According to several economic writers the blame lies squarely with the neo-liberal economic model*, and, that its demise signals the last rites for capitalism. It’s a stretch to suggest that because one economic model has failed that we must prepare for a new world order.

However, there is one truth and that is that the poor have been raped. They have been raped of income, of opportunity, of prospects, of their self-esteem and of their very dignity. Let’s draw our picture with a few succinct and powerful quotes from notable writers.

The USA, under neoliberalism, boosted profits by impoverishing its own citizens.” Paul Mason (p19)1

“…income inequality has reached extreme levels not seen since the 1920s, and before that, the 1890s.” James Rickards (p236)2

The general thrust of these quotes are supported by other economists that I have previously quoted in earlier posts: Stiglitz, Chang, Rodrik, and Krugman. There can be no doubt that the poor have not kept pace with the distribution of wealth that has been generated. The push to globalization and its fellow rider free trade have cost the poor of the western nations much.

*www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism    

 Multinationals have simply used their capital to invest elsewhere, mostly in Asia and China in particular, to utilise the cheap and at times slave labour. A prime example, quoted in several books is that of Apple. This company pays to have its phones etc. manufactured in China by cheap labour but when the finished product comes back to USA and Europe, Apple charge a price that would equate to the phones being manufactured in America or Europe. The company makes huge profits from such an arrangement. Huge!

We are all now aware why the big boys have been promoting globalization and free trade; it’s of great benefit to their profit margin. The rest of the populace can go take a hike!

Banksy

But wait! The hoi polloi have not sauntered off with their cap between their legs. No, they’ve used their democratic right to vote against the elite. They have done what our politicians have been afraid to do.

Stunned, the elite stare in amazement at the audacity of the low-life. Some have voiced their anger at this popular wave of sentiment: the Brexit vote in UK, the Trump victory and the referendum outcome in Italy. Shit! they cry. The bastards are ganging up on us! However, the real reason is that the elite have been blinkered by “decades of denial” Rickards (p230) Paul Mason (p258)

Nonetheless, the elite have sent out their Stormtroopers to defend their rights. Politicians of various hues have marched to the given tune. Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European Commission has made it clear that events should not be dictated by populism. John Major, ex-Prime Minister of Britain bemoaned the “tyranny of the majority” (John Stuart Mill 1859). Meanwhile, Labour MP Chuka Umunna, speaking on the BBC News channel spoke of the “elective dictatorship”.

·         These little men are so full of their own self-importance.

Let’s try and explain to these political hacks why populism is so in vogue:

“Once the election is over, voters are ignored and winning elites carry out preconceived plans”. Rickards (p238) Ring a bell? Been here before?

This leads nicely to philosopher Michael Sandel, (p13) 3

“Disillusion with politics has deepened as citizens grow frustrated with a political system unable to act for the public good, or address the questions that matter most”.

I would make one quibble with Sandel with his use of the word ‘unable’; I would have used the adjective ‘unwilling’.

Michael Sandel’s book was published in 2012 and was probably written therefore in 2011, if not before. Five years later and the elite still had not grasped the significance of what was happening right under their noses! The logical explanation is that they couldn’t give a shit. And now the shit has hit the fan!

One can only learn if willing to. It seems our political masters are unwilling. Their attack on democracy, for that’s what it amounts to, is a clear attempt to diminish the power of the majority. We cannot as a society, have a democracy that does not adhere to the majority vote, whether we agree with the vote or not. Let those who talk of the “tyranny of the majority” stand up and demand a dictatorship.

I appreciate that Karl Popper in his work the Open Society had a dilemma accepting a majority vote in favour of a fascist party. My response to his concern is that society should never get so low down that it is faced with such a prospect. A democratic society has failed if it reaches that stage.

In the midst of a crisis people hanker for a solution, a solution with the least trouble. The question is should people push forward in a direction of which they are unsure, full of doubt but advised to dare. Or will people be more cautious and look for something vaguely familiar or perhaps rely on the political party that appears to know what it wants and how to get everyone there. The road to fascism!

Democracy: The Only Road Forward

In the general election of 2015 in the UK, the Conservative Party polled 36.9% of the public vote and secured power as the next government. The Labour Party won 30.4% of the popular vote and is now trying to override a majority decision of 52% that voted to leave the EU.

The Scottish nationalist with 4.7% of the national vote are busy screaming in alto from the upper circle; joined by the Liberals who saw their percentage of the vote fall by a staggering 16%. The refrain of this unlikely choir is, ‘All we are saying, is let’s stay in’. They’ll still be singing as the gravy train goes rolling down the track – out of sight.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/results

We have reached an impasse, will the political class respond positively and accept that the times are changing or must they be pushed to the wayside. Will it be the death knell of capitalism as espoused by Paul Mason and James Rickards? There is little doubt that neoliberal policies have proved a nightmare for the overwhelming majority. Those at the top end of the table had a feast out of neoliberalism. The question is are they now willing to share?

Perchance they will remain in denial as both Rickards and Mason state. If so what are the consequences? I doubt the elite can carry on much longer on their present course. The deep frustration with the elite will turn increasingly to anger which will beget activist groups taking up the cause of the people.

Such a scenario will not strengthen the elite as the use of force against these factions will break down quickly. It will not bring out the silent majority against the perpetrators. That old reliance was only solid when there was trust and most people felt good about their lifestyle. The rise of populism is a clear indication that many are genuinely feeling downtrodden.

Many of the elite may feel just as Mitt Romney does, “…inequality is the kind of thing that should be discussed quietly and privately.” J Stiglitz (p33)4  Those days I’m afraid are gone, if they ever existed outside the comfort of elite homes and country clubs.

Winter for all Seasons

According to Paul Mason (p262) quoting from a survey from the OECD that world development will be weak for the next 50 years and that inequality will rise by an estimated 40%. If these figures are anywhere near accurate then winter is going to be all year round for the poor. And if winter is all year round people are going to get mighty fed-up! Guy Fawkes might get reinvented for real.

Mason also states that the only way to keep globalization and free trade is by having the costs borne by the poor. Again if he is right – its winter! He gains support for his view from James Rickards (p227) who argues, “Yet free markets and free trade are flawed in theory, non-existent in practice.”

This assertion is proven when we look again at the practises of Apple and other conglomerates. Such businesses gain comparative advantage because their money buys more in China and the cheap labour make it a double whammy. China also gains comparative advantage by having the investment and the jobs. Who loses? The workers in America and other western nations!

Further examples are the manipulation of the Chinese currency the yuan or of their interest rates. Other nations have also made great use of the manipulation of both as well as the corporate tax which for example, is due to reduce from 28% in 2010 to 17% in the UK by 2020. Therefore there are no free markets or free trade; everything has a fix.

Nonetheless, the lack of truly free markets or trade does not spell the end of capitalism. The system has witnessed upheaval before, several times, and by hook or crook the system has mutated or morphed and we carry on. In living memory for some is the horror of the 1920s and 1930s – ‘Buddy can you spare me a dime’.

Another period of uncertainty was in 1968 when many of the young at the time believed they were on the brink of revolution particularly in France. In the USA there was the anti-Vietnam protests, civil rights, the rise of the Black Panther movement, and woman’s lib. The Prague Spring, trouble was brewing all over the world. “Many protests were a direct response to perceived injustices…”

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protests_of_1968

Most recently the 2008 financial crash has kicked many, right where it hurts. Ouch!

What is increasingly likely is turmoil in the EU. The euro () has never been stable and the single market is hurting many countries. These nations: Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland among their number have been on the receiving end of the slump that followed the 2008 crash. For eight (8) years they have held to the philosophy of the single market but, and it’s a big but, for how much longer.

Paul Mason (p261) argues that the EU is just one ‘political accident’ away from collapse. In this I would be in agreement with him. The self-interest of politicians from one of the nations mentioned above may be the trigger in a struggle to stay in power.  Moreover, the euro () was a political construct not a financial one and therefore weak from, GO. The bureaucracy is too big, and wields too much political power. A bureaucracy should never hold political influence; otherwise we enter the realm of Stalin.

However, any possible collapse can and should be managed. The EU needs to reinvent itself and those in power must surely be aware of the need for radical reform. The euro is but a starting point. It’s about the political class’s ability to face reality. If not – KA-POW!

Moreover, Mason and Rickards are not the first economic writers to predict the fall of capitalism. Joseph Schumpeter (1883 – 1950) had a whole school of economics named after him and prophesied the evolution of capitalism into socialism. It didn’t happen, as you are aware.

Schumpeter recognised that capitalism adapted and adopted but felt that the very nature of the system and the changes it goes through would cause its mutation.  Schumpeter  termed it ‘creative destruction’ thus the process of regular change and the growth of multinationals and management teams would stymie the entrepreneur, as a result  the system  would lose its dynamism and, the bureaucracy and the State would play a greater part in the new socialist world.

Of course others preceded Schumpeter. We can look back to Marx and Engels, to the world of Lenin and Trotsky, to Mao and the likes of Ho Chi Minh. With the exclusion of Marx and Engels, the other attempts at the promised land directed by the state from the centre came crashing down. The failure in all these enterprises was the insistence on ‘democratic centralism’ – basically the central committee told everyone what to do. It was the vision of the Politburo or nothing.

The other side of the coin of failure was trying to control development and trade in a predominately capitalist world. In essence they could not compete which forced their leaders to become increasingly totalitarian. And as usual the workers paid the price!

Market Economy?

Nonetheless, the state has a role in the capitalist system. Neoliberalism may want a minimalist state but we’ve never heard the big boys moan when regularly bailed out. In every economic downturn or crash as in 1929 and 2008 the state stepped in with tax payers’ money to prevent the catastrophe that would have followed in consequence.

Ha-Joon Chang (p456)5 is adamant that the state has a crucial role and may even be critical in maintaining a society for the public good. “The economy is much bigger than the market. We will not be able to build a good economy-or a good society-unless we look at the vast expanse beyond the market.” He cites Herbert Simon of the Behaviourist School, that 80% of economic activity happens inside organizations not in the market. (p159)

So what can the state do to help rebuild our broken economy? Many jobs can be created by investment especially by improving infrastructure: build more and better roads etc. Even Donald Trump threatens to help America get going again by infrastructure programmes.   

Retreat is another way to help our economy, retreat to the Bretton Woods agreement of July 1944 and claw back the free rein given to the banking sector through deregulation by Reagan, Bush and Clinton. Perhaps there’s a need for another clever intervention as with the New Deal 1933-1938 which held back the growing tide of anger at the depth and extent of poverty at the time. Of course the economy really took off with the Second World War but I’m not advocating a third.

The Bretton Woods agreement was an attempt to bring lasting stability to the world economy, and it worked until dismantled. The team which drafted the programme described the world of finance as “…a casino instead of a driver of economic well-being.” Rodrik (p97)6 Rodrik (p111) after examining a lot of evidence, stated, “The inevitable conclusion is that financial globalization has failed us.”  

Trade globalization can also be restricted and more power shifted to domestic governments. Let’s leave it to economist Ha-Joon Chang (p446) to lay down the case for a rethink:

“In the last three decades of hyper-globalization, economic growth has slowed down, inequality has increased, and financial crises have become far more frequent in most countries.”

Michael Sandel (p64) adds, “Economists often assume that markets do not touch or taint the goods they regulate. But this is untrue. Markets leave their mark on social norms. Often, market incentives erode or crowd out nonmarket incentives.”

Sandel argues that to put a price on everything diminishes the human interaction. He gives several examples such as the selling of kidneys and blood. Such enterprises hurt the lower class the most; it is therefore unfair, as here survival often necessitates the action. His philosophy demolishes the logic of neoliberal economists that we are all motivated by self-interest.

The trafficking of women and children for sex is a clear example. The kidnappers / sellers are self –interested as are the men who pay to use these unfortunates. But can it ever be justified? Would we or should we ever permit it as a legitimized trade transaction?

The human factor cannot be discounted from any understanding of how the world works. Money is but one example of a motivator. However, it’s also regarded as the ‘root of all evil’. Somebody knew something. Economists don’t like nouns like ‘altruism’ because they can’t quantify it and therefore can’t add it to their constructed model.

Let’s refer once again to the philosopher Michael Sandel (p130)

“Altruism, generosity, solidarity, and civic spirit are not like commodities that are depleted by use. They are more like muscles that develop and grow stronger with exercise. One of the defects of a market-driven society is that it lets these virtues languish.”

This is an area that I don’t think Mason has fully taken on board; emotion is a most powerful part of our makeup and can lead us in many directions. I’m thinking of religion and its hold over people and their decision making. Any move to socialism may be blocked, unless we let God in, because religion can be very intractable.

Obviously, the market is not all that the neoliberal /classical economists would have us believe. But is the capitalist system doomed as Mason and Rickards suggest. I have an alternative view of what is taking place. I believe it’s a war of the elites.

Clash of the Titans

Wealth creation has a direct relation with power and consequently the Middle East has become one of the richest areas on the planet. Therefore, presumably, it could become the prime powerhouse of the globe and its elite the most powerful group. Add to that scenario the emergence of China and its record breaking productivity which casts it into a power player. Then of course, we have the West, led by America.

On the outskirts of this game lies Russia, rejected by the elite of the West because Putin won’t play ball by the set rules. Putin cannot be trusted to conform to the big picture. So, Russia gets up to as much mischief as it can in an attempt to be heard and still retain some credibility as a big player.

So here we have it, three main players at the table and an outcast screeching on a bench nearby. The Middle East has vast wealth and can turn on a tap to get as much as it wants. China has been accumulating significant wealth over the last few decades and can screw its people for more if needed – bang goes their saving plans.

The West has a fair back up but needed a whole lot more, hence the rape of the poor. It needed to replenish the coffers to make the banker feel good. But the West had an ace up its sleeve; it could cause big trouble in little China and particularly in the Middle East.

War! The Iraq war was only partially about oil and more about destabilizing the region. The Arab world was then encouraged to turn against each other. In Libya, under the guise of introducing democracy the West invaded – the nation is still torn apart. A similar ploy was utilized in Syria. For generations the different brothers of Islam, Shiite and Sunni lived in calm cohesion, now there is nothing but killing of their brothers.

 China has built a powerful industrial base but this has been on the back of Western capital. The multinationals can at any time transfer their allegiance back to their home nation leaving China with a major industrial wasteland.

It may seem that the West have the resource to come out on top. Perhaps, but the rise of populism has taken the gloss off their cosy abode, unless they come up with something new damp and rot will set in and they could lose any advantage.

Therefore the contention is that the world is in trouble because the elites are at war. Once this battle is resolved it will be back to business. Thus capitalism is not falling apart; it is being used by the elites to fight their respective corner.

There is so much more to this theory: industrial espionage, the deliberate interference on manufacturing of products. In this war some industrial giants are being forced to recall damaged goods which have been sabotaged, costing them $ millions. It’s nasty out there!

Notwithstanding, neoliberalism has proven a disaster movie: the steadfast, independent and strong individual (read – elites) have fought off the greedy bandits’ (read –poor) and secured world domination. Not quite! Ordinary Joe is back with a new army armed with the knowledge that:

·         Financial globalization has failed

·         Trade globalization has failed

·         That inequality has greatly increased.

The people want a better managed, more fair, more decent society than the ‘grab what you can mentality’ of the present system. Citizens want a ‘civic spirit’; they want to flex those ‘muscles’ to strengthen the positive values to take us forward. The people want a fair share of the goods they help produce.

So we are getting close to the crossroads, there will be change but I don’t think it will be revolutionary, it will be a while yet before the end to the capitalist system. Capitalism will not meld or morph into socialism; we are simply not ready intellectually for that stage of development. How damned unfortunate!

Instead governments will spend as Keynes advised. They will also introduce a degree of protectionism while continuing to promote free trade. Currency, corporate tax and interest rates will be manipulated. The financial world will be regulated as before. This will be a period of stabilizing the economy. Government investment will become a crucial element in future development.

Much may be determined by the political class. Whether they have the nous to change, the strength of will, the character, and a sense of civic duty. Or will they besmirch the aspirations of the people and cry foul as have British politicians over the Brexit vote.

We move on, perhaps a tad slower than before but hopefully happier.

1.       Paul Mason        POSTCAPITALISM A Guide to our Future.

2.       James Rickards The Road to Ruin

3.       Michael Sandel                 What Money Can’t Buy

4.       J.E.Stiglitz            The Price of Inequality

5.       Ha-Joon Chang Economics: The User’s Guide

6.       Dani Rodrik         The Globalization Paradox